View Full Version : revolver: wad vs crisco

September 5, 2004, 10:22 AM
Hi to all: Just got my new Old Army and started shooting it. Worked well except that some of the caps did not go off on the first strike, will have to try a different brand. Would like your opinion on Wad vs grease?? Have been shooting powder, ball and then grease. Any of you you prefer wads? If you shoot with a wad, what is the proper way to place it. Do you ram it in with the loadinglever and then the ball? How do you get the wad to sit over the powder correctly?

Thanks to all!

Fred S
September 6, 2004, 09:03 AM
I've only used Crisco and it can be messy. I would be interested in hearing about wads too.

4V50 Gary
September 6, 2004, 12:22 PM
Crisco here as well as a corn meal or farina (either are rancid throwaways) as a filler. Why Crisco? CHEAP. Besides, it helps to keep the fouling down.

September 23, 2004, 08:27 PM
I havent shot my dragoon yet. I will be using bore butter when i do for the first time. But i am also very curious over the wad vs grease question.
I have heard that shooting with the grease is a good thing because it lubes up the bore and ball good and keeps the fouling soft. I have heard bad things about crisco .. the only good things ive heard are that it works .. and yes it is cheaper. Have also heard that on a hot day it may run off before it is implemented. ??
So to my question on the wad vs butter scenario if i used a wad wouldnt it be nescessary to pre-lube them somehow? and if they were prelubed how good is this lube and how good is it gonna be on my pistol bore?

keep in mind i have not fired BP yet at all ... this is stuff ive been studying on.

September 23, 2004, 08:34 PM
im not trying to shanghai your post

I also pose the same question if using a wad

a. set the wad over a powder filled chamber put the ball over the wad and run them under the loading lever together until snugged up against powder ???????
b. set the wad up against the powder with the loading lever seperately before loading the round ball? ?? ?? ?

4V50 Gary
September 23, 2004, 09:26 PM
The rammer only rams so far (unless you load the cylinder out of the revolver). In that case, better to ram ball over the wad to ensure depth of the wad. My opinion only and I'm cheap and don't buy wads. I use farina. :p Gatofeo (ugly cat) might know.

September 23, 2004, 10:00 PM
Crisco here. My Old Army will put all 6 balls into 1 1/2" @ 25 yards most of the time. I tried some 200 grain .45acp SWC's once, they barely fit without taking the cylinder out and shot like hell. These things are made for round balls.

September 25, 2004, 01:15 AM
Misfiring is almost as hard on the nipples as dry firing is, so you want to get that figured out. It is possible that the hammer face might not be contacting all of the nipples properly. I use a strip of a white business card to verify that correct alignment exists on each nipple. Bring the hammer to full cock and slip the strip over the nipple (might have to tweak the paper a little to get it in there). Thumb the hammer down to about halfcock position and let it fall from there. There should be a full circle imprint on the paper from the nipple (helps if the nipples aren't sparkling clean). A crescent shaped mark verifies that there is misalignment. Besides causing misfires, this condition also causes primers to blow out, peices of which often get lodged in the action.

About Crisco: Never mind a hot day, after a couple of cylinders full of hot charcoal Crisco runs about the consistency of 3-in-1 oil (at best). Bore Butter comes in a tube, about the consistency of a light grease, and in a jar that is a LOT firmer. I start out using the former, then switch to the latter when things start warming up. I'll never do Crisco again, the stuff is just plain nasty by comparison.

I'd think that when using a wad, you'd want to get it down on the powder first, then seat the ball. Reason being, you *know* that the wad went in right, and there is no possibility of chopping part of it off or dragging fibers down between the ball & cylinder.

Of course, I've NEVER shot a BP revolver "dry" (without grease over the ball) because of the stories of multiple discharging, but I'd still question what really makes it happen. The face of my .44 chambers are nice & sharp, and shave a considerable little ring of lead off of a .451 round ball when it is pressed in. There is a nice safe feeling of resistence as the ball is pushed on down to the powder. It really feels like a better seal could not be made. I suspect that there is about a 1/8" ring of lead firmly contacting the inside of the cylinder wall. I use a top coating mainly for the lubrication factor, but I do value my hands, fingers, eyes, etc; don't wanna be one of the people who find out first hand that it is neccesary :eek:

September 25, 2004, 03:08 PM
that talks about using wads


October 1, 2004, 10:26 PM
I much prefer a greased, felt wad between the ball and powder, to any lubricant over the ball. My revolver shoots cleaner, and longer, with much less mess and trouble.
See my post, "How to Properly Use a Cap & Ball Sixgun" for specifics, but I'll briefly note:

Felt wads with dry lubricant, such as the Wonder Wad, are not nearly as effective as a greased wad. And the most effective grease I've found to lubricate a felt wad is an old recipe of mutton tallow, paraffin and beeswax.
I believe that the paraffin stiffens the felt wad somewhat, making it an effective fouling scraper as it goes down the bore.
Recovered wads have shown a negative impression of the rifling, indicating that each wad got down into the grooves and helped to remove fouling.

I rarely use lubricant over the ball, in conjunction with a greased felt wad. An exception is when the weather is very hot and dry. Here in the Utah, I've seen 110 degrees and 6 percent humidity. Grease over the ball helped in that instance but in retrospect I should have just stayed in my air conditioned home and avoided such heat altogether. :D

The use of wads is much cleaner, though not faster than using grease. Placing grease over the wads is faster, if you use a small squeeze tube. If you use a small container of grease, use a Popsicle stick to smear it over the balls.
I push the wad into a charged chamber with my thumb, until it's slightly below flush. Then I seat the wad with my rammer.
I do all chambers I intend to shoot this way, then begin ramming the balls down. If a filler such as corn meal is required, I put the filler atop the seated wad before ramming the ball.
Why ram each wad as a separate operation? I get a better feel for how much pressure I'm applying. Also, should I ram a felt wad in an uncharged chamber, it's a heck of a lot easier to remove a felt wad than a tightly jammed lead ball.

How do I get the wad seated correctly over the powder? If the wad is tilted a little, it will be straightened out by the rammer. But if it's badly tipped, I simply tip it back to level with a small wooden dowel.
If you wish to go to the trouble, you can thumb the wads into each chamber, then remove the cylinder and push the wad straight into the powder with a short length of dowel: 3/8" for the .36 and 7/16" for the .44 and .45 calibers.
After seating the wads straight onto the powder, return the cylinder to the revolver and finish ramming them firmly onto the powder, using the rammer.
This is a lot of bother. Frankly, I haven't found any advantage to it, but it's an option.

Crisco works well. Don't let anyone tell you different. I started using it in the early 1970s when it and axle grease were all that was available. I still like Crisco for greasing teh cylinder pin, sides of hammer, bolt and hand. It will keep parts moving smoothly.
However, I'm not fond of it for smearing over the ball. While it works fine, it's messier than Hell. It also melts quickly and runs out of the chambers.
I doubt that this loss affects accuracy much, but it sure makes a mess in a holster! It also makes a greasy mess of your revolver.

You may buy wads, or punch your own. Keep them in an easy open can, like an Altoids Sour Tangerine or Sour Apple can, or an old shoe polish can with the little easy opener on the side. Tight fitting lids are very difficult to open with greasy fingers!

A couple notes of warning:
Never, EVER use Preparation H hemmorhoid ointment as a grease. I heard of a fellah that did and by the time he'd finished shooting, his .44-caliber Walker was shrunk down to a .31 Pocket Pistol! :eek:
Conversely, I heard of a guy that accidentally sprinkled some Miracle-Gro fertilizer into his homemade bullet lubricant. After just a few shots, his bullets would no longer fit in the chamber! :eek: :D

October 3, 2004, 09:59 AM
Still a relative newbie.

I use a wad (wonder wads) AND Crisco.

Here is how I load:

Drop powder, then seat a wad on the chamber. (Seating a wad at this point prevents powder from spilling out, so I can lay the revolver down to measure my next charge. It also gives me a readily visible "indicator" of which chambers I have charged and which ones I haven't) Rinse and repeat until I have all six chambers charged / wadded.

Seat ball on top of wad and ram it down. Rinse and repeat.

Using my pinkie finger, I get a glob of Crisco and smear it on top of the chambers, wiping off the excess with a rag.

P.S. I have had great results with Remington caps, FWIW.

October 4, 2004, 01:49 PM
I started shooting BP revolvers long time back and have used both grease(crisco, axle grease, bore butter, etc.) here in the OK. panhandle we have nice hot summers so when wads came along I started using them and to date have found nothing I like better( as compared to having grease melt and run all over the in side of your holster) also from an accuracy stand point the best accuracy I have had from my 1851 navy has been done with wads. as far as cleaning is concerned if we were really woried about cleaning up we would shoot smokeless.

Cap n ball
October 4, 2004, 02:34 PM
I used Crisco a couple of times but I really didn't enjoy shooting with a slippery grip. Then I switched to wonder wads and it was acceptable but the fouling was worse. What Gatofeo said is right on. I started using his recipe about a month ago when he posted it in another thread either here or over at THR and it works like a charm. The man knows his stuff.

October 4, 2004, 04:25 PM
I think wads are the way to go because dealing with grease is a mess. I use wonder wads for conveninece although I have also made my own. Charge the chamber and add a wad, then the ball. That's it. I don't grease the end of the cylinder since the wad is greased. The ball should be very close to the end of the cylinder. Some folks use a filler but I put in a heavier powder charge. Always seat the ball tight on the powder. To my knowledge both methods were used years ago. :)

October 5, 2004, 01:00 PM
Since it is quiet hot around here, over the bullet grease is a total mess. I changed to Wonder Wads on top of the powder seated firm on the powder, than bullet.

It is very expensive, but you can get unlubed wads from www.buffaloarms.com 1000pcs @ $20.00 and lube them yourself with your favourite concoction (Gatofeos is best).

I think the threat of chain-fires comes rather from the caps than the chamber-mouths. The Lyman Blackpowder-Handbook 1987 (I think) had a photo on the cover, showing the firing of a BP-revolver. The sparks from the caps were awesome!

October 7, 2004, 11:54 PM
I think the threat of chain-fires comes rather from the caps than the chamber-mouths.

My thought exactly (I just ran off at the mouth until I forgot what it was I was trying to say ;) ).

October 14, 2004, 10:33 PM
My first handgun ever was a Ruger Old Army. I started out using crisco, but in the heat of the Columbia basin, it turned out to be a mess. I switched over to wonder wads about 10 years ago. I have been really pleased with the performance, although, after some extended shooting the gun tends to get a little stiff. I just apply a little lube to the cylinder pin and hammer pin, and it makes it feel like brand new.

I load the wad in between the ball and powder and have had very good success with it!

Good Luck and Enjoy!

High Mountain Hunting Supply

October 30, 2004, 10:21 PM
Kelsey, you live in the Columbia Basin? I was born in Washington and raised in Spokane. Mannnnnn, I know how HOT it can get in central Washington state, among that lava rock and sagebrush. Yowch!
Spokane gets hot too, though it's on the fringe of the hottest part.
This is why I started using wads years ago. I used Crisco for many years but it created a mess and the grips got slippery after a while. Crisco is still good stuff, though. I use it on occasion for black powder purposes.

Thanks to some of you who praised the lubricant recipe I posted.
It isn't mine. I found it in a 1943 issue of the American Rifleman, and it was old when printed. It was originally used by the factories for lubricating heeled bullets, such as the .22 rimfires, .32, .38 and .41 Long Colt.
I've used it for heeled bullets in my 1892 Marlin, which uses the .32 Long Colt cartridge.
The original recipe calls for tallow and paraffin. I use mutton tallow and canning paraffin. I use canning paraffin because of its purity; who knows what's in candles, especially the scented variety?
The recipe is 1 part mutton tallow, 1 part paraffin and 1/2 part beeswax. All measurements are by weight, not volume. I use a kitchen scale to measure 200/200/100 grams of ingredients, then place them in a widemouth, quart Mason jar. The jar is then placed into 3 or 4 inches of boiling water, for a double boiler effect (the safest way to melt greases and waxes).
When everything is melted, stir well with a clean stick or disposable chopstick.
Allow to cool at room temperature. Hastening cooling by placing the jar in the refrigerator may cause ingredients to separate.
This lubricant is not only good for wads, it's excellent for lead bullets with black powder (in muzzleloaders or cartridge guns), or as a patch lubricant with round balls.
This lubricant will, however, dry out over time. Most lubricants do. When it comes to storing wads, I use an Altoids sour fruit candy tin. This round tin has a depression to press that pops the lid right off (handy when fingers are greasy) yet seals very tightly. Barring this, use a clean tuna or pet food can with a snap-top plastic lid (available in the pet food aisle).

I think greased felt wads are the way to go. I don't much care for the dry lubricant used in Wonder Wads. It just doesn't seem to lubricate as well as a moist lubricant. It takes a little effort to make the above lubricant, and to grease the wads, but it's worth it.

Bart Noir
November 10, 2004, 07:58 PM
Ok Seveninchheels, just what kind of footware do you have on when turning powder into smoke and noise?

Bart Noir
Visions of shapely legs are sooo hard to clear from my mind.

January 7, 2005, 08:35 PM
It comes in a plastic bottle with a flip cap that is great for filling the chambers above the ball. Crisco is a mess this stuff is much better altho more expensive. Using wads I would still use greese to keep from having multple fires.

aussie bob
January 8, 2005, 01:55 AM

Some years ago I used solid cooking oil (Crisco, No Frills Type). Worked ok but it did melt and run and most of the other things mentioned in this thread. What caused me to give it up was when we were shooting into the wind on a target range. Before long I had disappeared in a swarm of flies. I couldn't work out why I had more flies than the others. I was the only dumb one using food type lubricants. :barf: I don't now.

I use Castrol PH (zinc based) grease. Cheap and washes out with soap and water. For you blokes with a girl let me say they will be pleased and you can spend more money on shooting instead of cleaning bills or new clothes. :D

Cheers from down under
Aussie Bob

January 8, 2005, 03:39 PM
I've had good luck with a 50-50 mix of beeswax and olive oil melted together.

January 10, 2005, 09:16 PM
I often seen this recipe offered but are the olive oil and beeswax measured by volume or weight?
What is the consistency? I'd like to find a grease a little thinner than Crisco, made from natural ingredients, for the cylinder pin and rear area of the cylinder.
Presently, I use CVA Grease Patch and found it very good. But it's often difficult to find. To me, it appears to be little more than a mix of beeswax and some kind of vegetable oil.

January 11, 2005, 12:59 PM
Gatofeo, I mix mine by volume. I put two marks on the inside of whatever container I'm melting the mixture in. Both are spaced an equal distance apart (the first one inch from the bottom, the second two inches from the bottom.) I add olive oil until it reaches the first mark. I put chunks of beeswax in the olive oil until the level reaches the second mark. When heated, the wax melts and mixes well with the olive oil with very little stirring.
After the mixture has cooled some but is still liquid, I pour it into styrofoam cups. When it has cooled and solidified it contracts enough that it pulls away from the sides of the cup and can be dumped out of the cup. A little time in the freezer speeds things up. I use dental floss to cut the cup-shaped cake into smaller slices (make a loop around the cake and pull both ends of the floss, like a garrotte.)
The consistency is stiff enough to adhere well to the lube rings of a minie ball or fill a revolver chamber over the ball. I just rub the cake over the edge of the chamber mouth so some is shaved off, then use my finger to push it equally around so the ball is totally covered. During extremely hot weather the cake gets a little soft but I have never had it get even a little runny.
This mixture seems to keep powder fouling soft. I can shoot 40 to 50 rounds through a .58 rifled musket without experiencing loading difficulties. I suppose one could alter the ratio ( more oil, less wax ) to make it softer for use as a patch lube, but I use it at 50-50 and it works for me.
Another use, though unrelated to firearms, is that it makes an excellent wood finish for my osage orange self bows and tomahawk handles. It'll also fix your chapped hands. Heck, it probably could be used as survival food!

January 15, 2005, 12:22 AM
Um .. don't eat that olive oil and beeswax mix or you may find yourself sleeping in the bathtub with the drain open! :eek:

January 24, 2005, 10:27 AM
Thanks to all who answered this thread I started a few months ago. It is now a little cold for BP shooting, but when the weather gets warmer ....
One more question: How doe you guys seat the wad??? Do you use the build in rod or something else? What works best and how do you know it is placed "correctly" ??



January 24, 2005, 09:10 PM
I press the wad in with my fingertip, then tamp it down with the loading lever. Every so often one goes in crooked enough that it may not seal properly. It takes just a second to reposition it with the tip of a small screwdriver before seating it with the lever. A quick glance down the chamber will ensure that it's positioned properly.

Remington kid
September 20, 2005, 06:05 PM
I know this is an old thread but the subject has come up several times at one time or another so I just thoiught I would ad a little for the new guy's.
I like to load the powder and wad in the cylinder's when it's out of the gun and sitting on my bench. I fill one chamber with powder and tap the side of the cylinder a little. Then I slide a wonder wad over the hole with my thumb and press down on the wad evenly to start it. The i use a 6" 3/8" doll rod to run the wad on down and seat it shugly on the powder. After each one is done I smear a little grease on the star end of the cylinder and also place some on the cylinder rod. My favorite grease is Wonder lub mixed with equal amounts of melted bees wax to "stickey" it up a little .This really helps to keep the fouling of the cylinder to a minimum. load the cylinder in the gun with the hammer on half cock and run the cylinder rod through the cylinder hole. While holding the gun standing upright on the bench, Lay a ball on the chamber hole and turn the cylinder until it's lined up (First click) with the ram rod . Run the ball down snugly over the wad seating it really well. After loading all six balls I will use a popcicle stick to fill each chamber with grease and smooth off the grease even with the top of the chamber.Now I place a cap by hand on one nipple at a time and seat the cap on the nipple with a 3/8" doll rod with a piece of leather on the end of it ( Just glue on a piece of leather and when it drys trim it to match the rod) I just use the same doll rod I used for the wad .
When your done with the caps carefully pull back the hammer and then turn the cylinder so that that you can gently let the hammer down on one of the open slots, not on a nipple!. Wipe the gun down well with a clean rag and your ready to go. Mike

September 30, 2005, 08:39 AM
I make my own "wads" out of mutton tallow, a little liquid alox and a little beeswax. They dissolve with the charge and keep the gun real clean and lubed. I melt the ingredients in a pan so they are about 1/8" thick, let the pan cool and cut them using a 45 casing like a cookie cutter. They work great. One of these days I'm going to switch to APP and just use the felt wads as a filler.

October 7, 2005, 01:37 PM
Overall, a very interesting thread.
That's one of the things I like about shooting cap and ball sixguns, the diversity of opinion and experience. What works here in the remote Utah desert may not work as well in a hot, humid place such as Florida.
There are only a few hard-and-fast rules to loading a cap and ball sixgun:

1. Never smoke or have any open flame or spark near you while loading.
2. Use some kind of lubricant over or under the ball.
3. Use only black powder or a propellant approved for such use.
4. Never let bystanders stand to the side of your revolver while firing, or they may be injured by hot gases, particles or lead shavings.
5. Practice firearms safety at all times, to include yelling, "Cease Fire!" if you see a dangerous situation downrange or from a fellow shooter. Watch that muzzle!
6. Ensure your revolver is in good, firing condition before stoking it. If it's an old original, or a suspect reproduction, have a gunsmith check it.
7. Never shoot glass items, or anything that will leave a mess. Clean up after yourself, to include taking down paper targets and collecting tins cans for proper disposal.
8. Have fun. This isn't the Olympics with the entire world watching. If you miss a can just turn to your friends and say, "Didya see how that can jumped aside just as I fired?"
9. At home, store your gunpowder and caps properly, away from children and immature adults.

October 8, 2005, 09:25 AM
another tip: Name search Gatofeo or else read the stickies he has here and on the High Road. They will answer just about any question you might have-as well as the questions themselves CAN be answered.

As he says, there are many variables that go into how a given procedure will work.

October 10, 2005, 10:13 AM
......Generally mutton tallow & beeswax, about 2 to one in favor of the tallow....At one time or another, I've used about any combo of organic fats & oils & this seems to work best for me...I've also been known to load 'dry' (with a tight fitting ball) if the gun is to be carried for extended periods...Ostensibly to prevent contamination of the powder.....Yes, I've experienced chain fires but am pretty much convinced that they are a product of sloppy fitting caps in most cases...................