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Bisley Joe

Cap and Ball for Competition?

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Howdy!

Totally new to cap and ball revolvers.

I'm considering using 1851 Navies for my main pistols: the cap and ball versions.

Using paper cartridges and pre-loading, I figure it should be fine, as you can't load up before being the next one up, and I don't see many reloading scenarios with the pistols. With a reloading scenario, I could have spare cylinder/s.

 

They just look and feel great, especially with a shorter barrel.

I've even been considering removing the loading lever and loading several cylinders using a rig. As it is, those levers seem pretty easy to remove/add with one screw.

 

I was looking at the Colt Cartridge Works .36 Caliber Bullet Mold at Bonanza.com

https://www.bonanza.com/listings/Colt-Cartridge-Works-36-Caliber-Bullet-Mold-for-Civil-War-Revolvers/671833741

 

But have heard that regular balls are more or just as accurate, and even less expensive to shoot.

 

Also, there's the CSA Richmond Laboratories .36 cal Bullet Mold

https://www.bonanza.com/listings/CSA-Richmond-Laboratories-36-cal-Bullet-Mold/663333233

 

They looked promising, but a review on youtube showed them to seemingly be considerably less accurate than the aforementioned Colt Cartridge Works.

 

Again, I'll be using homemade paper cartridges for these pistols.

 

Also looking at the SliXshot Black Powder Nipples, and the mod to the revolver using the pin under the hammer.

 

So...

 

What's your experience with these pistols?

 

I've heard good and bad, but honestly they seem to be very accurate, cheap to shoot, and lots of fun, with cartridges having the only real advantage of faster reloading (which doesn't seem to matter in SASS, at least for pistols). Like all the nightmare tales I heard about flintlocks, the bad information seems to come from not loading the firearms as they were intended. I have found even flintlocks to be extremely reliable and accurate.

 

Have also considered converting the Navies to .38, but after all is said and done, it would be about the same cost to buy pre-made "conversions" without any time and frustration, and the cap and ball is fun. Plus, Wild Bill Hickok did quite fine with a pair of .36 Navy revolvers.

 

So the question is really...

 

Does anyone here shoot these, and how do balls compare to the conical bullets, like the ones above?

 

 

Thanks!

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Hi Bisley 

I shoot a 51 and 61 navy.  Whether you go pietta or uberti you or a smith will need to perform work on them to make them function proficiently.  Adding the Manhattan conversion or a cap rake will make your life a lot easier. Conicals are a waste of money as round balls hit our targets just fine.  

 

But it what do I know, I’m from god damn New Jersey 

Ymmv

Gringo

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Thanks El Diablo Gringo! That's good to know!

I plan on casting my own balls then, despite the awkward way that rolls off the tongue/keyboard...

and using paper cartridges with the cookie between the ball and powder.

 

How do I know what size to use/cast? I'd like to have that little ring left over to seal the chambers. I'm a bit paranoid about chain fires!

Do you recommend a certain make of ball mold?

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Lots of Cap & Ball threads of late. Be sure to look at the first 2-3 pages of the Wire to find them.

 

 

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For my 36s I use 375 round balls.  Leaves a nice shave ring. I load powder, wonder lube wad then ball. No failure to fire or chain fires. Knock on wood

cap and ball is a lot of fun, enjoy it

Gringo

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58 minutes ago, Bisley Joe said:

 I figure it should be fine, as you can't load up before being the next one up.

Everyone I know shooting C & B pistols loads powder & ball shortly after finishing shooting a stage. You can't cap your pistols until at the loading table but powder & ball can be loaded any time.

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Bisley Joe,

 

It is perfectly legal to load a C&B cylinder with powder and ball between stages. What you cannot do is cap them until you are at the loading table. A cylinder is not considered loaded until you have seated a cap on the cone. Once you have capped the first chamber it is now considered a loaded firearm and should be treated as such.  DO NOT cap a cylinder out of the gun and then attempt to install it. There are way too many chances for a mishap to occur.

 

Easiest way is to load your cylinders the night before or arrive early and do it before the safety meeting.  Then when it is your time to step up to the loading table all you have to do is seat the caps and load your rifle.

After you have shot the first stage and have cleared you firearms take a little time and load powder and ball before putting everything away and doing posse chores. with just a little practice, you can load both pistols in the time it take 4 to 6 shooters to complete their course of fire.

 

Ask arround and find another C&B shooter to mentor you just a little bit. You will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is.

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Thanks pards!

I guess doing a Pale Rider Reload is not allowed then!

 

I'll probably make some kind of loading station that attaches to my gun cart-sans the caps. I'll be using paper cartridges, so that should be even faster!

Seems like a fun thing to try regardless!

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17 minutes ago, Sedalia Dave said:

Bisley Joe,

 

It is perfectly legal to load a C&B cylinder with powder and ball between stages. What you cannot do is cap them until you are at the loading table. A cylinder is not considered loaded until you have seated a cap on the cone. Once you have capped the first chamber it is now considered a loaded firearm and should be treated as such.  DO NOT cap a cylinder out of the gun and then attempt to install it. There are way too many chances for a mishap to occur.

 

Easiest way is to load your cylinders the night before or arrive early and do it before the safety meeting.  Then when it is your time to step up to the loading table all you have to do is seat the caps and load your rifle.

After you have shot the first stage and have cleared you firearms take a little time and load powder and ball before putting everything away and doing posse chores. with just a little practice, you can load both pistols in the time it take 4 to 6 shooters to complete their course of fire.

 

Ask arround and find another C&B shooter to mentor you just a little bit. You will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is.

Yep, what Dave said.

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Actually, it “kinda” is. I have three cylinders for my 1860 Army and load all three before the match. The other two are back-ups or for a quick change over when I get behind and need help in other areas. Just take it up to the loading table with you and swap out the cylinders and the empty goes into the pocket.

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Think long and hard about shooting .36's.

 

If you do get used to having misses called and people asking if you loaded any lead or just powder:(

 

You can get Pietta 51's in 44 and I wish that is what I did when I bought a pair of Pietta 5" barrel .36's.

 

Having said that I love my 51 and 61 7.5" Uberti's, and the 5" Pietta's (I also have 3" barrels for those). I have a hoot firing them I just dont worry about the calls:P

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Lot's of great info!

Thanks!

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2 hours ago, Tyrel Cody said:

On the Pietta sight it says:

 

What size ball do I use in my revolver ?
 


.36 caliber revolvers use a .375 ball.

 

http://www.pietta.us/faq/index.html

 

Does .380 work better?

2 hours ago, Tyrel Cody said:

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, Major Crimes said:

Major Crimes: "Think long and hard about shooting .36's. If you do get used to having misses called and people asking if you loaded any lead or just powder:("

 

I don't understand. From my experience, the .36 is very accurate. Are you having misfires and/or poor accuracy with your .36 pistols?

 

Edited by Bisley Joe

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3 minutes ago, Bisley Joe said:

Lot's of great info!

Thanks!

You might want to check out the White Mountain Old west Shootist club for some help on making your decision. Monty Rio shoots Frontiersman and they are a good bunch of cowboys to shoot with!

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Where's the best place to get soft pure lead? I was thinking of using tire weights, but seems-from what I'm reading, that those are too hard a lead for these pistols.

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Its not an accuracy issue with .36 navies, but sometimes the spotters don't hear / see the smaller .36 cal hits when the shots are masked with smoke and flame!

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2 minutes ago, Captain Clark said:

You might want to check out the White Mountain Old west Shootist club for some help on making your decision. Monty Rio shoots Frontiersman and they are a good bunch of cowboys to shoot with!

Thanks for reminding me! I'll look into them, and Monte Rio, for advice asap.

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Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, Captain Clark said:

Its not an accuracy issue with .36 navies, but sometimes the spotters don't hear / see the smaller .36 cal hits when the shots are masked with smoke and flame!

Well, we may have to make a rule that spotters have to wear hearing aids for .36 shooters! Or maybe stand beside the targets, just to make sure the hits and misses are true!

Screen Shot 2019-06-08 at 11.33.06 PM.jpg

Edited by Bisley Joe
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1 hour ago, Bisley Joe said:

 

 

1 hour ago, Captain Clark said:

Its not an accuracy issue with .36 navies, but sometimes the spotters don't hear / see the smaller .36 cal hits when the shots are masked with smoke and flame!

 

What CC said.

Heavier and fixed targets dont move and often dont ring when hit with 36's.

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Like most I like my 36 cal Navy to shoot. Great pointing gun and just plain fun to shoot. With that said I am  thinking that I will not use them for major matches. Last match I used them got called for three misses on one stage. They were deflections into the ground off of some targets set at an angle. Spotters were attentive but just plain did not see a hit or hear one but sure saw the ball hit the dirt. Happened a few other time in the match.

Have a 51 navy in 44 from Pietta that I am going to use more. Still enjoy the cap and ball!

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Welcome to the Dark Side (we have cookies :P),

 

Cap 'n ball pistols are the most enjoyable way I've found to play this game; plus, if you're a history buff, it's amazing how long they stayed around in common use after the introduction of the 1873 Peacemaker (not available to civilians until late 1875. . . )  They're fun to shoot, easy to clean, balance beautifully, look great, make smoke and are simple to operate.  Anyway, to your questions:

 

You can always slick them up, but in my experience, a lot of that is merely window dressing.  With proper fitting caps, I experience very little cap-sucking or poor detonation of caps.  One thing I do is use a small needle to poke through the cone before I cap the revolver, then use a small wooden dowel to fully seat the cap down on the nipple.  That alone will make more of a difference than almost anything else.  I've never fooled with aftermarket nipples or the "cap trap" or anything else like that, and have had no issues provided I had properly fitting caps.  Only thing I've done is smooth out the groove in the hammer with a fine file, which does help.  Sometimes after a stage, the caps are still on so well that I have to pry them off at the unloading table.  Also, buy quality caps.  You'll notice the difference. 

 

Regarding the 1851s; the .36 caliber with a full load (about 20gr of black powder) hits pretty hard.  Oddly, that produces a higher pitched "DING" than the deeper "clang" that my .44 1860s often produce with 28gr of black.  One caveat is that I use the full-length barrels, which allows for the black powder to build up a bit more velocity and hence gives the ball some more push.  If you're not dead set on the short barrel, I highly recommend trying the 7.5" barrel Navies - they point beautifully for instinctive shooting!

 

As for loading, each manufacturer has some variance, but usually a .375 roundball is sufficient, plentiful and affordable.  You can get them from Cabela's, Track of the Wolf, or myriad of muzzleloading supplies vendors or you can mold your own.  Paper cartridges make life easier, but again, I'd recommend poking a hole through the cone and through the paper to ensure fast ignition.  I'm also a fan of Crisco on top of the chambers - it's CHEAP, keeps things moving smoothly and flat out works.  It can be a little messy in the warm months, but if you're shooting black powder, messy shouldn't be your worry.  Some folks argue against the need to lube the chambers due to the ring of lead left by the .375 ball or they ream out the chambers.  Well and good if that works for them, but I've seen enough "oops" moments when folks went that route, but have never seen an "oops" moment with a felt wad or grease on top of the chambers.  That makes up my mind to always grease - redundancy in safety is good.  As has been said before, you cap at the loading table - you'll usually load the pistols at a stage that's not being used.  Do it a few times, and you'll have the process down fast.  I usually use a flask, loose ball and Crisco carried in a saddle bag, load without a stand, and can get two revolvers ready in a fairly short time.  Practice will make you faster.  ;)

 

One small bit of advice: bring a small tool kit with you.  In the event you need to pull a cone out, remove a barrel, etc, it will be a big help to have a "just-in-case" bag with you. 

 

 

Above all else, keep your powder dry!

 

 

Wild Ben

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Wild Ben VanDorn said:

Some folks argue against the need to lube the chambers due to the ring of lead left by the .375 ball or they ream out the chambers.  Well and good if that works for them, but I've seen enough "oops" moments when folks went that route, but have never seen an "oops" moment with a felt wad or grease on top of the chambers.

 

 

It's not real fun when 5 go off at once :wacko:

 

I find that .375 balls fall out of the chamber of the .36 Piettas, so use .380 for best results.

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9 minutes ago, Wild Ben VanDorn said:

Welcome to the Dark Side (we have cookies :P),

 

Cap 'n ball pistols are the most enjoyable way I've found to play this game; plus, if you're a history buff, it's amazing how long they stayed around in common use after the introduction of the 1873 Peacemaker (not available to civilians until late 1875. . . )  They're fun to shoot, easy to clean, balance beautifully, look great, make smoke and are simple to operate.  Anyway, to your questions:

 

You can always slick them up, but in my experience, a lot of that is merely window dressing.  With proper fitting caps, I experience very little cap-sucking or poor detonation of caps.  One thing I do is use a small needle to poke through the cone before I cap the revolver, then use a small wooden dowel to fully seat the cap down on the nipple.  That alone will make more of a difference than almost anything else.  I've never fooled with aftermarket nipples or the "cap trap" or anything else like that, and have had no issues provided I had properly fitting caps.  Only thing I've done is smooth out the groove in the hammer with a fine file, which does help.  Sometimes after a stage, the caps are still on so well that I have to pry them off at the unloading table.  Also, buy quality caps.  You'll notice the difference. 

 

Regarding the 1851s; the .36 caliber with a full load (about 20gr of black powder) hits pretty hard.  Oddly, that produces a higher pitched "DING" than the deeper "clang" that my .44 1860s often produce with 28gr of black.  One caveat is that I use the full-length barrels, which allows for the black powder to build up a bit more velocity and hence gives the ball some more push.  If you're not dead set on the short barrel, I highly recommend trying the 7.5" barrel Navies - they point beautifully for instinctive shooting!

 

As for loading, each manufacturer has some variance, but usually a .375 roundball is sufficient, plentiful and affordable.  You can get them from Cabela's, Track of the Wolf, or myriad of muzzleloading supplies vendors or you can mold your own.  Paper cartridges make life easier, but again, I'd recommend poking a hole through the cone and through the paper to ensure fast ignition.  I'm also a fan of Crisco on top of the chambers - it's CHEAP, keeps things moving smoothly and flat out works.  It can be a little messy in the warm months, but if you're shooting black powder, messy shouldn't be your worry.  Some folks argue against the need to lube the chambers due to the ring of lead left by the .375 ball or they ream out the chambers.  Well and good if that works for them, but I've seen enough "oops" moments when folks went that route, but have never seen an "oops" moment with a felt wad or grease on top of the chambers.  That makes up my mind to always grease - redundancy in safety is good.  As has been said before, you cap at the loading table - you'll usually load the pistols at a stage that's not being used.  Do it a few times, and you'll have the process down fast.  I usually use a flask, loose ball and Crisco carried in a saddle bag, load without a stand, and can get two revolvers ready in a fairly short time.  Practice will make you faster.  ;)

 

One small bit of advice: bring a small tool kit with you.  In the event you need to pull a cone out, remove a barrel, etc, it will be a big help to have a "just-in-case" bag with you. 

 

 

Above all else, keep your powder dry!

 

 

Wild Ben

 

 

Thanks for that very useful information!

 

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2 minutes ago, Tyrel Cody said:

 

It's not real fun when 5 go off at once :wacko:

 

I find that .375 balls fall out of the chamber of the .36 Piettas, so use .380 for best results.

I'll look for a .380 mold for roundball.

Thanks.

 

PS

Where do you all get the lead to mold the balls? I was thinking of using some tire balancing weights, but I think that lead is too hard.

Any suggestions?

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Just now, Bisley Joe said:

I'll look for a .380 mold for roundball.

Thanks.

 

PS

Where do you all get the lead to mold the balls? I was thinking of using some tire balancing weights, but I think that lead is too hard.

Any suggestions?

 

I don't cast. 

 

Tire weight have a lot of zinc in them nowadays.

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Posted (edited)
39 minutes ago, Bisley Joe said:

I'll look for a .380 mold for roundball.

Thanks.

 

PS

Where do you all get the lead to mold the balls? I was thinking of using some tire balancing weights, but I think that lead is too hard.

Any suggestions?

LEE Presicion makes them. I use thier .454 and .457 molds for the 1860 and 1847.

 

There are several places to get pure lead, RotoMetals for one. Plumbers lead, BHN of 7, is what I use. I use a grease cookie over the shot to keep the powder fouling wet.

Edited by Will Killya
added a word

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Thanks.

 

I'm thinking of going this route for the paper cartridges... Just have to figure out a recipe for the lube for the felt wads. It has to be sticky.

 

 

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I see lots of good information above already.  My .02 is

 

I use .375 round balls in my Piettas and still get a lead ring around the chamber face when I load.

 

I've tried the paper cartridges route, and it may save a little time loading, but overall it's not worth the hassle of making them.  I use a powder flask, loose round balls and Crisco.  I usually try to work the unloading table and can reload the chambers in about the time it takes to check 4-5 shooters.

 

My life hack - I use an empty toothpaste tube, clean it out and put Crisco in it for lubing the loaded chambers.  Melt the Crisco and pour it into the tube to solidify.

 

Angus

p.s.  LEAVE FRONTIERSMAN ALONE!  (Added for Noz who is away from the wire for a while)  :)  

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Welcome back BJ!

Lee makes a two cavity mold with handles that sells for $20 or less and casts .380 balls. I have a Lee bottom pour furnace that is dedicated to roundball casting and has never seen anything but pure lead. You must use pure lead!! Some wheelweights, such as the stickon ones that conform to the wheel's curvature, are pure lead but most wheelweights are not. Old lead water pipes are pure lead and my favorite source of pure lead is the lead sheathing from the old bundled telephone cables. It's a good idea to melt the water pipes in something other than your furnace to keep debris out of the valve. I use an old dutch oven and skim the junk before pouring ingots to use in the furnace.

I shoot 2nd gen. 1860 Army Colts when shooting traditional cap and ball due to the spotter issues, but I like shooting .36's and am going to try a pair of '62 Pocket Police soon.

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Posted (edited)

I have been having a blast playing Josey Wales with my cap guns. I picked the Uberti’s .36 ‘51 a .44 ‘60 and 2 Walkers. 

I did my own novice clean up of the actions and addressed the short arbor issues. I found 20 gr with a fiber wad in the ‘51 is max and actually gets hard to seat the ball after a few cylinders. 15 gr in a paper cartridge rang the bell 30 put of 30.

I spent time making paper cartridges using Cliff Manley formers but think the time saved at the shoot was negligible. 

I tried a loading stand then moved to in hand loading. Each trip gets smoother and I gradually find what does and doesn’t work. I found over thinking is my down fall. 

Have fun with it. 

Edited by John E.B. Rawton
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Posted (edited)

Actual testing as the cause and prevention of chain fires.

 

Now I don't agree with some the advice in later pages but the info on the page above seems to be sound. 

 

Never seat caps with your fingers. There was a picture posted a couple of years ago by a shooter that had a cap go off while seating it with his thumb. Earned him the alias of Split Thumb. Buy a capper and use it along with a non metalic push stick. Note that it is a PUSH stick and not a jam it on stick.

 

I love the Polish Capper. Costs a little more but worth it in my opinion.

 

 

I know of at least one long time C&B shooter that loads all six chambers and has never had a chain fire from leaving one of them uncapped.

 

I know another long time C&B shooter that doesn't use any water to clean his pistols. Cleans them with an oil moisten rag, tooth brush and cleaning patches. 

 

LEAVE FRONTIERSMAN ALONE!  (Shamelessly stolen from a previous post in honor of Noz)

Edited by Sedalia Dave
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Bisley Joe said:

Thanks.

 

I'm thinking of going this route for the paper cartridges... Just have to figure out a recipe for the lube for the felt wads. It has to be sticky.

 

 

I use a Cliff Manley Paper Cartridge Forming Die and forgo the wad. I use Emmert's Lube that I make into cookies over the shot. 50% pure bees wax, 40% lard (or crisco, I just use unsalted lard), 10% canola or olive oil.

Edited by Will Killya
Cliff, not Chris
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Odd Man out here.  Since I shoot Subs (APP) I am able to for go all the hassle with "lubes."  APP Makes it's own lube.  My only addition to the .36 discussion is putting up with called misses when you have actually hit the target.  36 ball is kind of quiet on impact.  More of a light "thunk" rather than a "KLANG."  I found a cure for that though.  EPP UG - 36 Big Lube Bullet.  Drops from the mold at 380 "as cast" and 90Gr weight.  Arrives at the target with a nice loud 38ish klang.  Added benefit, the EPP UG - 36, being a "Big Lube" carries a lot of lube.  Actually a shipping container of lube.  Pan lube and shoot as cast and you'll be amazed.  The bullet also has a step at the bottom that aids in squaring up the bullet for ramming.  If your gonna buy a mold to get .380 projectiles, try the ultimate .36 projectile.  Google Big Lube bullets.  (Shameless Plug for Dick Dastardly)

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Thanks again for more great advice! I'm gonna have to sift through all this and do some thinking!

 

Howdy Buffalo Dick! Thanks!

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