View Full Version : Acquired gun. Not sure what to do with it.

July 16, 2010, 12:35 AM
Hello forum.

July 16, 2010, 01:42 AM
You would want to unload it somehow.
Usually that's done by taking out the cylinder, then the nipples with a nipple wrench, and pushing out the balls using a piece of wooden dowel.
Then you can see how rusted the gun is.
It needs to be cleaned up in order to determine it's overall condition.
That's how to begin to find out what its value is.
The serial number can be looked up on the Ruger website to determine the year of manufacture.

July 16, 2010, 02:38 AM
Do NOT use any metal tools on this gun. You have told us already that you are not a gun enthusiast and we can assume from that you do not have the interest to assemble the proper tools to remove the lead balls and what is probably, surely, powder in the chambers.

I think it would be dangerous for you, with no experience, and with no will, desire, or interest in learning how to unload this FIREARM.

Any spark, near the chamber throats, or near the nipples that have no caps on them can set the powder off in the chambers. Even smoking a cigarette and carelessly flicking an ash and having a cinder land on the gun could set the powder off.

If you removed the cylinder and broke the gun down, you could take it to a dealer and try to sell it, but he's going to discount the gun a great deal as it is dirty and most importantly, it's loaded.

If you take it to the police to get your $100 dollars, and the laws in your town make the possession of powder illegal, I'd say you stand a good chance of getting arressted for possessing the powder ... it's risky.

I'd suggest finding somebody who you know and trust who knows guns and discussing what to do with them.

Removing the lead balls from the chambers takes some doing and you must take care while you are doing this. Following basic gun safety rules while you are doing this is essential and you have to learn those.

Old Timers here and hotshots alike would say this is easy, it's simple. But for somebody with no desire to learn how, and no knowledge, it can be dangerous.

There are people who visit this forum who are missing fingers and have very bad scars and injuries from this hobby, so to just dismiss this is easy is foolish.

Again, I say seek out somebody you TRUST. If you know a veteran of a war, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam or Korea go to them and ask them what you might do. They might be able to help.

And we will all be glad to continue to help you. Remember, no smoking around that gun.

Doc Hoy
July 16, 2010, 04:00 AM
A Ruger Old Army, blued, 7.5 inch barrel in good condition sells for about 400.00 to 450.00, plus shipping which the buyer would routinely be expected to pay.

I second Cap's advice about what to do as a precursor to finding out the condition of the pistol.

I also second Cage's cautions. Be careful around that LOADED pistol. And in order to do much with the pistol three things should be true. (1) The person should be at least moderately mechanically inclined. More inclined is better. (2) The person should know at least a little about black powder firearms, again more is better, and (3) The person should be using a rather specific tool designed for the nipples on this pistol. No person who can't claim all three of these things should try to unload the pistol.

July 16, 2010, 08:16 AM
The description of the gun sounds like it could be an Ruger Old Army while the description of the information on the box sounds like a brass framed 1860 Army. A photo of the gun would help. If it is a Ruger it is worth the trouble to clean it up, using all of the aforementioned cautions, if it is a brass framed 1860 then, while I hate the gun turn ins, probably your best bet is to get the $100 and be done with it.

July 16, 2010, 08:37 AM
Doc Hoy and denster have given good advice.
You have a nice item with some value.
It needs unloading and cleaning. Then you can put up for sale. $400.00 would be a good price to get. If the grips are genuine ivory, probably considerably more.

July 16, 2010, 08:38 AM
The description of the box does not add up, if possible post a photo.

July 16, 2010, 09:33 AM

July 16, 2010, 09:37 AM

July 16, 2010, 09:56 AM
That is a Ruger Old Army, no doubt. The box is incorrect for that pistol. The grips are Jay Scott imitation stag. Being broken is bad, replace with original Ruger walnut grips. The gun will clean up OK, do get someone who knows guns to unload and clean for you. A lot of people would like to have that even though it has a bad case of the 'ughs' at the moment.

Jim Watson
July 16, 2010, 10:08 AM
If we knew where you were, we could refer you to a shooting range, club, or major dealer who could help.

Ruger no longer makes the Old Army and if unloaded and cleaned up with new grips, it would be worth a good deal more than the $100 the city will pay to get it "off the street."

July 16, 2010, 10:44 AM
That's not just loaded, but capped and loaded...pull the trigger and it may very well fire.

Your best bet is to check on a local gunsmith and have it cleaned up a bit, probably wouldn't cost much at all.

Even if they just unloaded it (which they would probably charge less than $50 for) its probably worth at least $300

Doc Hoy
July 16, 2010, 11:20 AM
I like the 300.00 evaluation.

The pistol itself doesn't look too bad. The sight could be smoothed up which would leave a cosmetic blemish on the pistol. Blasted shame about the grips, because they are nice ones.

I think I would find a place and attempt to clear the rounds through the muzzle. Like the Illustrious Mr. K. I would not be surprised to learn that six of six fire. May require replacing the caps. If you take it to a gunsmith, I bet he would do it thataway.

But now that you know it is also capped, be careful in the extreme.

Andy Griffith
July 16, 2010, 11:26 AM
Yes, please tell us what city and state (or country) in which you live. That will make a lot of difference.

There is very little regulation of blackpowder firearms in the U.S. with only a few exceptions inside certain states,for example like New Jersey and Hawaii and cities like Chicago and New York City.

July 16, 2010, 11:41 AM
Here's a copy of the Ruger Old Army user's manual:


Since it's capped, you should take it to someone experienced that you trust to unload it or a good gunsmith.
Then after that's been done you can try to clean it up yourself or just sell it for whatever money that you can get for it.
It looks like there could be some rust issues with it that could seriously detract from its value. A reputable gunsmith would be able to look it over and tell you something about it's condition.

Police trade in programs usually have provisions allowing for unlicensed individuals and guns to be brought in. Give them a call to find out. Trading it in might not be such a bad idea since a gunsmith may cost you some money to unload it.

July 16, 2010, 12:39 PM

July 16, 2010, 12:48 PM
No, the shiny copper nubs are the caps (like an external primer), the nipples under them are/were probably the same color as the cylinder. At least, the nipple on my sidelock matches the gun's barrel. That looks loaded & capped, be careful.

July 16, 2010, 01:22 PM
is correct and I can see that your older model does not have the "Safety Notches" at the rear of the cylinder. I would not feel comforatble until I get those #11 caps off the nipples. Right now and if all components are still in working order, you have a fully loaded handgun. Once you take the caps off, it's considered unloaded and you could proceed to pull or push the main load.
I would suggest that you take it to a gun smith or better yet, someone who knows these. I find that most GunSmiths know very little about M/L's in general.

Pull those caps and;
Be Safe !!!

July 16, 2010, 01:25 PM
If it were me, I'd find a place out in the boonies, pop the 6 rounds into a stump, take it home and clean it. Why pay a smithy. But, if you can't take that chance, then pull the caps (carefully!!!), and fork out a few bucks to get it cleaned up.

July 16, 2010, 01:25 PM
Yup, that sucker is capped and ready to fire. BE CAREFUL! I hope the hammer isn't sitting on a capped and loaded chamber because one good whack on the hammer and lead is going to fly. In the condition it is in I'm going to go with $275 because the front sight is dinged and the grips need to be replaced with something more suitable for a fine revolver that it is. Also, I'm going to assume some light rust or other issues from lack of TLC. Additionally, the box is either incorrectly marked in that handwriting or it isn't the right box at all. However, if you clean it up and do all the right things with it then you could fetch $325 to $350.

July 16, 2010, 02:05 PM

July 16, 2010, 02:24 PM
All comments about it being capped and 'hot' are good advice. They can be removed but should be by someone with a bit of knowledge about such things. If we were close I would be happy to de-cap, unload and clean up for him at no cost. He does need to find someone who will do this for him.

As for the notches, I have had some of the earliest Old Armies and they all had the notches. I don't recall any talk, ever, of 'notchless' models. But, realistically, him not having any gun savvy, he wouldn't know what to do with the notches.

July 16, 2010, 03:30 PM
Don't know how comfortable you might be with this idea but why don't you let the folks in this forum, as "general" location of where you live so they can PM you and get some assist from them. Your Old Army is definitely and early model and after all the smoke clears, might be worth some bucks. I'm just not comfortable having you handle it and who knows why "Old Men" do what they do.

God luck, hang in there and;
Be Safe !!!!

July 16, 2010, 03:36 PM
Fascinating thread, great pics.

If you are any where near Asheville NC I would be glad to unload [fire] the gun for you , and clean it.

But I have a feeling you are near Manhatten.

Doc Hoy
July 16, 2010, 03:42 PM
"Why would an 80 year old man with absolutely no gun experience have a loaded relic packed in wax and grease tucked away in his closet."

Perhaps, he was preparing himself for the second coming. Like me, he might be suspicious of what arrives. :D

July 16, 2010, 04:40 PM
If it were me, I'd find a place out in the boonies, pop the 6 rounds into a stump, take it home and clean it.

My first inclination would be to do the same thing. However, after giving it a little more thought I think that plan of action should be avoided. Some 80 year old geezer with no knowledge of firearms and apparently no business having one where he did is the alleged owner/loader of that firearm. In the end we don't have any idea who really loaded it nor if they really knew what they were doing. From the pictures it appears that someone did in fact know how to load and seal the firearm against moisture (looks like the caps could have grease over them). However, we really don't know what kind of powder is behind the balls. We assume it is black powder but that could be a dangerous assumption. Some 80 year old geezer may have loaded that sucker with smokeless powder. Most of us understand the likely outcome of firing that ROA with smokeless powder could be devastating for the person pulling the trigger. My vote is to unload it the hard way. That is, remove the caps, remove the cylinder, remove the nipples, pour the powder out, use a thin copper rod to push the balls out of the cylinders. JMHO. :p

Doc Hoy
July 16, 2010, 05:07 PM
Good pernt, CLem

July 16, 2010, 05:10 PM
I'm with clembert on this one, while it may have been loaded correctly and fire fine, the chance of whoever loaded it being.. shall we say..unknowledgeable, makes the risk not worth it. I don't want to really fire some strangers handloads, let alone what some stranger did to a BP gun.

But I'm happy to offer assistance if you happen to be in the St. Louis area.

If you are truly not wanting to deal with it at all, I'm sure the police would be willing to come get it, although they won't likely give you money for it, and it would be a shame to see what is potentially a really nice firearm destroyed.

July 16, 2010, 06:57 PM
I doubt it would fire, even with fresh caps.

You could point it into a backstop and use a CO2 Load Discharger, or take it to a gun shop and let them unload it. The inside of the cylinder will probably be corroded; it will need some cleaning.

How about calling up the old girlfriend? It might have more sentimental value than it did at the time.

CO2 Load Discharger: http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/links/link.jsp?type=pod&cmCat=MainCatcat20712-cat20720-cat603824&id=0006480

Edit: I doubt all the chambers will fire, but it will fire if you play with it! This six-shooter is fully loaded. If you try to decap or unload it, be sure wear safety glasses & hearing protection. I would do it in the basement, pointed towards a pile of newspapers or old blankets.

July 16, 2010, 07:25 PM
Where are you not allowed to own powder or anything like that? Doesn't sound like America to me.

July 16, 2010, 07:47 PM
I certainly wouldnt recommend shooting it into a stump, the gun is old and hasnt been fired in a long time, god knows what corrosion couldnt be in the barrel, it could blow up in his face. Take it to a gun smith, or call the police and tell them what you have and how you got it and let them take care of it.

July 17, 2010, 10:30 AM
Kewrock [Original Poster] has pulled a disappearing act, deleting all words and pics.

I bet a dollar he is in New York, where it is illegal to have a loaded cap and ball pistol.

I bet the poor old Ruger is now sleeping with the fishes in the Hudson River.

July 17, 2010, 11:04 AM
If that was the case, I offered to help him out after he first posted since I'm 90 miles from there. But no reply.

July 17, 2010, 11:40 AM
The only positive thing that I can get out of this, is that there were many honest folks willing to assist him with this problem. On the negative side, he still has the problem and it may not go well for an old classic. I'm sure he is trying to do the best he can. He has shown demonstrated responsibility and I wish him well.

Be Safe !!!

July 20, 2010, 04:04 PM
Hey guys. The piece is unloaded, partially dismantled and soaking in SafetyKleen. It's not in the river or melted down by the police. When all the varnish is gone, I'll see what kind of oxidation is on it.

Once I got all the gunk off the priming caps I saw that someone at some point had been pulling the trigger letting the hammer strike. all the priming caps were dented and smashed against the nipples. I guess they were lucky!

I took every possible precaution with this. Soaked the chambers in SafetyKleen till the primers fell right off, sealed the muzzle side of the chambers with plumbers putty, secured chamber in bench vice facing down and away into a pile of damp rags, slathered grease on all the nipples before applying wrench, eye/ear protection, long sleaves and pants, and heavy work gloves. You guys might think I went overboard, but I really have no exposure to this except reading websites and youtube. Being a landscaping equipment mechanic I've seen guys get messed up doing mundane things.

One chamber at a time I removed the nipple and forced the powder out with a toothpick and Wd-40 then compressed air. Then removed all the balls with a hammer and pin.

I think I'm going to look into firing this. My friend who is into modern rifles goes to a range that offers supervision for noobs. They also sell provisions so I won't actually have to possess anything but the gun, which is legal as long as I don't have the ammo at home.

Thanks for the concern and assisstance.

Doc Hoy
July 20, 2010, 04:19 PM
All good info.

I had originally thought you were not really interested in shooting the pistol but now it is good to learn you have someinterest in it.


July 20, 2010, 04:21 PM
Well now; Ya gotta know I'm happy to hear of your success. Might add that for a novice, you did quite well and can find no fault in what you did. Now that you have gotten close and personal with your vintage Old Army, You just have to load it, shoot and get more satisfaction. Fantastic that your plan came together. Keep up your good work. .... :D

Be Safe !!!

July 20, 2010, 04:31 PM

You da man...good job!

I'm not quite understanding your statement about the smashed caps on the nipples. It sounds like someone at some point attempted to fire the weapon but was unsuccessful. It could be that the nipples were plugged up with dirt/oil or the caps just failed. Technically, on a ROA, the precision of the design allows one to dry fire (without caps installed) without damaging the nipples (unlike many Italian replicas). The hammer will fall short of hitting the nipple surface. However, with a cap installed on the nipple the hammer will hit the cap thus setting off the pressure sensitive mixture within the cap.

Doc Hoy
July 20, 2010, 05:10 PM

I checked on grips for the pistol and there are some nice ones available on eBay (okay, y'all can start throwin the tomatoes) for about 84 bucks. You might could get them cheaper but I don't think you will match the antler grips that are on the pistol now for that price.

I have had some success making grips from good quality walnut.

July 20, 2010, 05:20 PM
Smashed caps on the nipples meaning all the copper caps were dented showing signs of being struck.

So far I don't see any signs of oxidation. The cylinders look ok. They're not shiny and polished, but they're not bumpy or rough either . When I dry off the safetykleen what should I use to preserve it? I have Rustoleum bare metal preserver for my tools, but that's kind of oily and messy.

Anybody know how olds this is? someone said ruger websight had SN tracker, but I couldn't find it. Someone else said it was an early model. Is that good? I woul think I would want a later model after it's been refined by the company. S/N is 140-220XX. (are guns like watches, you never list the whole serial?)

July 20, 2010, 05:25 PM

I was actually thinking of making my own grips. I have a section of old growth pine in my garage. beutiful grain and soft enough to work with.

Doc Hoy
July 20, 2010, 06:00 PM
I am not sure how the pine will stand up to the wear but it should look nice. Pine has a very open grain but if you could find a section where the pith is narrow, you might get a really good looking effect.

If you do a search on this forum for "1863 Remington" and then look for the thread that starts "1863 Remington with regards to smokin gun" you will find a few posts with photos on the grips for an 1863 Remington in .31 caliber. The grips are a little different but the process will work.

In that thread a lathe was used to make the inserts but these can be purchased for not too much money.

July 20, 2010, 07:02 PM
Anybody know how olds this is? someone said ruger websight had SN tracker, but I couldn't find it. Someone else said it was an early model. Is that good? I woul think I would want a later model after it's been refined by the company. S/N is 140-220XX. (are guns like watches, you never list the whole serial?)

I believe the answer is 1975 as shown here: Serial Number History (http://www.ruger.com/service/productHistory/RE-OABP.html)

July 20, 2010, 08:05 PM
Oh yeah. I forgot to mention...Rooting through the rest of the crap in my attic I found another piece. An unloaded (thankfully)"New Orleans Ace" From Classic Arms. Assembled kit still in the box, Minimal oxidation, but the nipple is completely rusted and the ramrod and side mounts are missing. The owner manual said the company was located near the neighborhood I grew up, but I don't remember it, and it's no longer there. The only reference I could find online for the model was Dixie Arms out of Tennessee.

This is the box I found the wrench for the ruger in, though I wound up using a 3/16 socket instead. the ruger wrench was a little sloppy.

Doc Hoy
July 20, 2010, 08:56 PM
Mind if I accompany you on your next trip to the attic?

July 20, 2010, 11:47 PM
:eek:What kind of fruit are you,the only good in the world and you are suspicious, you need jesus man,you cant fathom a creator ,like you could shoot god who loves us and will judge us,every man and woman,Ive heard some dumb crap but this takes the cake,:eek:

Doc Hoy
July 21, 2010, 05:02 AM
Suspiscious of Christ? Me? I am suspiscious of everything.

But Kew's attic is giving up some cool treasures.

July 21, 2010, 01:51 PM
I too am glad you decided to keep it & that you safely unloaded it.
The "dented caps" situation would've spooked me.

July 21, 2010, 05:45 PM
You did a good job of disarming the gun.

You are a natural cap and ball gunsmith.

I hope you are able to fire the pistol, they are great guns.

July 21, 2010, 06:54 PM

I saw your thread for your project gun. Looks great. That's how I figured I'd make the grips except I still have the old grips to trace a stencil. I'll be using a coping saw to cut them out and a dremel to shape them. I'm going pickel the wood white and inlay a couple of 1860 Indian head pennies. Ebay has some sellers of knock-off pennies, genuine mint pennies cost a fortune, if you could even find them.

As far as the rest of the gun I'm just cleaning it for now. Once I test it to make sure It doesn't need any mechanical work, I'll strip the blue with vinegar (I guess). Then reblue some parts and leave other parts polished silver. I'd like to make it a two-tone contrast. I wish the gun had some brass. I know a lot of you guys frown on brass, but they look great! I saw some Youtube videos on cold blueing. Looks pretty straight forward, I'll practice on that other hammerlock gun first.

July 21, 2010, 09:15 PM
There's brass frames around for them, they come up on gun auction sites from time to time, but they need to be fitted to the gun. Ruger actually made a few presentation models with the brass gripframe, those fetch a premium, as they were limited editions.

July 21, 2010, 10:01 PM
Perhaps ... the caps ... were spent, were already fired.

He loaded the gun and either found he had run out of caps ... or perhaps he wanted to keep it ready to be capped quickly.

So he used spent caps to cover the nipple holes to preserve the powder.

Or maybe, the hammer is not going to strike the caps well enough to fire them, or maybe, they are handmade caps ... maybe.

July 21, 2010, 11:21 PM
Who knows. I'm sure he's not the original owner. He was an old hippy beatnik who played various strings in assorted jazz bands. Not really the gun type. He was also a card player, so my guess would be he took them in on a gambling debt. Along with the fake 1930's Cartier Tank watch, a fake 17th century violin complete with fake repair stickers inside the body dating back over 200 years. We took the violin to Christie's auction house in the early 90's they said it was a hundred year old knock-off. Still got $2800 for it on consignment in 1992or3, but nowhere near the $250,000 he said it was worth before he died. So it's my guess that somebody snookered him into thinking this was a real Civil war gun. But that wouldn't explain $99 written on the box, so I don't know. But I'm sure this things seen a number of owners.