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Cap and Ball over ball lube & Minie Ball lube

Black Angus McPherson

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Just wondering what some of you cowboys use as a lube for over the loaded chamber of a cap and ball revolver, what type container you carry it in, and how you apply it.


I ask because I've been using Crisco in a cleaned out toothpaste tube. It's real convenient and easy to apply. The problem is Crisco melts at too low a temperature and is just a mess on hot days. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to firm up Crisco for a lube that will remain soft enough to dispense from a toothpaste tube, yet solid enough not to melt and make a mess on 100 degree days?


I'm also wondering what you use as a lube for a Minie Ball. It will be used in a .58 caliber Springfield repro. Would Crisco work for that?






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For over the ball lube in a C&B revolver the Crisco/Beeswax at 50-50 mix works well. Keep it in a small plastic container and apply it with an ice cream stick. It's easy to apply and stays stiff in hot weather.

For the Minnie well that's a different story. Here's all you ever need to know about that.

Posted By: Gatofeo <gunbench@trilobyte.net>

Date: Sunday, 9 December
2001, at 5:01 p.m.

The February 1943 issue of the American
Rifleman has two old-time bullet lube recipes.

If any of you have that hoary edition, they are within an excellent article on
bullet lubrication. Though nearly 60 years old, that article by R.C. Skaggs of
Sacramento, Calif., is still good reading today.

Both recipes date from the 19th century and were what factories used way back
when, according to Skaggs.


9 pounds Japan wax

4-1/2 pounds paraffin

4-1/2 pounds beeswax

This recipe can be converted to:

1 pound Japan wax

1/2 pound paraffin

1/2 pound beeswax

I have no experience with this recipe but
it's interesting. I hear that Japan wax may be found in the furniture
refinishing section of large hardware stores but have never looked for it
myself so I'm uncertain about this.

The next recipe I have a great deal of
experience with. It comes from the same article. It is for outside-lubricated
bullets but works well on all bullets, wads and patches.

I made up a batch a few years ago to lubricate the heeled bullets on a .32 Long
Colt for my 1892 Marlin rifle.

It worked great.

Since then, I've used it to lubricate patches in my .50-caliber muzzleloading
rifle, soaked hard felt wads in it for my .36 and .44 caliber cap and ball
revolvers, and lubricated soft lead bullets for my .44-40 and .45-70 rifles.

It's a good lube and difficult to tell from the commercial SPG Lubricant.


10 pounds paraffin

10 pounds tallow (I use sheep tallow from Dixie Gun Works)

5 pounds beeswax

This recipe may be converted into:

1 pound paraffin

1 pound tallow

1/2 pound beeswax

When mixing a batch, I simply weigh equal
amounts of paraffin and tallow, then use half of the same amount of beeswax.
That way, measures don't have to be exactly 1 pound. The same can be done with
the first recipe I've provided.

I place the ingredients in a wide-mouthed
quart jar. Then place the jar in an old pot partly filled with water, for a
double-boiler effect.

NEVER melt lubricant directly on the stove, it may catch fire.

Just in case, keep a box of baking soda handy but not near the stove so you don't
have to reach over flames to grab the box.

Set your stove to low or medium. The water doesn't have to boil, just be hot
enough to melt the ingredients thoroughly.

A disposable chopstick or clean stick is used to thoroughly mix the

When well-mixed, do as you please:

1. Cap the jar and store it in a cool, dry place.

2. Pour lubricant into a pan with bullets standing upright for the Kake-Kutter

3. Pour a little lubricant into a pimiento jar or small tin filled with felt
wads or patches and stir gently to spread the lubricant evenly. The glass jar
has the advantage of being placed in the microwave for 30 seconds to reheat it
and ensure the lubricant thoroughly soaks into the patches or wads.

4. Pour it directly into your bullet sizer, but put newspapers below the
lubricator to catch any spills. A friend holding a funnel while you pour keeps
the mess to a minimum.

I swear by this lubricant.


OR……3 pounds of Crisco and 2 toilet seals (preferably unused)

Per……Sgt. Smokepole


A heavily lubricated hard felt wad in my Colt
Navy .36 revolver will remove nearly all fouling from the bore, provided the
ball fits tightly. My circa 1983 Colt reissue Navy requires a .380 inch ball; a
.375 ball will work but isn't a tight fit and fouling builds much quicker.

I once popped the barrel off the Navy and showed a friend after 24 shots. He
was amazed; it looked as though I'd been shooting smokeless powder. This is
due, I believe, to the combination of a tight ball, hard felt wad and
lubricant. Fail on any of these components and fouling returns immediately.

Incidentally, the powder was GOEX FFFG and not Pyrodex.

Sheets of hard, 1/8-inch thick felt are
available from Buffalo Felt Products Corporation (14 Ransier Drive, West
Seneca, NY, 14224, phone: 716-674-7990).

I found Buffalo Felt Products on an internet search some time ago. An inquiry
made through their website will get you pricing information.

I used No. 1005 Sheet Felt.

Many black powder books simply say, "Get an old felt hat ..." but have
you tried to find one? I've looked in Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. and they
are quite scarce.

Desperation forced me to seek out a manufacturer and I'm glad I did. The felt
produced by Buffalo Felt Products is very high quality. At 1/8-inch thick, it's
perfect for cartridge and muzzleloader use.

Well, that's probably more than you want to
know but I put it out there nonetheless.

Try that second recipe, I'm sure you'll find it marvelous too.


tallow and beeswax, one-to-one, is an old recipe that probably goes back 200
years or more, or so I've been told. I know that goes back to the 19th century.

Since paraffin is
the hardest ingredient, with the highest melting temperature, it would do no
good to leave it out if you seek a higher melting point.

I'd say increase
the paraffin a bit, perhaps from 1 part to 1-1/2 (one and a half) parts.

So, the recipe
I've provided would change to:

200 grams mutton

300 grams

100 grams beeswax

This would raise
the melting temperature somewhat.

I've never had a
problem with powder contamination when using greased felt wads. My loads aren't
in the gun long enough to be affected, since I load and shoot right away.

Some years back,
I loaded my Colt Navy cylinder with FFFG, a felt wad greased with Crisco,
seated a lead ball over the wad and pinched caps into an oval and put them on
the nipples.

Then I left the
cylinder outdoors from spring to autumn, where it was protected from rain but
susceptible to moisture from the air and a wide range of temperatures (northern
Idaho days can be in the 80s and then drop to freezing at night). Some days
exceeded 100 in the shade.

As I recall, I
loaded it in May and fired it in October. I could find no weakness in the
loads, or evidence of powder contamination.

unchronographed rounds is hardly a scientific test for certainty. Yet, I can't
help but wonder if the minimal amount of grease in a wad has an effect.

Who knows?

Anyway, I'd look
at increasing the amount of paraffin. It has a lubricity on its own. Years ago
I used to soak felt wads in nothing BUT candle wax and shoot them in my .44 cap
and ball. Straight wax didn't do much to keep fouling soft, but it didn't lead
the bore,

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I've been shooting C&B for 12 years. Nothing on top of the ball. I soak wonder wads in a 50/50 mix of bees wax and crisco. Powder/wad/ball. I can shoot twelve stages without touching the gun.

I also lube the barrel and the cylinder pin with Bore Butter.


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Here's a great post on lubes from the Open Range Forum's BP reference library.


I use Carlos El,Hombre's for over the ball & Gatofeo's if I'm lubing wads to put between the powder & ball.


If I'm putting it on over the ball, I use a short bladed putty knife & carry it to the match in an old Esquire Mink Oil tin.


Cheep & easy.


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Crisco does melt at too low a temp to be effective and practical.


I put together a home made batch of stuff that is very effective not only as a "lube" but as a rust preventative material for all guns.


I use a combination off pure lanolin and beeswax. I do not use ANY hydrocarbon-based products because I've learned that black powder and hydrocarbon materials (oils, greases, etc.) are incompatible in bp weapons because hydrocarbons flashing with bp generally combine to form that nasty, sticky asphaltine fouling in bp weapons.


Rowdy apparently been experiencing great results using paraffin, however, paraffin is a hydrocarbon-based material. As they say though, your mileage may vary.


Anyway, I advise you to try what you think will work best for you, modifying the mixtures to fit your needs.


I found pure lanolin on eBay. My beeswax is local.


Should you decide to try this lanolin/beeswax mixture, I suggest you begin with with a 50/50 blend ... maybe a couple tablespoons of each and melt it together. If you find that sheep's tallow, (a component that Rowdy mentioned) is more readily available, I am guessing it would be a good substitute for the lanolin in my suggestion. After all, both lanolin and sheep's tallow come from sheep.


ALSO............lanolin, on its own, rubbed on my bp guns and on the internals, protects them from corrosion and lubricates them. Doesn't have to be applied very often, either.


I advise that before you begin to use any of these suggestions, that you clean the hydrocarbon greases and oils off your bp weapons with hot, soapy water and begin fresh with whatever new recipe you choose. That way, any residual hydrocarbons will not be a factor in any fouling you experience.


As far as a container goes, I's say use whatever is most convenient for you. I keep it in a flat plastic jar. I imagine an old toothpaste tube would work as well, since that's what you are using now.

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Forget about greasing over the bullet. Just punch out 0.44 felt wads. Melt your favorite lube in a tin can -put wads in to saturate and then put wads on paper toweling and pat out the excess lube

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OK, I'll bite. How does one get one's lube into an old Toothpaste Tube??? Is this similar to Pushing Rope, or perhaps Hearding Cats??



I'm glad YOU asked!


Perhaps a big veterinary syringe...??

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I'm glad YOU asked!


Perhaps a big veterinary syringe...??

Once it's in the veterinary syringe, why would you need to transfer it to a toothpaste tube? ^_^

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I use a 50/50 crisco/bees wax mix. I apply it with the universal popcycle stick (I have lots of them). BAM - I have enough bees wax to give you for a large amount of this mix. Stop by and I cut off a chunk and give you a demonstration of what to do.


STL Suomi.

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Back in the dark ages (1961) when the Civil War Centennial began a bunch of us started shooting C&B. At that time I lived in rural Virginia and a lot of the farms still had the old hand pumped water pumps. They had a water soluable water pump grease. We used that and it worked great. Haven't seen it available anywhere for many years. Most of the "water pump" grease you can still find is for old cars and it is not water soluable.

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OK, I'll bite. How does one get one's lube into an old Toothpaste Tube??? Is this similar to Pushing Rope, or perhaps Hearding Cats??



It's not really as hard as it sounds. After cleaning out the tube, blow air into it to expand the tube. Then you melt the crisco in a kind of double boiler like described above, pour it in using a funnel and let it cool. You might want to mark the tube so you don't try brushing your teeth with it. :-)



I'll give you a call about the beeswax. I'm hoping I can make it thick enough to not melt in the heat, yet still fluid enough to dispense from the toothpaste tube.


I may try it out in Highland in October.





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