The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The North Corral > Black Powder and Cowboy Action Shooting

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old October 25, 2008, 01:05 PM   #1
Raider2000
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 23, 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 717
Keeping a Cap & Ball Revolver loaded.

In the thread Thinking of buying a 1858 bp. I see where it could turn a different direction & sort of hijacking "SORRY" so I thought to use my 30 years experience in these fine pieces to explain a little if some like myself wish to keep a C&B revolver loaded for an extended time without possibly high jacking someone else thread.

I grew up like many from my generation & prior around different firearms & was taught at a young age to only touch them when given permission to but have respect of them and all around us especially when a firearm was present & later I learned how to shoot & possibly hunt using these firearms where I believe is almost entirely lost to many in today’s generation.

With that said, I learned how to load & fire my Great Great Grandfathers 1851 Colt Navy .36 caliber back in 1977 & as many in that time would keep a pistol, rifle or shotgun loaded for just in case purposes & my home was no different including sometime keeping that '51 loaded from time to time so here is what I had learned in keeping these old pistols loaded & reliable for even months at a time possibly years.

First off is to find a load that works best for your particular firearm because each has its own quirks & dislikes just like their modern brethren, if your piece likes the wads under the bullet see if it'll like the wad with no lube "you'll understand in a moment."

Once you have the load pinned down then here is what I learned will make your C&B Revolver reliable & as weather resistant as today’s modern center fire cartridge weapons.

After you have thoroughly cleaned your piece & have it dry, take the assembled cylinder "cones installed" & have a cleaning patch soaked in 91% rubbing alcohol & run it through each chamber like you would when you were cleaning it, this will eliminate any oils & water that may be still in there, now dry it with another patch & then again with Q-Tips, be sure to dry the Cones "nipples" as well.

Either in a loading tool or in the revolver load your measured powder & then a dry wad & bullet or just a Ball or Conical into the chambers except one, this will be the chamber that your hammer will be lowered down on for safety’s sake.
Then after capping the cones of the loaded chambers use some candle or bees wax to cover the percussion caps & if you want some lube at the bullet use a 50/50 Wax & Crisco "or your preferred lube over the bullets, now your loaded cylinder will withstand the elements short of going swimming with it.

Here is the reason I suggest a unlubed wad "if your piece likes the wads," lube over time can possibly leach into the powder charge from these wads & maybe even the lube pills rendering the weapon at best a slightly less effective load or at worse a failure to fire & what I mean by over time is if the firearm is left in this state for more than say a week or so.

My loads for 3 of my revolvers that from time to time may be loaded for as long as a year "in one case."

Pietta 1858 NMA 5.5" barrel
29gr. FFFG Goex.
220gr. .456 Lee cast Conical lubed with 50/50 Beeswax & Crisco.
Remington #11 caps
Candle Wax melted over the caps to seal
Very effective & quite accurate from this little piece, mostly has been my companion on the club checking traps & stand locations for almost a year now.

Uberti 1858 NMA 8" barrel
29gr. FFFG Goex.
Dry Wool wad.
142gr. .457 Cast Ball
lubed over the ball with 50/50 Beeswax & Crisco.
Remington #11 caps
Candle Wax melted over the caps to seal
My most accurate load & pistol out to 25 yards.

Pietta 1860 Army 8" barrel
25gr. FFFG Goex.
142gr. .457 Cast Ball
lubed over the ball with 50/50 Beeswax & Crisco.
Remington #11 caps
Candle Wax melted over the caps to seal
Been with me for over 25 years & has never failed to fire even after being loaded for over a year including being caught in the rain while working the fields.

So yes with some patience & knowledge you can keep one of these pieces loaded for a long time but just be safe in doing it.
Raider2000 is offline  
Old October 25, 2008, 01:33 PM   #2
60's Refugee
Member
 
Join Date: September 21, 2008
Location: Galion, Ohio
Posts: 34
There must have been a practicle way, since many gun toters back in the day holstered their loaded CB's and spent the rest of the day, week, month doing their everyday chores. Unlike the movies, westerners didn't spend everyday shooting at stuff. I have seen contemporary photos of cowboys and such wearing a CB revolver with no cap or cartridge box on the belt. Not only was the weapon loaded (presumed) but they obviously didn't intend to need a reload. I wonder how corrosive unfired BP is in a cylinder over time?

Harry
60's Refugee is offline  
Old October 25, 2008, 02:06 PM   #3
Hawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 11,862
Quote:
I wonder how corrosive unfired BP is in a cylinder over time?
It's not corosive at all. It's the fired residue that's hydroscopic but even that isn't nearly as corrosive as most folks make it out to be. It was the old mercury caps that were so corrosive that gave bp it's corrosive reputation. Now I'm not saying to let a fired gun sit uncleaned for 6 months or more but a few days to a week wont hurt anything. Pyrodex is supposed to be more corrosive than bp and I let a fired 58 Remington sit for nine days without any rust or corrosion. I found an original 58 Remington in a barn once with all six chambers loaded and capped. The gun was in pretty bad shape but cleaned up well enough to shoot. I pulled the balls and actually fired the powder out of a repro 58. The inside of the chambers were as bright and shiny as new ones.
Hawg is offline  
Old October 25, 2008, 07:19 PM   #4
simonkenton
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 25, 2008
Posts: 891
I have kept a cap and ball revolver loaded for two years, and it fired fine. Seemed like it had full power.
I put 28 grains of black powder in the .44, and the ball, no wad.
I put no wax or grease on the ball or cap. Just setting in a drawer, it doesn't look like much humid air would get past the cap, or the ball.

I have been thinking of trying the beeswax on the cap and over the ball, it certainly couldn't hurt.
I have a .44 in the drawer right here that has been loaded for 3 years.
I might take it out tomorrow and try it out.
I will put up some boards and try a penetration test, compared with a fresh reload.
simonkenton is offline  
Old October 25, 2008, 07:48 PM   #5
Raider2000
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 23, 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 717
The wax over the caps is more for if you take it out like I do mine into the club property where the weather may turn wet a bit but otherwise if it's in your home you should be fine without that.
Raider2000 is offline  
Old October 28, 2008, 07:39 PM   #6
Double J
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 12, 2007
Location: So. Illinois
Posts: 547
Not Corrosive?

Sulprur and salt peter aren't corrosive?
Double J is offline  
Old October 28, 2008, 08:55 PM   #7
mykeal
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 8, 2006
Location: Northern Michigan
Posts: 2,765
Quote:
Sulprur and salt peter aren't corrosive?
Nope.
mykeal is offline  
Old October 28, 2008, 11:46 PM   #8
Double J
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 12, 2007
Location: So. Illinois
Posts: 547
I learn something new every day.
Double J is offline  
Old October 29, 2008, 01:09 PM   #9
Deadguy
Member
 
Join Date: April 17, 2008
Location: WI
Posts: 93
Sulphur by itself is not corrosive. Mix it with water, however, and then you get Sulphuric Acid, which is one of the most corrosive substances on the planet.
Deadguy is offline  
Old October 29, 2008, 01:52 PM   #10
Hawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 11,862
Quote:
Sulphur by itself is not corrosive. Mix it with water, however, and then you get Sulphuric Acid,
When you mix sulphur and water you get wet sulpher. Sulphur is insoluble in water. Mix sulphur dioxide and water and you get sulphuric acid.
Hawg is offline  
Old October 30, 2008, 02:12 AM   #11
arcticap
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 15, 2005
Location: Central Connecticut
Posts: 2,973
Supposedly if the relative humidity is under 30%, then the residue is pretty harmless. But what forms is hard and more like a crust.
arcticap is offline  
Old October 30, 2008, 04:11 AM   #12
Hawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 11,862
I don't think I've ever seen humidity under 85%.
Hawg is offline  
Old October 30, 2008, 07:26 PM   #13
Smokin_Gun
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 4, 2005
Location: Mojave Desert, CA
Posts: 1,195
I keep a couple '58 Rems Loaded and out while home. Jus' loaded with 30gr loads and a 14?gr round ball in each of six chambers...with a well fitted CCI cap on each cone. Longest Rev I have had loaded was one & a Half years. My1873BP Uberti 7.5" bbl. Colt S.A.A. ... all six went bang clang!

Bottom one is a Pietta with belt, holster,seven cylinder pouches, and seven spare cylinders $450 + $20 S & H...


That Uberti is one of the most accurate C&B Revs I have ever shot.

SG
__________________
"I Smoke Black Powder" "Favor an 1858 Remington"
SGT. Smokin' Gun, Mosby's Rangers 43rd Virginia Cavalry C.S.A.
SASS# 19634, ...
Admin:http://blackpowdersmoke.com/oldcoots/index.php
Smokin_Gun is offline  
Old November 3, 2008, 09:54 AM   #14
Double J
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 12, 2007
Location: So. Illinois
Posts: 547
Keeping a B-P gun Loaded

I live on the last bump before falling in the creek. Summertime humidity averages 100%. During the winter it's worse. To keep smoke pole loaded overnight is begging for problems. Guess that's why my ancestors also relied on the bow and arrow and rabbit sticks.
The guns were hung (unloaded) above doorways in a heated part of the house or over a fire place just to keep them dry and ready to go.
During survival trips I quickly found that keeping a loaded B-P gun in the tent didn't work. Condensation quickly turns the powder charge to goo. Powder horns often soaked through. Powder had to be dumped out to dry near a smouldering camp fire. (A last resort, have to, or go hungry method.)
Out in an arid portion of the country, no humidity, no weather changes, maybe it'd work. All I can say is go for it.
Double J is offline  
Old November 3, 2008, 10:36 AM   #15
Musketeer
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 12, 2005
Posts: 3,732
1. Thank you for the very detailed information on keeping a BP revolver loaded for an extended period of time. I can see some people have methods that appear to work for them.

2. I don't see the point of it.

I like BP and have an old Spiller & Burr replica I used to shoot. The bottom line though is if I think the situation warrants having a loaded handgun ready why on earth would I handicap myself with a weapon which is especially prone to degradation of its ammunition? Sorry, no amount of magic sealing techniques will ever make the BP cylinder more reliable than modern factory cased ammunition. Even Hickok was known to fire his pair of BP revolvers daily and reload them to make certain they were always ready to go. Guys may have rode around with BP revolvers at the ready but it was not because they preferred them, it was because they were the only game in town (or only thing they could afford).

While I find the information here interesting I put it in the category of how to build the Parthenon with Bronze Age Technology; cool to know but completely inapplicable in the modern day.
__________________
"Religions are all alike - founded upon fables and mythologies." Thomas Jefferson

"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." Benjamin Franklin
Musketeer is offline  
Old November 3, 2008, 12:24 PM   #16
simonkenton
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 25, 2008
Posts: 891
My post above:

I have kept a cap and ball revolver loaded for two years, and it fired fine. Seemed like it had full power.
I put 28 grains of black powder in the .44, and the ball, no wad.
I put no wax or grease on the ball or cap. Just setting in a drawer, it doesn't look like much humid air would get past the cap, or the ball.

I have been thinking of trying the beeswax on the cap and over the ball, it certainly couldn't hurt.
I have a .44 in the drawer right here that has been loaded for 3 years.
I might take it out tomorrow and try it out.
I will put up some boards and try a penetration test, compared with a fresh reload.


I am in the North Carolina mountains. Very high humidity.
What is worse I am right on the French Broad River. Every other night the fog rolls in from the river and envelops the house. I am in a cloud all night long, which is, I imagine, 100 per cent humidity.
I do have a window unit in my little log cabin, but run it only on the hottest days. Always at night, in the summer, I am running fans to blow the ultra humid air through the house, I mean, it is humid, but it is cool.
Besides my pistols, I have a Savage muzzleloader that I keep loaded. I just fired it three days ago, it had been loaded for 11 months. It fired flawlessly and was dead on accurate.
Now, these muzzleloaders are kept inside the house. Lugging them around the woods in heavy dew, or rain, that would be a different story, I'm sure.
I have no doubt that the pioneers who lived here 200 years ago kept their muzzleloaders loaded all the time. They couldn't afford to discharge their guns every day, and they didn't have access to enough gun powder to do that.
simonkenton is offline  
Old November 3, 2008, 12:33 PM   #17
zxcvbob
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 20, 2007
Location: S.E. Minnesota
Posts: 4,215
Quote:
Mix sulphur dioxide and water and you get sulphuric acid.
Sulfur Trioxide + water yields H2SO4.
__________________
"The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun"
zxcvbob is offline  
Old November 3, 2008, 03:02 PM   #18
mykeal
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 8, 2006
Location: Northern Michigan
Posts: 2,765
Quote:
why on earth would I handicap myself with a weapon which is especially prone to degradation of its ammunition?
Indeed. Why would you? Unfortunately, you misunderstand the data. BP is NOT 'especially prone to degradation'. There is a large body of evidence on these forums that bp loads over 150 years old are still viable.
Quote:
no amount of magic sealing techniques will ever make the BP cylinder more reliable than modern factory cased ammunition
Yep. And nobody said it was MORE reliable. It's just as reliable.
Quote:
Even Hickok was known to fire his pair of BP revolvers daily and reload them to make certain they were always ready to go.
Hickock fired his revolvers daily and reloaded them and fired them again, several times, and then reloaded again, not only to ensure they were loaded and ready to go, but for practice and proficiency, which is the real reason one shouldn't just leave them loaded - shoot them for practice, then reload them.
mykeal is offline  
Old November 3, 2008, 03:43 PM   #19
Raider2000
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 23, 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 717
I have heard about sweating in a muzzle loader causing the weapon to be ineffective at the moment of truth but in my experience I have not had this happen to me.

If we have the sweating issue going on in all the muzzle loaders I'm wondering if it is due to the percussion cap not on the cone or insufficient sealing at the bullet because I rational this question to the modern cartridge that gets subject to the same elements as a muzzle loader & yet does not have this sweating issue that I hear so much about.

My thoughts as to why I've never experienced this issue is because the fron of the chamber as well as the percussion cap areas are sealed from the elements & since no new air & moisture can get into the loaded charge it has nothing in there to cause the collection of moisture, similar to a cartridge arm where essentialy they are sealed from the elements & Like mykeal mentioned "ther have been 150 year old ordanance, rifles & revolvers dug up still ready to go off."

Now if those of us that take our side lock rifles out for hunting but not shot it that day & like here in Virginia need to take the primer off to make the weapon inert should think about a simple rubber cap for vacuum lines to place back over the cone to prevent moisture from going into that area, or just shoot the load off & clean for the next day.
I've been doing that for years including in -5*F days & still taken it inside my +68*F home & still not had an issue.
Raider2000 is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:47 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.12959 seconds with 9 queries