How To Roll Muzzle-Loading Artillery Powder Charges To Prevent Premature Firing

Premature firing is one of the most dangerous occurrences an artillery reenactor will ever experience, and there have been a number of serious injuries over the years caused by powder charges breaking open during ramming. The Loyal Train of Artillery Chapter of the United States Field Artillery Association (LTAC-USFAA) uses the following procedures when preparing powder charges.

The charges should be carefully prepared in cylindrical packages using plastic “baggies” (the sandwich kind with the fold-over top, not the “zip lock” kind since the zipper can produce a projectile when the powder charge is fired) and heavy aluminum foil. Make sure that the foil does not have any holes or tears that would allow powder to come into contact with a lingering spark. The following outlines the assembly of foil wrapped charges.

1. Use a highly polished wood or metal mandrel or a water glass.

2. Wrap several layers of heavy duty aluminium foil around it. Leave enough at one end so the foil can be folded to form the bottom. The mandrel should have a very slight taper so the foil bag can be easily taken off of it.

3. Form the bottom by folding the foil over the mandrel and pressing it against the end. You can pick up the foil and mandrel and, turning it upside down, tap it on a hard, flat surface.

4. Pour measured powder into the “baggie.”

5. Roll the powder in the “baggie,” being sure to get all air out and not to tear the “baggie.” Fold and secure the flap on the “baggie.”

6. Remove the foil bag from the mandrel and place the powder bag into it.


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