Muzzleloader 101
Black Powder Measurements

There are brands commonly in use, Goex is the old DuPont recipe made in America and the most readily available. Olde Eynsfordis Goex premium. Swiss is made in the oldest surviving powder mill in the world, in Switzerland, Elephant is made in Brazil and Schuetzen is from Germany. Swiss and Olde Eynsford are somewhat pricier and offer more choices. I will not attempt to join the on-line contoversies about quality.

The upper case F stands for fine. The lower case g indicates that the powder has been polished, usualy with graphite. The alternate lower case a is used for blasting powders.

Powder and bullet weights are calibrated in grains. The unit was based on the weight of a single grain of barley. There are precisely 7,000 grains per avoirdupois pound. Powder is measured by volume so it is a good idea to check the calibration. Note that double F and triple F will weigh different amounts for the same volume. It is interesting that gunpowder, bullets and arrowheads are almost the last remaining use of this ancient unit of measurement although some pharmaceuticals still mention it.

Black powder granulations are determined by a sieving method. The holes in the first screen are .0689" square and the holes in the second are .0582 square. Any granules small enough to pass through the first screen and too big to pass through the second screen are Fg and so on. FFg doesn't pass .0376, FFFg doesn't pass .0170, FFFFg doesn't pass .0111.

You may see the term "dram equivalent" on a box of modern shot shells. It refers to a charge of FFg black powder in early shot shells and gives an approximation of comparitive power. A dram is one 256th of a pound. Easier to remember is 16 drams equal 1 ounce and 16 ounces equal 1 pound. You will never need to use it today unless you are researching in an old book.

Granule Size
 Pyro Swiss 
Cannon1.68 - 4.76mm 1.3 - 2.2mm aka Boiler, artillery
1Fg 1.19 - 1.68mm 1.2 - 1.6mm Very large bores
1½Fg   0.85 - 1.2mm mostly for target use
2F0.59 - 1.19mm .65 - 1.2mm Shotguns
Rifles 50 caliber and up
3F0.29 - 0.84mm 0.5 - 0.8mmRifles 50 caliber and down
Most pistols
4F0.15 - 0.42mm .25 - 0.5mm Flintlock priming
Some very small pistols
aka Null B (0B)
0.149mm .19 - .23mm Flintlock priming
For general muzzle loading the above grades are more than enough. The Pyro column is from a fireworks site and extends from blasting to several grades of meal which is finer than 7Fg.

I chose to use the spread based on mesh size rather than average granule size. Take your pick.

The 1½Fg is popular with high level target shooters because the grain size is more uniform. Until you are trying to improve your average score from 94 or 95, it probably makes no difference.


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