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Cap-N-Ball question. Strength of brass frames.


Boondock Saint, #70146

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I am sure that this topic has been covered before. Brass frames are obviously weaker than steel frames. With that being said, Pietta makes a copy of the Griswold and Gunnison. In a .36 caliber, with an 18 to 20 grain load, what are your thoughts on how this revolver will hold up? Not in a 3 to 4 match a month scenario, but more like maybe 4 to 6 matches a year.

 

Thanks,

Boondock

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Hey BS:

It should hold up fine.

However, 36s don't need that much.

When I was target shooting a .36, most folks used 12 grains FFFg.

15 grains FFFg is what I use in .36s

--Dawg

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I suspect you will wear out before the guns do.

 

I have been shooting a pair of Pietta .44 Navy brassers with 20 grain loads and see no evidence of frame damage.

 

The Henry is a brass framed rifle...I have not heard anyone complaining about Henries being damaged.

 

I'm sure it can happen with max loads over a period of several years, but under the conditions you will be using it frame damage from those light loads just should not happen.

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In my experience, the arbors of brass revolvers eventually loosen up.

Never seen a steel gun with a loose arbor, altho I'm sure it happens.

Keeping the loads on the lighter side is easier on the arbor attachment to the receiver.

In my experience, cap guns are also more accurate with lighter loads.

--Dawg

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Prairie Dawg has it right. (hi Dawg) My experience is moderate loads in my 36 and 44 brass frames are very accurate. the FFFG works great, I have been using 12 to 13 gr. in the 36 and 14 in the 44. a little light but man they do tend to hit 1.5 hole groups at 20 yrd

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I have been told by a long time brass frame '51 shooter is that the worst thing for them is the loading lever process, especially with higher alloy lead balls (more force required to seat).

 

Seems to make some sense to me, but not certain. Anyome have experience on this?

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Use only pure lead balls. Wheelweight lead will put too much strain on the rammer, and will not "bump up" to groove size and seal the bore when fired. I know a lot of shooters remove the cylinder and load hard alloy balls off the gun, but it seems like extra bother to me. I enjoy doing it the way the gun was designed.

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I have a pair of brass sheriff model 51's in .44 cal and load 20 grains of either FFF or FF. I was warned the brass frames would not hold up! They have held up just fine though many matches. I believe that as long as I keep the charge 20 grains or less they will hold up for a very long time. Hopefully the arbors in time will not be an issue?

 

When loading I remove the cylinders and use a press, but only because I have extra cylinders and it provides an opportunity to wipe the guns down with a baby wipe in between stages.

 

Tully

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Pietta makes a copy of the Griswold and Gunnison. In a .36 caliber, with an 18 to 20 grain load, what are your thoughts on how this revolver will hold up?

Boondock - follow the load instructions and it will out last you. But be warned about 36 calibers and their powder charges ... if you have a scenario with knock down plates, be prepared to have many misses. I shoot 44 caliber 51 Navy Colts with a 140gr RB and even these heavier balls & charge don't knock the plates down unless the ball hits the plate EXACTLY in the fulcrum point

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The Henry is a brass framed rifle...I have not heard anyone complaining about Henries being damaged.

Howdy

 

Read Mike Venturino's book Shooting Lever Guns of the Old West. He describes a used 44-40 brass framed Henry that he was interested in buying. Before he got a chance to buy it, the owner took it out and fired one magazine full of high powered loads through it. The frame stretched, ruining the headspacing. The rifle was junk after that. Brass framed Henry rifles are fine with SAAMI spec loads, but put too much powder in and you will stretch the frame.

 

Regarding brass framed 44 cal 'Navy' revolvers. I bought my first one in 1968. Back then nobody was warning about problems loading them with full charges. Too many 40 grain loads ruined that gun. Whether it is the arbor that moved, or the frame stretched, the gun is now a wall hanger.

 

If you want to save money buying a brass framed revolver, keep the loads light. Or else, buy a steel framed gun.

 

And only use pure lead balls in a C&B. Anything harder will put stress on the loading lever and one of the pivots may let go.

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I load my '51s with 20gr (3F BP, APP or Pinnacle), and pure lead balls. This accomplishes two things:

 

1. Spotters hear and see a louder, harder hit (15gr barely sounds with a soft, pure lead ball on a large steel target),

2. When faced with knockdown pistol targets (plate racks, etc), I have always been able to take them- if I hit in the center or above.

 

When I shot 15gr pure lead balls in my '51s (~82gr), I had trouble with both of those. 15gr does work well in 38 spl BP cartridge (125gr TC), however.

 

Harvey

Who started with 15gr, and LOVEs the '51s & '61s!

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Sometime ago I wrote an article about the headaches of getting back my permit when moving back to Ct. In the interrum I bought a couple of Pietta Shheriffs with brass frames. They worked so well with a twenty five to thirty grain load and .44 lead ball that I actually had a good enough time with them to buy some extra cylinders to ease loading on the line.

 

So, here's my two cents;

 

If you're doing only several matches a year you'll be fine.

 

You gotta keep your loads within spec...enough to hear a gong but not enough to wear the gun out

 

They go great with a Yellow Boy. Sort of like cream in coffee or an olive in a martini

 

Dig up Logans Ferry Regulators in a search or via SASS clubs, and find a video showing a guy named Rowdy Bovine banging away with his Walkers. He's my black powder hero. As far as I know, he can pollute the air of a whole town within one match and he is downright inspirational when it comes to having fun with the dark side.

 

If you have also done Rendezvous or Muzzleloading, then you're a little ahead of the game. You can dig out some of your stuff from mountain man or early west and use it. Your John Wayne or Paladin stuff won't go, tho.

 

Lastly, and most importantly, you are actually safer driving to local or interstate matches with BP handguns. The Liberals, God Bless 'em, haven't figured out that folks really died during the civil war with these things, so there is actually exemption languages in a lot of the stupid gun laws that have been written. Always document where and when you're going, tho, and keep the proof in the front seat when travelling

 

Enjoy your revolving pistols, pard

 

Capgun

 

 

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The brass frame will eventually stretch to the point of the gun being out of timing. There is a good deal of force on the end of the arbor as the gun fires with any load.

I shoot two Pietta 1851s in .44 with no issues. Many people believe that the 1851 is the most natural pointing of all Colts for most shooters.

If I wanted to shoot .36s, I would shoot full loads of BP under the standard round ball for most stages and keep a box of conicals in my carts for stages with knockdowns. You can buy the conicals from Dixie Gun Works.

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