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Old February 24, 2008, 07:43 PM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: January 10, 2008
Location: Springfield, IL (formerly TX)
Posts: 187
My Black Powder Baptism (C&B)

I was baptised in grey smoke today! (or would have been if it weren't for the ventilation system...:barf

I finally got a chance to try my 1851 Navy in the non-conforming caliber .44. It was pleasant to say the least. A moderate BOOM followed up with a mild recoil as the .454 ball sped to the target. My load of American Pioneer Shockey's Gold fffg was thrown with a 1.6 cc Lee dipper giving me right at 25.5 grains. I used CCI #11 caps.

I only fired three cylinders as the indoor range isn't heated meaningfully and I did want to shoot my .45 LC Bounty Hunter before my hand froze up. I did notice that C&B pistols aren't conducive to IPSC style shooting to say the least! I suppose the only mitigating factor in being armed with one of these things was the fact that during the War (you know, the one before the BIG ONE!) your adversary was shooting at you with the same gun! In some ways, I guess, you could find yourself at a disadvantage on the frontier because some Native Americans could probably launch a few quivers of arrows at you before you could reload once (assuming you had one gun and one only cylinder). My lady friend gets bent out of shape when I mention "being old...getting old....aging....but lets face it, having 55 year old eyes and hands, and it being cold and not being able to use gloves when capping, makes things just a little slow! I capped using M1A1 fingers which got better as I grew accustomed to the practice, and one of those inline capping tools (only held 15) that definitely made a difference.

I used greased wads (between powder and ball....I know) and charged the chambers with a dipper, like I mentioned. A flask with a reliable charge weight would greatly improve reload times, and one was ordered last night from The Possible Shop (unsolicited recommendation......he really is good and fast and surprisingly affordable.....on a par with Cabela's). Loading the ball got easy when I figured all you really had to do was drop the ball in the opening between cylinder and rammer and then rotate the cylinder until the ball fell into place.

Shooting was a BLAST (ok....pun intended). Pull the trigger, the hammer falls, sparks fly from the cap/nipple, smoke erupts from every pore in the gun!!!! HOOHAH!!!: Then, after a few shots, I experienced the first of a couple of "cap jams". One time the mangled corpse of a copper cap fell off and as the cylinder was cycling around it wedged the scrap into the space between the rear plate and the rear of the slowed the cylinder down and made it hard to cock until the next shot when it fell out. The next jam was WORSE. A scrap cap got peeled off after firing and THEN wedged itself in the cap well of the next chamber, effectively shielding the live cap and causing a misfire. The next problem occured when I couldn't cycle the the whole gun because I couldn't retract the hammer because the cylinder was jammed....viscious circle. I've done a lot of training in immediate action on service autos and ARs but it takes on a new dimension when you are trying to get the wedge out so you can pull the barrel partially off so you can move the cylinder so you can get a little freaking piece of copper out of your works!!!

Anyway........the gun is really accurate despite those Neanderthal sights. It shoots about 4-6 in high, but dead on line. Its also given me a new appreciation for what our forebearers had to endure when using one of these thunder clubs. Yeah, it was probably light years ahead of a Harper's Ferry type muzzle loading pistol..........but I bet they cussed just as loud when having to fidget with that new fangled shootin arn.

It can be a pain in the butt.........but it sure is fun!
M.D. Berk
SFC USA Ret. (NRA Life Member 21 yrs)
There's nothing like a good woman, a good pistol, and a bottle of Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey
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