Guess this is kinda long
10. Find your most accurate load by firing at regular targets, at a known range (usually 25 yards) and keep meticulous notes. I use a large sheet of plywood as a holder, covered in butcher paper. Then I place the target in the middle of this. Having such a wide area will reveal any tell-tale flyers that show a load is inaccurate.
Holes in the white paper can be covered with a bit of cheap, narrow masking tape. Holes in the black may be covered with black target pasters (available at gun stores) or black electrician's tape.
I keep notes of each session, showing date, temperature, components, wind direction in relation to which direction I'm shooting and other factors. It's amazing how much this can mean down the road.
Many shooters think, "I'm just going to plink with it and I don't want to go through all that bother."
Perhaps. But you still want to hit that can, don't you? A little tedious work at the beginning will determine your most accurate load --- and result in a lot of cans lying label-down in the dust.
11. Check the tightness of your screws regularly when firing. I've lost screws that backed out from recoil. The Colt designs are particularly troublesome for this. The screws in the loading lever of a Colt design are particularly prone to jump ship and find a new home in the grass or rocks. They are exceedingly difficult to find.
A cheap metal detector will pay for itself in found screws and missing cartridge cases from modern guns --- if all those .22 rimfire cases common to shooting areas don't confuse it.
12. Colt revolvers, whether original or reproductions, shoot high. They were made to hit dead-on at about 75 yards. My little Colt 1862 Pocket Model hits dead on at about 100-yards! Its groups cluster about 10 inches above the point of aim at 25 yards, from a benchrest. My Colt Navy hits about 6 inches high at 25 yards.
Reproduction Remingtons have tall front sights and shoot low because of it. This must be intentional, to allow you to carefully file down the front sight, thus bringing the group up to hit dead-on at 25 or 50 yards (whichever you prefer).
However, do this filing at the range and only one or two swipes at a time on the front sight.
My Remington .44 shot about 14 inches low when I first got it. I've filed the front sight a bit, bringing it to shoot about 6 inches low at 25 yards from a benchrest.
I'm doing one pass of the file at a time to slowly bring it up. It's tedious work, but it assures that I'll have it dead-on eventually.
However, watch not only your sight alignment as you file but the appearance of the barrel. In some revolvers, the view of the frame in the sight alignment will interfere with the view of the front sight. If this is the case, you simply have to stop before the front sight is obscured, and aim low to compensate.
Shooting cap and ball revolvers is a fascinating, fun hobby. To keep everything together, buy a large fishing box with plenty of compartments. As time goes by, you'll find yourself adding more items and gadgets to the box. You may also buy other revolvers in different calibers, each requiring their own wads, balls and caps.
Aside from caps, balls, lubricants, wads and powder add the following to your box:
Small notebook and pencils.
Push-tacks for targets.
Fine-tip felt pen for writing on targets you wish to keep. The felt tip shows up better.
Length of wooden dowel, to tap out a stuck bullet. For the .36-caliber, use 5/16 dowel. For the .44, use 7/16 dowel.
Small brass mallet.
Plenty of pre-cut patches for cleaning.
1/8" brass rod, about 5 inches long. If you get a ball stuck in a chamber without powder, remove the cylinder from the revolver and the nipple behind the stuck ball. Insert the brass rod where the nipple was and tap out the ball.
Small spray bottle of soapy water for quick swabbing.
Masking tape and black electrician's tape or target pasters.
Q-Tips and pipe cleaners.
Various powder measures. Lee makes a dipper set that is very good. I have an excellent pistol measure that adjusts from 10 to 30 grains in 1-grain increments. Alas, I can't remember who made it.
Good-sized rag to wipe hands.
Pistol loading stand.
New nipples, set of six. I always replace nipples as a set. This way, if one starts to go bad I can figure the others are not far behind.
White grease pencil, to number chambers on the cylinder. This can show you which chamber is the most accurate or bothersome at the range, yet it's not a permanent marking. White grease pencils are found in stationery stores. They're often used to mark the back of china plates, and such.
Sight Black by Birchwood Casey. This spray-can puts a thin layer of jet-black carbon on your sights. This is particularly useful on Colt revolvers with their brass bead that glares in the sun. Sight Black is easily rubbed or washed off.
Film container to put scrap lead in. I save my lead shavings and any recovered balls for the melting pot. Stingy me, I know!
Spare parts such as mainspring, trigger spring, screws, wedge and so on. This can save you weeks of waiting for a new part.
It took me years to learn much of what I've offered here, much of it through trial, error and "Hey, why couldn't I? â€¦" I have no doubt you'll learn something new from it and you may even disagree with something but it's offered to advance the sport of cap and ball revolver shooting.
I'm still learning, after nearly 35 years of shooting cap and ball revolvers. I expect I'll lie in my grave and mutter, "Damn, why didn't I try that?"
Copyright by "Gatofeo" 2003. Printed by permission.
"And therein did I see an ugly cat. Blue smoke. Brimstone. Holes in paper. And this ugly cat was much amused." --- the prophesies of Gatodamus (1503 - 1566).