Goex Pinnacle Propellant
The name "Goex" is synonymous with black powder, and is the most recognizable name in the black powder industry. Goex is the only manufacturer of black powder in the United States, and is very successful in commercial, industrial, and the military market-for there remains some things that black powder can do that no other substance can do as well.
Though many SASS shooters and competitive shooters will tell you there is nothing better than blackpowder for their applications, and flintlock enthusiasts view it as a necessity, modern muzzleloaders have gotten away from blackpowder, due in large measure to its lack of general availability and associated shipping, storage, handling, and licensing considerations.
Earlier this year at the SHOT Show, Goex announced its new "Pinnacle" propellant to answer this growing trend. Hodgdon Pyrodex, long sold as a smokeless muzzleloading powder and also used as a blasting compound, has been found to be one of the most caustic propellants that can be used. Pyrodex is worse than blackpowder insofar as corrosivity and toxicity. Pyrodex contains perchlorate, found to cause serious health problems like thyroid damage and birth defects. Pyrodex also contains organic cyanide.
Hodgdon Triple Se7en was introduced as a high velocity muzzleloading propellant. It is still corrosive and, contingent on specific muzzleloader, can produce hard, slag-like fouling crud that modern muzzleloading enthusiasts have carped about since its introduction.
What Pinnacle powder by Goex brings to the table is a very low level of comparative corrosiveness, elimination of the nasty Triple 7 "crud ring" of hard fouling, and the ability to fire shot after shot using saboted bullets with no spit-patching, dry-patching, or swabbing required between shots. It cleans up far easier than Triple 7 (and of course Pyrodex), is sulfurless, and offers very good velocities as well. It promises less hygroscopicity (moisture attracting fouling) than any other comparable smoke-producing muzzleloading propellant, and comes from a brand that people know and trust.
Pinnacle comes in four flavors, FFg, FFFg, .50 caliber "E-Z Loads," and .45 caliber "E-Z Loads." The "E-Z Loads" are 50 grain approximate equivalent tapered sticks that are preformed and pre-measured. They are used just as you would use a pair of Pyrodex or Triple Se7en pellets.
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, Pinnacle ignites easier than Triple 7 or Pyrodex. So, when using percussion caps, you need not worry about loading Pyrodex pellets "blackpowder side first," and can use them where Triple 7 pellets do not reliably go bang. Similar to Triple 7 pellets in that they are a bit inconsistent by weight, I prefer the loose powder. However, the love of convenience that has made pellets such a big hit will likely be carried over to the very convenient E-Z Loads as well.
The "FF" and "FFF" designations are a traditional carryover from black powder kernel size, but in this case I can't say it means much. The Pinnacle FFg is very, coarse, too coarse to meter well, and too coarse for accurate volumetric measuring: it is like gravel. I really didn't like the "FFg."
Pinnacle FFFg is an easy choice; as it does everything that the "FF" stuff does, does it better, and does it more accurately. For the majority of sidelock or inline muzzleloaders available today, Pinnacle FFFg is the only powder you will ever need.
To give you an idea of the performance, using a 26" barreled .50 caliber muzzleloader and a 250 grain saboted projectile, two "E-Z Load" sticks or 100 grains by weight of the Pinnacle FFFg will net you velocities in the mid to upper 1800 fps range. Using a bit lighter sabot, my 5 shot average was 1876 fps.
Contingent on your powder measure and the way you measure, 125 grains by volume is close to 100 grains by actual weight. For modern, quality inlines in good condition, such as those manufactured by Thompson, Knight, and Savage Arms, anything from 125 to 150 grains by VOLUME with a 300 grain or lighter bullet seems prudent. But please check with the respective firearm manufacturer to be sure. As a brand new product from Goex, ballistics from both Goex and quality inline manufacturers are currently under development.
I'll admit to being a bit skeptical about being able to load powder and saboted projectiles without cleaning the bore again and again. Yet, that is exactly what this powder allows you to do. Today I loaded and shot 30 sabots as fast as I could with no swabbing. Amazingly, the last sabot loaded just as smoothly and easily as the first one did. It works, there is no doubt. The days of cotton mouth are over.
For best accuracy, as with most all propellants, I prefer to weigh my powder-and I had good results with 100 grains of Pinnacle FFFg by weight. My small supply of Pinnacle was exhausted in a hurry-but, refreshingly, I was not exhausted. If you are looking for a very low corrosive powder, easier on your barrel than what you are now using, sure-fire ignition, no swabbing between shots, and no nasty crud ring around your breechplug (and less chance of sticking a breechplug as well), Goex Pinnacle FFFg loose powder is the best thing I've tried. Once you give it a test drive, you may well not bother with licking patches and fighting fouling crud ever again. It is a lot more fun that way. Decide for yourself, that's always the best course. There just isn't anything not to like about this propellant. Best of all, the Goex name offers the promise of widespread distribution, availability, and reasonable pricing.
Whenever a new propellant brand appears, I try to remain hopeful. The results in my Pinnacle FFFg testing showed promise. For reasonable accuracy, the Pinnacle 3F measured by weight, not be volume, used in a barrel completely free of lubricant has proved to be the only reasonable path. Bore butter and various bullet lubes can cause horrible clumping.
When a new product line is introduced, I expect it to become refined over time. First year muzzleloaders are invariably improved over time when produced by quality manufacturers, for example. Unfortunately, Goex has failed to do much of anything with Pinnacle over the last year. They have failed to improve quality control, they have failed to improve packaging, they have failed to provide basic loading information, and they are devoid of any factory technical support. Ascorbic acid propellants may be one day ready for prime time, but as of this writing (February 2006) they clearly are not.
Sadly, it appears that Goex Pinnacle is trapped in the "all sizzle, but no bacon" mode of its dubious manufacturer, American Pioneer. They have a lot of work to do, in a one big hurry, if they care to escape without another huge CleaRshot mess or perhaps even worse: a schlockey black-eye. What a shame.
Copyright 2005, 2006 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.