Recent range trip
My recent range trip:
I brought 4 guns which would have been too many for the 2 hours I had planned but then I had problems with two of them. I took my Pietta 1860 Army and my Uberti Remington NMA, 1851 five inch barrel, and 1849 Pocket Pistol.
I previously had issues with .375 balls not being large enough to stay seated in the 1851. In fact, they sometimes pulled out of the chamber when withdrawing the ram. I tried .380 cast balls. The short ram on this 5 inch barrel would not apply enough leverage without attaching the SlixShot load handle. These balls worked fine and shot well with 24 grains of Pyrodex P and a lubed felt wad. However, after the sixth shot the revolver would not drop the bolt when the hammer was moved to half cock. So the 1851 went back in the shooting bag.
The 1849 Pocket pistol was brand new never fired before. I loaded .323 cast balls over 15 grains of Pyrodex P and a lubed felt wad. I had some problems getting the small spout to measure consistently but got beyond that with some practice. The pistol shot high as expected but grouped pretty well for the first five shots. After the 5th shot the hammer could not be cocked so the 49 went back in the bag.
Next I shot 60 rounds out of the 1860. Most were .454 balls over 30 grain Pyrodex pellets and a lubed felt wad (yeah I know you purists will cringe). I finally have this revolver shooting to the point of aim. It has always grouped well with this load. The last 12 shots were the same balls over 35 grains of Pyrodex P and the lubed felt wad. Point of aim changed very little and the groups were still good. There is probably room for 40 grains.
I’ve continue to enjoy shooting the Uberti Remington NMA. This has to be the highest quality repro I’ve ever owned outside of a 2nd gen Colt 1860 Army I had years ago. A true joy to shoot. Shoots to point of aim. I shot 12 shots with the 30 grain Pyrodex pellets, lubed felt wad, and .454 balls. It groups better than the Pietta 1860 Army but I think this is mostly due to the improved sights. Then I switched to 35 grains of Pyrodex P and got a little bit better groups with the final 12 shots when I ran out of time. There is definitely room for 40 grains.
When I got home I discovered the following:
1851 – had a single cap that had worked its way down to between the hammer notches and the trigger. Once removed everything was OK.
1849 – had three caps in the works! I’m surprised that I got off 5 shots. Once removed everything was OK. See pic
1860 – had two caps that the hammer had mashed between it and the frame. I never noticed any problems so the 1860 seems to be more tolerant of caps although none had entered the works. Fouling on this pistol was like sludge. I have been using TW25B on the arbor. This was the first time out in very hot weather (95 F) and I loaded and fired 60 shots one after the other. I plan to go back to Bore Butter.
Remington NMA – Nothing out of the ordinary and a relatively quick clean up since I only fired 24 shots.
Ballistol – I used it for the first time for cleaning. I works great but I don’t care for the smell of it (my nose says licorice mixed with baby puke). I guess I’ll have to get used to it.
Disclaimer – I don’t recommend anyone follow my loads. I am a believer in going to the maximum safe load that continues to be accurate. I noted recently that Mike Belleview was using 35 grains of black powder (3F) while shooting conical bullets. I feel that 35 grains with the lighter round balls is safe. I have seen evidence that NMA’s have been reliably shot with 40 grain loads with round balls. I suspect the 1860 Army will handle it but at the cost of eventually loosening the frame and arbor.