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Bart Slade

Frontiersman / Helping Out

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I've got a question about "pitching in", and it especially applies to shooting Frontiersman (which I plan to do in the future);

 

How do you balance "helping out" with "taking forever to reload"?

 

I've already been to a couple of shoots where there were only 9 or 10 shooters to a posse....so if you figure 3 spotters, a TO, a scorekeeper, one person shooting, one person unloading, one person loading, and one on deck - that's 9 people going full time.  How do you find time to reload in a situation like that?  Or do you bring backup pistols and shoot Frontier Cartridge with a small posse?

 

My personal goal (shooting Frontier Cartridge now) is to spot for at least 5 other people (I personally classify anyone who does less as a deadbeat) to cover for the 5 people working when I was shooting.  In a posse of 10, I have a hard time just cleaning my guns between stages (I shoot Remmington NMA conversions, which gum up right quick shooting BP).  I don't know how I'd find time to load a cap and ball pistol.   And I don't think packing 12 pre-loaded cylinders to a match is my solution.

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The loading table people watch each other.

The unloading person clears the next shooter.  Then the current shooter clears the next guy, etc

or

you can watch the unloading table while you load your guns.

It takes very little time to verify that guns are clear, so you just stop what you are doing and check his guns.

Sounds more difficult than it really is.

--Dawg

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I always arranged to work the unloading table. I can usually clear my guns and then reload/recharge my cap guns in the time it takes to clear two shooters.

 

It takes a little organization and preparation. I have a box that fits in my gun cart that has all of my possibles in compartments. I set it on the unloading table when I arrive at the stage and that way it’s waiting on me when I get finished shooting the stage.

 

If you work the unloading table, you get to meet most of the shooters on your posse.

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I try to  shoot 1st or as close as I can, only takes 3-5 shooters to load my cap guns. Leaves plenty of time  to spot or run the timer.

Rafe

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So here's a couple things that you can do to speed up your load times. Roll paper cartridges prior to the match. Having them cuts load time in half or more. As mentioned work the unloading table so you can charge your cylinders while still performing posse duties.  You can always hire a caddy to load them for you. lol. 

As far as cleaning your NMA between stages, are you shooting true BP or a sub? I'm running cimarron NMA conversions and dont have to bother wiping them down between stages on a standard 6 stage day. but that's shooting true bp with a grease cookie under the lead. I'm running 20gr of 2F with a dry wad then fill with grease cookie to the bottom of the 200gr rnfp. nice tight crimp and send it. Also if no one's mentioned it annealing your straight wall brass helps immensely with the blow by.  

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One of our cap gun shooters sets up next to unloading table with his cart that has a reloading stand built in. He does unloading table duties between reloading.   Pretty much his dedicated spot.  

 

I shot my cap guns a month or so back.  I'm not well set up to do it efficiently.  I have to take my guns to an unused stage where I have a table to work on. 

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Work the first stage and be the last to shoot.  You should be able to get one gun reloaded as the posse moves to the next stage.  Reload the second gun, rejoin the posse, relieve someone so they can shoot, and be the last shooter again.  Continue the procedure on each stage.  You can do any posse chore this way.

 

 I don’t mess with extra cylinders or taking the cylinder out of the gun to use a separate press.  I charge the chambers with the loading lever on the gun.  Everything I need is carried in a possibles bag, and I use a table on the previous or next stage,  I can reload and return to my posse in the time it takes 2 shooters to shoot the stage.  

 

Good for you wanting to pull your own weight!!  The few lazy Frontiersman out there give the rest of us an undeserved reputation for being slow!!

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20 minutes ago, Turkey Flats Jack said:

As far as cleaning your NMA between stages, are you shooting true BP or a sub? I'm running cimarron NMA conversions and dont have to bother wiping them down between stages on a standard 6 stage day. but that's shooting true bp with a grease cookie under the lead. I'm running 20gr of 2F with a dry wad then fill with grease cookie to the bottom of the 200gr rnfp. nice tight crimp and send it. Also if no one's mentioned it annealing your straight wall brass helps immensely with the blow by.  

I'm running true BP (Goex 3F).  I'm loading 25 grains with .7cc of filler (grits), lube on the bullet only.  If I don't clean them, the last couple of rounds on a second stage they are noticeably harder to cock - so I haven't tried pushing it past that.

 

I'm probably exaggerating a bit on how long it takes to clean them; I generally pop the cylinders out when unloading and wipe the base pin down.  Only "feels" like it takes a long time because I generally just barely get done before the next shooter is ready to unload...and I like to be out of their way.  I also probably spend an excess of time wiping the cylinders down, which don't particularly need it.

 

I do like the idea of just working next to the loading / unloading table and spot checking; good way to pitch in while recharging the pistols.  Think that's the way I'll go when the time comes.

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2 minutes ago, Bart Slade said:

I'm running true BP (Goex 3F).  I'm loading 25 grains with .7cc of filler (grits)

 

Right there's where your fouling is coming from. When I ran grits or cornmeal as a filler I would have to wipe them down every other stage as well. since switching to a grease cookie I haven't had a need to. It does add to the total time of reloading your shells but it's well worth it IMO. 

 

Also are you running the grits from the food section of the grocery store? I've heard if you buy these ones from your favorite reloading shop it doesnt foul up as much. :D

 

 

bp cream of wheat.jpg

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1 minute ago, Turkey Flats Jack said:

When I ran grits or cornmeal as a filler I would have to wipe them down every other stage as well. since switching to a grease cookie I haven't had a need to. It does add to the total time of reloading your shells but it's well worth it IMO. 

 

Thanks for the advice!  Still messing around with my loads...shot a match 3 week ago with 35gn 3F...and found out why everybody calls the NMA a knuckle-buster!  Don't have that problem now that I'm down to 25gn.

 

 

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45 minutes ago, Bart Slade said:

I'm running true BP (Goex 3F).  I'm loading 25 grains with .7cc of filler (grits), lube on the bullet only.  

 

Smear some lube over the bullet after it’s seated on the powder.  It will splash out and keep the barrel/cylinder gap lubed.  Wipe off the cylinder face with a damp rag before recharging the chambers— no need to disassemble the gun.

 

This should speed up your reloading time.

 

 I shot 6 all stages at Border Wars last weekend as a Frontiersman, and worked every stage.  It can be done.  (I also won the category over a great competitor so reloading quickly did not hurt my ranking.)

 

Edited by J-BAR #18287
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I use a couple of wonder wads when loading each cylinder, particularly on the last chamber. I use twenty-five or thirty grains of FFFg, usually Schutzen and a140 grain pure lead ball.  Two wads per cylinder is all it takes to keep fouling soft and an occasional spritz of Balistol at the front of the cylinder, followed by a thorough wipe lets me shoot six stages without a tear down! 

 

I HAVE done ten stages in a day more than once with no major problems!

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Easy, buy 8 more cap guns and load them all before the match :D

 

Seriously though. I make my own wonder wads and can usually load in 3-4 shooters. Practice your routine and you'll be fine. Like others have said with light posses shoot last.

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1 hour ago, Tyrel Cody said:

Easy, buy 8 more cap guns and load them all before the match

That's the best solution i've heard yet!!! I honestly never thought about doing it that way. I'd probably only have to buy 2 more for a 6 stage day lol. 

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13 minutes ago, Turkey Flats Jack said:

That's the best solution i've heard yet!!! I honestly never thought about doing it that way. I'd probably only have to buy 2 more for a 6 stage day lol. 

 

One bad part of that though is that's a lot of guns to clean!

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What's this cleaning cap guns between stages you guys speak of? :huh:. Shoot real cap guns...  Those would be Colt's Belt model of 1851. :P:P.  No cleaning over 12 stages spread over 3 days...  Even with all the trouble of "thinking" I'd opened a tin of Remington #10s, only to finally figure out they were CCIs!

 

Run the wedge in till the cylinder doesn't turn, then back it off a thousandths (that's 1/1000, or .001"), no joke, checked w/ a feeler gauge.   If your arbor is square to the axis of the cylinder & barrel, it should turn freely, even that tight.  I use 3f, it's cleaner burning than 2f.  Been loading and competing in SASS with the same components for 32 years.  I figure I won't mess with success.

 

Work the unloading table while "charging" your guns...  Takes me between 3-5 shooters, depends on how fast they are!  I use a loading stand (sometimes), and use the exact same sequence, developed over time,  powder & a lubed wad in each chamber, then a ball in each.  Push the wad each wad in with the ram, then leave it down while I pour powder & start a wad in the next chamber... I can do it faster, but this method keeps me consistent.

 

 

Edited by Griff
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I have my cart set up so I can load on that....generally I will work the unloading table and after about 4 shooters my pistols are ready to go and then I can help reset targets or spot. I precharge  loading tubes and set up baggies with 10 each and another baggie with lubed wads from Circlefly...less expensive than wonder wads. It takes a bit of practice till you find the routine that works best for you.

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It's not the cheap route; I have enough cylinders out fitted with the Slix nipples for my 1851 Pietta's that I load the night before to shoot at least 6 stages.B)

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PLUS ONE too Prairie Dawg  B)

 

Normal-Lee (Normal = Dryer Setting) I try and shoot second or third (right behind Dawg) then Dawg and I do "rock - paper - scissors" to see whom gets the Unloading table.  Once Practiced, it doesn't take that long to recharge yer cylinders.  Dawg and I both use Cylinder loading stands.

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On a real small posse shoot last. Reload while everyone else is moving to the next stage and reading the stage instructions.

 

You can read the instructions and work out the scenario as you help out with posse chores.

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Like it or not the easiest solution is the trade-off between money and match time/convenience and this always seemed to easily favor going the route of lotsa pre-loaded cylinders before match time.  Sure, in a perfect world we will not run into situations where there will be a half or more of the posse that have physical issues that would outweigh convenience issues now days.  Remington '58s are the most logical of the ones I have used but I do have enough Colt clone cylinders to go that route also and for me this is even faster than I have ever been able to load cylinders, for either style revolver, during the match.  It is doubtful that I will ever be able to shoot again BUT if it could happen, I doubt I could accomplish it while performing any match duties and I would bet there are, or will be more shooters like me as time goes on.      

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I have shot on small posse's where everyone worked. Then go to the next stage and everyone takes a few minutes to load and off you go.

kR

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This is not in relation to the OP ...Just thought I'd mention that we have a club here in  the state of Queensland that has a 2 day Plainsman shoot  [ 10  stages ] each year...because of course we all shoot c & b  it was decided that everyone shoots & works the stage..then everyone reloads..works a treat.

Average shooter attendance is approx 35 ..usually 2 posse's.

 

   Carry on ..................

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31 minutes ago, Painted Mohawk SASS 77785 said:

This is not in relation to the OP ...Just thought I'd mention that we have a club here in  the state of Queensland that has a 2 day Plainsman shoot  [ 10  stages ] each year...because of course we all shoot c & b  it was decided that everyone shoots & works the stage..then everyone reloads..works a treat.

Average shooter attendance is approx 35 ..usually 2 posse's.

 

   Carry on ..................

 

I am the MD for our local Cody Dixon match and we often do that.

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I have four cap guns, two navies and two armies.  All have been worked on by Mike Brackett of Goon's Gun Works.  Once Mike sets up a cap gun for competition they can easily get through a match without cleaning in between stages.  I load all four guns before the match starts and I try to shoot early each stage.  I stage a powder flask, Altoids tin full of balls, and a syringe of "ball lube" at the unloading table before shooting.  As soon as I am done shooting and cleared I start pouring powder and seating balls.  I load the cylinders on the guns and grease every chamber.  While reloading I can clear other shooters (usually two) and then move on to other posse duties.  Seeing as I have two pairs I can take the last two stages easy and not have to worry about loading up again. 

 

If I had a pair of Ruger OMAs or Remingtons I might consider simply having an extra set of cylinders and loading off of the gun on one of those presses I have seen some shooters using. 

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1 hour ago, July Smith said:

If I had a pair of Ruger OMAs or Remingtons I might consider simply having an extra set of cylinders and loading off of the gun on one of those presses I have seen some shooters using. 

If you want to shoot cap guns and work the posse a loading press is a must. I shoot ROA's and Pietta '51's, mostly the '51's, because they are lighter and easier to handle. Unless the posse is really small I can reload and still have time to work before the stage is over.

 

Loading.jpg

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I can probably reload on the pistol as fast as you can off the gun. 
 

it really is not that hard. 

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I shoot on short posses regularly and help out too.  I try to shoot in the first three then load at the unloading or loading table, stopping as needed to verify or clear guns.  If there are folks with infirmities that need those spots, I shoot, load, then help where needed.  The next stage I help at the beginning and shoot towards the last, loading as the last couple of shooters finish up and while the posse moves.  It takes me 2-3 shooters to charge my '51's on the gun.  So far no one has complained I'm not pulling my fair share.

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The OP has Remington 1858 New Model Armies. They have a lot smaller base pin than the Colt design. Keeping one running for multiple stages can be a little challenging than keeping a colt clone running.

 

From my own personal experience with 1858s.

First use only BP compatible lube. If you are not 1000% sure your guns only have BP compatible lube on them the strip them down, clean completely and use only known BP compatible lubes. I use Mobil 1 full synthetic grease and Ballistol almost exclusively. I have tried Bore Butter but when it is cold it is really thick and almost impossible to get out of the tube and when it is hot it melts and gets all over everything. Mobil 1 remains the same thickness no matter the temperature.

I use Ballistol because it is so versatile. it can be used straight or 1 part Ballistol can be mixed with 3 parts water. ( aka Moose Milk )

From my own personal experience Ballistol is much more effective at keeping fowling soft when mixed with water.

 

Be sure you fill the flat on the base pin with grease. Remove the cylinder and reinstall the base pin. Apply grease so that it fills out the flat part of the base pin. When you pull the base pin out to reinstall the cylinder, the hole in the frame should be wiping grease off the bottom of the base pin. Re lube the hole in the cylinder with a greased nail or rod slightly smaller than the diameter of the hole.

 

After loading the cylinder don't get carried away lubing the tops of the balls. I personally only lube the first chamber that will be fired. I find this is enough lube to keep the pistol functioning without making it a greasy mess. 98% of hte lube put in all the other chambers gets blown away when the first chamber is fired.

 

You can test this for yourself. Load all 6 chambers and apply grease to the tops of all the balls. Now fire it once and then inspect the face of the cylinder. Make note of how much grease is left in each chamber. Repeat until all 6 chambers are fired.

Grease does not prevent chain fires. What causes chain fires is a greasy or oily chamber that collects powder on the walls when being filled. When you seat even a properly sized ball all that powder doesn't get wiped away. Rather it created a very fine fuse that will allow the flame from another chamber to sneak around the ball and ignite that cylinder.

 

When loading the pistol take care not to spill any powder on the top of the cylinder. Don't get grease or oil on the cylinder walls. Especially at the mouth of the cylinder. If you do take a q-tip or a rag around a screwdriver tip and wipe it off.

 

 

Edited by Sedalia Dave

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3 hours ago, Sedalia Dave said:

I can probably reload on the pistol as fast as you can off the gun. 
 

it really is not that hard. 

My post was not to indicate how fast I can reload my pistols I was responding to a question in the OP "How do you balance "helping out" with "taking forever to reload"?

 

I compliment you on your prowess with your pistols and your candor.

Lucky

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58 minutes ago, Sedalia Dave said:

The OP has Remington 1858 New Model Armies. They have a lot smaller base pin than the Colt design. Keeping one running for multiple stages can be a little challenging than keeping a colt clone running.

 

From my own personal experience with 1858s.

First use only BP compatible lube. If you are not 1000% sure your guns only have BP compatible lube on them the strip them down, clean completely and use only known BP compatible lubes. I use Mobil 1 full synthetic grease and Ballistol almost exclusively. I have tried Bore Butter but when it is cold it is really thick and almost impossible to get out of the tube and when it is hot it melts and gets all over everything. Mobil 1 remains the same thickness no matter the temperature.

I use Ballistol because it is so versatile. it can be used straight or 1 part Ballistol can be mixed with 3 parts water. ( aka Moose Milk )

From my own personal experience Ballistol is much more effective at keeping fowling soft when mixed with water.

 

Be sure you fill the flat on the base pin with grease. Remove the cylinder and reinstall the base pin. Apply grease so that it fills out the flat part of the base pin. When you pull the base pin out to reinstall the cylinder, the hole in the frame should be wiping grease off the bottom of the base pin. Re lube the hole in the cylinder with a greased nail or rod slightly smaller than the diameter of the hole.

 

After loading the cylinder don't get carried away lubing the tops of the balls. I personally only lube the first chamber that will be fired. I find this is enough lube to keep the pistol functioning without making it a greasy mess. 98% of hte lube put in all the other chambers gets blown away when the first chamber is fired.

 

You can test this for yourself. Load all 6 chambers and apply grease to the tops of all the balls. Now fire it once and then inspect the face of the cylinder. Make note of how much grease is left in each chamber. Repeat until all 6 chambers are fired.

Grease does not prevent chain fires. What causes chain fires is a greasy or oily chamber that collects powder on the walls when being filled. When you seat even a properly sized ball all that powder doesn't get wiped away. Rather it created a very fine fuse that will allow the flame from another chamber to sneak around the ball and ignite that cylinder.

 

When loading the pistol take care not to spill any powder on the top of the cylinder. Don't get grease or oil on the cylinder walls. Especially at the mouth of the cylinder. If you do take a q-tip or a rag around a screwdriver tip and wipe it off.

 

 

 

Just for grins and giggles try some white lithium grease on the base pin. Joe West showed me that years ago and it seems to keep the crap out and the cylinder turning, be it Ruger, Colt, or Remmy cap gun.

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As has been mentioned already, most often I see Frontiersman loading their cylinders at the Unloading Table and checking folks as they come off the firing line. 

 

As for me, when I shoot Plainsman, while... I cheat a little.  I have enough cylinders to get me through a match so I just swap ‘em out lickity-split at the unloading table and go about my regular posse duties (heckling shooters and the like). ;)

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