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Old December 25, 2007, 01:16 PM   #1
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shelf life for loaded bp revolver

It was about five to six months ago when I loaded two bp revolvers. the Colt .36 stayed at my parents house (they didn't have a SD pistol and figured it was better than nothing), and the Remmy .44 stayed home with me.
I decided today that they needed fresh powder in them so I took them out to shoot.
I pulled the trigger on the .36 five times and it went bang five times. The cap failed on the first round on the .44 and the nipple was full of something resembling split pea soup, after that was cleaned out all five rounds went bang.
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Old December 25, 2007, 08:48 PM   #2
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There's been loaded rifle barrels dug up that've been buried for 150 years or more that still have good powder in them. I had an original 58 Remington that was found in a barn with all six loaded. I pulled the bullets and the powder was still good.
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Old December 26, 2007, 05:58 AM   #3
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Before I could get a modern hand gun "back in the 80's" I used to use my Pietta 1860 Army as a Home Defence weapon & some times would have it loaded for nearly a year & all 5 loaded chambers would still fire.

Once I had my Stone Mountain 1851 Navy .44 loaded for nearly 8 years "kinda forgotten about it sitting in the back of my safe" but when I took her out to empty the loads she fired all 5 shots just as reliably as it would have if loaded that very day.

It's mostly how you store them will determin the answer to your question, after loading the chambers with powder, wad & ball "or shot" & then capping them I will take some finger nail polish & go around the cap & nipples to seal off any possible moisture that could enter there, if you take a little more time in your loading process & know it's weaknesses & over come them they can be as reliable "within reason" & as moisture resistent as a modern cartridge firearm,.

Today I sometimes will carry my 1860 Army or my 1858 New Army "depending on which one is loaded at the time, yes I still keep one of em loaded although I don't need to" into the back woods with me when ever I'm checking traps or scouting the area for a new stand sight, & on one occasion have dispatched a coyote with a very reliable .44 ball shot.

Just like any handgun that you intend to use for self defence, the person should shoot it at least once a month minimum to be proficient enough with it to know that if & when the time comes that the use of the weapon is necessary can defend them selves reliably & accurately...

Last edited by Raider2000; December 26, 2007 at 08:42 AM.
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Old December 26, 2007, 05:42 PM   #4
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You have to wonder about in the old days, if everyone did clear and reload their guns daily or regularly. I would guess someone carrying in the big war probably cleared and cleaned and reloaded quite often as they were in the field, and the guns were exposed to the elements etc. Same for hunters. Now if someone were keeping a loaded pistol in a bureau drawer like in more modern times, I would suspect it did not get changed alot and still probably went bang when and if called on? Suppose that what you use for lube and how well the powder and primer are protected makes a difference. Some lubes will presumably contaminate the powder and primers just like it would in modern ammo. Given enough time it would result in misfires. Interesting experiment to try or perhaps some expert advice is needed from old timers on this. No one alive that has extensive experience with loads left long term that I know of. Everyone usually shoots fairly soon after loading nowadays.
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