View Full Version : Black powder chamber advise

February 13, 2009, 11:43 AM
I have a 1851 Navy Colt bought for home defense and was thinking about the problem of the powder corroding the chambers...I've thought of 2 possible remedies but am curious to see what someone more experienced with black powder thinks...The 1st is possibly making heavy plastic tubes to fit inside the chambers, or possibly taking some .44 casings & cut both ends so that the overall length holds the powder while the ball itself still rests ontop of the charge...Any idea's on this?

February 13, 2009, 11:52 AM
Unfired powder isn't going to corrode the cylinder chambers. Even after firing, and depending on conditions, you generally have a few days to clean up before corrosion sets in.

Having a loose piece of plastic or brass in your chambers could be very dangerous.

February 13, 2009, 11:57 AM
This is what I had wrote up once before just for this type of occasion.
I'll explain how to make it as reliable as a modern firearm.
If you follow this information, you can keep it loaded nearly indefinitly with no corrosion issues, just remember though that any weapon that you intend to use for self defence should be used often to keep yourself & the weapon in tune with each other so that when & if you need to use it you will know for sure that you & the weapon is capable.

Keeping a Cap & Ball Revolver loaded.


In the thread Thinking of buying a 1858 bp. I see where it could turn a different direction & sort of hijacking "SORRY" so I thought to use my 30 years experience in these fine pieces to explain a little if some like myself wish to keep a C&B revolver loaded for an extended time without possibly high jacking someone else thread.

I grew up like many from my generation & prior around different firearms & was taught at a young age to only touch them when given permission to but have respect of them and all around us especially when a firearm was present & later I learned how to shoot & possibly hunt using these firearms where I believe is almost entirely lost to many in today’s generation.

With that said, I learned how to load & fire my Great Great Grandfathers 1851 Colt Navy .36 caliber back in 1977 & as many in that time would keep a pistol, rifle or shotgun loaded for just in case purposes & my home was no different including sometime keeping that '51 loaded from time to time so here is what I had learned in keeping these old pistols loaded & reliable for even months at a time possibly years.

First off is to find a load that works best for your particular firearm because each has its own quirks & dislikes just like their modern brethren, if your piece likes the wads under the bullet see if it'll like the wad with no lube "you'll understand in a moment."

Once you have the load pinned down then here is what I learned will make your C&B Revolver reliable & as weather resistant as today’s modern center fire cartridge weapons.

After you have thoroughly cleaned your piece & have it dry, take the assembled cylinder "cones installed" & have a cleaning patch soaked in 91% rubbing alcohol & run it through each chamber like you would when you were cleaning it, this will eliminate any oils & water that may be still in there, now dry it with another patch & then again with Q-Tips, be sure to dry the Cones "nipples" as well.

Either in a loading tool or in the revolver load your measured powder & then a dry wad & bullet or just a Ball or Conical into the chambers except one, this will be the chamber that your hammer will be lowered down on for safety’s sake.
Then after capping the cones of the loaded chambers use some candle or bees wax to cover the percussion caps & if you want some lube at the bullet use a 50/50 Wax & Crisco "or your preferred lube over the bullets, now your loaded cylinder will withstand the elements short of going swimming with it.

Here is the reason I suggest a unlubed wad "if your piece likes the wads," lube over time can possibly leach into the powder charge from these wads & maybe even the lube pills rendering the weapon at best a slightly less effective load or at worse a failure to fire & what I mean by over time is if the firearm is left in this state for more than say a week or so.

My loads for 3 of my revolvers that from time to time may be loaded for as long as a year "in one case."

Pietta 1858 NMA 5.5" barrel
29gr. FFFG Goex.
220gr. .456 Lee cast Conical lubed with 50/50 Beeswax & Crisco.
Remington #11 caps
Candle Wax melted over the caps to seal
Very effective & quite accurate from this little piece, mostly has been my companion on the club checking traps & stand locations for almost a year now.

Uberti 1858 NMA 8" barrel
29gr. FFFG Goex.
Dry Wool wad.
142gr. .457 Cast Ball
lubed over the ball with 50/50 Beeswax & Crisco.
Remington #11 caps
Candle Wax melted over the caps to seal
My most accurate load & pistol out to 25 yards.

Pietta 1860 Army 8" barrel
25gr. FFFG Goex.
142gr. .457 Cast Ball
lubed over the ball with 50/50 Beeswax & Crisco.
Remington #11 caps
Candle Wax melted over the caps to seal
Been with me for over 25 years & has never failed to fire even after being loaded for over a year including being caught in the rain while working the fields.

So yes with some patience & knowledge you can keep one of these pieces loaded for a long time but just be safe in doing it.

February 13, 2009, 03:11 PM
This question comes up once a week and I'm frankly amazed. Where are all these stories that have people worried about unfired black powder corroding the gun? I've never seen anyone say that had happened to them, and we've all seen several accounts of guns with powder stored in them for years being just fine. I don't get it.

Anyway, Raider's got it right. Writing up a dissertation that you can just insert into a thread is a good idea; goodness knows we'll see more of these.

Raider did mention something near to my heart (but not others, for some reason). If you are going to depend on this gun to protect your family and save your life both you and the gun need to be reliable, and even more important, the combination needs to be reliable and proficient. In other words, practice with the gun. Often. A lot. And when you do that, you won't have to worry about corrosion because you will be regularly emptying and cleaning the gun. And you'll be a much better shot. Unless, of course, you're one of those thousands of people who (it's been alleged to me) don't need to practice to be a good shot.

February 14, 2009, 02:30 AM
I heard that ifin you twirl yer sixguns alot it'll shake the moisture off your balls.


February 14, 2009, 08:42 AM
:LOL: Smokin that has got to be the best thought of the day. :D

February 14, 2009, 08:52 AM
Thanks Raider, that helps... I've already discovered the wax trick, but why do you use #11 instead of the #10? I've spent my whole life around guns, but BP are new to me...MYKEAL, I think the reason the forum get's the corrossion question so much is because the sports stores that sell BP guns tell us that the powder will corrode the chamber if stored for any length of time. Fortunately, I'm the type of person that will reseach something & ask perple with more experience than myself any questions I may have...As for my "chamber lining" idea, it's actually something I found on another forum somewhere, some guy posted that he has his chambers lined with plastic, which, in theory, seemed a good idea...

I also came across several articles discussing how to make "paper" cartridges...Any opinions on that?

February 14, 2009, 08:53 AM
Dammit Smokin', I tried spinning 'em but it didn't work:mad:...Grumbles damn gun

February 14, 2009, 09:39 AM
I've made paper cartridges for years for my C&B revolvers & at one time for my Navy Arms Zouave that I had, the cigarette papers work great for making cartridges & in most cases have never gave me a misfire if just loaded without using the nipple pick like many today say to do, just use real black powder & you should be fine "Pyrodex & 777 you may want to use the nipple pick because they are a little harder to ignite compared to Real Black."

Oh I've been using #11 caps for over 26 years & except for my one Navy Arms Dragoon that liked #12 caps & a pocket '63 that liked #9's it has worked great for me, a little pinch on the cap to give it a slight egg shape before placing it on the cones will keep em in place

February 14, 2009, 11:43 AM
I think the reason the forum get's the corrossion question so much is because the sports stores that sell BP guns tell us that the powder will corrode the chamber if stored for any length of time.
That's the first time I've heard that. You speak as if that's a common thing. Have you seen numerous incidents or is this your own experience at one or two stores?

Paper cartridges are a good idea; I don't use them because I find it faster and easier to load loose powder, but that's just a personal preference. Many people use them and speak highly of them.

February 14, 2009, 12:01 PM
Unfired powder isn't going to corrode the cylinder chambers. I actually didn't know this when I started hangin' around here.... I think I even posted the question once.

... now I'm an expert!:)

Mr. Modesty

February 14, 2009, 12:25 PM
I heard that ifin you twirl yer sixguns alot it'll shake the moisture off your balls.


When I tried twirlin' I hit my balls.

February 14, 2009, 02:41 PM
Tea bags make better paper cartridges than cigarette papers. They're stronger and more porous. They burn clean too but a PITA to make a bunch of.

February 14, 2009, 02:59 PM
Where can I find some tea bags with out the tea? :p

February 14, 2009, 04:26 PM
Buy cheap tea and dump it out.:D

February 14, 2009, 04:27 PM
some guy posted that he has his chambers lined with plastic, which, in theory, seemed a good idea...

BP melts plastic.

February 16, 2009, 09:57 AM
Thanks Raider...Yeah Mykeal, I've been told that the powder will corrode the chambers by several different people in several different sporting good stores, so, as I said, I think that's a big reason these forums get that question so much...Hawg, I figured that the plastic would eventually melt, but with everyone saying how corrosive the powder is, the idea of some sort of chamber lining, IF it actually works, seemed a good idea in theory at least...Shrugz...I appreciate all the advise from you guys though. Like I said in my original post, anytime I get interested in something knew, I try to do my research & talk to people with more experience than myself...

February 16, 2009, 10:20 AM
Dixie used to sell 'flash paper' that works well. I bought quite a bit before I found out it could be had at a specialty shop that sells supplies for magicians. It is simply nitrated paper that is consumed by the main charge. Works well in my Sharps.

February 16, 2009, 01:45 PM
Fired bp, pyrodex, etc. is highly hydroscopic and will corrode if left alone long enough. That doesn't mean you have to rush home and completely dismantle your gun and clean it as soon as you're through shooting. I sometimes let mine go for two or three days before cleaning and I only do a tear down maybe once a year. Let cleaning it go for a month or more and you'll regret it. I once found a loaded 58 Remington in an old barn. The outside was pretty rough but the chambers once unloaded looked like new.