View Full Version : New to BP shooting

Holly Burnside
December 12, 2010, 07:25 PM
So I am getting a 1851 Navy Round Barrel .44 Caliber Revolver for Christmas from my brother who is an avid gun shooter. (From Cabela's)

Ive shot his guns plenty of times but I don't own any myself.

Ive always loved black powder and historical weapons and knowing this my brother is getting me the 1851 Navy Round Barrel .44 Caliber Revolver since it is cheaper than a modern weapon and since he knows I like black powder.

I had to get all the powder/caps/balls to shoot with. I was trying to order online however they tried to stick me with a 25$ hazardous fee on shipping and I canceled the order because I thought that was ridiculous.

Remembering that the local Walmart Carried Pyrodex, I took a trip over there too see if they had caps as well. Lo and behold they did. I got the RS Pyrodex, and I wanted to get Remington #11 because from my research, that is the best for this particular model gun. However all they had was Winchester #11.

So I am wondering if anyone has experience with Winchester #11 and if they are any good for a 1851 Navy Round Barrel .44 Caliber Revolver.

Also I have yet to buy the lead balls I am going to have to buy them online but its like 15 bucks for 100. I saw some .451 lead ball molds for like 25-40 bucks. I figured it might be better to cast my own balls (I have an abundance of lead)

I was also wondering if anyone casts their own .44 balls and could recommend a good cheap mold.

Any advice is welcome. If you have any tips to prolong the life of my gun and to keep all the parts working I'll gladly listen. I plan to shoot 20-25 grains as Ive heard that is the recommended amount to prolong the life of the gun.

Fingers McGee
December 12, 2010, 07:43 PM
Welcome to the fire Holly.

IIRC, the Winchester caps are repackaged CCIs. They should work all right.

Since you don't list where you live, some suggestions for balls would be pawn shops, Bass Pro, Cabelas, Scheels, or Menards stores.

December 12, 2010, 07:43 PM
That would be a Griswold and Gunnison in an improper caliber. Get a .454 Lee mold. Winchester caps are good but you need #10. 25 grs. might be a lil much for a brass frame.

Holly Burnside
December 12, 2010, 08:10 PM
Why .454, I figured the .451 would be better because there would be less pressure and stress the brass less?

Im looking at http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=152714

It is fairly cheap almost the price of 100 balls. So It looks to be the right choice for me.

December 12, 2010, 08:18 PM
You want to shave a better ring than you get with .451's plus the bigger balls give you more flat surface for the rifling to grip.

December 12, 2010, 08:24 PM
.454's make a better seal, as far as grains of powder..... the brass frames aren't as stout as the steel ones. not saying that theirs anything wrong with them, just pointing it out. i'd start out with 20 grains , .454 ball, 25 yards or so and start the smoke rolling:D. each BP weapon is different, play with the amount of grains of powder at the same distance each time to help ya figure out what yours likes best.
there will be others to add they're advice, all are very well able to help in anyway that they can. reading some past post also can and will be alot of help in the future( has for me, i know)
oh almost forgot.....WELCOME!!!

Holly Burnside
December 12, 2010, 09:52 PM

So this would be the better product?

December 12, 2010, 10:31 PM

I can't offer you any specific info, since I am also new to the BP world. I will say, though, that it is helpful to read as much as you can on the subject. There is a lot of good info stored away on this forum. I found this thread to be especially helpful. http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=207028

Welcome to the craziness.

Fingers McGee
December 12, 2010, 11:54 PM
Chambers on Pietta's are usually tighter than Uberti's, so '451s will load easier. Both the .451s and .454s will work just fine in a Pietta, it's just the .454s will require a little extra ooomph to seat, that's all.

December 13, 2010, 02:04 AM
You can't go wrong with a LEE mould...and PURE lead..No wheelweight....

December 13, 2010, 03:23 AM
Holly the two cavity Lee mold is an excellant choice. My Lee .451" mold makes round balls to the tune of .452" diameter which are perfect for any .44 cal Pietta (use pure lead) 18-22g of Black Powder is what I use in Brass frame Open Top C&B Revs.
My next mold from Lee will be a .454" as I have the .457, and .451 along with several other Lee molds in various calibers.
Welcome to Black Powder Shooting ....by the way at www.powderinc.com/ they include the Hasmat fee and shipping in their per lb/lbs prices. Like if you and your Brother buy 10/lbs of Black powder you could buy it much cheaper than Pyrodex at Wally World.
Have fun and Merry Christmas.

December 13, 2010, 05:36 AM
PURE lead..No wheelweight....
Stick on weights are fine just no clip on weights.

December 13, 2010, 06:36 AM
The 20 grains of powder for starting point is 20 grains by volume not by weight. Get an adjustable measure marked in volume do not try to meter your charges on a scale. Some BP substitutes weigh a lot more or a lot less than real black powder [its a density thing] For small charges it won't make that much difference but a bad habit to get into. Think Volume for powder charges not weight and you'll be OK.

Doc Hoy
December 13, 2010, 06:37 AM
There is a lot of opinion rolled up in the posts I make. But here are three things which came to mind as I read through the history of this thread.

1. I got hold of a technical support lady at the nation's largest manufacturer of wheel weights. (Can't remember the name of the company). She told me that their weights run at least 93 percent but most often about 99 percent lead. 93% is high in other metals content but 99% is within recommendations. I use wheel weights all the time and have no trouble casting or loading. All of the clips float to the top of the melt and I just skim them off as part of the fluxing process. I do not shoot for competition and so wheel weights as a source of lead for bullets may be causing problems for me that I am not aware of and that others would view as a show stopper.

2. I find that number 10 caps are good for that pistol. Number 11s may not want to stay on the nipples. The size of cap varies from manufacturer to manufacturer with little apparent attempt in the industry to standardize the size of caps. I have a Walker that takes 11s and I can get 11s to work on an ROA but other revolvers seem to like 10s.

3. Smokin Gun is right (IMO) about Lee molds. If you can get the rythm of your casting operation set, Lee molds make good bullets with just a few scrap castings. I find that it is important for consistent bullet size that you must squeeze the mold handles while the bullet is cooling and solidifying. Unfortunately two things happen in this case. For one thing it is difficult to get the same sqeeze pressure efery time. Second, this makes your hand get tired.

When you go shooting it will be a Holly-Day......:D

Holly Burnside
December 13, 2010, 12:00 PM
Well I am going to be using spent lead bullets collected from the dirt downrange.
Already have a few ingots made from them.

Im guessing you guys that make your own bullets use the proper equipment? I think I am going to cheap out and just use a campfire and try my best to do it the old fashioned way.

December 13, 2010, 12:10 PM
Doc, what you said about the lead content of the wheel weights sounds about right to me. I cast .454 balls with them and have no problems. I don't notice that they're any harder to seat than "official" pure lead balls, so that kind of led me to think that they were OK.

I also use the same wheelweights for 9mm, .38 special and .45ACP - I just keep the powder charge down toward the middle of the range in my book and I get no leading. I guess that makes wheel weights the miracle metal, right?

HB, nothing wrong with a campfire: http://www.castbullet.com/reload/campcast.htm

Doc Hoy
December 13, 2010, 12:28 PM

I use a Lee Production pot that is about 35 years old and still going strong. I set it about 7 and that is hot enough to get good results. I have one of those IR thermometers but it registers only the surface temperature and generally that shows up at about 600 degrees. I don't know what the temperature is in the center of the melt and I generally stir the melt to fill the ladle.

I generally do runs of from sixty to one hundred bullets at a session. I shoot only roundballs. Every mold I have casts balls that are larger than the imprinted size of the mold. I did some calculations of what a pure lead ball weighs based upon its diameter and and mine are running pretty close. I then did some calculations of wha t a ball weighs that is seven percent antimony, bismuth or tin and if the concentrations of other metals are running that high, you can tell by weighing them. am assuming my bullets do not have any voids and of course that may not be completely valid.

To Hardcase,

Yes I agree. The metal I am using passes the thumbnail test and so I think the hader metal content is relatively low. I think not more than about four percent. I do realize that four percent to too high for some shooters but I am a pretty laid back guy.

I had a real nice conversation with the tech services smart person at the wheel weight company. I asked her specifically about copper in wheel weights and she said she doubted any copper content because of the requirement to raise the melting temperature. She told me that the primary additives in their weights are antimony and bismuth and I think I remember her telling me tin as well. She said she thought that other manufacturers use the same formulation because they get their materials from the same sources. In the way of caution, she told me that many weights are imported and she had no idea what they are made of. In the long run I am going to continue to melt wheel weights until I begin to have trouble with them.

December 13, 2010, 03:43 PM
Welcome to the sport Holly!

I would recomend Remington #11 caps. I have found that on my Peittas the stay on better but yours may be different. The CCI ones would not stay on unless I pinched them and then they were not as reliable. I Like .454 balls better because they seal better on my gun. I have been casting them with a Lee mould and it works well with my Lee Production Pot IV. If you melt spent all lead bullets they may be harder that you want. Most lead bullets are hardened by adding alloys like tin. If you can get coper jacketed bullets then using them may be better for c&b pistols since the lead core is usually soft lead. The bullets that I use for CAS shooting (.45 Colt etc..) are much harder then the pure lead balls that I cast or buy. You may want to test the ones that you recover that are not copper jacketed.

December 13, 2010, 07:42 PM
Doc, you may not notice a difference because you load the cylinder off the gun. I load on the gun and the clip on weights are harder to load. Stick on weights are 99.5% pure with a BHN of 6. Clip on weights have a BHN of 10-12. Pure lead has a BHN of 5.

Doc Hoy
December 13, 2010, 07:48 PM
I got about eighty pounds of weights and many of the stick on weights are zinc.

You are right about loading the cylinder with a press. I would not notice the difference in hardness but my bullets pass the thumbnail test. I know that is very unscientific.

December 13, 2010, 07:52 PM
I would not notice the difference in hardness but my bullets pass the thumbnail test.

That depends on the BHN of your thumbnail.:D

There's a small percentage of zinc in all my weights. Prolly got a couple hundred pounds left.

December 13, 2010, 08:09 PM
I use the scavenged range lead too, the cores of jacketed bullets are about 99% pure lead, very soft as the jackets provide the hardness. I use the recovered cast mixed with some linotype and ww's for my smokeless rounds. You might want to measure the cylinder bores before you invest in a mold, they can run from .451 to .455, in the last case you'll need a .457 mold, like I use for my ROA. The Lee works fine and is the least expensive.