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Blackhorn 209 a sensational, new, black powder substitute.

It looks like smokeless powder. It smells like smokeless powder. It ignites like smokeless powder. It is non-corrosive, non-hydroscopic, temperature insensitive, leaves minimal fouling and cleans up with normal oil-based solvents. Ah, but it also produces big billows of acrid smelling smoke, can be loaded volume-for-volume with black powder, produces high velocities and low pressures with excellent accuracy. The only limiting factor is it is only compatible with solid breech, 209-primer-fired inlines and black powder cartridges.

Is this stuff magic? Yes, it is. We've been waiting a long, long time for it, too! It's Western Powders' new black powder replacement, Blackhorn 209.


When I opened my first can of Blackhorn (they're 10-ounce cans--what happened to 1-pound cans?), I got a whiff of solvents associated with fresh smokeless powders. Looking at the individual powder grains, they are black, tubular, short and sport a single perforation. Being short, the grains flow through a powder measure like water.

For inline users, there are a few caveats when loading Blackhorn. Use standard 209 shotgun primers, not the special, inline 209 primers marketed by Remington and Winchester. A tight-fitting sabot/bullet combination weighing from 180 to 300 grains (50-caliber) is optimum. Bullets over 350 grains are not recommended. For bullets up to 300 grains, no more than 120 grains measured by volume should be loaded. For 300- to 350-grain bullets, no more than 100 grains by volume is recommended. So I measured out some 100- and 120-grain loads, poured them into my Cunard glass vials and headed to the range.


The test platform was the August issue's 50-caliber Traditions Pursuit inline. The sabot/bullet combinations included Hornady's 250-grain .451" SST, Powerbelt's 295-grain Aerotip and Nosler's 300-grain .451" Partition-HG.

At 50-yards with 100 grains of Blackhorn, Hornady's SST averaged 3/4" for three-shot groups at 1,882 fps over a PACT Professional chronograph. The Powerbelts, 1-1/2" at 1,781 fps and the Noslers, 1-1/4" at 1,860 fps.

Stepping the load up to 120 grains by volume increased velocities to 2,151 fps, 2,011 fps and 2,112 fps respectfully and opened up the groups an average 1/2".

Loading Blackhorn in black powder revolver and rifle cases, Keith Anderson of Western Powders recommends filling the case to the base of the bullet. Little or no compression is needed, not over .02". Actually, Blackhorn charges can be reduced to less than a case full. Anderson uses an overpowder card wad in the larger rifle cases and recommends a hot primer and a firm crimp for all cartridge loads.

And just think, you can kick back a bit when it comes to cleaning-up that old smoke pole! Is this stuff magic? Yes, it is!


P.O. BOX 158, MILES CITY, MT 59301

(406) 234-0422


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Title Annotation:Quarter Master
Author:Bodinson, Holt
Publication:Guns Magazine
Date:Oct 1, 2008
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