WOW that is a loaded question. Always a good reason to get a new gun.
My Rugers work great with bp.and should for you. Remember plenty of the right kind of lube. Also On revolvers spray the cylinder face with balistol and wipe down( between stages)while shooting this will keep the cylinder spinning free. Otherwise stuff starts to build up and the cylinder binds and it is plumb hard to cock the pistol.
Walt ANY EXCUSE TO BUY A NEW GUN is a good one! Those Rugers will take to black powder like a duck to water. If memory serves you'd be shooting those "38-20's"? I have a pair of vaqueros in 357, and I guess if I were a true competitor, those are the ones I'd use. Lots of bang, plenty of smoke, and little recoil.
In small cartridge my preference is FFF, but I like all the BANG I can get for my buck, FF will work just fine, actually a little less recoil if your really paying attention.
Actually loading black powder cartridge is pretty simple:
Measure the depth of the cartridge case, the one I just happen to have right here in front of me is appx. 1 1/8"
Next measure from the base of the bullet to the crimp ring, if it has one, where your going to crimp if it doesen't. The 158gr RNFP heat just happens to be here too is 3/8"
Subtract bullet from case and you have case volume= 6/8 or 3/4" in the case for powder. We want a little bit of compression for black powder, so we are going to add an extra 1/8" of powder for a grand total of 7/8" of powder resting in the case.
Here, we're gonna make a powder measure, file off 1/4" of a 357 case, wrap a piece of picture frame hanging wire around the base, twist, wrap around again near the top. Ya now have a powder dipper that'll toss an near perfect load ya can adjust later on your own while your trying to get'em to shoot into one hole.
Pour in the dipper level full of powder and seat the bullet. You now have a good shootable starting point for those "38-20" Rugers
:-D Ya know don't ya, that after ya try those first few, your gonna give up on all those new fangled powders. Then there will be a couple of more things ya need to do to make life easier for ya. First your gonna need to clean your gun, no, I don't mean push a couple of patches through, wipe it down and call it clean, your gonna want to get all of the petroleum based oil off and out, if your lazy like me, a spray can of break cleaner from Walmart or an auto parts store works like a champ, or if your cheap or just industrious, hot soap and water. When ya get'em clean you'll need to lube with a non petro lube like the muzzle stuffers use. Thompson Center Bore Butter is a good one and it smells like spearment. I'm a Ballistol fan. Any good B/P lube will do.
Next you'll probably want to use something other than the hard blue lube found on most cast bullets. Walt I know you cast so just lube with a B/P lube when you size. You can buy cast bullets alerady lubed sith SPG, to me they seem to be a little pricy. I'm cheap, and like to experiment I have a homemade lube. I dump about a thousand store boughts in a container, cover with gasoline probably not the best idea, but I'm in a large open barn lot and have a place to put the used gas, any solvent should melt out the lube. I then stand the bullets up in a pan and pour enough of my melted lube in the pan to cover the lube grooves of the bullet, let harden. I've already said this, but I'm lazy, I pop'em in the freezer, then when they're hard break off a piece of lube and bullets and push the bullet out of the lube. It may sound time consuming but it isn't really, I can lube 500 bullets in less time than it took me to tell you how.
From here, it just keeps getting to be more fun. Every time I learn something new, it brings up two more questions. The experimentation is a big part of the fun for me. I can't think of much I'd rather do to relax mind, body and soul.
Normal primers are fine, some folks like the hotter magnum primers, but I've been using regular primers with not one ignition problem.
Gun lubes for black powder seem to work well for smokless, as well as BP, but not vice versa. I've shot a few matches with smokeless for various reasons with my BP guns and suffered no adverse effects, other than my fun meter not quite being pegged out ad far on the full side
As long as BP is stored in it's original airtight container, in a cool dry place, it's shelf life is about as close to indefinite as it's history can make it.
Here is what I do.
For Cas I use the same primers nothing fancy or Magnum. Now for long range BP I use Magnum. Might all be in my head but I think I get better results from my 45/70 with magnum primers.
I order my powder from mainpowder house in #25 lots.I have a storage container that meets county codes here in the HOT state of AZ.
I shoot Smokeless and BP. I am not totaly one or the other. It is about half and half bp and smokeless.
I have kept some bp for a long time with out any problems. As long as it is kept dry should be fine.
Others may have more information on this. This works for me your milage might vary.
Hope this helps
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