View Full Version : BP Revolvers: is filler necessary ?

June 3, 2002, 06:19 PM
A few months ago, I bought one of those Pietta replica .44 Colt Navy revolvers from Cabela's. It recommended a 20 grain charge, and that's what I've been shooting, using Pyrodex.

This only seems to fill up the chamber about 1/3, but I was just seating the ball on top of that. Of course, it makes spreading the grease around sort of difficult, since the ball is so far below the surface of the cylinder.

Saturday I bought a nice, old, but unused Ruger Old Army - a much stouter gun. The instructions with it (from 1976) also recommend a 20 grain charge, but say to fill up the chamber with something, such as corn meal so that the ball is seated only about 1/16th inch below the face of the cylinder.

So, I tried that, and it worked fine and made the grease thing easier. But of course it means extra time to charge the cylinders. I ended up buying an extra powder flask to keep the corn meal in. A 20 grain spout on one and 30 grains on the other add up just about right. I ended up switching them, so that now I'm loading 30 grains of Pyrodex (by volume).

I'm interested in finding out if you-all use the filler or not, and if so, what you use, etc.

Thanks in advance for any help and advice,

Mike Weber
June 3, 2002, 06:50 PM
I do use filler on my C&B revolvers. I use cream of wheat for filler. This has been a long time practice with C&B guns. I use a 25 gr charge with my 1860 Armies. Your Ruger is an entirely different class of revolver than the Colt or Civil War replicas. I've heard of people loading as much as 60gr in the Rugers. I know people who shoot 40gr charges in Rugers all the time. They are a Magnum of the C&B revolvers. I have heard that it is best to use .457 Diameter bullets with the Ruger.

Ceol Mhor
June 4, 2002, 09:33 AM
Hah! Ruger, smuger. The C&B magnum is the Walker. How about 60 grain charges? :p

Mike Weber
June 4, 2002, 11:24 AM
Problem with the Walkers is that from time to time they have been known to blow up in your hand with heavy loads. Shoot sixty grain loads all you want in your Walker.

Ceol Mhor
June 4, 2002, 12:20 PM
Hmm. That would be a problem.

June 4, 2002, 01:03 PM

Thanks for the info. Maybe I'll give cream of wheat a try once my box of corn meal runs out.

The instructions for the Ruger said that 'it is safe' to load as much black powder as the chamber would hold. I'd guess that would be 50 grains (by volume) at least. The difference between 20 and 30 was already pretty dramatic for me, so if I ever get to 50 it'll be gradual. At 30, I could feel something blowing back in my face, and the pieces of caps flew off with more velocity.

June 4, 2002, 10:40 PM
Re: Colt Walkers blowing up, that was a problem with the originals, no problem with the repos.

The max powder charge in Ruger Old Army revolvers is 40 grains, you can't get more in and still seat a .457 ball.

Stay with corn meal as opposed to cream of wheat because it is compressable and more foregiving of errors if you put a little too much in.

The 20 grain load plus corn meal will give the best accuracy in the Ruger, a 25 grain load is almost as good. A good general purpose load is 28 grains of 3f plus a Wonder Wad. Easy to load and accurate enough for most shooting.

Mike Weber
June 5, 2002, 05:51 AM
First off let me explain myself regarding the reference to the 60gr load in the Ruger Old Army. I don't own and have never shot the Ruger Old Armies. My C&B experience has been with the Colt and Remington replicas. Once when I was asked to recommend a loading for a Ruger by a guy who had just bought one and hadn't bought any powder or bullets for it yet. I mistaking the Ruger for an 1858 based Remington design, suggested that he used a .454 dia. RB along with a 25 gr charge. A guy who owned an Old Army immediatly piped up with a line that the 25gr charge was way too light for the Ruger. He is the one who claimed to have run 60gr charges through his Ruger. I had never heard of this with any C&B revolver that I had ever heard of. I also learned that the .457 RB was a better choice for the Ruger than the .454 RB. I have since talked to other Ruger owners who have told me that they shoot 35 and 40gr charges in their Rugers. I would agree that a 25 to 28gr charge would probably produce the best accuracy with the revolver. That was a good tip about the corn meal. I had always considered corn meal and cream of wheat interchangable as filler for C&B revolvers. I do not advocate unsafe and over pressure loads for any firearm. I once saw an 1851 Navy that a guy had bought in a box of stuff from an auction. He also had a can of IMR 4350 in the box. He took the 1851 out into the boonies loaded it with the 4350, ignoring the BLACK POWDER ONLY stamped on the barrel he didn't even apply grease. When he fired the revolver, he had three chambers flashover the cylinder blew up like a frag grenade, the barrel wedge shattered, and the barrel and what was left of the cylinder took a trip down range. What was really amazing was that the guy walked away without a scratch. I saw the revolver afterward it would have made an interesting paperweight. Anyway that was where my info about that 60gr load came from, one loudmouth at a gunshop.

June 5, 2002, 11:51 AM
I have a Ruger as well as an 1860 army replica. I used to own an 1858 Remington replica also. I say this just to qualify my answer. I've used filler and I've not used filler, either way works, but the best combo I've found is Wonder Wads. The wads prevent flash firing, and provide lube.

For the Ruger I use a charge of 30gr. of 3f with a .457 roundball and have "Minute of JackRabbit" accuracy. I've been looking at trying the Conicals and the "Ballet", but haven't had much quality time lately.

(edited for dislexia)

June 5, 2002, 06:02 PM
Ron, thanks for the tip....guess I'll stay with corn meal, since I need all the forgiveness I can get.

With one whole afternoon's shooting under by belt, I'd say that in the Ruger, the 20 grain was more accurate than the 30 (Pyrodex, measured with a spout, not weighed). I shot at 15 yards, using sandbag rest. Five shot groups were about 1.5 inches vs. 2. I'm sure younger eyes would do better.

I"ve tried the wonder wads in my Navy Replica. They worked fine, but I'm too cheap, I guess, to want to use them much. If memory serves, they cost about $5 or $6 per 50, and I don't want to pay a dime a shot for that.

June 11, 2002, 02:49 PM
Try a proper caliber Wonder Wad. It is a lubed felt wad and will act as both a filler and grease to prevent chain fires.

1. load charge.
2. wonder wad.
3. seat ball.
4. cap.
5 shoot.
6. repeat often.


June 15, 2002, 10:48 PM
Another vote for Wonder Wads.

My Ruger Old Army will hold 40 grains of FFFg with a .457 round ball. If I add a Wonder Wad, only 35 grains will fit.

If I reduce the charge to 30 grains of FFFg, add a Wonder Wad, and a .457 round ball, my gun's loading lever will just "bottom-out" at the mechanical end of it's loading stroke. This consistant compression of every load = the best accuracy for me.

And the lubrication in the Wonder Wads allows me to shoot for quite awhile without the gun fouling up.

4V50 Gary
June 16, 2002, 08:56 AM
But with respects to Ruger's Old Army, I've stuffed them all the way to the top before I could barely compress the .457 ball atop o' the powder. You won't get the most accurate load doing this and it is a tremendous waste of powder. However, Ruger engineered the gun to so that it can safely handle a chamber full of 3F powder. Was told this at the Ruger Armorer's school. BTW, I wouldn't try this with any other make of blackpowder revolver.

Regarding the use of a filler material, it's a good safety practice and safe firearms use is something that should always be practiced.

June 17, 2002, 10:03 AM
I have been using semolina as a filler in the Ruger for some time now, about 18 gns with 12 gns of Pyrodex (only from memory so don't quote me here) which reduces the recoil to about .38 levels as well as the smoke on an indoor range. The whole load (no wads) can just about be rammed down far enough to let the cylinder rotate. Then a dose of automotive grease on top.

June 19, 2002, 01:44 PM
Have the '51 Navy in .36 caliber, if I remember right it is also a Pietta, I never have used cornmeal. I just put the powder in, tamp it, press ball in, and then grease it. Believe heaviest load I've put in was 25 grains FFF, but normally used 19 or 20 grains.