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Old February 24, 2009, 12:13 PM   #1
shoebox1.1
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how did they load back then?

how did they load the cap and ball revolvers back in the old west? each cyl by hand or did people use wooden loading stands? i see these loading stations that you take out the cyl... which are nice but i might want to load my army without disasembly. i was just wondering how did they do it on the trail?
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Old February 24, 2009, 01:12 PM   #2
Fingers McGee
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They didn't use stands - or guncarts either for that matter - on the trail, in the field, at the homestead. There may have been some sort of loading stand/table used during formal competitions.


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Old February 24, 2009, 01:34 PM   #3
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First thing I thought of here, most modern hobbyists have never loaded one bullet at a time, or for that matter with a single stage press? Makes me think of modern words like shortcut, or easy, or "I'm not gonna mess with it if it's too much trouble."
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Old February 24, 2009, 06:02 PM   #4
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Hammer on half cock. Pour powder in chamber and place ball on top. Turn cylinder till ball is under ram. Lower ram and press ball into chamber. Repeat five times.
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Old February 24, 2009, 06:09 PM   #5
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hawg i think thats how it was
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Old February 24, 2009, 06:26 PM   #6
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Hawg Haggen,,, you’re wrong ,,,,, you forgot to add bear grease to the end of the cylinder.
Can’t have those multiple firings.
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Old February 24, 2009, 06:31 PM   #7
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I think for the most part they didn't use anything altho R.E. Lee's 36 navy had some kind of waxy looking stuff over the balls when it was fired seven years after his death.
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Old February 24, 2009, 06:44 PM   #8
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Ear wax, no doubt! Thats what I use.
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Old February 24, 2009, 06:56 PM   #9
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I honestly don't remember how I did it back then.
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Old February 24, 2009, 07:10 PM   #10
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As far as having something to hold the revolver while loading I doubt it since there isn't anything from that time period that suggests it "at least I haven't seen or heard of it" but maybe a corner of a table was used to help on occasion.

Me, I mostly load in this fashion unless I'm using my cylinder loader.

revolver gripped in my left hand.
pour permeasured powder into chamber.
Wad over the powder "if used."
Ball or prelubed conical.
rotate chamber under the rammer.
unlatch the loading lever.
lever the projectile home.
Crisco over the ball "if used."
Repeat for the remaining empty chambers "load 1, skip 1, load 4 more."
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Old February 24, 2009, 07:13 PM   #11
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Maybe you kept an extra cylinder loaded for your Remington in your pocket? I think I would wait to put the caps on, though. You probably fired off all your loads and then picked up a club or something to fight off the rest. Or crawled in a hole and tried to reload real fast. You know they made pistol "cartridges" with the ball on top of a load of powder, inside of a tube of thin paper. You still had to break the powder pouch open though to expose the powder. sort of like the loads premade for the muskets. But those were thru the military supply chain, presumably civilian owners had to have balls flask and caps at hand.
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Old February 24, 2009, 08:19 PM   #12
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You still had to break the powder pouch open though to expose the powder.
Nope, they used nitrated paper. Just load the thing whole. Tea bags make good tough cartridges and you don't have to tear them open to load either.
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Old February 24, 2009, 08:47 PM   #13
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Quote:
they used nitrated paper. Just load the thing whole.
Hrmm, learn something every day.
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Old February 24, 2009, 08:53 PM   #14
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Paper catridges were available to the civilian market in either 5 or 6 shot containers at many dry goods stores throughout the east & mid west.

They normally were loaded with powder & a conical bullet for the caliber listed, there were even one company that made them & supplied the percussion caps to go along with them in the same container.
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Old February 24, 2009, 10:27 PM   #15
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Well I was thinking about that, nitrated paper, I could not remember if you had to cut the end or not. But I sure don't have access to nitrated paper so I would probably have to bite the ends off like for a musket! Well wasn't it the Sharps that you insert the bullet with the powder charge encased in paper, and the breech block cuts the end off of it to expose the charge? I guess you can make nitrated paper, if you can get the fine paper and something to soak it in containing the nitrate. I don't have that either.
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Old February 25, 2009, 05:07 AM   #16
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I make my paper catridges by using cigarette rolling papers that you can get at most convienient stores.
Their nitrated just enough to ignite for reliable shooting "you just have to pick out some of the remnents of it in each chamber after each volley."
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Old February 25, 2009, 05:29 AM   #17
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Quote:
But I sure don't have access to nitrated paper
Try some cheap tea bags. They're tougher than cigarette papers and porous enough for the cap to fire through. No residue left behind.
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Old February 25, 2009, 09:06 AM   #18
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nipple picks weren't unheard of as the earliest reolver cartridges were made of metallic foil rather than nitrated paper. Probably didn't hurt to use them with the paper ones either. The colt instructions didn't mention grease though some did use it. Ive seen pictures of civil war revolvers with the bullets clearly visible and ungreasedd in the front of the chambers.
Elmer Keith said that old gunmen actually did use under ball felt wads treated with grease. He wrote about this early enough in the 20th century for ti to be true. He cut the felt wads out of old hats and tallowed them reporting the same results you ge with modern wads from some intrnet sources ( like from The Possibles Shop, not wonderwads) The barel would remain clean for extended firing.

Pocke models without loading levers had deep coned arbors to fit the conical bullets. These could be used for seating.
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Old February 25, 2009, 09:33 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by mec
Pocke models without loading levers had deep coned arbors to fit the conical bullets. These could be used for seating.
I forgot about that one & I even had a Early production Navy Arms 1849 Pocket Colt "Wells Fargo" that had this feature, but that was a many a moons ago.
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Old February 25, 2009, 11:17 AM   #20
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I made up a bunch of .44 loads using cigarette papers and the only ones that I did not have fire on the first round were the ones where the powder charge was small, like about 15 grains. The paper had not broken when I put it in as the ram could not seat the ball far enough. I went to 20 and had no problems.

Most all of the paper burns and I have not had a problem with paper remaining behind. I just don't overdo it when using cigarette paper, keep the paper to at the most one half overleaf of the roll, and let the things set for a few days before cutting off the 'tail' to as close to the charge as I can get. The glue still holds the tail shut until rammed in, but the paper rips anyway around the ball as it is shoved in, so loose powder still gets behind the paper apparently to help with ignition.

So I figure that the cigarette paper is merely a container for the powder until it gets into the gun.

The Doc is out now.
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Old February 25, 2009, 06:05 PM   #21
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Sam Colt

His instruction for loading was: Pour in 25 grs of powder, ram ball cap and fire.
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Old February 26, 2009, 09:36 AM   #22
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Paper Cartridges

After reading this thread, I had to make some up:



I haven't tried these at the range yet, but something tells me I'll be shooting the old Remington quite a bit more in the near future.
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Old February 26, 2009, 09:16 PM   #23
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Quote:
I make my paper catridges by using cigarette rolling papers that you can get at most convienient stores.
Their nitrated just enough to ignite for reliable shooting
I do believe the treatment on cigarette rolling papers is to retard the burning.
I don't mess with flash paper very much, but I bought a small container of potassium nitrate from the local pharmacy. Easy to make flash paper. mix it with water, saturate paper in nitrate solution, leave papers to dry.
Test with match or spark to see how well they burn.

As for loading back in the day, The 44 cal revolver was loaded with a .440 RB or conical; I don't think there was much shaving of the ball that we do today making it dad-burn near a must to use a loading tool.

The L 1 S 1 L 4 M would have been more likely in self-contained cartridges.
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Old February 26, 2009, 10:07 PM   #24
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Ummm. Cigarette paper, gun powder, and a revolver, I see where ol' Smokin Gun got his name.

A cup of tea anyone? I need to get me some bags ready.
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Old February 26, 2009, 10:51 PM   #25
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You used to be able to get potassium nitrate in the spice department of grocery stores. They called it saltpeter and was used as an ingredient in sausage making and other cured meats.
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