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Old October 28, 2009, 09:40 AM   #1
kflach
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Brass-frame Life Expectancy

This is starting to concern me. I have a brass framed '58 Remmie NMA. It's new - apparently made after Pietta upgraded their factory quality control. I know the brass will eventually distort. However, I've also read people claiming they knew of brass frames that worked fine after "thousands" of rounds. I plan on eventually getting a steel framed Remmie, but I can't afford one today. I'm saving up for a rifle (I've been having to borrow one just to shoot Working Class in an NCOWS posse). I'd like to be able to get a rifle first and then replace my brass-framed Remmie with a steel-framed one later next year. However, every time I read a post about brass frames I get a bit more concerned.

Question 1).
I've seen at least one person whom I respect telling other people who use brass to shoot with only 15 grains of black powder. My manual specifically says to use 22 - 30 grains. Other than a ball getting stuck in my barrel, what's the worst thing that can happen if I shoot under 22 grains? I have no problem going to the range and testing lower loads of BP and I have a dowel that I can use to remove stuck balls but what else should I be prepared for?


Question 2).
I read phrases like the brass will "eventually" or "sooner or later" distort. I'm currently shooting 25.5 grains of Holy Black per round, and I've been shooting 30-35 rounds once a week. Right now the gun has had about 480 rounds through it. What does "eventually" mean? Can I expect the frame to die within the next 6 months? A year? Or does "eventually" mean it'll only last 5 years instead of a lifetime?
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Old October 28, 2009, 10:52 AM   #2
Noz
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I don't think your question can be answered. Each gun is an entity unto it's self.
Wear or stretch depends on a multitude of questions. How much powder, how hard is the lead in the bullets, how firmly do you grip the gun while firing, how much do you shoot it, how many times to you tear it down to clean it? The stretch in the frame will show in a loosened arbor (worst possible scenario) or general looseness. Neither of these things will prevent you from shooting it, at least in the early stages but accuracy will suffer.
If you shoot 22 grs of FFFg and a soft ball I would think the life of your gun, being a Remington and therefore inherently stronger than the Colts copies, should be extensive, a matter of years. Shoot heavier loads and the life goes down. I shoot 25-28 grs in my 1860 Steel framed Armys, have for about 4 years and expect to do so for a few more.
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Old October 28, 2009, 11:12 AM   #3
kflach
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Noz, first of all, thanks for the re-assurance. However, your response begs another question. Does tearing it down and cleaning it extend or shorten the gun's life? I do a full tear down/clean up once every 3-4 shooting sessions.
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Old October 28, 2009, 11:49 AM   #4
Raider2000
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The reason for a slightly reduced powder charge in a brass framed .44 caliber revolvers be it the top strap design like the Remington or the open top design like the Colts is to reduce the battering effect that the heavier loads have on the recoil shield area of these revolvers & in the case of the Colt models to reduce the possibility of the Arbor working loose under the recoil "more rare."
Another reason is that in most cases your most accurate load is usually in the 18 - 24gr. area.

If you keep your loads under 25gr. FFFG Goex, 22gr. Pyrodex P & 15gr. 777 then the revolver should give you years of reliable accurate service.

As far as cleaning, I fully disassemble my revolvers maybe once or twice a year, mostly to check the parts & to thoroghly lube them, the rest of the time I just remove the wood grips & imerse the whole revolver into the hot water to clean them then spray a good lube like Ballistol into the works.
You really don't need to fully disassembe these revolvers every time you shoot them, just clean with some Q-tips into the creveces & lube generously & maybe once in a while do that to store it or just to check everything.

BTW, I shoot any where around 1000 rounds minimum per year per C&B revolver.
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Old October 28, 2009, 12:52 PM   #5
Doc Hoy
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As Ronald Reagan always said, "Well...."

Kflach,

Other folks here have more experience than I do so I would encourage you to read my post with a healthy skepticism. I would also invite others to wade in and either endorse or contradict what I am saying.

I am one of those who believe that you put almost as much strain on the frame of a pistol during the loading operation as is developed during the discharge of the round. The mechanical advantage of the loading lever is significant. So the force you are applying to the lever is multiplied by somewhere between four and ten, depending upon which pistol you are loading.

I have one pistol which I no longer shoot because the frame is essentially shot. It is a .36 Cal Sheriff's model Colt with a brass frame. I am certain that the frame (actually the arbor) loosened up during a chain fire event. But it really failed while I was loading the pistol after the chain fire. It still holds together, stays in battery but the arbor is just loose enough that I have no confidence in the pistol. I am presently buying up every frame I can get in the hopes of finding one that will fit this pistol.

Others may have their own stories about loose frames but I would be willing to bet that in most cases, the final failure occurs during loading rather than the pistol flying apart when it is fired. The worst mechanical falure I had during firing was the loss of a front site, and the dropping of a loading lever.

I think there are two ways around the issue of strain during loading.

1. Go buy a loading stand that will facilitate loading of the cylinder while it is out of the pistol. (I don't have one of these, but I am thinking about making one. In this case, the only strain on the pistol will occur during discharge. This will give you a good idea of how much damage is being done to the recoil shield by firing the pistol.

OR

2. Choose the smallest ball or bullet size from which you can get acceptable performance to reduce the amount of force required to get it to seat.

As I said I don't have a loading stand so I load with the cylinder in the frame. Every time I seat a round I apologize to the pistol for the rough treatment.

Huh?!
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Last edited by Doc Hoy; October 28, 2009 at 01:07 PM.
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Old October 28, 2009, 01:30 PM   #6
Springfield Kid
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I have owned a brass frame 1858 Remington and shot the stew out of it for 5 years , it did get loose and the recoil shield got its dents from the cylinder slamming into it but , it stayed in propper battery alignment through all the abuse I put it through , every load I fired was 25 grs of 3f goex .
If it had been a Colt open top copy I would have shot the arbor loose and retired the pistol way earlyer .
If a brass frame Remington is what you have to shoot , enjoy it , yes a steel frame would have been a better choice only because it may have been able to last your life time , but ain`t that yellow metal purdy .
Hang around the forums and you will find a deal on a steel frame Remington or Colt for the price of the brass framed guns .
and that brass framed gun you own will always be worth its weight in spare parts , so it wasn`t a bad investment after all .

Last edited by Springfield Kid; October 28, 2009 at 01:35 PM.
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Old October 28, 2009, 01:57 PM   #7
kflach
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Springfield Kid, This brass framed gun is already worth more than it's weight in gold - in terms of the fun I've had and the relationships I've developed. I've grown quite attached to her so even when I get another gun she'll never be replaced. She's one of the best investments I've made in a long time!
<grin>

Doc Hoy,

I've already got my eye on a loading stand:

http://www.biglube.com/BulletMolds.a...f-f99340c6d9e6

I've interacted with DD online and when the time finally comes I have every confidence that I'll receive a very good product.
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Old October 30, 2009, 01:02 AM   #8
arcticap
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We need someone to be a brass frame tester to keep track of how many balls that can be fired from it before it needs to be fixed.
Okay then you're hired!
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Old October 30, 2009, 05:49 AM   #9
Doc Hoy
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For a person who had the time

It would be interesting (to me anyway) to take two brass frame revolvers, shoot the same loads over a period of time but always load one of them with a loading press and always load the other with the cylinder in the frame.

Remember, I am the guy who thinks it is logical to believe that loading a pistol with the loading lever, is almost as harmful as shooting the pistol.

I swear, I am going to start using a loading press.
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Old October 30, 2009, 09:03 AM   #10
kflach
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Send me the guns, powder & balls and I'd be glad to be the official tester. For the record, I'm partial to the '58 Remington NMAs. I'm perfectly glad to sacrifice my time for the community.

Come to think of it, you should also send me a steel framed Remmie to use a "control" gun. That way the test is more accurate, scientific and academically correct.

I can hear it now, "But honey, I've *got* to go shoot instead of mowing the lawn. There are thousands of guys out there right now waiting on the results..."


<grin>
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Old October 30, 2009, 09:27 AM   #11
Doc Hoy
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kflach

As an alternative strategy, make yourself so obnoxious around the house that the missus is only too happy to see the back end of you.

That works for me.
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Old October 30, 2009, 10:53 AM   #12
kflach
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I'd rather shoot....

it's a lot more fun and there's less risk of life-threatening injuries.

<grin>
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