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Old October 16, 2006, 11:54 PM   #1
Trigger_Hippy
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Join Date: October 14, 2006
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How Do You Load Your Le Mat?

My Le Mat should show up in about two weeks. So far I'm not doing very good with the waiting. Heh. I've never owned a bp shotgun with a 5" barrel before. How do all you Le Mat owners out there like to load yours?

I did find this article about loading them, but would appreciate anything you folks can add. Thanks.
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl..._86704796/pg_1

--T
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Old October 18, 2006, 12:20 PM   #2
mec
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I wrote that article and later did some shooting with another Identical Lemat so I will add this from my book "Percussion Pistols and Revolvers...."


Our observations come from two examples, both of which function very much alike and present similar issues in the areas of design and execution. The first revolver was a Navy Arms Cavalry Model several years old. The current example-also a Cavalry Model, built in 2004 came from Dixie Gun Works. The metal and grip finish on the earlier model appears superior to the new revolver but the newer one has a lighter trigger pull. Both exhibit perfect revolver function and timing. The chamber mouth diameter on the current revolver measures .447” as does the groove to groove and forcing cone measurements of the barrel. The .451 diameter ball is correct and a ring of lead shears from the ball during seating.
The shot barrel is .635” and, with both revolvers, does not function reliably without special treatment. Also poorly designed and problematic is the loading lever assembly. The internal lock work is quite robust and functionally reliable. The cylinder cam is a circular spring -adjustable by means of a timing screw that impinges through the right side of the frame. The cylinder-locking bolt is a cam operated rod powered by a coil spring and should be much more durable than the flat spring -operated bolt of the Colts. The trigger-return spring performs only the function of resetting the trigger and is much larger than the combination bolt/trigger spring of other designs.
Shooting the Lemat
The loading lever of the LeMat works by compound linkage by pulling the arm up and backward to move the short seating ram into the chamber. It aligns with the eleven o'clock chamber-a circumstance that proves less salubrious than the lever positioning of the Colt and Remington revolvers. One shooter of a modern replica experienced an eleven o'clock chain fire that carried off his loading lever assembly. Such occurrences with the Colt and Remington seldom damage the revolvers. The lever arm is hollow and contains a separate ramrod for loading the shot barrel. This ramrod must remain inside the assembly or the arm will bend. The chambers are shorter than other .44 revolvers. They hold a charge of about 30 grains of FFFg or Pyrodex P. Because of the short throw of the ram, lighter charges would need filler material to allow full seating of the ball. This is a heavy revolver and recoil is quite mild. Upon firing, the loading lever bounces up out of the fragile U-shaped retaining stirrup and flings the ramrod out on the ground. Frequent tightening of the main loading lever screw will minimize this. The barrel latch and the bottom-front of the frame will unseat and drop downward when the gun fires. This becomes worse as the gun breaks in. A paper wedge will correct the tendency. Launching of the central ramrod is a problem and the thing will become lost unless firmly wedged into the hollow ram handle. Some shooters report that the loaded and capped shot barrel will fire inadvertently during normal shooting of the revolver. In general though, the shot barrel will not fire at all without multiple strikes of the hammer.
The revolver is quite accurate at twenty -five yards and handles fired percussion caps very reliably. Functional hang-ups almost never occur. Nine rounds routinely go down range with perfect and repeatable reliability.
Firing the Shot BarrelVery likely, the traits of the replica revolvers discussed to this point are the same as with the originals. One original development was replacement of the barrel latch with a more positive screw /turn- lug attachment. The lack of reliability from the shot barrel may very well stem from the difference in modern lead stipenate percussion caps and the original and very volatile mercury fulminate caps used in the 19th century. With the hammer rotated downward to fire the shot barrel, length of throw is less than one inch. The nose strikes the cap at an angle. Even with the very strong LeMat main spring, there is not enough force to set off a primer on the first hit. For reliable ignition of the shot barrel it is necessary to stone down the Remington or CCI caps until the top of the cup is foil-thin. (The percussion cap could possibly go off and cause injury during this process.) The CCI cap requires about twice the stoning as the Remington to arrive at the same amount of reduction). It is also beneficial to make sure the nipple and ignition channel are free of any lubricant. References to the proper charge for the shot barrel are few and suspect. Navy Arms suggests loading a sixty-caliber ball over no more than 25 grains of FFFg or substitute. Pietta, the manufacturer, suggests ¾ to one ounce of buck shot with 35 grains of powder. We have used a number of combinations of shot loads ranging from seven or eight .31 “ balls to 3/4ounce of shot ranging from # 2 to #8 over charges of Pyrodex P ranging from twenty- five to sixty grains/ volume equivalent. The twenty- five- grain charge, well wadded and packed in, will barely discharge the shot from the barrel. The heavier loads are well over the maximum from any published source. The shooter who uses them does so at his own risk. They cause considerable recoil and even then, the buckshot bounces off seasoned wood that a .22 Long Rifle round would fully penetrate. The buck shot rounds will stay within the confines of a man-sized silhouette at 20 feet, and not beyond that range. .31” buckshot will penetrate a 1” pine board at 20 feet (except for shot on the outside edge of the pattern) and #8 Birdshot will penetrate to a depth of 3/8” with small game-effective patterns to forty feet.
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Old October 18, 2006, 06:58 PM   #3
Trigger_Hippy
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Thanks Mec

Now that's why I love the internet; meet the guy who wrote the book. I was glad to see in the exerpt you posted from your work that you also tested the Pietta, the only manufacturer of new Le Mats that I know of (and the people who made mine). When I finally get to shoot my new gun I'll post a range report. It'll be more enthusiasm than technical knowledge, but I guess it's always good to get another data point.

In case you don't already haunt the place, there's another great bp forum you may wish to check out: http://www.voy.com/60048/
Wayne and Smokin' Gun are regulars there. It's a pretty active forum with some knowledgable shooters who like to share their info (and bad jokes).

--T
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Old October 18, 2006, 07:08 PM   #4
mec
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I'll be interested in that. actually Pietta makes all the Lemats. they started in 1985 doing them for Navy Arms, Dixie and cabelas for a while.
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Old February 25, 2008, 01:40 PM   #5
Barry252
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New LeMat Owner

I just bought a Pietta LeMat replica and I'm finding a lot of conflicting info on loading. The Pietta book that cam with the gun says to use a max of 15grains of FFF BP. mac's article says he used 30 grains. Is 30 grains safe? I've also found that the Pietta Lemat uses #11 caps. I bought #11 CCI caps and they just fell right off the nipples. I don't think pinching the caps is prudent, so I will try #10's as soon as I can find them.
My Lemat is a big, beautiful piece of iron with fine craftsmanship throughout. The Takedown lever (cavalry model) is extremely tight and I have not yet taken it down.
Do you have some recent loading and shooting experience you can share?
Barry

Last edited by Barry252; February 25, 2008 at 08:53 PM. Reason: spelling fix
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Old February 25, 2008, 06:00 PM   #6
mykeal
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You might find Remington No. 11's fit okay; they're shorter. See my recent post on cap sizes on this forum.
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Old March 2, 2008, 04:11 PM   #7
Barry252
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Cool!! I'm just back from the range. I fired off 25 rounds and really drew a crowd. My first shot was loaded with 15 gr of FFF, a wonder wad and a .451 Traditions ball. The powder was dispensed with a replica Colt Flask with a 15 grain spout. This spout actually dispenses a tad more that 15 grains; about 17 grains as measured by a second powder measure. A loading stand is REQUIRED.
I couldn't find any #10 caps, so I went ahead and used the #11 CCI caps. I pinched the caps into a slight oval and they fit pretty well. Even firing a full cylinder did not dislodge any of the caps. No Chain fires or misfires. All was well.
The first round was loaded and fired as a single shot. I then loaded 2 Cylinders, fired them and then 3 and fired them. No issues at all.
The recoil was mild. At 25 yards, the shots were about 8" high, but straight. I used a two handed stance.
The gun handles used caps very well; they easily roll out of the loading area. The only area I had to take care with was the lead ring sheared from the ball when rammed home. Tap the gun to the left to dump the ring or it could get wedged into between the barrel frame and the cylinder.
There is powder residue everywhere. I've taken the gun down and cleaned the parts and am waiting for them to dry in the oven. I'll lube them up again when I reassamble it.
In summary: Great gun! A lot of work to load, but an accurate and reliable shooter when taken care of.
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Old March 2, 2008, 04:32 PM   #8
Hawg
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I don't have a LeMat but you can't overload a steel frame bp revolver. If the cylinder will turn it's safe to shoot. I use 35 grs. in my 60 Colt with no top strap.
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