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Old June 6, 2009, 03:39 PM   #26
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As the writer of "So you want a cap and ball revolver?" let me get us back on topic.

I've been asked to recommend good books on shooting and cleaning cap and ball revolvers.
Unfortunately, they are few. Most black powder books repeat information that was offered in the 1950s. However, some books are good:

"Percussion Pistols and Revolvers: History, Performance and Practical Use," by Johnny Bates and Mike Cumpston. Copyright 2005. Printed by iUniverse of Lincoln, Nebraska.
This book covers both revolvers and single-shot percussion pistols. The authors took the right approach by writing a chapter specific to each type or model.
Each model has its quirks, attributes and [I]cussitudes[I] so it's best to discuss them separately.
A newcomer can easily be confused by general remarks covering a wide field, so this book really shines for its specificity.

Single-shot percussion pistols covers one section. That section is broken down into deringers, belt and overcoat pistols, target pistols, dueling pistols, etc.

The following section, and the bulk of the book, concerns percussion revolvers.
A chapter is assigned to each of the more common cap and ball revolvers: Paterson, 1851 Navy, 1860 Army, 1858 Remington, pocket pistols such as the Colt 1849, Walker, Confederate LeMat, Colt Dragoons, Ruger Old Army and so on.

This section includes chapters on disassembly, and one chapter on an often-overlooked topic: holsters, hooks and sashes (Wild Bill Hickok carried two Colt 1851 revolvers in a wide sash tied around his waist, forgoing any sort of holster).

I am particularly pleased to see that the authors used a variety of black powder and black powder substitutes: Goex, Swiss, Pyrodex P, Hodgdon 777 and American Pioneer.
Not everyone can find black powder, especially with today's hoarding madness, so it's fitting to include powder that may be more readily available.

I was also pleased to see that the authors used balls of varying diameters: .375, .380, .451, 454 and .457 inch, tailoring them to the particular make of revolver.

In my own practice, I simplify things by using a ball of .454 inch. If I owned a Ruger Old Army, which requires balls of .457 inch, I'd have a lot more of that size. A few years ago I bought a few boxes of Speer .457 inch balls on a discount table, so I do use that size from time to time. In my non-Ruger revolvers I can tell no difference in accuracy between a .454 or .457 inch ball, but I do find that the .451 inch ball -- as is often recommended -- doesn't seat as tightly or give as good accuracy as the .454 inch.

The authors also used a variety of conical bullets, in single shot and revolvers. It's always interesting to see how conicals compare to round balls. In my own experience the ball has been more accurate than any conical I've found but some conicals are on the heels of the ball, accuracy wise.
The Lee 200 gr. .44 bullet has proven the most accurate conical I've fired, but it still can't compete with the ball at the standard target range of 25 yards.
Yet conicals have their applications, especially for hunting where greater mass means more weight and more killing energy.
The authors used conical bullets that are replicas of those issued with the original guns, as well as modern conicals such as the Lee and Buffalo. Their results make for good reading.

Overall, "Percussion Pistols and Revolvers" by Johnny Bates and Mike Cumpston is a fine book that will serve newcomer and experienced shooter alike.
It's well organized, based on real experience, informs and entertains. It should be on every shooter's bookshelf, and percussion pistol manufacturers should enclose a copy of it with each gun they sell.

Lyman Black Powder Handbook & Loading Manual is very good, offering information on a variety of guns: pistols revolvers, rifles, shotguns, and loading black powder in cartridge cases.
There is also a section on casting your own ball and conical bullets for rifles, pistols and revolvers.
Particularly interesting is a short section on Black Powder Fact and Fancy. Many of the "old truths" are put to rest here, slain by sound testing methods with scientific equipment.
A section on Using Chronographed Data is also quite welcome. A chronograph -- which is an instrument that measures a projectile's velocity a few feet from the gun's muzzle -- can help you find your most accurate or powerful load.

My biggest gripe about the Lyman book is the separation of shooting data from the specific chapters. The shooting tables that list projectile, brand or type of powder, velocity and so on are at the rear of the book. They should have followed each chapter on rifles, shotguns and pistols, for easier reference.

I also am disappointed that Lyman didn't use any Lee cast bullets, but it did list Buffalo bullets. However, I can understand why: Lee is undoubtedly Lyman's greatest competitor in the cast bullet market; it's poor business to mention your competition in print.

I am a writer and photographer by trade, so I'm more than a little disappointed at the poor quality photos in the Lyman book. Lyman's photographer needs to get a little closer and use bounce-flash or studio lights to illuminate the specific topic of discussion.
In many instances the photos are dark, adding to a newcomer's natural confusion.
I suspect that many of these black and white photos were converted from color. In doing so, red comes out black, and gray and black are even darker.
But the photos are not totally dark and newcomers will get the meaning if they examine the photos closely.

But overall, the Lyman Black Powder Handbook and Loading Manual is a fine piece, reflecting a great deal of scientific research in the ballistics lab, as well as practical shooting application.

If you'd like to get into black powder shooting, and want one book to cover rifle, handgun and shotgun, this is the one. When you're at the gun store buying your first black powder firearm, spend an extra $20 or so and get it.

Gunpowder: Alchemy, Bombards and Pyrotechnics - The History of the Explosive that Changed the World by Jack Kelly. Copyright 2004, published by Basic Books.

Wow. This book leaves me speechless. It's a fascinating, fabulous and frequently funny history of what we call "Black Powder" today, but for centuries was simply known as gunpowder.
Kelly does a magnificent job of tracing the history of gunpowder, and offers modern shooters pause for thought: it is clear that our lil' ol' mixture of charcoal, sulfur and saltpeter isn't the simple compound we think it is.
Even today, with all the modern devices, scientists still cannot satisfactorily explain the actions of the world's oldest chemical propellant.

Some aspects were known, but their reason eluded us until recently.
Why is charcoal made from willow the best? Under a microscope it is seen that willow charcoal is nicely porous, aiding ignition.
Why is the urine of heavy drinkers best for making saltpeter? The liver's metabolizing of alcohol produces urine rich in ammonium, a food that nitrate microbes thrive upon, thereby producing the best saltpeter.

These are other facts will leave you with not only a better understanding of black powder, but its rich history.

Consider what Kelly says about the history of gunpowder:
"By putting a new form of lethal power into the hands of commoners, gunpowder was among the elements that fertilized the long, slow growth of feelings of rights and entitlements that would blossom into democracy."

Profound stuff, and a lesson too long overlooked in the history books in our schools.

Nearly the entire book is dedicated to the history, physics and chemistry of black powder -- all of it written for the layman. It is frequently interspersed with amusing or macabre anecdotes.
It also stays on course with its topic, not meandering much into arms and projectile development. You won't find much about rifling, the Minie' bullet or development of cartridge guns. I believe this is as it should be.

I was particularly pleased to see a thorough explanation of its use in pyrotechnics, a topic long overlooked by those of us use it as a firearms propellant. Without black powder, Fourth of July would be as dull as Arbor Day.

"Gunpowder: Alchemy, Bombards & Pyrotechnics - The History of the Explosive that Changed the World" is an absolute must for every shooter, reloader, muzzleloader, historian or pyrotechnician.
Even if you've never held a gun in your life, you'll be fascinated by this book; it would be a good gift for the student majoring in chemistry, history or engineering.

My only complaint is that the book is almost totally void of illustrations, with perhaps a dozen small illustrations in its 262 pages. But what illustrations are selected are applicable to the topic and frequently lend a better understanding.

If Hollywood needs a huge epic movie in the future, it should trace the history of gunpowder and use Kelly's book as the basis for the script.
Even the most anti-gun viewer would be fascinated by the twists, turns, happenstance, victories, defeats and occasional humor found in the development of gunpowder and the devices that use it.

The three books above will give any black powder shooter, new or long-experienced, a wealth of information from which to draw.
Perhaps most importantly, you'll soon learn to tell the self-styled experts from the truly informed.
Put your name prominently inside each of these books, and never loan them out; their pages are that valuable.

And now, I'll leave you with a chuckle from Kelly's "Gunpowder" book, largely because I can't figure out how to properly end this posting, but mostly because I can't stand not sharing it:

"Over time official fireworks displays grew in extravagance. The era of excess culminated in the celebration of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, a treaty that temporarily ended hostilities across Europe in 1748 ... (In Paris), a dispute over who was to light the city's magnificent display led to a brawl between French and Italian pyrotechnicians and an explosion that killed 40 spectators."

-- Gatofeo
"And lo, did I see an ugly cat. Smoke. Brimstone. Holes in parchment. And this ugly cat was much amused." --- The Prophesies of Gatodamus (1503 - 1566)
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Old July 31, 2009, 08:36 AM   #27
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I'll throw in a tip: Test each chamber for group separately. Most repro revolvers will have one or two chambers that shoot really well, the rest won't. Mark and use the accurate chambers.
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Old August 12, 2009, 03:42 PM   #28
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When melting the wax/grease/other products in the mason jar, it's not a bad idea to put some sort of screen, grate or standoff down in the bottom of the pot holding the boiling water. This keeps the base of the mason jar off the pot so you don't get the direct, metal-to-glass conducted heat, which can scorch the wax if it gets too hot.
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Old August 23, 2009, 01:02 AM   #29
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Don`t waste your time, bought one off gun broker $150.00 , fffg .451 bawls, 20yards , 3 on top of one another on the bullseye, first try . Why waste yer time wit all dat bulls*h#t. Very accurate pieces pietta 1860 army.
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Old October 27, 2009, 09:08 PM   #30
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.45Nut ...
Each firearm is an individual. Some shoot better than others. Often, what shoots well in one shoots so-so or poorly in another. This is true of all guns, not just cap and ball revolvers.
I've been shooting cap and ball revolvers since about 1970. I posted, "So you want a cap and ball revolver?" because it put together a wealth of information in one place; information that took me and others years to discover, or rediscover from old-time sources.
I don't consider it a waste of time, or B.S., to pass on experience garnered over decades.
If you revolver delivered groups of "3 on top of one another on the bullseye, first try," then you have an exceptional revolver.
Certainly, it's not the norm from what I've experienced, seen and been told by others. Every cap and ball revolver I've encountered shot above or below a bullseye at 25 yards. The Colts typically shoot high; the Remingtons typically shoot low.
You were very lucky to find such a gun that hit dead-on at 20 yards the first time. It is not the norm.
"And lo, did I see an ugly cat. Smoke. Brimstone. Holes in parchment. And this ugly cat was much amused." --- The Prophesies of Gatodamus (1503 - 1566)
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Old October 28, 2009, 10:32 AM   #31
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I shoot 1860 Armys by Pietta a lot. CAS virtually every weekend. Mine are tuned to the peak of perfection for me. I rarely have any cap problems.
A question was asked on another forum as to "How accurately do your guns shoot?".
Most CAS shooters don't know other than they hit the plates.
I decided to try mine.
I loaded with normal care. Assumed the squaw grip(both hands) and fired them at 10 yards. Both guns shot inside of 3", one closer to 2". One was dead on the center of the bull and the other was 1.5" high. Both guns have had the hammer sight opened a bit for better sight acquisition
More than enough accuracy for the game we play and probably for most small game hunting.
I know they will hit 16" plates at about 50 yards but I have never attempted to shoot for groups at that range.
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Old December 29, 2009, 07:22 AM   #32
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Cooking sprays and black powder guns

Cooking sprays may be used on black powder guns, after cleaning.

Some things to be aware of though. The vegetable oils sometimes have elevated levels of acids in them. Olive oil has lower acidity than vegetable oil. Canola oil spray has the lowest acid levels of all. Crisco is a vegetable oil that hardens and so we sometimes use it because it hardens and stays where you put it. But it does contain a certain amount of acidity that is higher than some of the other oils.

Canola oil is low acid. It is pressed and steamed out of rapeseed. The term CANOLA is actually an acronym: C.A.N.O.L.A. It stands for CANADIAN OIL LOW ACID.

Canola oil comes in sprays and in bottles or jugs of oils. It is found alongside of the olive oil in the grocery store.

Canola oil was (and still is) and always has been extensively used as a steam cylynder oil on steam engines at the same viscosity levels that we find it in the grocery store. It is also used as an extreme pressure lubricant in working with metal parts and forming dies in industrial applications.

Many shooters are against using petroleum products on black powder guns. I dont blame them. You can use it to coat the outside of the barrell. You can use it to protect the bore for long-term storage. But you dont have to use petroleum at all in the black powder world if you dont want to. I only use petroleum on occasion to dampen a rag to coat the outside of the piece.

If you like using vegetable oils such as crisco (I have used it extensively as well as other non-petro oils) then you should remember also to clean your weapons occasionally whether you have fired them or not. And this is because acid levels in crisco and other vegetable oils can vary from season to season, batch to batch, and from time to time. You have to clean and inspect black powder guns.

Canola is the very best oil to use on metal as a non-petroleum based lubricant. It is very close to the metal industry and it has served on steam cylinders during the black powder era. It is the most authentic and correct oil to use and can be mixed with tallows to allow for properties to make it hold in place.

You dont need double boiler and such to mix canola with tallow. Just heat canola oil on your stove at a low to moderate temperature, in an old pot or can, and toss in your tallow. Let it melt and then let it cool. Beeswax and parafin can be added. Canola acts slightly different than other vegetable oils when trying to thicken it up with tallows and waxes. But it will work. It is best as a patch lubricant in it's natural form without anything else mized in. You can dip or spray the patches. You can spray your parts. Canola works best on warmed up parts....not hot.....but warm. It works well to cure and protect an iron skillet.

Last edited by Gator_Weiss; December 29, 2009 at 07:27 AM.
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Old January 27, 2010, 08:53 PM   #33
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Nice job!

All new revolver shooters should have this printed-out and inside their range boxes!

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Old February 2, 2010, 12:27 AM   #34
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Excellent information from Gator Weiss (white gator? ... huh?).
I didn't know many of the things you mentioned about canola. I knew it was made from rape seed.

For obvious reasons ... (in my best Jack Webb voice) "the name was changed to protect the lubricant."
"And lo, did I see an ugly cat. Smoke. Brimstone. Holes in parchment. And this ugly cat was much amused." --- The Prophesies of Gatodamus (1503 - 1566)
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Old March 11, 2010, 06:25 PM   #35
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If your too lazy to clean a ACP,like my son, LOL ,dont get one, ya gotta keep em real clean!!!!! And it takes some time if ya do it right,Totally dis assemble clean dry oil and dont forget to dryfire to preernt fouling
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Old May 23, 2010, 03:52 PM   #36
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Definitely overkill on the tutorials.
Several innacuratte items there.
BTW, I started at this c&b and ml game about 45 years ago. Shot in many championship matches.
Briefly, whatever works for you (within bounds of safety) is what is best to use. e.g. "limp felt" nothing wrong with it.
As for never use petroleum grease for over-ball, many of the champions at Friendship use water pump grease.
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Old June 19, 2010, 07:32 AM   #37
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And your point would be what?

And your point would be what? That the shooters in here should not share what has worked for them?

I am unfamiliar with waterpump grease. Do you know what it is compounded of, and do you know why they prefer it to other substances?
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Old July 11, 2010, 02:22 PM   #38
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Interesting Stuff

I have been researching information on collecting Replica Percussion Revolvers and found this forum. I copied the information, saved it to a word file and printed out. Then I sat down over a couple of cups of coffee and read the whole thing and took notes. Great stuff.

So much detail to it all. I am planning on buying a replica and having at it.
Thanks for the information guys. It reads like you have spent years at a rather interesting hobby. I have spent decades firing modern cartridge weapons and fired some black powder weapons a couple of times but never fully appreciated how complex it is.
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Old July 21, 2010, 08:52 AM   #39
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Getting Started

I've fired Black Powder weapons before but never owned one. So a few months back, after buying the Uberti Replica of a 1871 RM Colt Conversion of a 1851 Colt Navy, in .38, I decided to get into some Black Powder shooting.

So I started doing a lot of reading and research. To me, of course, it's more than just buying one with a kit from Cabela’s. So I bought a few books, and did some reading on the Internet in forums and looked around. I started with a list of things that would be needed if I were going to do it the right way.

I went shopping at Sportsman Ware House and picked up a few things. A Colt Black Powder Flask (Replica of course), a bottle of Pyrodex, some Thompson’s Bore Butter, 100 Hormandy Round ,36 Cal. Lead Balls, Thompson’s Super Lube, Anti-seize lubricant, Hoppes #9 Black Powder Solvent and Patch Lubricant, A breech Plug, Remington #11 Percussion Caps, and A Muzzle Loader Storage Box.

In the mail today arrived an order from Amazon Com for a hammer with three changeable heads, Brass, Nylon, Plastic and Rubber. Also a SE set of 8 Brass & Chrome Punches. I bought this for some work on a Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan 44 Mag, I have been working on. It ought to come in hand in dealing with an Uberti Colt Navy I just bought.

In addition from Cabelas I have ordered: A cleaning solvent basket, a brush set, cleaning brushes, Bore Butter, Cleaning patches, another wooden ball starter.

From Midway USA. A Thompson in Line Nipple Pick, A pocket Cleaning Kit, An Adjustable Powder Measure.

From Dixie Gun Works. A In Line Capper, a Universal Revolver Stand, an Arkansas Pocket Stone, and 2 Cleaning swabs.

Finally from Taylor’s, I bought a hardened Nipple Wrench, with an Uberti 1851 Navy Steel Revolver, 36 Cal.,I also bought. It should be here by Wednesday via UPS.

So as you can see I'm serious about getting into Black powder shooting. So ever now and then I do indulge myself in my hobbies. This is one of those times.
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Old July 21, 2010, 02:01 PM   #40
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Information Appreciated

I just got a PM from a fellow on this forum who informed me that the .36 Cal. 350 lead round balls I bought will not work in an Uberti 1851 Colt Navy. It's needs a .380. Thanks partner.

I checked the Uberti USA Web Site and for the .36 Cal it's .380 and for the .44 Cal it is .454. Pietta says .36 Cal = .375 and .44 Cal =.454.

Good stuff to know when starting out. It's the little things in life that drive us nuts. Glad I found that out before driving 20+ miles to an out door range.

Last edited by Slowhand; July 21, 2010 at 03:10 PM.
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Old July 21, 2010, 03:38 PM   #41
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Did you get some overpowder wads yet I don't see them listed.
These are IMHO the greatest thing ever for the C&B shooter easier to use than grease, less messy & they hold the powder in the chamber if you have to put the pistol down to do something (like picking up a ball) when re loading.

I'd raid the medicine cabinet too.
Q-tips & toothpicks are handy to have there for things like handling nipples (poke the pick in the hole for a handy-dandy handle/thread starter) & swabbing down inside the recesses with lube or cleaner. If you have a source get a couple of test-tube brushes as well they are handy for cleaning out the lower recesses of the cylinder.
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Old July 21, 2010, 04:02 PM   #42
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Anti-Seize & Lubicating Compound

Slowhand get a can of antiseize compound at the hardware store I like the 'silver' kind that has nickle flakes in it. A 4 oz can should last decades. Put just a dab in the nipple threads, and you'll never break a nipple wrench, or strip the threads on a breach or cylinder. My can came with a brush in the cap but I use a safety pin to apply this to the threads, just a tiny bit goes a long way.
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Old July 21, 2010, 05:34 PM   #43
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Good Stuff. I'm adding to my notes of course.

Overpowder wads sounds good. I have plenty of tooth picks and Q Tips in my cleaning box for cartridge weapons, plus plenty of picks, brushes and ectera.

I have a tube of Thompson Super Lube, anti-seize lube, I did a load of reading about jammed nipples. The cylinder kind.

UPS delivered the Uberti Colt Navy Replica about an hour ago. So when I get back from the Gun Store she's getting all that factory grease cleaned out of her. An order from Dixie Gun Works and Midway USA also showed up. Should make for a fun evening.

I took this week off from work and have been getting a lot of things done around the house. First vacation I've taken since 2001.

Thanks to all for their suggestions. If we've done nothing else, we have livened up this forum.
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Old July 21, 2010, 07:23 PM   #44
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You appear to have some familiarity with modern cartridge handguns, and so you may already have a set, but in case you don't....

Gunsmith screwdriver set. Best I've found is Brownell's Magna-Tip, but there are many that will do just fine; I have a Chambers set and an old set of Wheeler wooden handle drivers that are old friends.

Best investment you can make for working on your expensive hobby.
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Old July 21, 2010, 10:16 PM   #45
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Brownell's and Chamber's Old Wooden Handles? No Magni Tips but I inherited a couple of different cheaper sets from my father and have added a few over the years. Hollow ground tips are the only way to go. Even if just turning a grip screw.

Appreciate the input.
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Old July 31, 2010, 11:15 PM   #46
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Pachmyr Screwdrivers - 12 bucks

Pachmyr - the rubber grip folks - they put out a screwdriver set for guns in a light blue box with a large number of gun-smith type magnetic tips to plug into a very good handle. They sell for about 12 bucks and they work very well.
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Old August 1, 2010, 10:34 AM   #47
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Starting a BP Collection

Fed EX, UPS and USPS have made a few trips to my door the last couple of weeks. I do believe at this point I have most of the stuff I need to get started. Ball pullers, nipple wrenches, patch worm, lead balls, percussion caps, wads, Bore Butter, Ballistol (Spray and Liquid), cleaning kits, a set of Brownells Magni Tip screw drivers, basically all the previously listed stuff, plus a few additions. Both in .36 and .44 Caliber. I'm going to get a Piano Fishing Tackle box, with slotted trays, on both sides to carry/organize all this stuff in. A smaller size will also serve as a Range Box. I've done that for years with my cartridge weapons and it works.

In addition to the Uberti 1851 Colt Navy, I acquired a Uberti 1847 Colt Walker and of course a Mendi "Dueling" Muzzle Loading, Spanish Pistol, in .36 Cal. The Spanish Lady ought to be a hoot to shoot.

Next week I have to make it to a Membership Meeting for a local Outdoor range club and get a membership. Then I'm hauling the ladies out to range and going to burn some black powder. The vacation money has been well spent and I'm holding off on any new purchases, unless of course I run into a Cunningham or a good deal on a Remington.

Thanks for all the information.
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Old August 4, 2010, 06:33 PM   #48
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I'm thinking of buying my first ball and cap revolver (clone of a Colt Navy), this was very helpful .
"Keep the Vaseline off the guns, and keep the guns out of the oven." -Bill DeShivs

"Stock padding? Mosin not cater to girly men. Mosin tough like hammer, take abuse, keep fighting. Defend homeland!!!" -spetznaz1337
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Old August 4, 2010, 07:32 PM   #49
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Sarge, don't think any more, just go ahead and do it!
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Old August 4, 2010, 09:55 PM   #50
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Haha. Well there are a few other guns I have been looking at. This will most likely be the one I get because it's only $150. I'm a bit short on cash .
"Keep the Vaseline off the guns, and keep the guns out of the oven." -Bill DeShivs

"Stock padding? Mosin not cater to girly men. Mosin tough like hammer, take abuse, keep fighting. Defend homeland!!!" -spetznaz1337
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