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McPhee
October 14, 2010, 09:47 PM
I have been trying to learn as much as I can about BP shooting while I am laid up with some health issues.

Anyway I read several excellent posts going back to page 50 or so of this forum. I saw some good photos of a chain fire. I know that chain fire can be from ignition behind an ill fitting cap or forgetting to cap. I know that chain fire can come from fire getting by the ball in another chamber and touching it off. I know there is the wad method or the grease method commonly used to block the spark from entering the front of the chamber. And I know some chain fires have been attributed to a spark going through a crack in the cylinder wall.

Now, my question is what happens to the loaded chamber that explodes next to the one lined up with the barrel. Where does all that pressure go? What happens to the round ball? What has or can happen to the shooter? I have read that most of the time there is little or no damage to the gun.

Fingers McGee
October 14, 2010, 10:37 PM
There is usually no damage to the gun. I have had one chainfire in all my years (30+) of shooting BP. The only indication that it had happened - other than the double ignition - was a smudge of lead on the wedge. I have been around when others have had chainfires with similar results. The ball usually goes downrange at about 15 to 20 degrees from the muzzle direction, unless it is the bottom chamber that goes off, then it could lodge in the loading ram and possibly damage the barrel or arbor. Every one I've ever seen go off were one or both of the chambers to the left of the one lined up with the barrel. I've never seen anyone hurt by a chainfire; but have heard that is has happened.

Ideal Tool
October 14, 2010, 10:37 PM
Hello, McPhee, Years ago, I had my only chain fire..I was shooting a .36 Navy Arms 1851 Colt copy. To tell the truth..nothing really exciting happened..I noticed one chamber empty on left side of cyl. but didn,t feel any increased recoil or noise. Now I was using grease over balls & so I think flash over from fired cap did it. Now if it had of been a chamber in line with loading lever...that would have been interesting!

Noz
October 15, 2010, 08:42 AM
I had 4 chain fires, due to a bad alloy(too hard) with no damage to the guns.

Doc Hoy
October 15, 2010, 12:02 PM
My one chain fire event occured when shooting a brass frame 1851 pattern sheriff's model in .36. I am convinced it was from an ill fitting cap.

The chamber just to the left of the chamber in battery ignited. I did not see any damage to the pistol but heard the second chamber go off. Little bit of a smudge on the barrel lug and wedge.

But when I took the pistol apart, I noticed that the arbor was loose. Arbor was tight when I bought the pistol but it was not NIB so the arbor may bave been getting ready to work its way loose. The chain fire may just have been the last straw.

I don't shoot the pistol any more because I think it is haunted.

Rifleman1776
October 15, 2010, 01:46 PM
A good reason to use only soft lead balls is because they will clear the sides in a chain fire. Usually no damage is done. In 40+ years I have had none and have seen only one. Still, I take all precautions.

Model-P
October 15, 2010, 04:22 PM
Wedges on the Colt design are locked pretty solidly in the barrel. What about the cylinder pin head on an 1858? That's what I've always wondered about as far as a chainfire. Does a chainfire cause the loading lever to unseat and slam down?

tater134
October 15, 2010, 04:33 PM
Wedges on the Colt design are locked pretty solidly in the barrel. What about the cylinder pin head on an 1858? That's what I've always wondered about as far as a chainfire. Does a chainfire cause the loading lever to unseat and slam down?

I had a chainfire in my 58 and I only had a some lead on the head of the cylinder pin where the ball hit.The loading lever stayed in place.

mrappe
October 15, 2010, 05:44 PM
I had 4 chain fires, due to a bad alloy(too hard) with no damage to the guns.

Why would hard alloy cause a chain fire?

Fingers McGee
October 15, 2010, 06:39 PM
Why would hard alloy cause a chain fire?

I think Noz was talking about the balls being too hard and not sealing the chambers when rammed in. Too hard of an alloy could cause voids in the balls when casting that would allow HOT GASSES to pass to the powder. Dead soft balls will swage to fill the chamber and not allow HOT GASSES get by to the powder.

Of course, I could be reading Noz's response all wrong.

mykeal
October 15, 2010, 07:26 PM
Sparks don't cause chain fires. Hot gasses cause chain fires.

Fingers McGee
October 15, 2010, 11:36 PM
Thank you Mykeal. Correction made.

:D

Hawg
October 16, 2010, 05:09 AM
I had a lot of them when I was a kid with a 58 Remington. No damage to the gun and I had all six go off at once. The loading lever did break after a couple of years but I think that was mostly from over stressing it by trying to ram balls down on too much powder. A ball fired from just the cylinder doesn't have much force. It will only go a few yards.

astorbilt
October 24, 2010, 10:12 AM
I witnessed one chain fire as an RO in a CAS shoot. Shooter dropped the pistol because the hot gasses from the nipple burned his hand. A little un nerving. He always tops off chambers w/ bore butter. Must have been a loose cap.

Hawg
October 24, 2010, 12:12 PM
I've still got that old Remington. You can leave all the caps off but one and it wont chain. Leave the chambers uncoated or don't use a wad and it will.

Noz
October 25, 2010, 09:40 AM
Fingers is correct. In my early days of messing with these things I attempted to make some "pretty" balls. I wanted them to look shiny. Got the alloy too hard in attempting this and and had some poorly cast wrinkled balls that I used because "everyone knows if it's cutting a ring it's sealing the chamber". Don't believe it. I now use only dead soft lead and am still spooky enough that each powder charge is covered by a homemade lubed felt wad.