View Full Version : Keeping a cylinder packed & ready?

January 26, 2009, 01:13 AM
New to the group, new to C&B - but not BP.
I have enjoyed the day reading these forums.

I have picked up a Pietta 1858 for a sidearm while hunting and horseback riding in the Colorado Mountains.

I also picked up an couple extra cylinders.

While I will be shooting regularly, I want the cleanest, easiest way to load & keep a cylinder "ready" and holstered while riding.

I ride most every weekend, so having a greased packed cylinder is really not going to work all that well and it will be loaded with dirt in no time.

I was thinking of this combination:
1. Pyrodex® .44/.45 Caliber 30-Grain Pellets
2. Ox-Yoke Wonder Wads
3. .454 Swaged Pistol Round Balls
4. #11 Remington Percussion Caps

Is this going to to be a good safe & reliable way to keep a cylinder at the ready?
How long can a cylinder be kept this way?

January 26, 2009, 04:26 AM
Ziplock bags.

January 26, 2009, 04:59 AM
I'd skip the pellets and use loose powder. You can get a leather pouch made to carry spare cylinders.

January 26, 2009, 05:48 AM
I'm with HH on this one, I'd skip the pellets & use loose powder of either real FFFG Black Powder or Pyrodex P.
With loose powder such as Pyrodex P you get more shots for the money, more reliable ignition, & more consistent velocities compared to the Pyrodex pellets & with loose powder you can taylor your loads for the most accurate shots that your revolver likes the most too.

I keep my Pietta '58 NMA with the 5.5" barrel loaded with 30gr. FFFG Goex & a .456 220gr. Lee Cast Conical bullet which is quite accurate & pretty potent & with my spare cylinder loaded & ready I have a quick reload.
If you stick with the Ball loads I would suggest a non lubed wad or a bit of corn meal between the powder collumn & your lubed wad so that the lube doesn't contaminate your powder over extended periods of time being loaded.

As far as pouches are concerned, I suggest giving Bigbadgun56 leather work (http://www.geocities.com/bigbadgun56/home.html) a try, I have a full rig from him & love it.

January 26, 2009, 06:00 AM
I also use loose powder pyrodex p, it seems to work well and a leather pouch for the spare cylinder and usually use no 10 caps as 11s just fall off unless you pinch them a little.

January 26, 2009, 06:25 AM
Good advice.

Pellets: no. Use loose powder.
Wonder Wads: no. Use Cream of Wheat.
Swaged .454 rb's: ok.
#11 Rem caps: ok if they fit. They do fit on some nipples.

I understand you intend to carry capped and loaded cylinders; fine as long as they're contained in separate containers (pouches, bags, whatever) to keep them from hitting each other's caps. And as long as you're experienced and competent at switching capped cylinders.

January 26, 2009, 10:30 AM
I ride most every weekend, so having a greased packed cylinder is really not going to work all that well and it will be loaded with dirt in no time.

I was thinking of this combination:
1. Pyrodex® .44/.45 Caliber 30-Grain Pellets
2. Ox-Yoke Wonder Wads
3. .454 Swaged Pistol Round Balls
4. #11 Remington Percussion Caps

Loose powder would be a better choice, you may find that your optimum load well be under 30gr.

I assume you want to use the wads so you don't have to grease over the balls? Shouldn't be a problem.

The #11 caps may be a little on the loose side. If you can seat #10's it may be a better choice.

Just be aware of the safety implications of carrying and loading a capped cylinder. Personally I would cap after changing the cylinders. If you have a good capping tool it is quick and easy.

January 26, 2009, 01:16 PM
The #10 remington caps fit my recently purchased pietta 1858s best. Fortunately I've a Cabela's nearby that keeps them in stock. The CCI 10s and 11s were either too small or too large for my cylinders.

January 26, 2009, 07:00 PM
I keep an extra cylinder loaded, except for the caps, in a leather belt pouch that Cabela's sells. Loose BP is the way to go, though I have used Pyrodex.
Wonder wads work just fine. CoW is ok as a filler but may not be needed depending on your powder charge.

January 26, 2009, 07:58 PM
A little clarification: I will not have loose cylinders capped. (Only the one in the gun and only when holstered on my side).

Thanks for all the feedback.

The wads are to reduce/minimize chain firing.

I shoot strictly loose powder in my riffles, and I do understand balancing the powder with the bullet. I am very picky about this with my riffles to the point that I have spent two years on my "secret sauce" and I weigh all my loads down to the grain; but I am considering the pellets so that I can keep a few in a speed loader in my saddle bags and in my camper. This will keep me from having to have too many gadgets in the woods. (already have a ton)

I will be carrying for safety/minimal survival - I have already encountered a Mountain Lion and had to put it down with a bow (photo available on request) and with more than 500 hours in the saddle in 2008 it is only time before another encounter.

I hope this makes some sense?

January 27, 2009, 03:03 AM
I wouldn't recommend loading spare cylinders with open cones they would be safer capped. and in a pouch or saddlebag. If you are in Colorado moisture will seek the powder though the flash holes or and contaminant/obstruction could enter the cones.
Recallect the main reason Bill Hickok fired his Colts every mornin' and reloaded them...
Stick with fffg Black Power it's not likely to attract moisture when loaded and capped in a cylinder. I have had a revolver loaded with Black Powder a year and a half with out a malfunction. I dryball load if I don't intend on shooting it right away. Safety of against chain fire is a tight fitting ball, and proper fitting caps...and a squeezed cap is safer then one you need to drive on so to speak... recently tried Remington cap after 25 years of CCI caps, and the REM caps have improved and usually fit everything better without the squeeze. Too tight ain't right they may not fire... anyway bought 2,000 REM #10 & 11.
Revolvers found dating back to the War against Northern Aggression have been found loaded and fired with out insident.
You have the best tool for the job as far as I'm concerned.


January 27, 2009, 05:39 AM
I agree 100%
Unless the chamber isn't going to be loaded with powder & ball/bullet I cap all of them & then drip beeswax over the caps to give it that extra weather resistance "if I don't plan to shoot it that very day."

I've had my C&B revolvers out with me on the club property & caught in the rain a few times & they still fired like I had loaded them that minute & as far as having the spares loaded & capped, a good leather pouch will protect them very well & with some practice you can swap cylinders faster than any one with speed loader for a dubble action & still be safe.

OH BTW SG, I love the top engraved one, that is so purdy.

January 27, 2009, 06:31 AM
the main problem you may have with using pellets is probably going to be fail to fire, they often will not ignite in a percussion cap fired rifle and doubt they would work any better in a pistol as its the same ignition type but you could try them, but dont be surprised if you have several chambers that fail to fire.

January 27, 2009, 10:59 PM
OH BTW SG, I love the top engraved one, that is so purdy.

Raider2000, That's the one I've shot more and had longer...if ya likes Rems I recommend findin' at least one a these. I like Rems alot so I got two...but they be differant. :O)

Bejay, I agree with ya...I never use pellets period jus' loose Black Powder. Pellets in a Revolver would be a failure lookin' to happen.


January 28, 2009, 10:08 AM
This whole issue of chain fire is blown out of proportion. I have never had one and have not seen one. My theory is that if you load the spare cylinder in a clean environment (at home) and then take it with you as a spare all you really need is powder and ball. I can imagine that during a range session loading into a dirty gun can cause a problem but not if you load it at home and no powder is spilled in the process. The lead ball seats so tight that there is no way in my opinion that a spark flies from one side to the other. So, after many years of shooting BP I now don't bother with grease or wad at all when I load a clean cylinder in my loading press at home.

January 28, 2009, 12:36 PM
Interesting theory: loading at home prevents chain fires.

Let's see if I understand - I think you are saying that if you load at home you won't have any loose or deformed balls or caps. I presume this is because you take more time and are very careful to inspect both the ball and cap on every chamber. And if you spill any powder it gets cleaned off the cylinder face and stays at home. This also means that you are carrying capped and loaded cylinders to the range. Do I have that correct?

So you never load at the range, meaning that you must take enough spare cylinders to meet the needs of that day's range session. You must either have a lot of spare cylinders or you don't shoot very much.

Would you agree that, if I were to load at the range and use a lubed felt wad (or chamber mouth grease) and ensure that a full lead ring was shaved, in addition to ensuring my caps were tight, that I had achieved an equivalent level of insurance against chain fires?

If so, it would seem that carrying a large number of lubed felt wads to the range would be somewhat easier than carrying a large number of loaded spare cylinders. Or am I missing something?

By the way, sparks are not the ignition source - hot gas is, and believe me, it can find tiny leaks to the powder with no problem at all. Sparks go away from the gun, hot gas envelopes it:

January 28, 2009, 12:46 PM
I was wondering when you were going to chime in on that one mykeal. ;)

I agree with you & is why I only have 2 spare cylinders "one of which is only loaded at the range" because I shoot a bunch & the pre-lubed conicals or felt wads & ball is a lot lighter to carry than toting along 10 or more loaded cylinders.

I've had a few chain fires in the past mostly due to me not possibly paying attention to sprue location or a cap dislodging but that is where experience comes in & learn from the situation.

January 28, 2009, 04:00 PM
mykeal: You pretty much got this right. What I am saying is that loading at home is more controlled and I can make sure the balls are shaving a uniform ring and the caps are on as well as they could be. Then I put the capped cylinder in a leather pouch (from Cabelas) and take it with me. I do the same to the cylinder in the gun, no grease. This way I have a nice, clean gun that doesn't run grease all over me in the Texas heat and I can shoot 10 rounds between the two cylinders (one empty chamber). All of this is for woods / farm use, not range use!

For range use, I usually only shoot one cylinder, load it in the gun and use grease or wads as an additional precaution for chainfires. I think we all agree that loading a revolver in the field with a flask is a lot more of a mess with spilled powder and caps that may not sit as perfectly as they could after a few rounds.

Since the original thread did not address range use but carrying while riding I shared my opinion. I am assuming that riding around use is not going to be the same as range use. 10 shots should then be enough. To answer the last question, how long can it be kept loaded, it depends on how dry the powder can be kept. Even with sealing the caps with wax I have had problems in the summer leaving it loaded for a little as two weeks. I once did a test and left a revolver loaded for 2 weeks in a humid environment. Guess what, none of the chambers went off. This is when I started using wax on the caps but have to admit that I have not tested it again.

Happy shooting!

January 28, 2009, 04:09 PM
This is my spare cylinder pouch from Cabelas


January 28, 2009, 04:50 PM
Ok, well, I'm glad I understood your point correctly.

As for my last point: I presume you understood me about the ignition source in a chain fire: gas, not sparks, yes?