Making Paper Cartridges

by Craigius

We Black Powder shooters all know the grind it takes to upend the smoker after shooting, check the cylinders to make sure there aren't any cinders in there, then pour out the powder, seat the ball and then repeat four more times. It has a mystique about it that brings us back to our roots. Only thing is while your getting in touch with your past the other pards are shooting the breeze. Getting in touch with your roots is good but we're here to shoot and share in the camaraderie (sp) of CAS. So here is something that I found makes loading those cap and balls a little quicker.

Get a dowel rod from your local hardware store that fits well in your cylinder, not tight just well. Smooth this out with some fine sand paper because you're gonna need a little extra space for what we’re gonna wrap around it.

Cut the dowel rod into lengths about the depth of your cylinder plus a 3/8"-1/2", that way you have more than one for the next step. Get some 1 1/2" cigarette papers and cut them in half. You should have two pieces of gummed paper now. Wrap one of these around each of the dowel rods. Presto instant paper cylinders!

Wait until the gummed paper is set. This usually takes less than 10 seconds. Put a tiny bit of glue on the inside lip of one end of the paper cylinder then put your ball in. The ball should be halfway in if you measured right. The idea here is that when you put the finished cartridge in the ball should still have a thin ring of lead shaved off to seal the cylinder.

Now you want to turn over the paper cylinders and put in your load. I like about 1/8"-1/4" oatmeal right behind the ball and fill the rest with powder. Now what about that extra 3/8"-1/2"? Well the reason you added some length to the paper cartridge is because you're gonna be putting an accordion fold in it. This is where you pinch in the sides >< and then fold over the end. Put just a slight spot of glue on this to keep it close. I've found that if you do three or more folds that ignition is not 100%. So I think it is best to just fold once or twice. Just to play it safe I generally squeeze the fold end a bit before loading so that I slightly break the rear seal a bit.

Now you can load up your cap and ball quicker than measuring out while still keeping in touch with the past. Just remember to use a nipple prick to pierce the paper cylinders before capping. This way you remove another possibility that the cap won't ignite the charge.