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Best Lever Gun for Frontiersman/FC.


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Hey All,

    Still thinking about what rifle I might pickup/trade for if I can find one and I was wondering what your thoughts were on leveractions for use with BP.  Are there some models that are more reliable or easier to clean up afterwards with?  I would imagine the 60 or the 66 are pretty good candidates but what are your thoughts?

 

El CupAJoe

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'60, '66, or '73 in either 44-40, 38-40, or 32-20 will do fine with BP.  (1860 does not come in .32-20 or 38-40).  It is the thin case walls that seal the chamber well to keep the action clean.  Plus they are authentic old west calibers (in the '73, anyway).

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One thing to think about is reloading.  It’ll be much cheaper for any of the ammo listed if you reload it, commercially available BP rounds are not that easy to come by in the best of time.  I use a ‘73 in .45 Colt, if I had to do over I would’ve went with .44-40.  With the .45 I have to anneal the cases it keeps the innards clean but the carrier still gets filthy.

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Any rifle that shoots the bottle neck cases. 44-40-38-40, 32-20. Even 38 / 357 will work as long as you fill the cases full of powder and shoot heavier bullets.

 

45 colt is problematic because the cases allow a lot of blowby.

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I reload 38/357 so I'll probably stay with that, if heavier bullets are key to keeping fouling down, I can run my Lee 200 grain in a 38 special case for the same OAL as .357 magnum.

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45 minutes ago, El CupAJoe said:

I reload 38/357 so I'll probably stay with that, if heavier bullets are key to keeping fouling down, I can run my Lee 200 grain in a 38 special case for the same OAL as .357 magnum.

 

The lightest I would go is 125 grains. A 140 or 158 grain is plenty heavy enough to do the job.

 

I have been shooting FCD with a Rossi 92 in 38/357 for several years using 125 grain bullets. Using APP I have shot 18 stages over 3 days with zero issues. Only thing I did was squirt a little Ballistol into the action and then wipe down the outside of the gun with a soft cloth.

I did it just to see what would happen. At the time I was shooting 2 Ruger Vaqueros, the Rossi 92 and an 1887 shotgun. All 4 guns had zero issues.

 

I am currently shooting some 38s and 357 loaded with real BP using 140 up to 158 grain bullets and have minimal blowby. 

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The 73 is much easier to take apart to clean. Much much easier!

Edited by Rye Miles #13621
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The '73 is an improvement over the '66, due to the lever safety.  If you don't believe this, talk to those who have had an out of battery discharge.

No matter what propellant or caliber you choose, you are going to have to clean the rifle.  You will get less blowback with a bottleneck case like the .38-40 or .44-40, but are you really going to just clean the barrel and not the carrier and lifter after shooting?  The most important thing is the lubricants you choose for the bullet and for the rifle's action.  I used to spritz the carrier with ballistol/water every three stages when shooting black powder .45 Colt and .38 Special.  Spritzing controlled the blowback from these straight walled cartridges just dandy.  The juicy action ran like a scalded cat.  The drawback was the cases would leave a mark on my hats and shirtsleeves.  This past year I prepared the rifle with a coat of Mobil 1 grease, the cheap red stuff, on the carrier and bolt and everywhere the blowback could accumulate.  I could go at least 6 stages without spritzing or re-lubing the rifle (never shot more than 6 stages in a row without cleaning, so I don't know how far I could actually go!). And I dramatically reduced the case tracks on my hats and shirts.

 

So if you are still with me, if you think you will never have a problem with obtaining or reloading the thinner bottleneck cases and it tickles you to use a really old caliber, go for it.  In my opinion, if you use a Uberti '73 in .357 Magnum with .38 Special blackpowder reloads, you will find that the rifle will operate safely as fast as you can run it,  and as long as you use appropriate lubrication on the bullet and action, fouling will not slow you down.   And you won't have any trouble selling it if it ever comes to that.

Edited by J-BAR #18287
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HAH!!

 

NONE OF THE ABOVE!!!  Nope!! None of 'em.  1860 Henry all the way.  ALL of mine are .45s.  I anneal my cases and they shoot just as clean as any Bottleneck funny "dash" caliber.  Ran ALL last season and only need to clean the bore.  Second choice is the '66 which is just an "Improved" Henry.  '73s and such just don't make the cut.

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Uberti 1860 Henry Rifles are my favorite guns.

I own 4 of them.

While I also own '92s, 66's, and '73s, the 1860s have always been my favorites.

Henrys are heavy & slower than 66s & 73s, and are not for everybody.

Coffinmaker has converted two of them into Transitionals, with a shortened barrel & a loading gate, & they are sweet rifles.
My preferred match rifle is my transitional in 44-40.

Coffinmaker makes 'em run sweet

Don't believe what is said about 44-40 being hard to load -- it's not, especially with black powder.

And the dash calibers are great for black powder.

Do yourself a favor and get BigLube boolits for your BP rifle rounds.

I've bought  mine for many years from Springfield Slim. 

--Dawg

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By far, the "Easiest" to clean, Marlin.  One bolt, lever comes out, bolt slides to the rear.  Start cleaning.  

 

I'm using a rounded 1.0cc scoop of 3F black below a 135gr bullet.  If there was a way to remove the lifter in my 73 without taking it completely apart, I wouldn't have to clean the parts under the side plates.  They stay that clean.  The lifter is another story but blow by has never been so bad that it affected operation during a match.

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Personally I prefer a '66...  18" short rifle, It just feels better to me than any other option.

 

If I'm shootin' for a Buckle I go with my 38 spl.

And yep like J-Bar sez ya gotta spritz it and keep things wet every stage or two to go fast... at least fast for me.

 

If I wanna just shoot & have Fun I go with my 38/40...

I can shoot it all day long every day for a month and never do anything but shovel in more ammo :D

Like shootin' smokeless, but More Fun!

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17 minutes ago, Abilene Slim SASS 81783 said:

Used to have a ‘92 Rossi in .45 Colt. Used the Nate Kiowa Jones method for cleanup. I found it easier to clean than my toggle links. 

@Abilene Slim SASS 81783 What pray tell is this method?

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I assume it is the same as it was many years ago.

Remove the buttstock.

Spray brake cleaner down the barrel and let it clean out the barrel & action, until it runs clear.

Stand the rifle up in a corner to drain & dry.

Lube it, replace the buttstock, and put it away.

--Dawg 

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Yup. Didn’t mean to be mysterious. Just wanted to give credit where it’s due (NKJ)
 

I sprayed the action liberally as well. Pressure of the spray forced a lot of sludge out. What I liked about it is that there was no disassembly except for removal of the stock. And the only reason for that is so the brake cleaner didn’t mar the finish. 

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Yep, I got it from NKJ many years ago.

Don't know if it was from one of his posts, his DVD, or ????

But it always worked well.

--Dawg

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I can shoot my original Win 1892 .38WCF with bp loads for 4 to 6 matches, cleaning only the bore and bolt face, with no teardown.

My Uberti 1860 in .45 Cowboy Special tears down more easily but has to be taken completely apart every 2 matches.

If I was buying another rifle for bp it would be a 1866 in .32 WCF.

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I've shot a 66 and 73 in 44-40 for 18 years. I will no longer shoot the 66 because of 2 out of battery discharges,

44-40 is easy to load I sho0t a case full of 2f with big lube bullets that Springfield Slim makes.

I take the 73 apart once a year to clean the action. The barrel is shoot some windex down it with a patch in the action, rifle leaning so it falls out before going into the action. 4 patches with the final being Bore Butter.

I've talked with a lot of shooters who shoot 38's or 45's and the action gets dirty, even with smokeless.

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1866 either a Winchester , or Uberti ... 

I have a couple of Uberti's , my favorite is a Sporting Rifle in .38 WCF.  This is the very best caliber for use with blackpowder...

Feeds slicker than grease through a goose ...

 

Jabez Cowboy 

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I am currently shooting a Uberti 66 in 44-40 with a 24" barrel. I can shoot it an entire match and do not have to do anything to it. The cases are loaded with Goex 2f no filler just powder and a 200gr bullet which I cast and lube myself. My first rifle was a Marlin in 38/.357 which I wish that I still had and shot that with bp with no problem and was very simple to take apart and clean. The Marlin ran well using a 147gr bullet loaded to 357 length. All that said the next rifle will be another in 44-40 but a 73 as they are easier to take apart to clean. Initially I shot stainless Ruger OMVs in .357 with a full case of Goex and they will run an entire match with no need to be sprayed. For the past few seasons have been shooting Frontiersman or somedays I call it the Masochist category. Ultimately if you prefer to load and shoot one caliber then there are no wrong choices.

Just my 2 cents

 

Hochbauer

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Like many have said! If you want easier clean up get a 73 in a bottle neck case. If you want a rifle to match up well with your cap and ball frontiersman look that is easy to clean get a 66, the action is kind of easy to get to. If you want the cool factor get the Henry. All bottle neck case rifles will be cleaner to run than straight walled. But in my experience they are harder to load, yes many will say they have no problem loading them but I do. I run a 66 and a 73 in 45 colt and have never in 12+ years had an issue with blowback effecting my action I keep them sprayed with ballistols, I only tear them apart 2-3 times a year and do have some bp fouling in the action but not bad.

Rafe

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I shoot a 66 Silverboy in 44-40, Goex 2f full case and 180 grain coated bullets.  I run a snake through it after each match. The action stays clean and I apply bore butter after each match.  The gun just keep shooting and I clean the brass after shooting it about 3 to 5 times.  Most of my cleaning time is spent on my Cap and Ball.  I shot 45 colt for years and spent too much time cleaning. When I changed to 44-40 it was night and day.  Smoke em Out.

 

Luck

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2 hours ago, Ambush Andy said:

Please don't laugh at me, but what do yall mean by annealing the cases and how is that done?  

That is heating the mouths of empty cases to allow the case to open more fully when firing.

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I've shot a 1986 production Uberti 1873 in 45 Colt since 1987... loaded with BP most of the time.  I took about .005" off both sides of the carrier.  It runs a multi-day 12 or more stage match without any cleaning.  Don't even need to "spritz" it between stages or during the day.  I use real BP and SPG lube on the bullets I cast with the biggest lube groove of any bullet made before the "Big-Lube" bullets Springfield Slim markets.  I've since "clearanced" my 2008 production 1860 & 2014 production 1873 short rifle.  Same result... even tho' the fouling gets into the carrier mortise, there's enough clearance to keep the gun from "gumming" up!

 

While I love the 1860 (just ordered a steel-framed 18" bbl'd version), the 1873 is just simpler to disassemble and re-assemble.  If I were just starting out... I'd probably still go with the 45 Colt, as I can use the Cowboy45Special after modifying the carrier and get plenty of case expansion.  

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  • 2 months later...
On 12/18/2020 at 6:37 PM, Abilene Slim SASS 81783 said:

Used to have a ‘92 Rossi in .45 Colt. Used the Nate Kiowa Jones method for cleanup. I found it easier to clean than my toggle links. 

 

On 12/18/2020 at 6:59 PM, Prairie Dawg, SASS #50329 said:

I assume it is the same as it was many years ago.

Remove the buttstock.

Spray brake cleaner down the barrel and let it clean out the barrel & action, until it runs clear.

Stand the rifle up in a corner to drain & dry.

Lube it, replace the buttstock, and put it away.

--Dawg 

Since I ended up with an R92 in .357 Mag, I was wondering if anyone knew of a good video that demonstrates this process?  I assume the Brake Cleaner is kosher with BP and Sub fouling?  Does the process work with hot water/Ballistol?  Still having a hard time getting my hands on APP, the local place that listed it online, didn't actually have any in stock.  So I'll probably run Pyrodex P in my pistols and smokeless in my Rossi until I can get some APP, but if I did use Pyro in my Rossi, want to make sure I can get it all out when I'm done!

Edited by El CupAJoe
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On 12/18/2020 at 3:39 PM, Tyrel Cody said:

1873 Uberti .44-40

 

 

 

 

What Tyrel said.  And don't bother fooling with synthetic black powder.  Stick with the real deal.

 

Jackalope

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I have used Uberti 66's, 73's.  Rossi 92's  Marlin 94's  USFA Lighting.  All were easy to clean to me.  I try to disassemble completely after using but have done major matches and not cleaned till I got home.  Once you learn how to disassemble your rifle cleaning becomes easy.

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1 hour ago, Sedalia Dave said:

Skip the Pyrodex. Contact @Scarlett and order a case of Shooters World BP sub. or buy the real thing. 

Agree with skipping the Pyrodex.   I load with 777 as well as APP.  They both work well.  I trust real black powder more than the subs in muggy weather.

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