View Full Version : Loading technique critique requested

May 21, 2010, 12:51 PM
I found this article a while back Preventing Chain Fires (http://www.geojohn.org/BlackPowder/bps2.html) and followed the advice given and chamfered my cylinders. The .454 has less lead shaved off of it than before. The shaved ring is not uniform. I am not sure, since used a cotton swab to seal it up which crisco, (after wiping the cylinder wall with a different swab to remove any powder) so I can't be certain but I believe the shaved ring was thicker near the outer edge of the cylinder and the center. I was considering trying a .457 ball since the chambers now accommodate a larger ball than before. Should I go back to a .451 ball? I am seeking a perfect seal in order to have a rounder ball in order to increase accuracy. I do not want to sacrifice safety in order to achieve more accuracy. I wipe crisco on the edge of the chamber as the article suggests. I do not use wads or fill in the chamber in front of the ball. It seem logical that the lube should be behind the ball as any in front will be pushed out.
What do you guys think about this technique?
This guy suggests putting 10 grains of corn meal (http://www.geojohn.org/BlackPowder/bps3.html) between the powder and ball to reduce fouling. I haven't bothered to do that as I usually don't shoot more than one cylinder at a time. I would brush and lube the bore in between cylinders.
I know much of you use wonder wads and the like, but if I can achieve the same results without them, I will take the cheaper route. I have never used the wads before.
This technique works pretty well for me, but I would appreciate your imput on this technique.

May 21, 2010, 12:59 PM
As a Bullseye target shooter only, Me and my buddys use "Creme-of-Wheat"
as a filler. The ball sweges in the chamber without shaving any lead. A mixture
of beeswax and motor oil goes over the ball. The mixture is stiff like Crisco.
We wipe the chambers and barrel after every 5 shots.

May 21, 2010, 01:01 PM
Why 5 shots instead of 6? I assume it is because of thew empty cylinder under the hammer. Threw me off; it is six for me as the remmy has the safety notches between the nipples.

May 21, 2010, 01:37 PM
The range officers will not let you load all six in a match. Plus all pistol matches are 10 shots. It's easier to keep track just loading five.

May 21, 2010, 01:42 PM
My bad. Never been to a fancy shootin ange. I have a shooter's paradise in my back yard. 20 acres or so of open field, then a pond, woods then an old mill pond, then more woods; plenty of places to shoot and no one to give me any rules to follow.:D,,,and my inlaws own the land.:D:D:D

Oh by the way, you wouldn't believe the deer out in the clearing early in the morning. I could sit on the toilet and shoot out the window.:D

May 21, 2010, 02:12 PM
I've always used straight Crisco lard, after every chamber was charged - packing what little room atop the ball was left, wiping the Crisco off flush with the chamber mouth(s).

Besides providing double insurance against any chainfiring/crossfiring, Crisco postioned ahead of the ball has zero chance of fouling the powder on hot days, or in a cylinder hot from frequent shooting - and is pushed ahead of the ball, lubricating it during it's travel downbore.

I've always used the same .457" ball in both my .45 capguns (an Italian M1860 & a stainless ROA), shaving off a nice little ring all around each chamber mouth at seating.


May 21, 2010, 02:22 PM
packing what little room atop the ball was left, wiping the Crisco off flush with the chamber mouth(s).
I tried that for a while, the crisco blew out of the remaining cylinders ofter the first shot. I thought about wax, or mixing the crisco with a hardener.

May 21, 2010, 02:34 PM
[the crisco blew out of the remaining cylinders ofter the first shot]

Wow - In over 35 years of cap 'n ball revolver shooting, I've never seen that occur - either with my guns, or other guns I or my friends were shooting.

The only thing I would even hazzard a WAG as to the cause, would be that yer balls weren't big enough ! ;) :D

BUT............. "Maybe" a revolver with cylinder/chamber(s) slightly out of alignment with the bore at full cock/firing, could have sufficient side spitting, or spitback, to clean out the Crisco the way you've related.

I would definitely try .457" RB's - but also check each empty chamber for bore alignment @ full cock, in case something's amiss.

The .457"'s would give a better seal/shaving, and the 2nd insurance of Crisco "should" remain in place until that chamber was fired.

May 21, 2010, 02:49 PM
I punch out wax board wads made from juice containers that can be doubled or tripled up if necessary.


And Cabela's sells vegetable fiber wads by the 1000 for a very reasonable price that can eliminate the need for any lube.


I'm aware that the heat from the flames can cause most of the Crisco over ball lube to melt after the first shot. But using only a very tiny bit of Bore Butter lube over the ball in only one or two chambers doesn't really cause any mess but still helps to lube the bore if desired.

One issue with lubing the chamber walls is if the balls have a loose fit then the lube can actually cause them to creep forward during firing. Someone else complained that their loaded balls kept creeping up in their chambers until they realized that they needed to keep their chamber walls free of any lube before loading.
But every chamber and loading situation is different depending on ball size.

RemTim, what method & tools did you use to chamfer your chambers with?

May 21, 2010, 03:00 PM
Most of the crisco blows out, never noticed it until after I read the article I provided. I checked the bore to chamber alignment on both my remmies, it was true and the crisco blows out of the remaining chambers (not all of it but most of it). So I just wipe the crisco around the ball seat...

May 21, 2010, 03:03 PM
So far so good on the ball creep, it hasn't happened since switching to .454. I did have that problem with .451 w/o pre lubing the chamber entrance.

May 21, 2010, 03:24 PM

May 21, 2010, 03:35 PM
Nice range! I don't even know where the nearest shooting range is around here and in my backyard there is no travel required, no rules, never closes and I am a bit of a loner at that...:). Howeve, my brother in law keeps talking about putting a shooting range in portion of the spot shown in the pic. I hope he leaves it like it is.

May 21, 2010, 03:41 PM
RemTim, what method & tools did you use to chamfer your chambers with?

Did you use the chamfering tool mentioned in the article?

May 21, 2010, 03:51 PM
Articap, I did not use a chambering tool, just my finger and 400 sandpaper and a cone shaped grinding bit for my drill. I don't know what you call it and I wrapped the paper around it and gently worked it by hand. I took my time and the edge seems to be uniformly shaped. I kind of suspect, it could stand a little more working. I have checked and went over it a few times. Perhaps, I haven't chamfered it enough. I figured if I take too little off I can correct it, if I take too much off ,I can not correct it.

May 21, 2010, 03:59 PM
Here's a photo of kwhi43's chamfered chambers:


May 21, 2010, 04:06 PM
Thanks articap, mine needs a little more work. I was hoping someone would have a good pic.

May 21, 2010, 05:20 PM
so why would you chamfer a chamber?

May 21, 2010, 05:38 PM
This is why Sam Colt chamferred the chambers:


May 21, 2010, 06:08 PM
so a burning piece of powder can reverse, go into another chamber, past the crisco, past the ball, past the wad, past the corn meal and into the powder and ignite another cylinder that wasnt fired? am i the only one that this seems extremely unlikely to happen or am i missing something? i dont even see it getting past the ball...

May 21, 2010, 06:18 PM
SB, I think the hot gases ignite the powder in the adjoining cylinder as heat and fire are drawn to ignitable materials. A perfectly round unshaven ball will enable a impenetrable seal that will not require filling in the empty space of the chamber in order to prevent a chain fire.
Most Italian reproductions have a sharp edge at the entrance of the chamber that cuts into the ball leaving it misshapen. A chamfered cylinder has a tapered outer edge that allows the ball to be pressed in retaining more (preferably all) of its roundness, therefore eliminating the possibility of a chain fire in the front of the cylinder......which is what I would like to achieve.
I have never read or heard of any accounts of the practice of filling in the empty portion of the chambers in the civil war or the Old West, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

May 21, 2010, 08:23 PM
There is much in that article I don't agree with, especially using corn meal to reduce fouling (first time I've ever heard that one - his entire treatise on reducing fouling is just plain bizzare!), but on balance I agree with some of his recommendations. I would agree that chamfering is an improvement worth adding to your revolver's chamber mouths for two reasons: swaging the ball to fit the chamber is better than cutting it (although his hyperbole about making the ball undersize is just nuts, unless the chamber is cone shaped) and to a lesser extent the idea about controlling the flame makes some sense.

Reshaping the ball from a sphere to an oblate spheroid by swaging it into the chamber is actually a good thing for accuracy. The spheroid is easier to stabilize by rotating it as the inertia about the axis of rotation is greater than that about the radial axis. The relatively short barrel of a revolver makes this less important but every little bit helps.

And you're right - it's the gas that causes chain fires, not sparks or hot grains of powder. And a hot gas can easily make it through the convoluted path from chamber to chamber from either the front or the back of the cylinder.

May 21, 2010, 08:35 PM
With a properly chamfered cylinder, the ball seat sealed with crisco and a lubricated ball, is it necessary to fill the empty space of the chamber with crisco or wax? Or would it be overkill? I usually shoot 1 cylinder at a time, clean and reload so fouling is a secondary concern.

May 21, 2010, 08:43 PM
There is, in my opinion, no need for grease or lube of any sort to prevent a chain fire if you have a properly fitting ball AND properly fitting caps. Period.

Lubrication is, again my opinion, to reduce fouling buildup. It softens the fouling and prevents it from caking. It is well worth using, but it's value in preventing a chain fire is secondary.

And the bit about fouling filling up the rifling in the bore and making the bullet unstable is, well, just stunning.:rolleyes::barf:

May 21, 2010, 08:54 PM
I guess I keep wanting to hear that the chamber filling is unnecessary if you only shoot 1 cylinder at a time. If it is necessary, I will, of course resume the practice. I would like for my 5th and 6th shot to be pretty much as accurate as possible. I carry my guns loaded,, so I am concerned about leakage in the summer months, so wax as a lubricant would be acceptable for me, but I prefer to look of the cylinder chambers without the lube. If I find the need to show someone the action end of the gun, I want them to see what is about to hit them. No pun or humor intended by that statement.

May 21, 2010, 09:00 PM
Just personal preference here, but it's never been anything but good for me. I chamfer the chamber mouths, not for Sam Colts reason (but I like that alot), but because those little slivers that get cut off the ball sometimes get caught between the cylinder and the forcing cone. Also, I use a lubed felt wad under my 454 RB to avoid cookin' off the round in the next chamber. I punchout blanks from old felt hats and soak them I warm Bore Butter. I've got a lube recipe using wax, tallow and oil that I want to play with in the future, but even with merely Bore Butter, I've never had the powder contaminate enough to notice a difference in trajectory, or performance and having to not clean my barrel for 75 or more rounds is a nice extra.

May 21, 2010, 09:04 PM
What tool would be best for punching out your own wads for 44 cal( uberti remmy- doubt it matters..)??

May 21, 2010, 10:55 PM
so instead of filing the cylinder to chamfer it would it be better to use a 1/2 in drill bit on slow slow speed to make it uniform all the way around?

in my bison all i did was fill completely with powder, compress wad and powder, press in ball, remove ring, cap and fire...

May 22, 2010, 12:27 AM
What tool would be best for punching out your own wads for 44 cal( uberti remmy- doubt it matters..)??

You can get a set of cheap hole punches from Harbor Freight.

May 22, 2010, 12:44 AM
I will have to get some hole punches and try making some wads myself. I can't see paying the price of commercial ones.

May 22, 2010, 12:56 AM
look at the wads cabelas has they are like 7 bucks...

May 22, 2010, 01:00 AM
I bought a set of seven punches from Harbor Freight for a smidge over 5 but thats been a while.

May 22, 2010, 01:13 AM
I might try agri supply first since it is local, if not I'll get me some at Harbor Freight. Never used wads. If all you guys do, then I guess I should try them out.

May 22, 2010, 09:18 AM
It's true than hard fouling can fill the grooves of the rifling in a cap&baller. Seen it many times when the revolver isn't loaded properly or is not cleaned between shots.
If the wax/lube used for lube pills(grease cookies) is made of paraffin wax,bees wax,lube it doesn't cause trouble in the summer heat. If there is a little trouble then a little more paraffin wax in the recipie can solve any softness from heat problems. The pills go under the balls and atop the powder.
There's really no need to chamber chamber mouths. Sam Colt and his explanation for the chamfers makes sense but the chamfers use would be negligible as the benefit would be minimal. Gas expands equally in all directions so the lateral gas ring shooting from the cylinder gap goes other than just laterally anyway. The gas also hits the arbor and bounces into chambers.
Chamfered chambers aren't a "no-no" but their benifit is minimal also. Why? Most people don't realize that a ring is shaved from the balls circumference even with the chamfer or bevel on the opening of the chamber. The ring is not noticed since with a chamfer the ring isn't shaved at the beginning and is pushed into the chamber by the plunger that almost always is a close fit to the chambers walls.
The concave to the end of the plunger isn't there to be pretty or to not flatten the face of the ball but...is there to swag lead of the balls front part "against the chamber walls to seal the chamber". Look inside the chamber when a ball has been pressed in by a loading lever plunger and see it for yourself.
If you want a chamber to truely not shave a ring from the ball ,whether it's seen as it comes off at the beginning of a sharp edged chamber or is shaved off while lower inside while it stays in the chamber and can't be seen as the plunger presses it in under it, the chamfers have to be "multible". The top edge of the chamber that is put lower inside the chamber,and still shaves a ring of lead, by the top edge being chamfered creates another edge. It's just lower in the chamber. That lowered edge created by the first top edge chamfer has to also be chamfered by a different angle chamfer tool that has less angle to it. Then another angle chamfer tool to smooth that new edge is used. The resulting new smaller edges can then be chamfered or smoothed with sandpaper to create a funneled opening to the chamber.
The funneled opening is the only opening to a chamber that doesn't shave a ring of lead from the ball. Lead would still be swagged upwards as the plunger seats the ball but it isn't cut from the balls and remains intact to the ball and is swagged against the chamber walls by the concaves edge that's on the front of the plunger.
A ring shaved from the ball from a lowered chamfered edge is not really intact to the ball and is just pushed out by the ball that still has a shaved edge. You just don't see the shaved ring since it's pushed in under the plungers edge. That's better than having the shaved rings cluttering the cylinders face as you load though. I've always wondered why people think a sharp edge that's lower in the chamber can't shave a ring from the ball when that edge can be just as sharp as the top unchamfered edge of a chamber. I guess because the ring isn't seen since the plunger pushes it in.
Anyway if you don't want a ring shaved from the ball and want the lead to stay intact and all part of the ball then a "funneled" chamber opening is needed.
Of course if you don't mind the little rings of lead cluttering the cylinder face as you load the unchamferd chamber is as efficient as the chamfered chamber. The plunger doing it's job of not only pushing the balls in the chambers but also pushing lead of the ball against the chamber walls.
If the concave isn't the right shape or size to do it's job of poushing lead of the ball against the chamber walls then you have to shape the concave on the front of the plunger to do it's job well. Some cheaper made guns don't have a proper concave on the front of the plunger. Some plungers have the front edge too thin and actually imbed into the lead and pull the balls back out after they have been pushed in the chambers. That is a case for stoning the face of the plunger so the edge is more wide. Also making the edge of the plunger face less sharp with sand paper helps. That can round off the sharp off the edge of the plunger face.
Anyway if your lead balls are the right size they can't be plungered intomthe chambers and made any other shape than the shape of the front ofmthe chamber. If the chamber is out of round then the ball is out of round. Since the chambers are so often tappered in a cap&baller that then shapes the balls when they are pushed into the tapered part of the chamber. Often the very beginning of the chamber is not tapered and the taper starts a little into the chamber.
I guess since when a chamber is chamfered the lead is still pressed into the chamber by the plunger it could help guard against chain fire so that's good. I'd rather use at least the double chamfer to help keep the lead ring of the ball pressed in around the outside edge of the balls with the ring still intact to the ball,so to speak. If I were to want "no lead shaved" off the ball I'd go to the multiple chamfer and then sand paper that to a funneled opening. I guess if a chamfer tool were made that had the right angle to it that that tool could cut or ream or lap a funneled opening to the chamber. That wouldn't be a chamfer though but would be a funneled opening.
Anyway, the tappered chambers the Italian guns have must be there to insure the balls are sealed in the chamber and guard against chain fire. The deeper you put the balls in the chambers the smaller it gets and the fit to the bore is worsened. That must be why they say the balls seated to the top of the chambers are more accurate. Those balls would be larger in diameter than the ones pushed in further.

May 22, 2010, 09:31 AM
Thanks guys. I desired no lead shaved in order to retain a rounder ball not to enhance appearance. Of course, I don't care to have the ends of the chambers white, but proper technique is much more important. I think I'l probably choose to wmel wax over my balls from now on.

May 22, 2010, 10:38 AM
From what I've read...bigger balls are better because they have more contact with the rifling, making the pistol more accurate, along with sealing better.

Cream of wheat is used as a filler so there are no airspaces between the powder and ball. Felt wads (lubed or dry) are used as fillers and they scrub the bore. Corn meal is used as a filler and it also scrubs the bore clean. Corn meal compresses, cream of wheat doesn't.

May 22, 2010, 10:46 AM
what flavor of cream of wheat?

May 22, 2010, 10:56 AM
what flavor of cream of wheat?
Vanilla would be a nice touch.:rolleyes:With a touch of crushed glass.:D

May 22, 2010, 11:06 AM
crushed glass is just evil... kinda like that old man that shot me in the ass with rock salt when i was 13 for walking in his yard... that reminds me i gotta call grandad...

May 22, 2010, 11:21 AM
kinda like that old man that shot me in the ass with rock salt when i was 13 for walking in his yard...
A man can get in serious trouble for actions such as that.

Fingers McGee
May 22, 2010, 11:30 AM
My loading procedure is powder, lubed wad, ball, cap & fire, repeat. .36s get .380 balls & .44s get .454s. Wads are bought from bpstuffllc or dry precut in bulk and lubed with beeswax/bore butter or TC lube mix. Can shoot a complete 2 day SASS match using this procedure without having any fouling problems. On high temp/low humidity days, I may have to relube the arbor & wipe the cylinder face off after 4 or 5 cylinders full.


May 22, 2010, 11:33 AM
crushed glass is just evil... Yep, kinda mean, I must confess....I'd have to hate someone pretty bad to do that.

May 22, 2010, 11:39 AM
My loading procedure is powder, lubed wad, ball, cap & fire, repeat. . That's pretty much mine without the lubed wad; just a lubed ball. Gotta try enyaw's recipe.

May 22, 2010, 03:16 PM
I have been using Circle Fly brand .455 diameter 1/2 inch thick fiber cushion wads, prelubed with Bore Butter, for my bullseye target shooting.
They fill the chamber when using target loads, it's easier than messing with Cream of Wheat at the range and they keep the bore scrubbed clean while I shoot.

Plus, they are a lot cheaper than Wonder Wads.

May 25, 2010, 08:34 AM
Hello all
Here is my own method for loading my Remington 1858 .44 NA made by A. Uberti.
Gunpowder standard of 0.85 gram to 1.00 gram by shooting distance (25 meters to 40 meters).
Semolina "couscous" medium grain. 1.25 gram to 1.00 gram. Flour is too thin, while the semolina may scrub the barrel of the carbon left by the previous shot.
In a small box, I stock my bullets .454 round and I lay a large knob of grease gun. By shaking the box, the bullets will be covered with a thin pelicula o grease.
I use .454 which provides a good seal (this was not good with the .451 or .457 which was putting on too). The bullet is properly crimped.
When we get the first shot, the heat melts the fat and the tightness is perfect.
I load all six chambers, generally ... we should charge 5.
It will be necessary to repeat the operation for the next chamber.

Here's a link to video and see what happens.



May 25, 2010, 01:35 PM
Here's a source for felt to make your own felt wads: Duro-Felt (http://www.durofelt.com/image_26.html)

Item Width Length Thick Density Price
FM1812H 36" 12" 1/8" 0.36 gm/c3 - Hard F-1 $12.00 each
FM1824H 36" 24" 1/8" 0.36 gm/c3 - Hard F-1 $23.00 each
FM1836H 36" 36" 1/8" 0.36 gm/c3 - Hard F-1 $30.00 each
FM18H-1 54" 12" 1/8" 0.36 gm/c3 - Hard F-1 $16.00 each
FM18H-2 54" 24" 1/8" 0.36 gm/c3 - Hard F-1 $26.50 each
FM18H-3 54" 36" 1/8" 0.36 gm/c3 - Hard F-1 $40.00 each

May 25, 2010, 06:22 PM
Good flick Sebou, thanks for sharin' it ... and with a Remington 58 no less :O)

May 25, 2010, 07:41 PM

How many cc's of couscous were you using? I couldn't tell if it was a homemade scoop made out of a casing or a Lee powder scoop.

And that was a mighty fine pistol you were shooting, it makes me want to get a Target Model as a companion to my regular Pietta, they might birth me a 5 inch model. :)

May 26, 2010, 10:22 AM
Hello all,

Smokin_Gun I'm happy to know that you have fun with this video.

wittzo How many cc's of couscous were you using? I couldn't tell if it was a homemade scoop made out of a casing or a Lee powder scoop.

Currently, in the video i'm using around 1,25 grammes of "couscous" semola
(lol, it's smell like a grill lunch :rolleyes: )
I have a brass & wood scoop with gradual weight level.

Remember that this is not a very accurate load, but it is sufficient for shooting fun. In competition, the shooter is always looking for the perfect recipe for optimum precision and score.
I have frequently shot a soda box between 25 - 50 meters with my Remington target model !