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Potential first BP firearm

Red98422

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So I’ve looked at BP firearms in the past, and have not been able to close a deal. However I’ve always been fascinated by the cap and ball revolvers.

Unfortunately for me I like the looks of the brass framed “navy” replicas. Yet I hear of all sorts of warnings to stay away from them. I can understand that they would be weaker than the steel framed versions but are they really that bad if you are careful with your loads?

As I haven’t owned a functional BP firearm before I will have to kit myself out, does anybody know of a good supply store where I can get most this stuff near the Tacoma area?
 

AndyinEverson

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Having owned and still own many a black powder firearm I can say that :
Cap and ball revolvers are fun to shoot.
They do take a bit of time to load and for best results , its a good ideal to clean your revolver , after shooting a few cylinders...If you are shooting for an extended time.

Many of of the brass framed "Navy" revolvers are not historically correct , so that may also be a consideration for you.
And yes they are "weaker" than a steel framed version....
A good working load for a steel framed Navy is :
20 grains of 2 or 3 F a lubed .36 caliber wad and a .375 round ball....
One for a brass framed version is 15-18 grains of 2 or 3 F...with the rest , the same...

I personally do not like the brass framed copies , because they usually ain't a true copy of any historic revolver...plus they can , if poorly made , have the frame 'stretch" over time with the take down for cleaning and the use of hot or heavy loads...
That said...if you want to load hot and heavy for any black powder revolver , regardless of frame...get a Ruger Old Army.

Two important loading details :
Always grease the front of the cylinder after loading , to help prevent a chain fire ( Where all the chambers ignite ) .
And if you are going to carry your loaded revolver , but not shoot right away...load all six chambers , but only cap 5 of them...make sure the hammer rests on a un-capped nipple / chamber.

As for a brand....for replicas I like Uberti...they tend to cost more...but the fit , finish and timing seem to be of a better and more consistent quality.
Pietta makes a nice copy as well.
The biggest turn offs for me with any replica , is all the proof marks and the billboard statement of :
For Black Powder Only and such...
Andy
 
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Red98422

Red98422

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@AndyinEverson thank you for the detailed and well thought out reply!

I do know they are usually atrociously inaccurate as a historical copy, but I just have a thing for brass on a firearm so I can live with that.

I have heard about chain fires from the bit of research I’ve done thank you for the advice! I too hate the damn roll marks I see in other pistols as well, but I figure it’s just something I have to deal with unless I buy an actual antique.

I’ve heard quite a lot about the Rugers, unfortunately they are quite out of my price range for a first time BP firearm. That said they sure are a fine looking piece of hardware (especially the SS versions!). Maybe one day one will make its way home with me
 

AndyinEverson

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You are very welcome @Red98422 ...:D
If you have the time , on the 19th of October at Greene's Gun Shop @ Oak Harbor...there is a Black Powder shoot ...and while its not going to open to revolvers....Greene's does have some for sale and you may meet up with a fellow shooter who has one for sale or trade...

Also if you have other any BP questions....I'd be happy to add to your confusion....:eek: :D
Andy
 

UnionMillsNW

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Welcome to shooting Black Powder, @Red98422 ! It's really a hoot and the experience is unique. I like that the reloading process takes time and concentration.

@AndyinEverson is correct that brass frames are not historically accurate..but hey, if you like it get one!

For the brass framed .44 cal I found that 20 grains of powder with a .451 ball works just dandy.

To seal the cylinders I use good ol kitchen Crisco.

You'd have to do a lot of shooting to wear out the pistol. If its a couple times a year plinker, and you don't use too much powder, I don't see any problem with the brass frame.

For supplies around the Tacoma area check out Muzzleloaders Supply in Puyallup. The husband and wife couple that own the shop are knowledgeable, friendly, and have a great selection at fair prices.

Safe Shooting!
 

tac

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Even over here in yUK we have heard of black powder shooting. I've been a shooter since 1968. My Parker-Hale Musketoon was new in 1974 and the Ruger Old Army was new in March 1986, same as my now-gone Whitworth.

I've done some long-range rifle shooting as well with both Snider and Whitworth rifles.

Chain-fire usually happen from the REAR of the cylinder, where badly worn nipples and flash-holes can flash over into an adjacent nipples and THEIR flash-holes, setting off a series of chambers at the same time. It's exciting to watch, I'm told, but I've never seen one, or met anybody here who has.

As for shooting out a brass frame, well, yes, you might, in a LOT of shooting with heavy loads. Not having a .36cal, I shoot one belonging to a pal. Made in 1976 and sold under Navy Arms brand, it won second and third places last year in the UK ML charging-man comps, and happily shoots mid-80's all the day long - but he is a very fine shooter. His load, and since I was shooting it, too, mine, is 20gr of 3Fg Swiss - that's #2 Swiss.

As Andy notes, there is no substitute for hands-on 'looking' and getting all smelled-up and dirty with shooting the things. I know it's very tempting to do so, but I'd stay away from the couple of substitutes that are on the market. True they work out cheaper per shot, due to their composition volumetrically, but they are, IMO, a poor substitute at best, although a lot of shooters, me included, have been glad of them when BP has bee hard to find.

There really is nothing like the real thing.

 

tac

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Just remember that there are NO spare parts. Best idea is to get one of the cylinder base-pin conversions for around fifty bucks or so. Then you can do a rapid cylinder change when needed. You'll need a loading press, though, as you will have lost the rammer.

Then, IF you fnarg the standard cylinder base pin, you'l be able to sub it with that. No point in doing it here in yUK - I don't know anybody, me included, who has two cylinders. If I DID have a second cylinder, it would be counted as another gun here in yUK. :rolleyes:
 
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Red98422

Red98422

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Well I didn’t end up buying Gov’t mules pistol, though I’m sure his piece is great I ended up scoring a deal much closer to me (10mins from my house!)

It’s a Pietta replica, brass frame in .44. Looks great on the outside and locks up tight, but you can definitely see the mediocre fit and finish work when you take it down. Which is probably what folks talk about when they say to get an Uberti over a Pietta, though for my tastes she will probably be just fine.

One thing I did note as kinda odd is the size of the grip being on the small side, as in it barely fits all of my fingers. Having never handled this kind of firearm not sure if this is a normal thing for BP replicas, but I remember my hands fitting just fine on an old ruger Blackhawk
 

tac

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Yes, it IS normal for that era - men actually had smaller hands, as well as averaging only around 5ft 9in as well. The one BP-era revolver that fitted my hand right away was the Spiller & Burr, which had a grip not far off that of a standard K-frame Smith & Wesson.

The Ruger Blackhawk, being a revolver made in the modern era, had/has a much larger grip than most BP revolvers.
 
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Red98422

Red98422

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Thank you for the reply @tac, that makes a lot of sense. The whole pistol is surprising in that it’s much smaller than I would have expected, lighter too.

The pistol handles and points very well, and it’s got me all sorts of worked up to take it out to the range sometime this coming up week.
 

tac

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It is generally agreed among the majority of BP revolver shooters that the Colt Army, with its smooth frame front and sleek lines, is THE most handy of all BP handguns.....

1570458937116.png


Followed closely by the .36cal Navy...

1570459018032.png


Here in yUK either of these revolvers can be bought for less than $300 s/h, often with all the necessaries to get you going.
 

tac

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Presumably you are going to make sure that your loading procedure is firmly fixed in your mind, right?

1. Powder.

2. Ball.

3. Percussion cap.

...and keep your fingers well away from the front of the cylinder.

Did I mention eye protection?

The reason I ask such an obvious question is that I caught a noob on our 25m range a while back trying to load his .36cal revolver with tiny little circles of thin cotton material patches for the ball he was shooting ...

Not his fault. Just that nobody had told him, and the RCO of the day was not a BP shooter of any kind. He had seen friend capandball on youtube shooting a single shot LePage target pistol, and assumed that ALL handguns worked like that.
 
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Red98422

Red98422

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It’s good to know that some things are reasonably priced over there!

If I end up enjoying this as much as I think I will, I’m probably going to end up with multiples.

I’m hoping I can make time this week to get out and shoot the thing, I’ve got none of the accoutrements yet, but those should be easily sourced.

Thank you for the safety concerns, i take no offense at all to good advice. I’ll probably end up eventually going the lubed felt paid route, but for now just to start I’ll be doing powder/ball for each cylinder then greasing them with Crisco.

And yes eyes and ears at all times for me :D
 

tac

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Pads/Crisco? I use neither. Works just fine for me. Just don't use ANY petroleum-based gloop of any kind. The carbon content plus the heat of the explosion makes it into a very hard to remove crud, that's, uh, hard to remove. ;)
 

MechaNik

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Now that's some good info! Sounds like I'll be looking for an old army in the near future! Now seeing as this thread is about a first bp firearm.... What would you knowledgeable folks suggest for a rifle (musket? I don't know what you'd call them) of the 17/1800s replica variety?
 

AndyinEverson

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@MechaNik
Are you wanting a rifle or a musket...?
They are two very different things for sure.

A Musket is a smoothbore military firearm...generally of a large bore / caliber and usually without a rear sight.
These were in use for a very long time and can be found in Match lock , Wheel Lock , Flintlock and percussion.
A Rifled Musket is again a military firearm , that looks like a musket , but is rifled and usually has a rear sight.

A rifle can be either military or civilian ....
They also can be either flintlock or percussion for the time period you are stating...
As a very general rule the Flintlock came about 1700 and has seen continued use , since then...the percussion since around the late 1820's ...but it really caught on about 10-20 years later , here in America.

Rifles come in many styles and in many cases , regional variations....so depending on just how historically correct you want or need to be , will have to be known , at least for me , if I am to give a better answer....
Andy
 
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tac

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Andy, why don't you just post side-on pics of your collection of guns of the era and see if the OP gets a liking for any particular type and style. My own RECOMMENDATION for a fist long muzzle-loader is always going to be a percussion arm - to learn the ropes, before moving on the the more labour intensive flintlock.
 

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