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Old August 5, 2010, 03:24 PM   #1
cap-n'-baller
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Loading preferences for cap n' ball revolvers

I have been shooting a Pietta 1858 Remington .44 reproduction with a 12'' barrel and adjustable target sights for about a year now. I love the gun and the whole process of loading and tinkering with loads. I load a .451 138 gr. round ball over a cornmeal buffer over a pre-lubed wad over 35 grs. of 3F Shockey's Gold. #11 cap slightly pinched with a small ring of plastic tubing around the cap to keep it from exploding. This load produces 4'' groups at 50 yards from a bench. I am interested to hear others favorite loads, brands, and techniques. Is another wad between the buffer and ball a good idea? I'm also looking into trying some .450 200 gr. conicals from a Lee mould. Anyone had experience with these?

Last edited by cap-n'-baller; August 6, 2010 at 07:56 AM.
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Old August 5, 2010, 03:37 PM   #2
Model-P
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I'm just surprised you can fit all that in the chambers!
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Old August 5, 2010, 03:47 PM   #3
the rifleer
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Well you load much more carefully than i do. I have a ruger old army and I have a small tin with corn meal and a small scoop in it. I have a .38 special shell that when filled to the top is almost exactly 30 grains and that is my powder measure (i have a real powder measure, but loading the shell is faster because I just fill it to the top). I have a spout on the powder than fits and i fill the case up to 30 grains and put it in the chamber. I then put a little bit of corn meal in and seat a cast .457 ball that i mold myself. I just put the #11 caps on and dont pinch them or anything.

I have this method down pretty good and can reload relatively fast (probably less than 3 minutes). Accuracy is acceptable. I can get a guestemated 5'' group at 30 yards. Its not great, but thats what you get when you load fast. If i use store bought swaged balls and measure the powder precisely the groups shrink an inch or more. I've heard that lowering the charge to around 24 or 25 grains is the most accurate load, but the shot drops considerably more at 25 yards and has a noticeable power loss.

I usually just shoot soda cans and swinging targets anywhere from 10 to 40 yards. I could work up a load and i know i could get better accuracy, but I like to spend more time shooting than reloading.

Some times I just fill the cylinder to the top, leaving just enough room to cram a ball in and shoot it like that. Accuracy absolutely sucks, but it a ton of fun. Thats the cool thing about the Ruger Old Army is that It can take that kind of abuse. I don't do it very often, maybe the last 2 or 3 shots of shooting session. Its a huge waste of powder, but it is fun to make that much smoke and get a good kick.

I also have made a few paper cartridges for when i go shooting later today. I have never used them, so we will see weather they work or not. I made them out of tea bags.
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Old August 5, 2010, 06:07 PM   #4
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Yeah, I use a .45 acp shell to measure my corn meal. I have been surprised at the capacity of the chambers myself. Makes me wonder if these pistols were not originaly intended to fire much hotter loads. I could easily fit over 60grs. of powder in there! Nevertheless, any thoughts about a wad between the buffer and the ball?
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Old August 5, 2010, 06:19 PM   #5
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IMHO 4" groups at 50 yards off a bench is only average, especially with a 12" barrel. If you tweak things a bit you might get better groups. I run opposite of the crowd regarding "target" loads that use small charges. In some instances, especially with the larger 44's, you might get better accuracy with full charges. I'd try, powder, lubed wad, ball, and seat the ball so it is just below the front end of the chamber. You have to have no air between powder and ball so adjust the powder charge accordingly. Your accuracy might improve.
I filed a small mark on the rammer so all balls are seated at the same depth. You might shrink the group to 2" to 2 1/2". Also try different brands of balls, some are up to higher specs. I think some one said Speer are better than Hornaday ( although the Hornaday 30-30 bullets I use are great)- in any event try some different combinations. On the caps, you shouldn't have to squeeze them. Try different caps or get another set of nipples. Good luck.
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Old August 5, 2010, 06:44 PM   #6
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After nearly half a century being a traditional muzzle loading enthusiast, I have formed my own rules about such things. e.g. If it is safe and works for you, go for it.
Personally, I would not use the corn meal or make-believe powder. I would use as much genuine black powder as the cylinder will hold and let the ball be seated flush with the mouth. Grease over the balls, what kind is almost not relevant. Cap, cock, shoot and enjoy.
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Old August 5, 2010, 07:01 PM   #7
kwhi43@kc.rr.com
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If you can shoot 4 inch groups at 50 yds from a rest, you would win the
National bench rest pistol matches and probably set a record. And you can
even use a "Red Dot" sight!
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Old August 5, 2010, 07:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
I could easily fit over 60grs. of powder in there!
I have to say that I am truly amazed at this. The chambers in my Uberti 1858 only hold a maximum of 45 grains, filled flush to the top. Are you sure someone didn't fit a Walker cylinder in your 1858? I feel short changed by Uberti (not that I'd ever feel the need to go over 30 grains through my 8-inch barrel anyway)
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Old August 5, 2010, 08:00 PM   #9
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How about a 400gr .460 conical over 100gr of highly compressed 777 no corn meal needed but you do need a 1/8" berrilium copper wad to act as a gas check. A little tuff to load but 1" groups at 100yds are guaranteed.
Hey! Makes as much sense as some of the other posts
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Old August 5, 2010, 08:19 PM   #10
cap-n'-baller
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Intersting. I had no idea 4" groups at 50 yards from a rest was record setting material. Please let me know what your sources are so I can notify them of my incredible accomplishment. I'm looking so forward to the endorsement deals!
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Old August 5, 2010, 08:24 PM   #11
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Denster, Which posts do you consider non-sense?
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Old August 5, 2010, 09:01 PM   #12
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My sources are the NMLRA posted scores on their site and I have shot these
matches.
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Old August 5, 2010, 09:10 PM   #13
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Model-P - in regards to your '58 Uberti Remy - don't feel "shorted" or anything like that in regards to your cylinder size. . . . . remember what they say . . . "it's not the size, it's how you use it". Sorry . . . couldn't help myself!
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Old August 5, 2010, 11:07 PM   #14
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Are you sure it's the 400 grain conical and not the 415 grainer Denster? Last I heard, you couldnt get the 400s anymore.
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Old August 5, 2010, 11:52 PM   #15
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Daggone Fingers you're right as usual.
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Old August 6, 2010, 01:35 AM   #16
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Are you sure about that? I got to get into some matches. A while back I was shooting pretty fast with a 1851 Colt and the guy next to me wanted to know if I was "keeping them on the paper?"
"The whole target?"
"Yeah"
I thought he was kidding, I told him I was trying to keep them in the black.
In any event he thought I should get into competition, maybe I should. At 25 yards off a bench I'm usually shooting 1"- 2" groups. With my S & W Model 29 I've on some (i.e. rare) occasions shot 4" groups at 100 yards off a bench with open sights and the 29 only has a 6 1/2" barrel.
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Old August 6, 2010, 07:55 AM   #17
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"My sources are the NMLRA posted scores on their site and I have shot these
matches."

Just spoke to the good folks at the NMLRA. The records kept for revolvers at 50 yards are for standing one handed shooting. They occasionally have "fun" events where contestants fire from a bench but no records are kept for that event. As I indicated in my original post, 4" groups from a rest, 12" barrel, and adjustable target sights. I don't see the comparison at all to standing, one handed with a period replica.
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Old August 6, 2010, 08:15 AM   #18
cap-n'-baller
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In my original post I explained the pistol that I use, the materials that I load my pistol with, and the performance that I have gotten from it so far. All of which I am absolutely certain of. I don't waste other people's time with innaccurate information so please don't waste mine by questioning it. I am looking for any constructive suggestions or ideas regarding loading techniques, materials, bullet selection, etc... If you have any of these things to offer please do so with my appreciation.

If you have nothing to offer specificly regarding these topics please save your comments for someone else's post or start your own.
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Old August 6, 2010, 08:27 AM   #19
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cap-n-baller, I believe your claims, albiet with a touch of skepticism. A 4" group at 50 yards, from rest, with any pistol borderlines on exceptional. I know nothing about the Pietta, it may be an outstanding C&B firearm. Your loading procedure strikes me as being highly ritualistic with steps unnecessary. However, as I said, if it works and you like it, I ain't gonna call the 'do it my way' cops on you.
All in all it is a very good post. In close to 50 years at this ML game, one of the things I have always, and still, enjoyed about it was seeing, and learning from, the many-many techniques it's practitioners come up with.
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Old August 6, 2010, 08:35 AM   #20
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Hey, cap-n'-baller. Don't get torqued. You are playing a different game than most of us.
Some of us are casual, shooting a few shots a year.
Some are a little more serious and actually do develop loads etc.
Some are like Fingers and I in that we shoot a lot. Shooting rifle (44-40) pistols (1860 Armys) and 12 ga coachgun, I have run through, as of August 1, over 13# of FFFg and FFg for 2010.
We can reload 10 rounds in 2 pistols in less than 4 minutes. Our guns are timed, tweaked and tuned to be ultra reliable and accurate within the range we shoot as cowboy Action Shooters. My only accuracy testing with the pistols is using a two handed grip and a Weaver stance at 10 yards. This gave me a POI that is very close to POA and about a 3" group. Close enough for what we do.
So do your bench shooting and be pleased and proud of your groups.
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Old August 6, 2010, 08:57 AM   #21
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That's what I love about BP shooting. Some of us are practiced and measured to tweak maximum accuracy out of our guns. Some of us are not.

Me, I just like to make smoke and fire. I buy whatever BP substitute is on sale when I can find it. .451 balls with a wad or .454 balls without. I measure out my powder with an old .38 special casing. Sometimes I grease the ball sometimes I don't (shooting for fun at the range I do. Packing for camping I don't)

My goal is to blast holes in rotten stumps from 20 yards out or have something that makes enough flash and boom to scare the coyotes from around the tent.
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Old August 6, 2010, 09:46 AM   #22
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I use my BP .44 to hunt hogs. Where I live my pistol is classified as a primitive weapon, like a muzzle loader, which allows me to hunt hogs on public land from mid August to the end of February. I shoot from a bench because I believe it is the best way to determine the performance of a given load by removing as much human error as possible. I shoot at 50 yards because that is the maximum range I am comfortable firing at a hog with this pistol. I shoot from a variety of postions and know my effective range from each. My goal in all my loading and shooting with this pistol has been to develop the best combination for putting pork chops on the table. I've read alot on this forum and most of my loading knowledge has come from what I have learned here from far more experienced shooters than me.

As for the 'ritual': powder, wad, buffer, ball, repeat. All to the sound of tantric drumming, Sage smoke rising through the air, and the chanting of the elders. Did I mention I carve ancient Druid rune signs into the ball before loading it?
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Old August 6, 2010, 11:32 AM   #23
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The reason you got some chiding responses is because some of your statements about your load and proceedures and observations and preformance hurt your credability.
The 1858 cylinder has a limited volumetric capacity which 35gr of powder, a 45acp case of cornmeal, a lubed wad and roundball far exceedes.
Your statement that the gun was made for hotter loads and the cylinder can hold 60gr is not within the capacity of your gun.
A 4" group at 50yds is beyond the mechanical accuracy capabilities of most cap and ball revolvers and beyond the capabilities of most shooters. That is not saying it is impossible just improbable.
As Larry Potterfield is fond of saying. "And that's the way it is"
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Old August 6, 2010, 02:00 PM   #24
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Ruger Old Army shooter here and I started with the recommended load of 147 gr round ball over 45 grains of FFFg powder and it made lots of noise, lots of smoke and a 4" group at 8 yards. No grease, no felt pads, no filler and I still don't use any of that stuff.

Today I shoot 20 grains of the same powder over the same ball and I'm getting the same group at 25 and 30 yards I was with the heavy load at 8 yards. Half the smoke and bang, nearly like shooting a 22 except there is more clean up to do afterward. It also takes a lot longer to load but the fun factor makes it worth it. I have the conversion cylinder but have never used it and I'm not sure I ever will. I'm having all the fun I can handle with my little baby powder puff load.

I don't intend to hunt with it but if I do I can go back to 40 or 45 grains and do some serious practicing but I have my Lyman Cougar in-line rifle for that.

Maybe I'm missing something here but all these doctored up and buffered loads seems like a lot of work for little gain to me. My ball is down quite away from the mouth of the cylinder but I really can't see where my accuracy has been hurt by my reduced loads. Maybe I'm lucky but I just haven't seen the need yet.
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Old August 6, 2010, 02:31 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cap-n'-baller
I'm also looking into trying some .450 200 gr. conicals from a Lee mould. Anyone had experience with these?
Some folks have mentioned obtaining good performance with Lee 200 grain conicals from their Remingtons in the following thread, but I never heard that they were a really good target round or as accurate as the Buffalo revolver bullets.

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthrea...hlight=lee+200

Performance probably depends on the individual gun, casting & loading variables.
Is your 12" Pietta Remington the stainless steel model?


The photos below were originally posted by mec on THR:



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Last edited by arcticap; August 7, 2010 at 01:46 AM.
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