View Full Version : Im New to Black Powder Revolvers Need Advice

TX Hunter
October 29, 2010, 04:48 PM
Today I bought an Italian Black Powder Revolver from my Mothers Antique Shop.
Its not antique, just a replica, I believe its paterned after the 1851 Navy Revolver, its 44 Caliber, and has a Battle Ship engraved on the cylender.
My Question, is what all will I need to buy to fire it.
What size Caps, what kind of black powder, how how big of a charge should I use, everything I need to know about this gun, to safely use it.
Please help me get started.
It looks like it has a case hardened frame, but Im not sure, It may just be painted on.
Please Help.

October 29, 2010, 05:34 PM
There's a sticky thread in this forum that will tell you all you need to know.

TX Hunter
October 29, 2010, 06:54 PM

October 29, 2010, 07:09 PM
1) Powder: Real black powder (Goex, Swiss, KIK) in 3fg granulation OR any of a number of substitute black powders such as Pyrodex P, Triple Se7en FFFG, American Pioneer, Shockey's Black Gold, etc.

2) Powder measure: adjustable from 5 grains to at least 50 grains

3) Powder flask or horn: not mandatory, but they are more convenient at the range

4) Round balls: probably 0.454 or 0.457, although 0.451 may also work. Try 0.454 to start. They need to be large enough that when they are pressed into the chamber that a thin, complete ring of lead is shaved off.

5) Filler, wads or grease: Corn meal or Cream of Wheat may be necessary to fill a gap between the powder and the ball if you're using a light load and the rammer will not push the ball down to seat on the powder; lubed or dry felt wads (wool felt, NO SYNTHETICS!) are often used between the ball and the powder to raise the ball in the chamber, provide anti-fouling lube and/or prevent chain fires; grease is sometimes used on top of the ball in lieu of the wad to perform the last two functions.

6) Percussion caps: the right size is a complete crap shoot; they could be anything. All you can do is buy some and try them out.

7) Cleaning patches

8) Cleaning rod with .44 cal jag, patch holder and brush attachments

9) Ear protection

10) Eye protection

11) Tooth whitener: you'll be grinning from ear to ear so you'll want to look your best

How much powder? If your gun is truly an 1851 Navy in .44 caliber then it's probably a brass frame. If so, limit your loads to less then 25 grains of real black powder or Pyrodex, or 20 grains of Triple Se7en. Repeated use of heavier loads will damage the frame. Otherwise, if you can verify it's a steel frame (remove the trigger guard and look inside) you can safely use all the powder the chamber will hold, but you'll find accuracy drops off if you use much above 25 grains.

And yes, read the sticky; lots of great info there.

TX Hunter
October 30, 2010, 06:15 AM
Man I sure thank you, thats the information that I needed exactly.
Im new to this, so I tracked down what kind of revolver this is.
Its a replica of a 1860 Revolver, It has a notch in the butt and two extended screw heads on each side for mounting a buttstock.
It has an 8 inch barrel and looks really nice.
All the pictures I have found that look like it, say 1860 Colt Army, but its got Navy Ships on the cylender, So I figured they would call it a 1860 Navy.
Anyhow, I can see how these things can become adictive, I just cant seem to put the thing down.
Thanks again, and I will be sure to pollish my tooth before firing. :D

Doc Hoy
October 30, 2010, 06:31 AM
I am among those who think the 1860 pattern is the most attractive of all black powder pistols in existence. If it is .44 it is "Army caliber". Navy generally refers to .36 or more correctly "Navy caliber". If the pistol were .36, it would actually be an 1861 model. Very difficult to tell externally from the 1860 without examining the caliber. And an eqully beautiful pistol.

The case hardened frame is somewhat desirable over brass so you are a bit ahead in that area.

All of my 1860(1)s take number ten caps. Number elevens easily come off the nipples from the recoil, and fragment terribly when fired, making a lot of little bits to get into the works.

You are going to love shooting this pistol. It is a treasure.

October 30, 2010, 06:37 AM
The use of Army or Navy for naming the model is determined by the caliber; Army revolvers are .44, Navy revolvers are .36. The engraving varied only by date, not model. What you have is what we now call an 1860 Army. It will be a steel, case hardened frame. The coloring is chemically applied, but the frame is case hardened.

Here's some of mine:

October 30, 2010, 06:40 AM
All the pictures I have found that look like it, say 1860 Colt Army, but its got Navy Ships on the cylender, So I figured they would call it a 1860 Navy.

The Naval scene was almost a Colt trademark. If it had it you knew it was a real Colt.

Doc Hoy
October 30, 2010, 07:15 AM
You had to do it. You had to post photos of 1860 Revolvers! And with a GUN SHOW coming up!

How am I going to keep the budget in line if you keep playing these tricks!?


October 30, 2010, 09:59 AM
That's YOUR problem!:D


TX Hunter
October 30, 2010, 01:15 PM
It looks just like the Revolvers in the pictures,
Especially the very bottom picture, there is no brand name on it, just ASM Black Powder only 44 Made in Italy.
And some kind of marking I would need a magnifying glass under the barrel and PN.
Its a beautifully made piece, Im glad the Itallians liked watching westerns.
I bet these Revolvers are just as good as the originals.

October 30, 2010, 01:26 PM
ASM is the brand. Armi san Marco.

TX Hunter
October 30, 2010, 01:51 PM
Thanks, Dang I looked them up, they are not supposed to be as good as the umburties, or other popular brands.
Anyhow, its a beautifull revolver, I hope it shoots alright.
Well it will get me started anyway.

October 30, 2010, 02:58 PM
I hope it shoots alright.

It probably will shoot ok but it will be high at 25 yds so don't expect poa and poi to be same. Later on you may have problems with internal parts like the hand and bolt wearing out.

TX Hunter
October 30, 2010, 05:48 PM
Can I buy Spare parts for it? I know they are out of business, but if parts are obtainable, I will get them, and put them away, for future use.

October 30, 2010, 07:02 PM
You may be able to fit Pietta parts without too much trouble. I think some of the guys here have done that. I doubt anybody has ASM parts. Maybe Fingers or Madcrate will know, maybe Mykeal.

October 30, 2010, 07:33 PM
VTI Gun Parts and Dixie actually still carry some limited parts, but Pietta internals are pretty much usable with perhaps a little filing/sanding.

Hey Doc - aren't they pretty? Yum, yum, yum. Trick or treat!:p

October 30, 2010, 07:46 PM
Hey Doc - aren't they pretty? Yum, yum, yum. Trick or treat
Maybe even a nice Remington for a change of pace. :D:D:D


October 30, 2010, 08:21 PM
You're going to have a real problem finding a mainspring if it breaks. Mine did, and I had to have a custom spring made, as nothing in the replacements for Pietta or Uberti was long enough.

Finally, since the gun had been giving me so much trouble, I gave it to the gunsmith as opposed to having to pay him for the work. I know I got the better end of the bargain.

The Doc is out now. :cool:

TX Hunter
October 30, 2010, 08:55 PM
Well with that information, now I know that due to my inexperience I have purchased junk, But its beautifull junk, so I will shoot it, till it breaks, then probably make a decoration out of it.
But it does give me the desire to own a good one.
Thanks for all of the advice, and honesty, you guys are great.

I did the same thing with my Single Action Rimfire, I started out with a H&R Rough Rider, and it broke, So I replaced it with a Stainless Steel Ruger Single Six, and have never looked back.

Doc Hoy
October 30, 2010, 09:56 PM
Hard to characterize your ASM as junk.

Don't sell the brand short. Nothing wrong with shooting it until it stops and then hanging it up. Its inherent beauty is at least half of it appeal.

TX Hunter
October 31, 2010, 08:46 AM
Thanks Doc

Doc Hoy
October 31, 2010, 09:09 AM
I just got done buying two Remingtons to add to my pile. They are my fourth and fifth ones if you don't count the ones I no longer live with.

The most recent one is a clunker that needs a good bit of work. Four inch barrel and hinged cylinder pin was added by a previous owner who did not do justice to the work.

The gent who sold it to me did not do the work so he is innocent of any wrongdoing.

I am accumulating pistols far more quickly than I even imagined I would. Every time I see a photo of one, I want it. Which is why you guys are putting me in the poor house. :D

For TX,

I have used Pietta parts for ASM pistols with a bit of modification as Mykeal says. But I give a nod to Doc Law who needs a custom spring. I have never had to replace a spring on an ASM 1860.

On the other hand.....you are hooked now. You will be adding pistols to your collection and you will find that not being able to shoot a pistol, or wanting to limit the use of the pistol because parts are hard to come by is not going to be a major deal. I have about six pistols I don't shoot any more but I would not part with them for love nor money.

.36 Sheriff's model in Brass because it has a loose arbor from my only ever chain fire.
.1960 NMA from Belgium, because it is too nice
That Brass frame ASM 1860 in .44 because it is about my sixth 1860 and I just don't shoot it.
Colt Second Gen 1860 with fluted cylinder, also because it is too nice.

I used to take three or four pistols along to the field and try to shoot them evenly but I found that I was not learning anything. The last couple times I have only taken two pistols. I shoot one primarily, only taking the second one as a shooter if the primary craps out.

October 31, 2010, 08:34 PM
Doc got a 3rd gen 60 army colt w/ spare fluted cylinder w/ box. I just would feel awful if I didn't offer it to you for 650:D

Doc Hoy
November 1, 2010, 12:03 AM
I'd love to have it but not right now.

Fingers might be interested.

Thanks for thinkin of me.

November 1, 2010, 12:28 AM
Doc got a 3rd gen 60 army colt w/ spare fluted cylinder w/ box. I just would feel awful if I didn't offer it to you for 650

Why not start a holiday raffle at your store and raffle that gun off? Have a pre-set number of about 65 tickets and sell them for $10 each. Make a video of you pulling the winning ticket out of the box. You should be able to sell all of the tickets by X-mas. Advertise them in the black powder classifieds and post the video of the drawing there afterward. While you're at it, make a little video about the gun or post some photos of it.
Sell a few extra tickets so that the raffle winner can have the gun shipped for free, so make the raffle for 67 or 68 tickets. Come on, let's get going! A lot of us here would buy tickets.
If you don't sell all of the tickets right away, then you could always postpone the raffle until Valentine's Day. Get into the holiday spirit Hardy. You can do this. You'll be able to sell some tickets to your regular customers too. A lot of gun shops hold gun raffles. Come on, Black Friday will be here soon enough. :)

November 1, 2010, 08:56 AM
Doc, harden your heart. I keep only what I shoot or what I've torn up.
I currently have 7 shooter 1860s, all Pietta and one 1851 Original made in 1862. Lots of Remingtons and Ubertis have passed thru and a few 1851 Piettas.
Never had the bucks to buy the Colts.

Doc Hoy
November 1, 2010, 09:37 AM
Thanks for the encouragement. I fear, though, that my affliction has reached a terminal stage.

I have all too vivid memories of the day I sold my entire accumulation of pistols for a song in 1992. This event was prompted by my (Thankfully Ex) wife. (She was a real idiot.) I get symptoms like the DTs when I think of it. Now I don't get rid of my pistols (Except for one 1863 which I rebuilt as a project specifically to sell, which aided in the purchase of my third Colt. That is the 2nd gen. 1860 with fluted cylinder which I keep mentioning.)

Anyway, keep me in your prayers. :)