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Old July 14, 2013, 10:29 PM   #1
n5lyc
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Reenactors vs shooters.

Well yesterday morning, a friend and I went out and shot our cap & ball revolvers.
He shot his 1860 army he hadn't shot in over 20 years, and I shot my newest 1860 army, and my 1862 5.5 inch.36

Afterwards, we talked and cleaned the guns at the range.
(Some moose milk, some water, and bore butter) and a double check on the cleaning later that evening..

In tupelo, they had a civil war camp set up and invited the public after 3pm.

We went to see the camp, met some nice people.

From a black powder enthusiast standpoint, it was a very cool day.

I talked to the guys about their weapons, and they were more than happy to show them off and let you handle them, or try your hand at shooting them (with blank loads of. cream of wheat packed on the powder instead of wads, and I came to understand the reason.)

Most carried Remington's. (due to the ease of reloading charged cylinders)
There were plenty of the standard muzzle loading shotguns, and Enfields, and Zouave's.

But there were a few standouts.
I one guy had a 1863 Sharps Calvary reproduction in .54 caliber (not cartridge, but fired with a musket cap.) (over $1000 online, and it was beat to hell) he could only get it to fire about 1 out of 5 tries..

And one of them had a Smith carbine, I have seen photos before, but never handled one, very cool.. break open, breach loading rubber (yes rubber) cartridge with a flash hole in the rear to let the musket cap set it off. (the smith carbine was a 2008 Pietta) about $900ish from Dixie gun works and had very little bluing left on the barrel, and could get it to fire 1 out 10 times..

They had a 12 pound Napoleon there firing every so often, after talking with the crew, we had a great visit, they instructed me in the operation of the cannon.

Very cool, and very loud.
1 pound of powder every pull of the lanyard..
After the speaker finished they punctuated the end of the speech with a few single and double charges..

Anyway getting back to the topic.

Of all the guns I saw and handled... only 1 just one, was in what i would consider good shape.

The owner said it was a Walker, but it was a 3rd model Dragoon by Uberti..
He had bought it 3 months before, loaded it (powder &cream of wheat), put it in his flap holster, and had not had a chance to shoot it yet.

MOST of the others were similiar with their weapons... Only worse!

All were shooting real black powder, and some were having trouble getting their revolvers to go off when they would let visitors try to fire them.

Many of them were extremely rusted, I asked in passing how often they got cleaned, the most common answer was "when it quits turning, I just dunk it in some hot water, wipe it down, give it a shot of oil and go back to shootin"

There was a smattering of Uberti's, most were ASM or Pietta..

I buy black powder guns often enough I have a list of Italian date codes on my phone.
Most of the guns were 2001 or later...
Some as late as 2010, and were covered in rust.

You know the beautiful 1858 Remington from cabelas with the case hardened frame?, one was so rusted, you could barely see the case hardening..

Very few of the guys had EVER shot a real ball down the tube of their guns..

But the worst part was the safety, even though they were loaded with compressed cream of wheat over the powder, there was very little reguard for muzzle safety. Even at very close range..

Most of them seemed to reguard the weapon as a prop, and not a dangerous weapon.

But I can say the one group that operated with professionalism, and with the utmost concern for safety was the cannon crew.

They sometimes compete in live fire competitions, (2 1/2 lbs of powder per shot)
These were the guys that I migrated to, and had a very enjoyable time with.

I had to thank them for showing me how things worked, the operation, and care of the cannon, and allowing me to pull the lanyard on one charge.

Life don't get much better than that..

But I just don't understand how someone can make a substantial investment in a piece of equipment, and not take care of it.

Even if you do just use it as a prop.

45 Bravo.
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ON THE DATE WHEN US TROOPS ARE ISSUED AN Energy Pulse Weapon,
1. The US Soldier will have on his person a version of the Colt 1911.
2. He will be aiming the NEW Weapon at someone carrying an AK.

Last edited by n5lyc; July 14, 2013 at 11:23 PM.
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Old July 14, 2013, 10:38 PM   #2
4V50 Gary
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Thanks for sharing

Interesting observations.

Generally the sergeant of the unit makes his men clean their weapons. I guess their sergeant doesn't do that. It's a shame.

Turning to muzzle control, they are accurately portraying the Civil War soldier. I've yet to read any regimental or unit history where a soldier isn't killed or wounded because of a negligent discharge by one of his comrades (the term was popular in the US before the Russian Revolution). Again though, a good sergeant should have bawled them out for that.

As for guns not ever having a ball down their chambers or barrel, that is not unusual. It is generally recommended that every reenactor/shooter maintain two identical guns. One is used for reenacting and never has a ball down its chamber or barrel and the other is for shooting.
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Old July 14, 2013, 10:51 PM   #3
n5lyc
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Well, I guess they are being even more historically accurate than they thought.

Being in the south (Tupelo, Ms.) they were all Confederate troops.

And acted as more of a rabble than regular troops..

The cannon cockers were also Confederate but were a organized unit, with an established chain of command.. (They were from Alabama)

They had to wait for the park ranger to finish his speech before firing.

They were short a couple of men, so the seargent also played powder monkey.
(The seargent s the guy with the new Dragoon)


The gun is owned by the #1 man (the guy ramming the charge home)

http://youtu.be/urtRTggx_BM
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I make 2 predictions:
ON THE DATE WHEN US TROOPS ARE ISSUED AN Energy Pulse Weapon,
1. The US Soldier will have on his person a version of the Colt 1911.
2. He will be aiming the NEW Weapon at someone carrying an AK.

Last edited by n5lyc; July 14, 2013 at 11:07 PM.
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Old July 14, 2013, 11:47 PM   #4
Jim Watson
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I know a couple of guys here in artillery units.
I went with one outfit on a live fire practice day. I got to powder monkey on a little "grasshopper gun" left over from the War of 1812, but of course pressed into action along with anything else that would shoot. A zinc shot about the size of a golf ball taped to a wooden sabot was not much accurate, but a bag of rifle balls would put the hurt on a charging enemy.

The battery included a 20 lb Parrott rifle repro that fired 17 lb zinc shot with copper gas check. Accuracy picked right up. All they had that day was 300 yards and you had better keep your head down at that distance. If anybody bothered firing a cannon at an individual and that close.

Powder charges were in aluminum foil cartridges. The foil does not burn or shred so the guns had to be wormed to get it out after every shot.

The other guy is in a full dress mounted artillery unit. I saw a picture of his outfit with the gun limbered up, horses in full gallop, with three crewmen on the limber, two on the near side team horses, the rest following along on saddle horses. His folks have multiple uniforms and even sets of harness to accurately portray different units from different years of the war.

His personal weapon is a Spencer modified to fire .44 blanks single loaded. It is mostly repro but with some original bits and the import markings defarbed. It looks worn all to heck.
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Old July 15, 2013, 02:56 AM   #5
Doc Hoy
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Good original post

And also interesting follow ups.

I have only been to one reenactment event and that was years ago. Very interesting. I had a stateroom mate in the Navy who did reenacting and the most impressive thing about him was his knowledge of the history of the "War of Northern Aggression." He read everything he could get his hands on.

I never got that interested, myself.
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Old July 15, 2013, 02:37 PM   #6
n5lyc
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In college i started out as a Criminal Justice major, then decided on a career that didn't involve me wearing a bulletproof vest everyday, and changed to Computers, with a minor in History.

I have always been interested in history, and that era is interesting, but not so much the military/political aspect.

The history of everyday life is more interesting to me.

I have been to one or 2 other Civil War events, but only as a spectator with the masses.
Not a close up hands on, sitting on a log chatting with the guys.

They asked me if I considered joining, as (according to them) i have the most expensive equipment already bought. the guns.

The more i think about it, the more I sort of like the idea, but for only one reason.
Not so much to be involved in the actual battles (pretending to get shot and laying in the hot sun is not exactly my idea of fun).

But to be the unit armorer, repairing/refurbishing their guns. (doing what I did in the National Guard (45 Bravo) small arms repair)

I wonder if there is any extra money to be made doing that?

Or if they even care to have someone do that..
__________________
I make 2 predictions:
ON THE DATE WHEN US TROOPS ARE ISSUED AN Energy Pulse Weapon,
1. The US Soldier will have on his person a version of the Colt 1911.
2. He will be aiming the NEW Weapon at someone carrying an AK.
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Old July 15, 2013, 06:12 PM   #7
mykeal
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Great thread. Thanks for sharing.

By the way, re:
Quote:
then decided on a career that didn't involve me wearing a bulletproof vest everyday, and changed to Computers,
the IT folks at the last job I worked would disagree about wearing body armor, especially the poor guys on the help desk.
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Old July 16, 2013, 04:10 AM   #8
Bill Akins
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N5lyc, sounds like you had a great day and great time. Too bad about the way they let their guns rust up though. That would make me cringe like fingernails on a chalk board seeing that many rusty guns when they could be kept in perfect condition.

I'm curious though, you said:
"(with blank loads of. cream of wheat packed on the powder instead of wads, and I came to understand the reason.)"

How did they keep the cream of wheat grains they packed over their revolver's powder charge in their chambers from becoming lose and falling out thus letting the powder also fall out of the revolver's cylinder chambers without a paper wad on top of the cream of wheat grains to hold them in the chambers of the cylinders? Also, what was the reason they didn't use paper wads that you said you came to understand?




.
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Old July 16, 2013, 09:41 AM   #9
maillemaker
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Many reenactors are not interested in black powder shooting at all. To them, their firearms are merely stage props that need to make sound and smoke on occasion.

This is one reason why you need to be cautious when buying used BP arms. Some of them can be in poor condition, especially their bores.

Steve
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Old July 16, 2013, 12:35 PM   #10
n5lyc
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I had always wondered about the cream of wheat thing myself until i saw it in action.

It compresses so tightly, it actually makes a solid plug that with stands the blast of firing from the adjacent chambers.

But upon firing it is atomized by the powder blast, and I really suspect it is actually consumed in the firing of the charge.
(anyone remember what a dust explosion in a grain elevator or coal mine does?)

The reason I came to understand why they use that medium as a plug is they do shoot towards each other with these things, and anything that is not completely burned in firing could be dangerous.

In their rifles, they do use paper cartridges to charge the weapon, but just pour the powder down the bore, then fire, no paper wad is placed over the charge, and the charge is not packed down.


In Fast draw, they used to (I don't know if they still do or not) use black powder loads to break balloons at short ranges, as some of the powder fragments were still traveling at velocity to break it.

and yes, I can't stand to see a firearm neglected either...

Like fingernails on the chalkboard..

45 Bravo
__________________
I make 2 predictions:
ON THE DATE WHEN US TROOPS ARE ISSUED AN Energy Pulse Weapon,
1. The US Soldier will have on his person a version of the Colt 1911.
2. He will be aiming the NEW Weapon at someone carrying an AK.
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Old July 16, 2013, 01:04 PM   #11
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Years ago, I used to do Indian Wars re-enacting with the 7th Cavalry, Company E out of Ft. Ransom, ND. Ya know, Custer was perfectly healthy BEFORE he left North Dakota! Anyways, the re-enactors I've dealt with run the gamut of folks like myself that took extremely good care of their weapons (mine still look almost new) to mouth-breathing retards that are along the same lines the OP seen and the condition of their weapons was a joke! I never had any time for those kinds!
I once brought out my 1853 Enfield reproduction (our time span was from 1866 to 1875) that is in excellent condition. One of the slobs made a crack that "I must be new at this." I just told him, "No, I just know how to take care of my gear."
I think one of the best ones though was one mo-tard that had an original Springfield trapdoor cadet rifle. Well, because he was in a cavalry unit, he decided to chop it down to look like a carbine. When we told him what he had and what they were worth, he wanted to sell it for cadet rifle prices! You'd have thought I walked on his grave when I told him, "No, you USED to have a cadet rifle but now you have a chop job pile of parts. I could use the parts so how about $20 but I won't go any higher!"
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Old July 16, 2013, 03:17 PM   #12
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I always say that you can tell a veteran re-enactor during a reenactment by who dies first in the shade.
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Old July 16, 2013, 06:46 PM   #13
Bill Akins
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Thanks for sharing your experience and for explaining the cream of wheat compression. I'll have to try that for loading blanks on the 4th of July and New Years instead of my usual newspaper wads. When I actually shoot projectiles, I usually use cornmeal over my powder charges and under the ball. No grease equals less mess.




.
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"This is my Remy and this is my Colt. Remy loads easy and topstrap strong, Colt balances better and never feels wrong. A repro black powder revolver gun, they smoke and shoot lead and give me much fun. I can't figure out which one I like better, they're both fine revolvers that fit in my leather".
"To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target".
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Old July 17, 2013, 10:29 PM   #14
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When I did CW reenacting the use of paper-i.e. stuffing the cartridge paper down the barrel for a louder noise was VERBOTEN-ditto in Rev War reenacting. Didn't even used ramrods on the battlefield. We only did it during living history and displays. Don't recall anyone using any fillers. Those who carried revolvers covered the mouths of the chambers with grease or shortening.
In Rev War artillery we used tin foil to hold the powder, back then they used linen.
The bore is wormed and wet mopped twice between each round-once in combat if it's really hot and heavy,plus the sergeant or whoever is at the breech of the gun put his thumb over the touchole to create a vacuum and be doubly sure all embers are extinguished.
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Old July 19, 2013, 05:57 PM   #15
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Great post. Thanks very much for the perspective.
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Old July 19, 2013, 06:20 PM   #16
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The reenactments I've been to they used florist foam in the revolvers.
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Old July 19, 2013, 10:47 PM   #17
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The best thing that happened as far as shooters/reenactors are concerned is the use of repros. When the CW re-enacting first got started before 1960, they used original guns, rifle muskets, revolvers, etc. Which meant that antiques got beat up and altered (how about a Remington 1858 with S&W adjustable sights!?!). Then Val Forgett of Navy Arms got the Italians to build repro percussion revolvers and we were off to the races.

Jim
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Old July 20, 2013, 09:53 AM   #18
Hawg
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Quote:
Then Val Forgett of Navy Arms got the Italians to build repro percussion revolvers and we were off to the races.
Val got ASM to build the first repro. I think he himself supplied an original 51 navy and they reverse engineered it. The gun had a bent trigger guard and the very first repros did too because they built it exactly like the original. They had to reengineer them some because they were so exact that experts were convinced they were originals.
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Old July 20, 2013, 10:04 AM   #19
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Florist foam in revolvers as wadding? Why not just newspaper or paper?
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Old July 21, 2013, 06:39 AM   #20
Hawg
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Florist foam disintegrates on firing, paper can and will smolder.
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Old July 21, 2013, 06:46 PM   #21
MattShlock
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The Japanese Bess' also have a flatter-bottom trigger guard as the one they used as a pattern had a banged guard too.

Reenactors use their guns. Not props, but tools. Most I've seen, and I have seen many as I organized ansd participated in historical activities, managed their equipment well. Clean enough. Used. Not abused. I will say Civil War is the most popular reenacting and brings in a wide spectrum of people to "the hobby" of reenacting. I'll even go so far as to say it, O.K.: the most below average. And they do tend to be the most unsafe IMO. But generally they try, are safe, and are supposed to be watched by their leaders.

We had one guy in a unit I was a member of. He got drunk and drove his car into a moat around a fortress. We posted a guard, made sure he didn't choke in his sleep, and he was kicked out of the unit and sent to get professional help with his family. People are people. Danger should not be tolerated and the unit should be embarrassed by poor equipment. It really is for the public!
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Old July 21, 2013, 06:58 PM   #22
4V50 Gary
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Matt - drunk re-enactor should be put in the guardhouse and then forced to participate in being drummed out of the unit. Rogue's March comes to mind.
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Old July 21, 2013, 07:55 PM   #23
David13
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I'm a shooter.
I can understand shooting, even just for the sake of shooting.
But re-enacting? I don't understand it. I can't understand the motivation.
dc
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Old July 21, 2013, 08:30 PM   #24
4V50 Gary
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Re-enactors love history. They try to interpret it for others.

I found talking to them to be fun and educational. They read stuff that I may not have access to. For instance, I didn't know that the Civil War skirmish drills weren't in the condensed drill manuals but found only in the larger, full sized manuals. I learned from another re-enactor that the Royal Americans were a red coated unit (confirmed later by my own research).

Me, I'm just a shooter. I don't want to wear wool clothes in summer. I don't want to freeze my arse off in fall or winter (was invited to spend a night in San Francisco's Fort Point but to walk to the toilet was 75 yards min) and why would I do that when I could sleep in my own warm bed and walk about ten short steps to the potty at home?
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Old July 22, 2013, 07:27 AM   #25
ChaperallCat
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hmmm who doesnt want to pay 700 for a musket, 200 for a hat, and 900 for clothes, boots, etc just so that they can march in a line and make make believe as they "interactively live out someone elses intepretation" of something that happened 200 years ago?
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