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Old June 22, 2008, 11:07 PM   #8
Fingers McGee
Senior Member
Join Date: March 19, 2008
Location: High & Dry in Missouri Ozarks
Posts: 2,082
Oquirrh - Chainfires are just something to be aware of & try to avoid.

I related my experience on another thread; but I'll restate it here. I have personally only had one chainfire in all the years I've been using C&B revolvers for SASS competition. However, my first C&B was a brass framed 1851 Navy that was made sometime in the early 60s. This was in 1966. My friends and I couldnt afford to buy powder, caps & balls all the time; so we used wads of tinfoil for balls. We didnt really know what we were doing, and were lucky we didnt maim or kill ourselves. We figured out pretty quickly that you had to get the wad of tinfoil pretty solid and fill the mouth of the chamber up real tight or all 6 would go off at once.

The one chainfire I had in competition was a 2nd Gen Colt 1851 Navy I was using in a SASS match. As I was firing the third round in the pistol, the chamber to the left of the chamber being fired went off also. There was no damage done to the pistol, and other than the sound of a double bang and an empty chamber, the only way you could tell that it had happened was a smudge of lead on the wedge. Apparently, during the capping process at the loading table I had not been paying close enough attention to what I was doing and left one of the charged chambers uncapped and this is the one that went off. I handed the pistol off as a malfunction when it happened, and when we looked at it at the unloading table, the chamber that went off didnt have a cap on it. The remaining chamber was still live, so it was uncapped. Now, I make it a point to not carry on a converstaion at the loading table when I'm capping my revolvers.

I regulary shoot with a SASS member that had an 1860 Army that would chainfire regularly when he used caps that were too big for the nipples. Not every time; but often enough to give the timer operator the shakes. I shoot with another SASS member that has had occasional chainfires with no rhyme or reason to what casued them.

To quote Mykeal:
For your range officer: the best defense against a chain fire is 1) the proper size round (ROUND, not oblong) ball and 2) the proper size (as in, they actually fit) caps. Use of a lubed wad or grease over the ball is insurance, but a ball that shaves a complete ring of lead upon loading and caps that stay on when firing will do, and are enough to do, the job.
This is the best way to avoid them
Fingers (Show Me MO smoke) McGee - AKA Man of Many Colts - Alter ego of Diabolical Ken; SASS Regulator 28564-L-TG; Rangemaster and stage writer extraordinaire; Frontiersman, Pistoleer, NRA Endowment Life, NMLRA, SAF, CCRKBA, STORM 327, SV115; Charter member, Central Ozarks Western Shooters
Cynic: A blackguard whose faulty vision see things as they are, not as they should be. Ambrose Bierce

Last edited by Fingers McGee; June 24, 2008 at 11:50 AM.
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