View Full Version : How to Properly Use a Cap & Ball Revolver, Part 2

October 1, 2004, 09:27 PM
Continued from, "How to Properly Use a Cap & Ball Sixgun."
Copyright 2003 by Gatofeo. No use without permission.

Use a standard 25-yard pistol target, at 25 yards, and a benchrest. The backing around the target should be out at least two feet in each direction, to reveal any stray shots. This is best done with a piece of large plywood, at least 3 feet square, with the surface covered by butcher paper and the target in the center.
Colt percussion revolvers, original and reproduction, almost always shoot high at 25 yards, as much as 12 inches above point of aim.
Most Remington replicas shoot low at 25 yards. This is good, because all you have to do is file down the front sight until point of aim. But file it down slowly, a lick or two at a time. If you file down too far, you'll have to replace the front sight.
But before you do any filing, find the most accurate load then adjust your sights to that load.
If the revolver hits above the point of aim, you can either add height to the front sight or file the sighting groove at the rear deeper. In Colt revolvers, this means filing a slightly deeper notch in the hammer nose but you typically can't get it much deeper without the frame blocking the view of your front sight.
Also, if you file a deeper notch in the hammer nose, you'll also need to widen the notch a bit to more easily see the brass bead front sight.
You may reach a point where the Remington's front sight cannot be filed down any farther, when the plane of the barrel interferes with sight picture. If this occurs, you'll just have to aim a little higher or lower, depending on what is needed.
Do NOT do any filing on an original revolver; you will reduce its monetary value.

Grasp the revolver with two hands and let your hands rest on the sandbag or rolled blanket. If the revolver is placed on the rest, or touches it, you may experience flyers because the revolver doesn't recoil naturally if it contacts the rest.
Use Birchwood Casey Sight Black on your sights. This places a sooty surface on your sights and eliminates glare, which is especially bad with the brass bead on Colt front sights. A lit candle stub will place soot on the sights too. BUT keep that flame well-away from all powder and caps. Obviously, don't do this with a loaded cylinder in the revolver!
Bring a small notebook with you and note the load, type of powder, type of projectile, size of projectile (.375 or .380 inch?), caps, weather, wind, distance and whatever else you deem important. This will save you a lot of duplication and help you find that perfect load sooner.

USE PROTECTIONUse ear and eye protection when shooting percussion revolvers. Cap fragments can fly off and most revolvers are very loud. If your club denies you the use of eye and ear protection in order to preserve Western authenticity, find another club. Your sight and hearing are not worth their petty aesthetics.

I’ve been shooting cap and ball revolvers for nearly 35 years. It took me that long to learn or stumble across the above. Print this out and file it away for future reference. What I’ve related is not an absolute; it is intended as a guide. Each gun, like its shooter, is an individual and has particular likes and dislikes.
Happy shooting!

Copyright 2003 by Gatofeo. No use without permission.