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Old August 20, 2014, 01:21 PM   #1
DPris
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Pietta Pepperbox

Should have foreseen this, but didn't even think about it while waiting weeks for it to get here & taking care of other business.

Now that it is, how to load the critter becomes the question.

Don't have a press-style cylinder loader, would one accommodate a 3-inch cylinder?

Otherwise, looks like a dowel rod & mallet, with cylinder rear resting on the bench.
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Old August 20, 2014, 02:00 PM   #2
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Make One







Ram Balls Home to Complete Loading
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Old August 20, 2014, 02:23 PM   #3
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Very ingenious.
Unfortunately, no ram on the gun to use, so I'd still be looking at a dowel & mallet.
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Old August 20, 2014, 07:58 PM   #4
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Smoking Joe-
Nice setup. I like simple and practical. Some folks on here build some very nice loading stands. As attractive as they are, I've never wanted to build one. Think I may have to make up a tool like you made.
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Old August 20, 2014, 08:06 PM   #5
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That's pretty cool. Nice idea. The only downside I see is a possible gap between the ball and powder if you are not careful, or are you going to ram them in further with the dowel you were talking about?
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Old August 20, 2014, 08:45 PM   #6
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Was there a manual with it? If so, it should give loading instructions.

The original pepperboxes were made for "close up" work. I would imagine that the balls were pretty close to bore size? or else a little under and patched? I would also think that probably a wooden "palm rod" may have been used. To me, it would make more sense that a patched ball was maybe used which would be easier to load. The intended target would not be more than a few feet or several yards away. I'm not implying that an oversize soft lead ball couldn't be used much the same way one is in a C & B revolver but I really don't think they were intended to be loaded that way.

If the pepperbox is say a .36 and the barrels measure .360 smoothbore, I'd look at using a .350 or .355 ball with a lubed patch which would be much easier to load and would not necessitate using a mallet. Not unlike loading a smoothbore rifle or pistol - same principal only five or six barrels instead of one.
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Old August 20, 2014, 09:10 PM   #7
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The patch idea is one to keep in reserve, might even chase down a shortstarter rod.

Trying to keep it simple, and a press seems the simplest & easiest way to go without having to pound on things.

I have .375 commercial & .380 home cast balls, also have some commercial .350 balls on the shelves.
Seems like the .350s would still be undersized even patched, wouldn't they?

No papers included specifically for this pepperbox, no loading tool.

It's not a real one, just the back half of a .36 Navy Pietta with a 3-inch cylinder held on by an arbor screw.
No barrel, no ram.

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Old August 21, 2014, 09:16 AM   #8
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I had heard of those Pietta Pepperboxes, didn't think they'd ever come out. Where did you get yours? What're your thoughts. I'm admittedly not much in love with them, but the fiancé seems to be a big fan.
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Old August 21, 2014, 10:28 AM   #9
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Total toy.
No way to aim, no target or plinking utility, reduced velocities, no leather, not a pocket pistol.

EMF sent mine earlier this week, they finally got a shipment in.
Seems well done.
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Old August 21, 2014, 10:52 AM   #10
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Thanks for the info! I had been wondering about them because, well, they're just so odd. I think I'll grab a pocket pistol for her to play with instead, something a little more user friendly.
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Old August 21, 2014, 11:07 AM   #11
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They are a curiosity & if you buy on that basis it can have some appeal & some fun.

I'd expect SOME degree of ability to hit a man-sized target out to 15 feet or so, but with no sights it's a point & shoot deal, and it's not especially practical for real defensive use.
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Old August 21, 2014, 04:03 PM   #12
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The problem I see with the bolt press is that as the washer presses the balls home and shaves lead the washer will bottom out on the lead shavings. This means the nose of the balls will be a few thousandths of an inch over-flush of the face of the cylinder. This could cause binding/jamming on cylinder rotation.

It might be possible, after the ring is shaved, to pluck/rip the shavings out with a pocket knife before completing the drive-home process.

Steve
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Old August 21, 2014, 11:35 PM   #13
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"This means the nose of the balls will be a few thousandths of an inch over-flush of the face of the cylinder. This could cause binding/jamming on cylinder rotation."

Not in a pepperbox. But there would be a big gap between the powder and ball, and low power. The only feasible way to load a pepperbox is with a palm type rod (wood will do but brass is better), but I get a bit nervous hoping I never have a charge go off while ramming it. Patches are not used; the ball is only a bit bigger than the bore, just tight enough to keep rammed balls from jarring loose from recoil.

At home, with the barrels off the frame, a drill press, or a loading tool could be used but those are not very practical to take to the range.

Of course, accuracy is a joke with a pepperbox; they were made for fast, DAO firing at very close range. I once fired my Allen & Thurber and got about an 8" group at six feet; maybe I could have improved on that with practice, but I really didn't want to win any matches with it.

Jim
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Old August 22, 2014, 01:14 AM   #14
DPris
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Hoping to find a press that can accommodate the long cylinder.
Simplest solution.

If not, I may try a short starter rod or a mallet & dowel.
I'd prefer brass in that case, but I'd have to find a section of brass rod & cut to length, unless somebody knows a pre-made brass short rod.
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Old August 22, 2014, 08:59 AM   #15
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My screw type press has served me well for many years. It's a two step process because the balls must be rammed home with loading lever after cylinder is installed in the frame. A similar two step process could be utilized with a pepperbox design. Simply cut six lengths of the proper diameter wooden dowel and use them under the pressing washer to ram the balls home. Or you could attach rammers to the pressing washer as I did for my Wells Fargo clone. I have never seen a cheaper or more portable yet reliable loading press than this design.

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Old August 23, 2014, 05:12 AM   #16
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That is a great idea! I have a Black Dawg press, but for taking out to the range, the homemade bolt and washer press is way more portable. I believe I will be making one of those for my .44 snubbie, and another for my .31's. Thank you sirs for the great idea and the informative pictures!
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Old August 23, 2014, 05:16 AM   #17
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by the way, DPris, i knew when i saw the pics of those pepperboxes they would be for fun purposes, lol! Just the thought of it brought a smile to my face. Sometimes, you have to get a gun that is in no way practical, but has fun and conversational value. And.... seems to me i've seen holsters for a gun of that style in various "steampunk" photos. You may have the ultimate sleeper concealed carry gun there, lol! Pull that thing out, and the look of it alone will more than likely send miscreants scattering!
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Old August 23, 2014, 10:30 AM   #18
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Yep.
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Old March 17, 2019, 11:43 AM   #19
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I came across one of these recently and bought it on a whim. From what I've gathered with respect to the Texas gun laws, they don't apply to the muzzleloaders / blackpowder / antique replica type of guns like this. For example, the 30.06 and 30.07 signs are only for people carrying under authority of a CHL/LTC and the same goes with our 51% signs for bars.

Don't have a mold for it yet though, so will probably just use a round ball that I use for .38 / .357 and tap it slightly with the arbor press to increase the diameter. Either that or a 105 gr 0.358" bullet similarly widened.

First test was with just a percussion cap on it and the cap pretty much gets shredded. They definitely do not stay together like you see with normal centerfire primers. Is this how that always end up?

Second test was with a couple of grains of Alliant Promo with a 1" square of paper towel on top of it to hole the powder in place. I am well aware of the disclaimers about using smokeless powder in a blackpowder gun, but I'm curious to see what can be done safely and intend to pursue this a bit. I am using a rig to remotely fire the weapon and there is concrete filled cinderblock wall between me and the gun. If it blows up, I'm not concerned from a safety aspect. I'm also only doing a single chamber at a time, so in the event of a catastrophic failure, the other chambers will not be firing.

With respect to a holster though, I have found that the belt slide holster that I use for my M1911 fits it very well and it makes for a very concealable rig. The cylinder fits right through the opening in the bottom of the belt slide holster and is just snug enough that it would probably not fall out even if you were completely inverted.

I'm pretty sure that there are some safe smokeless loads that can be used in blackpowder guns. All you have to do is look in the smokeless reloading manuals and find ones with pressure as low as would be generated if you were using blackpowder. Of course, you also need to ensure that you seat the bullet to the correct depth since if you seat it all the way down to the top of the powder, you're probably going to end up with an overpressure situation. From the Lyman Black Powder Handbook, 2nd Edition, blackpowder pressures can vary from 13,500 to 23,400 psi, so choosing a smokeless load that is that low should be safe. Of course, start low and work your way up, just like when you are trying to develop a load for a new powder that does not have any data for your particular caliber. Starting with .38 special loadings might be a good choice. For example, Hodgdon shows that for a 90 gr LRNFP seated to and OAL of 1.325", 2.5 gr of Clays will give you 705 fps and 7900 psi and 3.0 gr will give you 938 fps and 11,400 psi. Considering the fact that the .36 chamber is slightly wider than the .38 special, the pressure will be slightly reduced from those values.

Now, what would be really nice is if Pietta would make nipples for the Pepperbox (and their other handguns) that could take either 209 or small/large pistol primers so that they would stay intact after firing. Combine this with making the Pepperbox chambers so that it could handle .357 magnum pressures and you would have an impressive gun that would avoid all the ATF rules. To reduce the chance that someone might load a bullet too deeply and thus increase the chamber pressure, they could make the chamber "stepped" (i.e. the part where the powder normally sits would be a smaller diameter than the part where the projectile sits). Kind of the opposite of a bottlenose cartridge chamber.
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Old March 17, 2019, 03:34 PM   #20
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I have one too. I prefer the look with a thunderer grip.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg pepper.jpg (207.3 KB, 480 views)
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Old March 17, 2019, 04:49 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by noelf2
I have one too. I prefer the look with a thunderer grip.
Yeah, it looks better with that style grip. Was that simple replacement for the existing grip or a different frame?
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Old March 17, 2019, 05:34 PM   #22
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I know you folks are fans of the Pietta .36 "Pepperbox" (which it is not as it has no barrels), but I think it is an answer to a question that should never have been asked.

How is it that long cylinder could not be overloaded beyond metal tolerances?

I have eight Pietta Navy .36 "type" pistols and because they are like the Legos of the replica BP revolver world. I have created a few .36 pistols that Pietta does not currently offer, and could easily create and have a market for, and have nearly all parts in stock or could create from their CNC software:

1851 Navy 2nd model

1851 Navy 3rd Model (currently produced)

Griswold and Gunnison (scarce at best)

Leech & Rigdon (steel frame with the smooth cylinder and the part-round barrel from the G&G)

Schneider & Glassick (smooth cylinder and octagonal barrel, brass frame)

Rigdon & Ansley (steel frame, part-round barrel and a 12-stop slot smooth cylinder, which would only take a bit more machining for the stop slots, as opposed to manufacturing the huge cylinder on the "pepperbox")

Augusta Machine Works with the 12-stop slot smooth cylinder

Columbus Firearms Manufacturing Company

If Pietta has almost all of these parts in inventory, why do they not know that there would be a demand for these guns and instead produce Frankenguns with no historical significance?

Your call, folks.

Regards,

Jim
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Old March 17, 2019, 08:16 PM   #23
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Quote:
Yeah, it looks better with that style grip. Was that simple replacement for the existing grip or a different frame?
Simple replacement. Swapped the grips and trigger guard off a Pietta 1851 navy yank snubnose. I prefer the snubnose with the standard grip that came on the pepperbox. I knew I was going to make that swap before I ordered the pepperbox.

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If Pietta has almost all of these parts in inventory, why do they not know that there would be a demand for these guns and instead produce Frankenguns with no historical significance
To each his own. I got it as a novelty. Why is it that some people don't understand that other people aren't as interested in historical accuracy, all the time? ... My bet is that Pietta knows there is just as much a niche market in frankenguns as there is in "somewhat" close to historical guns.
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Old March 17, 2019, 08:56 PM   #24
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It can’t be overloaded with black powder, because as the powder charge increases the barrel length decreases. Velocity with even a 30 grain charge would struggle to achieve 4-500 FPS... with smokeless, as mentioned above, you’re building a hand grenade and anyone who tries such a stunt, let alone posts about it on a public forum is foolish in the best case. All it takes is some knothead kid reading the post and acting upon it and poof, no fingers... I’m not concerned with any Navy Vets trying this, they should be old enough and wise enough to know better and if they aren’t, well, at least he’s lived a full life with all of his digits. He could learn to live the rest of it without them...
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Old March 17, 2019, 10:41 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by woodnbow
It can’t be overloaded with black powder, because as the powder charge increases the barrel length decreases. Velocity with even a 30 grain charge would struggle to achieve 4-500 FPS... with smokeless, as mentioned above, you’re building a hand grenade and anyone who tries such a stunt, let alone posts about it on a public forum is foolish in the best case. All it takes is some knothead kid reading the post and acting upon it and poof, no fingers... I’m not concerned with any Navy Vets trying this, they should be old enough and wise enough to know better and if they aren’t, well, at least he’s lived a full life with all of his digits. He could learn to live the rest of it without them...
Whether you are using smokeless or blackpowder, you are in fact a reloader and you should be careful of what you are doing. You wouldn't just put any powder in a modern firearm at any quantity and expect it to work, right? What would happen if you took a 220 gr jacketed bullet and put it on top of a case full of Bullseye in a .30-06? Probably a safe bet that it is not going to end up that well for the firearm. On the other hand, what would happen if you replaced that Bullseye with a .50 BMG or 20mm powder like W872? Unless you duplex the load to account for / simulate the hotter arsenal primer that the .50 BMG uses, you're probably going to get a bit less velocity than a more optimal powder for this caliber. And, if you are using a straight walled case, it's even more difficult for W872 to generate excessive pressures if you are not adding a duplex "kicker" on top of the primer. It burns so slow that you are more likely to just get a bunch of unburnt powder out the barrel. I tried using W872 in a 10mm handgun once to prove this and it didn't even produce enough force to cycle the action enough to eject the brass. The slide came back slightly with the brass still in it and then went back, still holding the brass. Pretty quiet load though. Very little recoil. Very low pressure.

Maybe someone with QuickLoad would be interested in running the numbers for us on these two scenarios?

A blackpowder firearm is no different. It is designed to withstand a certain pressure and whether that pressure is from blackpowder, a blackpowder substitute, or smokeless powder, it doesn't matter. If you exceed that pressure (regardless of what type of powder you are using), bad things might happen to you. If you stay within the design pressure limits, you should be safe. Where people get in trouble with blackpowder is not seating the bullet all the way down on top of the powder. With blackpowder, this allows it to generate more pressure so that you get more of a mini-explosion instead of a controlled burn. With smokeless, you get in trouble by *decreasing* the distance from the powder to the bullet since this increases the pressure and then there is the issue with many smokeless powders having different burn rates at different pressures. Whereas when we are reloading cartridge ammunition, we have a high degree of control over the OAL of the loaded cartridges, we just don't have that sort of level of control over it with a muzzleloader. It's easier to just tell the BP shooter to just ram the ball down the muzzle / cylinder on top of the blackpowder until it won't go any further vs to tell the potential smokeless-in-BP shooter to ram the bullet down until there is a 1" space between the powder and the bullet. Of course, where inexperienced reloaders would get in trouble would be if they made the mistake of using smokeless, but with the same charge weights as was specified for blackpowder.

I'm an engineer and as such, I like to experiment with things and gain knowledge. Blanket statements of things like, "you can NEVER use smokeless in a BP firearm" just makes me want to test it out. I'm pretty sure that 8" of concrete will protect me if my initial hypothesis is incorrect.
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