by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

How fast does black powder burn?
What is lock time?
Why does lock time matter?
Lock time for firearms
Rimfire cartridges were the problem
Summary

I’m writing this report because of a discussion we had on the blog a couple weeks back where readers were using the term lock time inappropriately. Don’t fret — most shooters do the same.

They were talking about the time a pellet stays inside the barrel of an airgun when it fires and calling it lock time. It isn’t. I promised then to address the subject and today is the day. Lock time relates only to a flintlock firearm.

How fast does black powder burn?

When it is unconfined, black powder that is used in black powder guns burns fast with a whoosh. It’s not as fast as photographic flash powder, but it is much faster than smokeless gunpowder. Here is a short video on photographic flash powder, to give you some idea of how fast that is.