View Full Version : Why I don't shoot black powder

January 2, 2009, 11:45 AM
Credit goes to to Boston John Doucette.

I'd been looking at a pretty, brass-framed BP revolver in the case at Shattuck's Hardware for a couple of months, and boy! Was I ever proud the day I went in and plunked down the money for it! Eleven dollars in one dollar bills... and eighteen dollars in quarter and dimes. Old Man Shattuck was a great old guy, whose eyesight, thankfully, had gotten really bad over the years... he didn't recognize me as he sold me the .36 caliber pistol... he even threw in a box of pure lead balls with the pistol and percussion caps when I bought the pound of black powder.

I told Mr. Shattuck that I was anxious to shoot it and was heading straight for the dump, and asked him to show me how to load the gun. "It's pretty simple," I recall his telling me. "You measure your powder into the cylinder chamber, put a bullet over it, ram it down in with the hinged thing under the barrel, put your cap over a nipple, and you're set to shoot." I thanked him for his help and headed for the door.

"One last thing!" he called to me as I was running out the door, "Don't forget to put grease over your balls! Crisco works fine!" I didn't understand the need for the last part, but I stopped at Tony's Grocery and bought a little blue can of Crisco grease. And now... to the dump! Where bottles and cans, rats and crows were just waiting for this ol' cowboy to do 'em in!

I replayed Mr. Shattuck's instructions in my head as I laid out all my gear on the smothed-out, brown paper bag at my feet. The first thing I realized was that I didn't have anything to measure the powder with... UNTIL I remembered my knife! I carried one of those folding stag handled camper's knives- you know, the ones with a fork on one side and a spoon on the other? The spoon was perfect for what I needed! Very carefully (thank heaven there wasn't any wind blowing) I poured a spoonful of powder from the can into the spoon, then tipped the spoon up and tapped the powder into the cylinder. Sure, I spilled a bunch over because the spoon held so much more, but what the heck! Powder was cheap, back then... and I had plenty to spare...

Being a methodical kind of kid, I filled all six chambers with the powder, managing to spill as much around my feet, I suppose, as I was getting into the cylinder. I can laugh now, but when I bent over to get the bullets all the powder fell out of the cylinders onto my boots... so I had to fill them all over again! I managed to get all the chambers filled with powder and then stuck a bullet into the first cylinder... I had to really tap it in with my knife to get it started... then shoved it in as far as it would go with the rammer thing. I lost a little powder in the process, but eventually I had all six chambers loaded and ready to go. Then I put percussion caps over the things sticking out the ends of the cylinders... Oops! I forgot a couple of things!

Now, I'll admit my ignorance about a lot of things... but why I was supposed to smear Crisco on my balls is still a mystery to me. But I figured Old Man Shattuck knew what he was about, so I looked around to make sure I was alone, then dropped my pants to my knees, opened the can of Crisco and began to smear it over Lefty and Righty. Standing there in the hot summer sun, slowly massaging soft, silky grease into my scrotum... gee WHIZ! I guess the old man knew what he was talking about after all ! Welcome to the joys of shooting!

I had to force myself out of my reverie...

One last thing and then I'd be ready to shoot... I took my baseball cap off and stuffed it inside my shirt over my left nipple. Okay... I guessed I was ready (except, of course, that in my haste I'd forgotten to pull up my pants...)

Well sir, I crooked my left am out in front of my face, rested the trigger guard of the pistol in my right hand on it, drew a tight bead on an old Four Roses bottle, and squeezed the trigger. I remember a bright flash, a burning sensation on my arm and face, then something hit me square in the forehead and the lights went out.

It must have been quite sometime later when I awoke. I was laid out across the back seat of Sheriff Miller's car (I knew this from the plexi-glass partition and a previous ride when I'd been sixteen), the rider's side door was open and my feet and lower legs were hanging out. As I raised my head to look for the source of the voices I heard I felt like someone had hit me in the head with a sledgehammer. I could see two men in the dim, evening light, just outside the door and within my range of vision. At least, I thought they were two men... I could hear two speaking but they were sorta spinning around and they looked like six. From the voices I knew they were Sheriff Miller and my Dad... "... busy on another call so the volunteer fire department was the first out here," I heard the Sheriff explaining to my dad. "Mabel Krutchner called it in... said she saw smoke comin' from the dump and had heard an awful explosion over this way."

"Near as I can tell from what the firemen say, when they got here they found your boy lying over there. At first they thought he was dead. The dump was on fire all around him, his left arm and face were all black, his boots were scorched pretty badly, he had a HUGE knot on his forehead where somebody'd cold-cocked him... And... well, we think the boy's been... well, taken advantage of."

"What do you mean 'Taken advantage of?'" I heard my dad ask.

"Well, Al, it's like this," the Sheriff said. "The first men to get to your boy said he was unconscious; they found part of a gun by his body; his pants were down around his ankles, his crotch was smeared with KY Jelly and he was sportin' a big boner..."

Then I heard Mr. Shattuck's voice. "I always knew there was something wrong with that boy...This will probably keep him out of the army..."

And THAT'S why I don't shoot black powder...

January 2, 2009, 11:55 AM
Now thats funny !:)

January 2, 2009, 12:11 PM
Whut? Isn't that how it's done? :)

January 2, 2009, 07:02 PM
Thanks for that one Hawg. I always knew there was a reason I never got into the b/p pistiols:D

4V50 Gary
January 2, 2009, 07:50 PM
Thank you Hawg. :DNow, if anyone has trepidations about shooting their black powder revolvers, please send them to me for disposal. ;)

Hawg - you should really post this at TheHighRoad too. I'm sure the members there who don't visit TFL will also enjoy it.

January 2, 2009, 08:55 PM
Hawg, as soon as I can get the tears from eyes, I will write a cleaver retort to your story. But I am without words to describe the joy I had reading this adventure.

My first comment, "You the man." Even with being cold conked you maintained your manhood on display. For us lesser men, that would have been the second thing to go after the lights.:D

Second, was Mr. Shattuck right? Did that incident keep you out of the Army? The Marines were looking for a few good men and you did prove you measured up there.

Last, where is the revolver today?

Pass the lube.....


January 3, 2009, 12:14 PM

January 5, 2009, 04:37 PM
I always wondered when this piece was written. I would take a guess and say late 60s early 70s. Great piece though, if not a little shocking:D

Jim March
January 5, 2009, 05:43 PM
OH SWEET JEBUS ON HIS HEAVENLY CRAPPER was that ever funny. This one's a keeper.

On the off chance that somebody comes along who doesn't fully get it:

The gun involved was a "front stuffer" type of revolver like this:


...or more likely a replica - they went out of fashion circa 1870ish although some like Wild Bill Hickock continued to used them (other than ol' Bill of course) well into the 20th century as working guns.

First problem was that the kid overloaded the cylinders. But you probably figured that out.

The Crisco thing though...when you properly put the round lead balls into each cylinder over a PROPER powder charge, you then smear grease over the tops of each ball. That way the flame from the first shot doesn't go sideways and spark off the powder in adjacent cylinders, which in turn sparks their next neighbor in what's called a "chain fire".

Basically, all six rounds went off at once. Probably blew the crap outta the gun, could have easily killed the kid.

January 5, 2009, 07:37 PM

This is a black powder forum. It's hardly necessary to point out the type of firearm used.

By the way, the gun was NOT overloaded. You can safely shoot full chamber loads in any and all steel framed replica black powder revolvers, assuming they are in good working order.

As for the danger to the young man - I've been shooting black powder guns for over 30 years and personally witnessed two chain fire incidents. In all those years I've never met anyone who has seen or heard of, nor have I read an account in any black powder forum of, anyone being seriously injured or killed by a chain fire incident. They can, but rarely do, damage the gun; they almost never injure the shooter, besides scaring them.

January 5, 2009, 08:54 PM
Great chuckle, Hawg!:)

January 29, 2009, 09:48 AM
You mean that's not where the crisco goes?:D

January 29, 2009, 12:42 PM
Awesome. That was too funny.

October 8, 2011, 06:31 AM
Ya sure put a smial on this lo' face this smornin and I thank ya fur that.:)

October 8, 2011, 12:43 PM
Very funny, I got a cramp laughing so hard.
Although it may or may not be true, it's certainly a good read.
thanks for posting it.

October 8, 2011, 01:14 PM
Very funny!!!

Old Grump
October 8, 2011, 02:27 PM
Officially stolen and will soon be reposted on other sites.

4V50 Gary
October 8, 2011, 05:16 PM
I read that several years ago. It resurfaces every now and then.

October 8, 2011, 07:42 PM

Yeah, It is O.K. with me that you used "Poetic License" but to keep those unfamiliar with shooting replica percussion revolvers, I have to point out:

First of all, you can't "overload" a black powder revolver using black powder. You can fill up the chamber, leaving just enough room in the chamber to fully seat the ball and it WON'T BE OVERLOADED-they were designed to be loaded that way!

A buddy of mine came over a couple of years ago with a replica Whitney revolver. He experienced SIX OR SEVEN "CHAIN FIRES" one after the other. Being somewhat stubborn, he kept reloading the revolver and attempting to shoot it one shot at a time.

They were impressive but outside of minor damage to the revolver, nothing much was involved (although I will admit, the "KER-BOOOOOOOOM, flame and smoke show" was very entertaining every time he fired his pistol!

I was so impressed I just kept moving further and further back behind him.

October 8, 2011, 08:51 PM
Yeah, It is O.K. with me that you used "Poetic License" but to keep those unfamiliar with shooting replica percussion revolvers, I have to point out:

First of all, you can't "overload" a black powder revolver using black powder.

First of all the story isn't mine. I gave credit where credit was due. Second you most certainly can overload a brass frame revolver. It won't come apart like the one in the story but it won't last long before it's useless for anything but a paperweight.

October 8, 2011, 11:46 PM
Thank you Hawg for a great story...
I haven't laughed this hard in years...

October 9, 2011, 04:55 AM
I dont get all the hate on the brass frame guns as the do fine if you dont mind having to restake the arbor every 1200 or so rounds is all.

October 9, 2011, 05:13 AM
I dont get all the hate on the brass frame guns as the do fine if you dont mind having to restake the arbor every 1200 or so rounds is all.

No real hate for them. I do have one even if it isn't period correct. They can't be loaded as heavy as I like to shoot.

October 9, 2011, 02:13 PM
LOL! So that is what the crisco is for [smacks head].