View Full Version : just some random questions bout cap and ball revolvers

February 18, 2011, 10:03 AM
so the other night i ordered a new model army Remington from Cabela's after realizing that anyone with a credit card can buy them. This got me wondering why aren't black powder guns considered fire arms. Im only 20 so im still waiting till i can buy my own pistols even though I've been shooting pistols since a very young ages the realization that i could buy as many cap and ball revolvers as i can afford and have them shipped to my door was a great one. It just made me wonder, i mean how many hundreds of thousand of people were killed in the Civil War with these things yet now they are less regulated than a 22lr. I think its cool just something that made me curious.

Another question i have is about cleaning these cap and ball revolvers. I am familiar with the modern ways of cleaning but how would they have done it say in the middle of nowhere 1870. Ive heard about possibles bags for rifles and stuff but would the old-timers have carried a cleaning kit in their saddle bags and if so what would have been contained in such a kit.

just some random questions that crossed my mind.

Doc Hoy
February 18, 2011, 10:31 AM
The answer to the first question is very easy. It lay in the fact that it is the federal government which did the classification of "to be (a firearm) or not to be." The categorization was made by lawyers.

Therefore it does not have to make sense.

It would indeed be interesting to find out what the average guy carried in his or her possibles bag. I wonder where firearm maintenance fell on the priority list when it came to deciding what was carried in the limited space available.

February 18, 2011, 10:58 AM
the government go figure lol. I would be very interested in hearing anything on the history of gun maintenance. The reason this popped up was i was thinking about going camping alot this summer and taking the new pistol along for plinking and such and got to thinking how i would clean it after the day of shooting up in the mountains. now obviously i would just take cleaning supplies with me but it got me curious about the old days. I have a hard time imagining that every cowboy had a full cleaning kit in there saddle bag and sat around every night cleaning their gun but at the same time im sure that they didn't just leave it expensive as a gun was. Willow branch and a leaf maybe?

February 18, 2011, 11:12 AM
As has been said, guns were expensive back then, and now too. Some things never change. With that thought in mind, I think folks cleaned their guns as well as most folks today. Even on a space available scenario, they would have made room for the rudimentary cleaning supplies. These folks depended on their guns for life itself, so I doubt they would not take care of them. They also did not shoot a lot. So cleaning after shooting was a chore that seldom had to be done.

February 18, 2011, 11:30 AM
Yeah, the whole cap n ball/not a firearm thing...except when it is thing is just typical bureaucrat trail apples:D In most states, a BP firearm can be shipped right to your door. In many states, a BP firearm is STILL not considered a firearm if it is loaded with powder and ball yet uncapped. On the other side of that, I know a guy that was issued a citation because he had the cylinder removed from his gun, loaded, and capped (dangerous, but at least he had it in a pouch) as traveling with a loaded firearm without a permit:confused: The frame and the cylinder were a good 5' from each other, and anyone who has fumbled with an 1858 knows that it takes a good deal of practice to thumb out the pin, insert the cylinder, and get the pin back into place. We're not talking speedloader fast in most cases:D

Anyway, you should be fine, just be careful. I think there is a lot of gray area in interpreting the law based on who decides to do so. What is considered an inert hunk of steel shipped to your door may be considered a handgun in possession of an under-aged person if you load and cap it.

As for cleaning it, I can't imagine that a bore brush and some grease would take up a ton of room. I have had good luck cleaning my pistol with very hot ordinary tap water. A guy could use his cooking pot to boil some water and scrub out all the crud. Natural grease or oil or something like it would probably do just fine to preserve the gun as long as it got a thorough drying.

I'm just speculating, of course. You can can still do a very detailed cleaning with out all the doodads we use these days, but they sure do speed up the process:D

February 18, 2011, 12:00 PM
We have the Colonel's (grandpaw) issue .45 revolvers. Although not C & B era, among his old ammo boxes was his field cleaning gear. It was a small packet wrapped in a rag -- a little bottle of gun oil and short length of cord with a bob. You tore off a few pieces of the rag, wet the first one (with soapy water, lamp oil, or whatever was available) looped it in the end of the cord and gave it a pull or three. That was followed by dry and oily rag bits.

February 18, 2011, 12:08 PM
Im only 20 so im still waiting till i can buy my own pistols although my dad has bought me several with my money
Well. That's interesting. It's called a 'straw purchase', and it's illegal. If it's true, both you and your father have committed repeated violations of the Gun Control Act of 1968; those acts are felonies and depending on the circumstances may also involve additional felony violations such as lying on a Federal form by your father. It's also possible the seller of the firearms is guilty of felonies as well if it can be shown he knew the guns were being purchased for someone other than the buyer. There are probably state and local felony violations involved also.

Foto Joe
February 18, 2011, 12:23 PM
The "Straw Purchase" of course is a no, no in the eyes of the law, so please be careful what you commit to print on the internet. In advertent admissions like this can cause you problems.

Keep in mind, a lot of local laws actually refer to weapons, not guns. Possession of which by an underage person might not be taken too well by the courts. Also, few law enforcement officers are going to closely examine your weapon before they react to its presence. I've had law enforcement react badly to a weapon I was carrying. Having a Colt 1911 aimed at your chest by a scared and nervous cop will gray your hair prematurely.

K Soze
February 18, 2011, 12:33 PM
There is no crime here. I think it is obvious that the in this case the father bought the guns for himself and told his son that they would be his one day. Inherited or gifted as a family heirloom.

Isn't that correct WyomingWhitetail?

February 18, 2011, 02:04 PM
There is no crime here. I think it is obvious that the in this case the father bought the guns for himself and told his son that they would be his one day. Inherited or gifted as a family heirloom.

That's the way I see it. As far as I'm concerned, all my guns are for my sons, and they are under 10:eek:

February 18, 2011, 02:47 PM
It sounds like the father bought the guns simply for his son to use. He's not saying that they were actually transferred to the son. As well, some states have laws which allow the transfer of guns between family members, and some even allow minors to make private purchase yet not be able to purchase a handgun from an FFL.

It just made me wonder, i mean how many hundreds of thousand of people were killed in the Civil War with these things yet now they are less regulated than a 22lr. I think its cool just something that made me curious.

It should be stressed that every state treats loaded cap & ball revolvers differently. Even though their purchase by minors may not be regulated, the simple possession of a loaded and capped C&B revolver by an unlicensed or ineligible person may be a crime.
Some states have laws that treat one that's loaded as a firearm, and in other state it's up to a judge or the precedence of court decisions. In some [western] states a convicted felon in possession of an otherwise unregulated but loaded muzzle loader is a crime. It could be just an inline rifle used for hunting, and that could be expanded to include other reproduction guns by a non-felon or minor.
So be sure to check with state laws & legal authorities about if it's legal for you to possess them loaded in your state and under what circumstances. Maybe you need to be with an "adult"? Many antique guns are unregulated for purchase. But once they're loaded and possessed, the legal authorities will sometimes consider them firearms, rightly or wrongly. Then a legal battle ensues. Even if it's only a test case, any judge can set a precedent at any time, even if it may seem contrary to state law. So be sure of the laws that affect you because your freedom and future can depend on it. Law enforcement are allowed arrest and confiscate even if they're in the wrong. And judges can rule wrongly in the same fashion. So be sure of yourself, where you're going and what you are doing with it loaded. :)

February 18, 2011, 02:48 PM
Yep, i don't see any felonies here. Just a good dad investing in a pass time that he can enjoy with his son. We should all understand that given proper care, we are merely the custodians of the firearms our childrens' children will enjoy shooting.

Ya know, my dad gave me my first .22 when I was under 18, and my next door neighbor was allowed to keep HIS 20 gauge in his room when he was 11 years old!:eek:

February 18, 2011, 02:53 PM
What's wrong with a son loaning his dad some money to buy guns? :)
Just because his son thinks that the guns are his doesn't mean that they are.
I'll bet that Dad is in complete control of his house and anything that is brought into and out of his house too. ;)

February 18, 2011, 03:13 PM
Ya know, my dad gave me my first .22 when I was under 18, and my next door neighbor was allowed to keep HIS 20 gauge in his room when he was 11 years old

Funny (?Not!) how things have changed. I used to ride my bicycle right past the police station to my friend's house wearing my cap-and-ball 1858 on my belt (uncapped, of course) when I was 15 or so back in the late 1970s:eek::eek: Guess I was lucky.

February 18, 2011, 03:26 PM
since no one mentioned it, scalding hot water will clean blackpower grime just fine. easy to make in the wild, if you have the means to make a meal.
a stick with a piece of cloth will scrub out the cylinder, after a scalding hot bath, as well as the barrel. I go so far as to using boiling water, as it will make the metal hot enough to boil off droplets remaining behind, and a small bottle of oil, not much really, will be the finale wipe down.
oopss....Fiv3.....gets the credit....missed his camp pot comment

Foto Joe
February 18, 2011, 03:30 PM
Funny (?Not!) how things have changed. I used to ride my bicycle right past the police station to my friend's house wearing my cap-and-ball 1858 on my belt (uncapped, of course) when I was 15 or so back in the late 1970s Guess I was lucky.

I was talking to a friend of mine about this just a day or so ago, how things have changed. I remember taking my single-shot 22 short to show & tell in elementary school. Walking the half mile or so to school with this thing over my shoulder and proudly walking right in the front door and to my classroom. Of course along with it, I had the skin of a recently deceased rabbit which had been unfortunate enough to get into the sights the previous day when Dad and I were bunny hunting for dinner. The dead rabbit hide caused more of a ruckus than bringing a gun into the classroom did. Go figure??

And just last December my wife informed me that giving my 9 year old grandson a pocket knife for Christmas probably wouldn't be a good idea. Heaven forbid he take a pocket knife to school!!

Sorry off topic, but us old folks ramble once in a while.

February 18, 2011, 04:05 PM
Great story, Foto Joe.

What folks seem to forget is that these things have change pretty dang recently. I'll be 30 next week, and while we could never bring a gun into school a lot of us had pocket knives and whatnot out in the open. I remember being a senior in highschool back in 1999 (post the Columbine shooting) and using my swiss army knife to cut a baby mouse free from one of those cruel glue traps the janitor had set out. It was very early before school had started and a female teacher who knew I would be there early AND have a tool on me wrangled me with tears in her eyes to rescue poor Mickey Mouse:D...oh btw I got the lil guy off in one piece, didn't get bit, and even found him a safe spot to release him.

I got my nephew a Swiss Army Knife with his name engraved on it for being the ring barer at our wedding. His dad (my brother in law) said, "I dunno if his mom is going to like this too much. He's 6."
To which I replied, "That's why I gave it to you to give to him. You're his dad. You aren't married to his mom anymore. YOU decide when YOU want him to have it. 6, 10, 16, it's your call. It's a Swiss Army Knife, not a casserole...It'll keep:p"

Sorry, I'll shut up now:)

February 18, 2011, 05:09 PM
Water is the solvent of choice for cleaning any black powder firearm. You can heat it or mix it with many substances but the water is what cleans. Follow the cleaning with the gun oil of your choice for rust prevention.

February 18, 2011, 05:53 PM
You sure can stir it up.. The nice thing is that you live in WY where there are more guns per capita than any other state. Black powder revolvers are not considered guns here unless your a felon, in this state a felon cant even own an air rifle. Here you can carry your cap and ball revolver loaded if you like but I wouldn't recommend it. Matter of fact you can carry any fire arm loaded as long you are of age. Again I wouldn't recommend it, we here in WY don't have near the regulations of some of the other states...thank God Things have change allot, I built my first muzzle loader in 1974 I walked 8 blocks to buy power, caps and round balls at the age of 13 try that now and see what happens.


February 18, 2011, 06:12 PM
Someone jump in here and fill in the blanks on the author and book title I'm talking about - there was a book written by a fellow (I believe in the 1940s) on his experiences with the '51 Navies - gunsmithing tips, stories he'd collected from Civil War vets, etc. - I have the book but it's back home in MI and I'm in AZ - anyway - in that book, it mentions about cleaning revolvers in the field during the Civil War - not much mroe than boiling a tub of water, adding lye soap and sticking the revolver in - I believe with the grips hanging on the edge of the pot/tub. In fact, I think he even goes on to mention that he felt that some of the "patina" found on originals could possibly have been as a result of this type of cleaning. When you think about it, it's not too far fetched. It's not a whole lot different than what some of us do today. The revolvers were rinsed, dried over a fire and oiled. It also makes sense that with a group of revolvers being cleaned in this fashion, if they were broken down into a pile and cylinders ended up being intermixed, that this could be part of the reason for mismatched numbers on an original. I know this doesn't answer the young man's question, but thought I'd throw it out anyway as it is a "piece of history" collected from actual veterans. In the book, he also states something about if a soldier was trying to make a "long shot" with his revolver, such as at retreating cavalry, they often would cock the pistol, lower the loading lever so the plunger entered the mouth of the chamber under it, and then held it with their other hand to give them a "steadier" two handed grip when making the shot. All interesting little tidbits. I'm hoping that someone on here will list the author and the book I'm talking about - it was a private printing of limited copies.

February 18, 2011, 07:05 PM
yea no kidding bout stirring it up oh well though. That sounds like a very interesting book that i would love to read. If anyone has any info on it i would like to know so i can pick up a copy. I have a great interest in the Civil War and the West before 1900 and i try to learn history of this era any chance i get which is not very often now days.

February 18, 2011, 07:43 PM
HOT, SOAPY WATER!! Can't think of anything cleans a b/p shooting iron beter than good old HOT, SOAPY WATER. A short cleaning rod, bore brush, tip for rod for patches, small corner of soap, a small bottle of oil and one of these new-fangled plastic M16 cleaning toothbrushes. Won't take up much room in a haversack or possibles bag. Won't look too authentic at a rondezvous or civil war event, so clean it in you tent where no one can see you! LOL I cringe when I see other re-enactors that put their whole gun in the water to clean it. Washes the lube off the internal workings. I guess if you don't mind dis-assembling the thing to relube the inner workings on a regular basis, go ahead. Me? I'm getting lazy (tired?) in my old age and have become a firm believer in the KISS principle. (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)
Always Remember...........
Yankees-1 Confederates-0 Halftime

Ideal Tool
February 18, 2011, 08:15 PM
Hello, bedbugbilly. I read that book also...and danged if I can remember it's name! I remember him telling of foraging, of how he liked to keep the clyinder loaded with round ball in case a pig decided to make a run for it..those round balls stopped e'm quicker than the pointed conicals. If you stop and think..a R.B. has a flattish area about like a wadcutter..and those things have a pretty good reputation as stoppers at close range.

February 19, 2011, 07:20 AM
I note that the original post has been edited. That's a very wise thing, although one of the often misunderstood facts about the internet is that you can never completely erase your mistakes.

February 19, 2011, 08:04 AM
Don't really need hot water just wet.:D I imagine more than one gun has been cleaned in a stream.

February 19, 2011, 01:15 PM
I was under the impression that the hotter the water, the more likely it would quickly evaporate without leaving any rust behind.

February 19, 2011, 01:29 PM
Thats true but was just saying it isn't necessary for it to be hot to clean.

February 19, 2011, 06:08 PM
Any port in a storm. :)

February 19, 2011, 08:52 PM
I had one bad experience using super hot water. That was enough for me. Now I use warm water. So far, so good.