Tuesday, January 25, 2011

BlackHorn 209: On the range

 Recently there has been quite a few heavy endorsements of Western Powders - Blackhorn 209 Muzzleloading Propellant. As with any product I am a hands on skeptic. I want to know the ins and outs, whys and hows before I jump on any band wagon. My local large box sporting good retailer carries an extensive selection of powders and pellets including the red topped Blackhorn 209. I had always passed it up to go to my old standby of Pyrodex RS, largely due to price and a slight suspicion of anything new. Well after reading quite a few reviews and resounding recommendations I decided to spend the extra money and give it a workout.

  With muzzleloading season closed in north Louisiana it was time to hit the range and sight in the scope on the Traditions Buckstalker. I have been pushing 2" groups at 100yds using my old standby with its rotten egg smell and cleanups that almost got me kicked out to the dog house. Once I was setup on sandbags at the range I started measuring out 80gr ( by volume ) loads into quick loaders, I was fully intent on trying the whole no swabbing claim right from the start while working up a accurate hunting load. One of the first things that struck me was the very consistent, tubular grain structure of this powder. It seemed to make it very easy to measure into equal powder loads.

With my targets set at 100yds on a very calm, cold early morning I fired my first 240gr, target plinkers down range pushed by 80gr of Blackhorn 209 and touched off by Remington Premier STS 209 primers. Quickly followed by 5 more rounds and to my very pleasant surprise every round seated with roughly the same amount of effort, no swabbing was needed and I was able to walk my scope in to where it needed to be.

 After the first 6 rounds I unseated my breech plug to make sure it was not stuck by fouling and it broke over like I had never fired a single round. I was starting to really like the stuff and quickly began raising powder charges in 10gr increments. Before I realized it I had put 15 rounds down range in less than an hour and not touched my patches or range rod. At that point I realized I need to quit burning powder for the sake of shooting and actually put some hunting rounds into the target and fine tune my scope. I swabbed the barrel for the first time with CLP and true to the advertisement the fouling came out easy and was not heavy gunk on the patches.

 I then setup with 90gr and Hornady's  250gr SST with red Easy Glide sabots and started shooting like a meant business. Accuracy was not all I had hoped for after my first 3 round group so I stepped up to 100gr powder charges. Like magic I had found the Buckstalkers sweet spot, 100gr Blackhorn 209 pushing the 250gr SST's I laid down 7 shots on 3, 100yd targets and came up with 1" groups on two targets and 1 1/2" on the third. This is the true versatility of loose powder. Every gun shoots different with different powder loads, pellets do not give you the ability to adjust. Something as simple as a 5 grain change in powder can mean the difference between shooting confidently out past 150yds or limiting your shots because of flyers.

 In all I sent 35 rounds down range in less than 2 hours with 2 quick swab cleanings and liberal use of a nipple pick. I honestly believe I had more fouling from the Remington Premier STS primers than the powder charges themselves. The Remington primers worked extremely well with Blackhorn 209 and you do have to be sure to follow directions and use shotgun primers due to the fact that Blackhorn 209 does have higher ignition temperatures. Also per Western Powders it is not to be used with any primers other than 209's. While I have no intention of testing the claim of being non-hygroscopic, Wester Powders does state that Blackhorn 209 has an extremely long and stable shelf life if stored properly. When cleaning due not use water, use a good petroleum based cleaner like Hoppes solvent or CLP. Once fired the residue while not corrosive, can attract moisture and raise the risk of rust forming inside the barrel.

 Western Powders has truly revolutionized the modern in-line muzzleloader experience with Blackhorn 209. It is a high performance, high velocity and easy cleaning powder that backs up all the claims made on the packaging with real, measurable results. It has found a permanent home in my ammo can.

Links and more can be found in the Muzzleloading Reference.


  1. Make sure you use a drill bit to keep your breech plug flame channel clean. BH209 causes a carbon build up after awhile which can cause hangfires in your rifle.

  2. I'm headed to the range this weekend wit BH209. I never bought it because of price.

    I'm tired of swabbing my barrel at the range. Tired of trying to get the crud ring out. I use tight fitting home cast bullets with sabots, they give great accuracy, but any fouling in the barrel makes them hard to load.

  3. Just fired 6 rounds of BH 100GR in my TC 20" 209X50 with TC 250 GR Sock Waves had a 1" group at 100yds .
    Very nice powder with no problems !

  4. finally getting around to sighting in my buckstalker this week. taking the advice and going with the BH 100GR w\ the 250GR Hornady SST's.... but would you stick with the Remington Premier STS 209 primers???? tried anything different? must go with shotgun primers too, right?


  5. I loaded 100gr of BH209 in front of T/C 250gr Shockwaves in my T/C Impact. 3 shot group was right at 1" and that was the first group and only group I shot. Very impressive!

  6. If you have a modern in-line muzzleloader, check this out.


    4 days ago, I tried Blackhorn 209 for the first time. I had used all the various pellets and bullets, trying to dial in my Traditions Vortek Ultralight. The best i could do was about 3 inch grouping at 100 yards.

    Using BH209 I;
    noticed significant less smoke,
    did not swab between shots,
    ramming seemed effortless (no crud ring),
    noticed less recoil with same loads,
    shot spreads of less than an inch at 100 yards,
    at the end of the day the breech plug came out as easy as when I first purchased the gun,
    And all this AFTER 31 straight shots.

    Clean up at home was about half the time as usual.

    My son even told me that was more fun than all the cleaning we had done during previous shooting sessions. (my other son had turned down going to the range due to all the cleaning between shots.)

    Check it out for yourself and see.

  7. If you have a modern in-line muzzleloader, check this out.


    4 days ago, I tried Blackhorn 209 for the first time. I had used all the various pellets and bullets, trying to dial in my Traditions Vortek Ultralight. The best i could do was about 3 inch grouping at 100 yards.

    Using BH209 I;
    noticed significant less smoke,
    did not swab between shots,
    ramming seemed effortless (no crud ring),
    noticed less recoil with same loads,
    shot spreads of less than an inch at 100 yards,
    at the end of the day the breech plug came out as easy as when I first purchased the gun,
    And all this AFTER 31 straight shots.

    Clean up at home was about half the time as usual.

    My son even told me that was more fun than all the cleaning we had done during previous shooting sessions. (my other son had turned down going to the range due to all the cleaning between shots.)

    Check it out for yourself and see.

  8. Just got back from the range trying to get ready for our blackpowder season. Bought two jugs of Blackhorn 209 last winter and shot about 20 times with good results. Using the same bottle today couldn't get it to ignite. Several reloads and numerous WW209 promers and in frustration emptied the gun on a paper towel and put another burning towel over it. Almost all of the towels were consumed before the powder ignited. Makes a good fire extinguisher. Have 1.5 bottles for sale cheap. Going back to Hodgdon. Hddoc1@gmail.com

  9. Sorry to hear about your bad luck with it, Headdoc1. My experience is way over on the other side of the spectrum. I chrono'd 10 shots last weekend using leftovers from a bottle I opened in fall 2009, and average velocity was only 12 fps slower (1966 fps) than the average I got (1978 fps) from my last 30 shots in summer 2010 from the same bottle. Harvester Crush Rib .45/.50 black sabots, Hornady 250 grain SST-ML, 105 grains BH209, T/C Encore (older, non-"Speed Breech" plug), and that powder just stayed out in my detached, unheated garage in Iowa with no climate control for over 2 years. And it was a really humid day last summer that I had that bottle open on the range. My loss of velocity could just as easily be explained by temperature as by any theories on powder degradation. I'm tickled pink I was able to get one of the new 5-pound jugs for $175 recently, that's how impressed I am with Blackhorn shelf life. That's the same as 8 of the 10-ounce bottles, or roughly 2-3 years' worth. I plan to try it in some revolver cartridges just for kicks. Near as I can guess, someone must've used your BH209 can for a spittoon when you weren't around.

  10. I got a 3 shot 3/4 inch group at 100 yds with 95gr of blackhorn 209 with 250gr hornady sst sabots in a TC Impact.

  11. Three shot group 100 yds T/C Encore 100 grains of blackhorn 209 Hornady SST

  12. Just shot 11 round with the 209 and I like the clean shoting it provides. However, I had about half of those shots shoot like a cap gun, with the bullets going, who knows where. I was shooting 150 grains and watched one round kick up dirt in front of the 100 yd. target. I was one inch high at 50. That shot is one that sounded like a cap gun. Also, missed a nice 12 point whitetail with a cap gun shot last weekend with the 209. Not sure what the problem is, but I want consistent discharges and haven't received that with the 209.

    1. Don't know what kind of gun you shoot, but when I first tried BH209 in my older model CVA Optima, I had several misfires. Took out my breech plug and reamed it out a little with a drill bit and never had another problem. Make sure you are using regular shot gun primers and not the new ones made just for muzzleloaders. I have shot just about every black powder substitue on the market, from Pyrodex to Clean Shot to clear Shot to American Pioneer. BH209 is by far the best. I now shoot a CVA Accura and consistently shoot 1" groups at 100 yds.

    2. Isn't 120 grains the recommended maximum??

    3. go with magnum primers, try cci or rem

    4. DEFINITELY have to use CCI 209M (magnums) primers...i had a little trouble with hangfires at first as well but since i switched to the CCI 209M i have not had one hangfire at all...and i shoot every weekend for fun...just an FYI, i have a TC Triumph Bone Collector and i am shooting Hornady 300 grain FPB's seated on 100 grains of BH209...1 inch groups at 100 yards every weekend...some of my shots touch holes...you couldn't pay me to switch from this load...and yes, 120 grains is the absolute max you should be using of the BH209

  13. My guess is one of a couple things are happening: 1)your plug needs to be cleaned with the drill bit like the Buckhorn website suggests and the flash hole needs cleaning, too. Then try a different 209 primers or try one of the other primers suggested by precision bullets (muzzleloading website) 2)when you pour the powder down the barrel, are you seating the bullet solidly? 3)are you getting lots of blow back on your primer caps (when you pull them out are they clean or dirty?), see website for that issue. I called my ML manufacturer and they sent me a new breach plug. I was impressed a lot after 25 shots or so in my Winchester Apex Magnum .,shooting various bullets from Precision Bullets. It was very clean, and accuracy was much better with some of the Powerbelt Aero tips with the Buckhorn 209 too, but the Precision Bullets were cheaper and more accurate in my gun.

  14. I have had very good luck with the 209 powder. I use the Barnes 290 grain bullets. They are copper and are about a third longer than the lead bullets which I think gives it more stability. I have a very tight barrel, so I clean between each shot just like I would hunting. I have never shot a deer with it that didn't drop in it's tracks. I usually practice at 200 yards and can usually keep it inside a coffee can as long as the last time it was loaded had the approximate resistance when re-loading. At 200 yards I aim at least 4 inches higher than normal if the round loads effortlessly. It doesn't seem to matter if the round loads harder. 8 inches higher at 200 yards versus 100 yards works best. I shoot a Traditions Pursuit II XLT rifle which has a 28 inch barrel and 1 in 28 twist. After several months of testing, I figured out that the gun shoots differently when it is cold soaked to as much as 17 below zero. Our muzzleloader season is short in Iowa and you don't have much choice when it comes to weather. With the 290 grain bullet I use the maximum load of 120 grains by measure. I want to buy an accurate scale and go by weight. My powder I shot with this season was purchased late in 2009. I will buy some more next summer if Obama hasn't outlawed it by then.

  15. I too shoot the T/C Bone Collector and I have has 10 shots into a big ragged hole at 100 yds with 120 grs BN209 and 300 gr Harvester Scorpion Gold heads. I just traded the BC for a t/c FX (pro hunter) and I will be dropping the charge to 100 grs and the bullet to a Scorpion Gold 250. The recoil of the BC has finally gotten to me. I had shoulder surgery and need a different style rifle. I have hunted for 60 yrs and have yet to find a better combo that Blackhorn,Harvester and winchester primers. My hope is the new FX will like the new load as well as the BC liked the heavy charge. trapper

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  33. Has anyone used 120 grains of powder with a 200 or 250 bullet out to 300 yards and know what the drop is?

  34. Has anyone used 120 grains of powder with a 200 or 250 bullet out to 300 yards and know what the drop is?

  35. What I experienced using Blackhorn in encore 80 to 100 with magnum primers was terrible accuracy 3 to 4 inch groups.
    Used Remington muzzle loading primers-1 inch groups @ 100 yds,Winchester 209 primers 1 inch groups @ 100 yrds . With Hornaday & T/C 250 bullets. 30 rnd's & still no swabbing. Use a welding tip cleaner to clean flash hole. Cleanup a Dream.

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