A Handgun When You Can’t Buy a Handgun

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The Colt Patterson – Engraved Pietta replicas of the first gun made by Col. Sam Colt in 1836. Made famous by the very first Texas Ranger Jack Hayes, but not a very effective weapon.
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The 1858 Remington pattern – Steel frame and the less expensive brass frame examples of the finest percussion pistol ever made. It is said that soldiers returning from the Civil War elected to purchase these revolvers at a rate of 2 to 1 as compared to the 1860 Colt Army.
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A pair of nickel plated and engraved 1860 Army Colts, made by Pietta. An elegant and finely made weapon that points like no other, but lack of quick reloads and safety notches make these guns not the ideal choice for a defensive handgun.
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Colt Walker .44 – This was introduced as a “horse pistol” in about 1847 and is considered the “magnum” of all percussion revolvers. There are other versions with a clasp at the front of the loading lever. This one tends to knock itself open when you fire full 60gr loads. It is a beast but at something like 9 lbs not better than a small carbine. This particular gun is made by Armi San Marco and didn’t come with the historically correct cynlinder in the white, as the original Colts were shipped.
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Pair of 1851 Navy pattern revolvers in a “Marshall” configuration that is sometimes sold by Cabelas. The fluted cylider is not historically correct, nor is the barrel length and stubby loading lever (that is tough to use), but they shoot good and still have plenty of punch even with the shorter barrel
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All of my tests were with these .454 Hornady round balls. I prefer balls that “shave” when you squish them down because as you will see in my accuracy tests, they fly straight and behave like a wadcutter.
I quickly abandoned the Goex Black Powder in my tests in favor of Hodgedon Triple Se7en. Note that since I first did this testing I have learned that Hodgdon does not suggest you compress Triple Se7en.
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The Triple Se7en still smokes like real black powder, but not as much (on the right).
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You can see my hand print in the soot that covered this gun after I shot it with real black powder. After a couple of chambers the cylinder wouldn’t even turn from the buildup of fouling in the cylinder gap.
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A .45ACP shell from the range floor is a convenient powder measure at almost exactly 25 grains. As you see from the velocities, a full cylinder of 40 grains works fine too, and is about the max velocity you’ll get out of an 8″ barrel.
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25 grains of Triple Se7en gives you plenty of breathing room for the ball, but since this testing I have learned that Hodgdon does not suggest you compress Triple Se7en, so you should use Pyrodex.
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The loading lever is used to press the ball down into the chamber over the powder.
40 grains of powder (a full cylinder on most guns) will compress with a .454 ball so that it just clears the cylinder mouth.
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25 grains of powder leaves plenty of room to put a Wonder Wad between the powder and ball, or to put a grease layer over the ball. Either method is to prevent chain fires. Note the ring left from “shaving” the ball. Get rid of them they can bind up the gun.
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My PACT chronograph set up to test cap & ball pistols at 15 ft. You have to back the sky screens far away from these guns or they get blown apart.
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The base of my PACT chronograph. It spits out a tape with all of your shots and average velocity and a number of other variables.
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My steel frame ’58 shoots into an inch and a half at 15 feet rested. The flyer was my mistake not used to the crude trigger pull.
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The ’51 Marshalls are tack drivers. This ragged hole is less than an inch. These are no belly guns.
Army Colts are no slouch, and considering that the rear sight is built into the hammer and moves, under 1.5 inches with no flyers to almost exact point of aim out of the box is more than respectable and I would challenge any auto pistol to match it.
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Even the Colt Walker demonstrates respectable accuracy on a hot summer day in south Florida.
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The Colt patterns load in much the same manner and the chambers hold about the same powder. This shorty lever on the Marshall is stiff with 40 grains of powder to compress.
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The Hornady .454 balls weigh in consistently at 140 grains for energy calculations.
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A fairly informal energy calculation. If it can blow a chunk out of a 2×4 at ten feet it can stand between me and harms way any day.
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Unhook the loading lever to pull the easy access cylinder pin forward on your ’58 Remington. The cylinder will drop into your hand if you pull the hammer back. This is as far as I take down my Remingtons.
On Colt pattern revolvers you have to loosen the set screw and drive out the wedge.
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Then you use the loading lever to bang the frame apart, which drops out the cylinder and leaves you with three pieces in your hands.
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A toothbrush, running water and dish soap is all you need to clean up your guns. Don’t get queezy about running your guns under water. Just keep water out of the guts and spray the gun through till dripping with Rem-Oil after they dry and your guns will last for years without boogering the screws.
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This cylinder sat with loaded chambers for three years and fired almost every round reliably. Cleaned up it shows to be no worse for wear.
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These are the only double action cap & ball pistols I know of. They are a Pietta copy of the Star Revolver from the Civil War. There are single action versions as well. I have fired these and they shoot great, but the action is very tricky and unless you practice with them a lot I don’t find them as reliable as single action. They are also rare and expensive. These were purchased at Kittery Trading Post in Maine several years ago.
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This “snubby” 1860 Army was available from Cabelas several years ago and I haven’t seen them anywhere else. You will see from the ballistics tables that the performance with the extremely short barrel is compromised and I now that I know how much punch they pack, I would not buy another. Note that instead of a loading lever it came with a brass pusher rod, and it works fabulously.
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A loaded and capped ’58 Remington is as formidable a handgun as you will find. There are no compromises with this Civil War era technology weapon.

by William F. Rothschild

I have to start this article with a disclaimer. Firearms law is almost always a mess to figure out. If you are reading this, you most likely are a law abiding American gun owner or potential gun owner, and you very possibly have no idea what is legal and what is not legal regarding guns in your state. There is a lot of misinformation out there and you have to be careful. This article is not intended to inform anyone about how to skirt their local gun laws. It is meant to give you information on what may be legal for you if you are stuck in a local jurisdiction where one politically motivated individual or department is costing people their right to own a handgun. The BATFE recently released a top ten frequently asked questions we will be covering here soon, and one of the questions is about guns like the ones in this article, that are not classified as guns by the federal government, and therefore, under federal law, legal for everyone to own.

I have heard dozens of stories where two guys living across the street from each other have vastly different access to guns. In many states the ability to purchase a handgun is up to your local police department. Often these departments are run by political appointees, and sometimes that appointee got their job by agreeing to do the will of the politician above them. They are also sometimes just one of the brainwashed misinformed masses who believe that less guns equals less crime.

Regardless of the reason, it adds up to the same thing. You just can’t get that foolish permit to purchase a handgun. If you already owned a gun or were able to make one yourself (which is not a crime under federal and many state laws), it would be perfectly legal for you to own, shoot, and sometimes even carry a handgun. You just can’t buy one.

There is a long standing exception in federal firearms law for guns that were manufactured prior to 1898, and it includes all replicas of those guns that do not used fixed ammunition. This would include cap & ball percussion revolvers from the era of the Civil War until the mid 1870s when the center fire cartridge revolver came into being. That is what this article is about, cap & ball, or percussion revolvers. They are extremely effective weapons and were carried by Wild Bill Hickock and many other gunfighters throughout the old west. They may look like antique mechanical marvels, but are just as effective today as they were back then. And modern propellants have made them even more so.

Call it a “loophole.” The federal government says that the guns that killed tens of thousands of Americans in the bloodiest war in our young history aren’t guns, and so they are therefore not included in any of the laws regarding the purchase and possession of firearms as we know them today. You don’t have to fill out a form 4473 to buy one. There is no NICS check. You can transfer them over state lines with no paperwork, and believe it or not, you can even order them in the mail, delivered right to your door like Netflix.

States laws however are a different story. Since most criminal statutes are handled at the state level anyway, the states have weighed in regarding percussion pistols and the rulings are as varied in their allowances and wording as any other gun law state to state. Some states exempt them entirely from firearms law like the federal government, loaded or not. Some states consider them guns if you even possess all of the components to load and fire them. Some states say you can carry them unloaded as much as you want. Some say unloaded can be loaded without fitting the percussion cap on the cylinder. Some states flat out call them guns and include them in with all other guns specifically in their state laws. Some cities have ordinances specifically on percussion firearms. And many states say simply nothing.

So the disclaimer I started this discussion with involves all of these issues. You are going to have to figure out if it is legal for you to own, load, shoot and carry a percussion revolver. My point here is to assume that many of you out there can legally own and shoot them, so this can serve as both an introduction and a sales pitch for the effectiveness of a standard, inexpensive cap & ball revolver dating its history to the time of Grant, Lee, and Lincoln.

Effectiveness

This whole conversation would be a matter of semantics if the guns we are talking about here were not extremely effective weapons. The scope of “extremely effective” is subjective of course. Many would argue (including our resident gunfight expert Jim Higginbotham) that there are no “powerful handguns.” For my tests I’m comparing the effectiveness of cap & ball percussion pistols to real world examples, like a standard 9mm 124gr. .Federal Hydra Shock shot out of a 5″ service pistol. According to a website I use frequently, ballisticsbytheinch.com, the velocity of this round is 1115 fps, which when calculated by the formula energy equals one half of the mass times the velocity squared, comes out to 342 foot pounds of energy. I have also applied this to other examples.

Name Barrel Length Projectile Prop. Gr. Avg. Vel. (fps) Energy (ft. lbs.)
’58 Rem. 8″ 140gr. Roundball Goex FFFG 25 780 189
’58 Rem. 8″ 140gr. Roundball Hodgdon 777 25 989 304
’58 Rem. 8″ 140gr. Roundball Hodgdon 777 40 1186 437
’60 Army 7 1/2″ 140gr. Roundball Hodgdon 777 40 1214 458
’51 Navy 5 1/2″ 140gr. Roundball Hodgdon 777 40 799 198
Walker .44 9″ 140gr. Roundball Hodgdon 777 60 1395 604
’60 Snubby 3″ 140gr. Roundball Hodgdon 777 40 685 145
Example
Caliber
Barrel Length Projectile Avg. Velocity (fps) Energy (ft. lbs.)
9mm Federal 5″ 124 gr. Hydra Shock 1115 342
.38 Special 3″ 125 gr. Hydra Shock 831 192
.38 Special 6″ 125 gr. Hydra Shock 1052 307
.38 Special 6″ 125 gr. Hydra Shock 1052 307
.357 Magnum 3″ 125 gr. Fed. JHP 1255 437
.357 Magnum 6″ 125 gr. Fed. JHP 1702 803
.45 ACP 4″ 230 gr. Hydra Shock 814 362

I choose foot pounds over other methods of comparison because it is most easily measured, and I feel that it is the most accurate head to head comparison between two low velocity examples. As you can see from the formula, velocity is squared (multiplied times itself), so to compare a 3,000 fps rifle to a 1000 fps handgun is not so relevant when you think about stopping power, one shot stops, penetration through clothing and other issues.

But head to head, 124gr. in the 9mm vs. 140gr. in our revolvers here, and 1115fps. vs. 750-1400fps in velocity comparison in our examples, is what I would call apples to apples and will help us understand the firepower that these effective weapons entail.

I have selected a fairly standard array of what we all carry out there. There is a 3″ 38 special snubby, a 6″ .38 special (carried by almost all police departments until recent history), the same barrel lengths in .357 magnum, and the venerable .45ACP through a 1911 in a 5″ barrel. The only caveat here is the 1911. The heavier bullet (230gr. vs. 140gr. roundball) does bring down velocity substantially, which weighs the formula against the 1911. However we know that on the street a .45ACP is generally as or more effective than a .357 Magnum, so take it for what it’s worth. Even a cursory glance of our chart will tell you that even a short barreled cap & ball pistol is well within the ballpark of guns we carry in defense of our lives every day.

I will get into the specifics of what this table means as we go somewhat and why some factors are constant and others are more variable, but it is fairly self explanatory. We are dealing with a 140 grain round lead ball projectile. Its effectiveness as compared to a jacketed hollowpoint, or a jacketed rounded standard target bullet is not within the scope of this article. Theoretically, a hollowpoint expands, making it more effective in “stopping power.” A round lead ball expands as well. It is much softer than a jacketed round and upon hitting bone it generally will warp. flatten, and often even break apart. Layers of clothing do not slow down a round lead ball more than they do a hollowpoint or any other projectile. And I did add a practical test to my velocity comparisons at the range that you will see in the pictures. A 10 feet, my 58 Remington easily blew a hole through a 2×4 that I found at the range, taking a large chunk out of the back of it upon exit.

You will also see that I tested “overloading” the guns, filling the chambers to the top with powder and compacting the powder down with the loading lever and the ball. Because of the slow burn rate of black powder and substitutes, they are virtually impossible to overload. Even the big “magnum” didn’t do much better than a compressed full cylinder load in the standard 8″ revolver.

What Makes This Gun Different?

Here’s the catch in our loophole. There is a reason you don’t have to fill out a 4473 to buy a cap & ball revolver. They don’t work like any other gun you may have seen before. There are no convenient cartridges to pop into the cylinder. Instead, you make each cylinder the equivalent of a cartridge itself. You dump in the powder manually, cover it with a ball, use the lever attached to the barrel of the gun to squish (actually swage) the ball down into the cylinder, then turn the gun around, and on the back of the cylinder there are “nipples” onto which you push percussion caps. Instead of an internal firing pin or one on the face of the hammer, on a percussion pistol the face of the hammer is flat. It smashes the cap against the nipple, just like a regular kids cap gun. The fire travels down the flash hole, igniting the powder and making the gun go boom and kill whatever is in front of it at the time.

This means you only get 6 shots, at best, per cylinder. After those shots you can of course reload the weapon, but it is going to take you some time, and there is no such thing as a speed loader. Sometimes caps will dud on you. Sometimes pieces from the cap from the previous shot falls into the frame and binds the gun up and you can’t fire it again. This is the second most primitive of American firearm technology, and it just doesn’t work as good as your name brand auto pistol.

Don’t Blow Yourself Up or Ruin Your Gun!

The most important difference in percussion revolvers is that it is extremely easy to blow the gun apart with the wrong gun powder. This effectively makes your cylinder a hand grenade that you plan to blow up only a few inches from your hand and a couple feet from your face. With the right powder the gun won’t ever blow up, even if you stuff as much in as you can fit. So don’t get worried, but also don’t ever try to use smokeless powder in your black powder pistols. That is the more common name for cap & ball percussion pistols. They are mostly commonly called “black powder” pistols.

Towards the late 1890s there was a revolution in arms technology. What was to be called “smokeless” gunpowder became widely available across America, rendering the old style gunpowder, that we now call “black” gunpowder to serve its place in the annals of history instead of inside the chamber of most firearms by 1900. Smokeless powder burned cleaner, didn’t foul, and didn’t release billows of smoke upon firing, smoke that clouded up your ability to fire a subsequent shot. A byproduct of the new nitrocellulose powder was pressure, increased chamber pressure, and firearms had to become stronger to handle this pressure, or risk being blown apart. Fortunately metallurgy also had something of a boom during the era and this gave birth to the firearms we have today.

The guns we are speaking about here were designed in 1836 by Samuel Colt and the technology remained unchanged until about the time of Colt’s cartridge revolver of 1873, deemed the “Peacemaker.” Gun geeks please forgive me for the cursory history.

This all means that you can’t fire smokeless powder in your black powder revolvers or you will blow them apart. There are “black powder substitutes” though, and I suggest you use them. Black powder is very caustic. It will rust your guns within a couple hours if you don’t clean them immediately. It also “fouls,” which means that leftover black gunk gets in your gun and jams it up. The bore also gets filled with this nonsense and it is overall a giant pain to use black powder.

If you look at my chart you will see one line with the propellant listed as Goex FFFG. That is the most common brand of black powder, and the FFFG is the granulation size, which is the second most fine that we use for pistols. All of the other lines use Hodgdon Triple Se7en as the propellant, which is a black powder substitute created mainly for for deer hunting with muzzleloaders. Hodgdon makes another replacement called Pyrodex I have used extensively, and there are no less than a dozen other brands out there that are specifically made to replace black powder in your guns that cannot handle smokeless.

I did try to use real black powder for these tests as you can see. I fired one cylinder out of my ’58 Remington and by shot #3 of 6 the cylinder had bound up to the point that I had to use my left hand to turn it while cocking the hammer. The cylinder gap had filled up with fouling. As you can see from the pictures, the entire gun became coated with soot, and the smell and smoke on that hot summer Florida day made my shooting session really unpleasant. So after the next cylinder of Triple Se7en, that had relatively no smell, much less smoke, no binding, no soot, and clocked at about 200fps. faster than the real black powder, I said goodbye to my Goex for the day. I do use Goex (and Swiss) black powder in my black powder cartridge rifles and even my lever guns usually, but for pistols I will be sticking to Triple Se7en and Pyrodex. Please note that since writing this, I have learned that Hodgdon does not suggest you compress Triple Se7en, so you will probably want to stick to Pyrodex.

Dry firing is something that can hurt many regular firearms and can kill your cap & ball revolver. If you whack the nipples even a few times with the hammer without a cap on the nipple you will most likely deform, or “mushroom” them, making the placement of a cap nearly impossible. Replacement nipples are sold by Dixie Gunworks and other retailers, but the threads sizes will not be guaranteed brand to brand.

Something that you will see in many texts and instructions on cap & ball percussion pistols is “greasing the cylinder.” The thinking is that there is a ton of hot gas and embers flying around the cylinder gap, and that since there is no crimp on the bullet like with a brass case round, theoretically an ember could find its way in under the ball in the next chamber, igniting the powder and causing what is called a “chain fire.” With a loose ball I think this may be a genuine worry, but I have always bought slightly larger lead balls and shaved a ring around them, which means they are perfectly snug. In a defensive carry situation, where your gun is not always going to be safely pointed downrange at all times, I suggest you use 25 grains of powder (see ballistics chart) and either use a Wonder Wad between the powder and ball, or seat the ball down against the powder and apply a thumb of grease over the seated ball. You can seal a thin layer of grease over even a ball seated on 40 grains of powder and to be safe you should. I don’t know of a minimum amount of grease that is suggested regardless. I have never seen a chain fire but it doesn’t sound like a fun time, even with glasses on and the gun pointed downrange.

And one last thing that I will mention regarding safety and the function of your gun is cap sizes. These days there are only a few companies making caps. The most common you will see are CCI and Remington (both available at Cabelas), and the CCI comes in a magnum and a regular. You will see two sizes, #10 and #11. Generally #10 is the size for percussion revolvers, but your nipples may require #11 depending on the brand of your gun, and no, there is no standard rule. I have never personally used the “magnum” version of the CCIs so have no input on them.

Weeding out the Deadwood

As you can see from the pictures, I have a lot of cap & ball pistols and I brought lots of them out for this article. Outside of some oddball stuff, there are three basic patterns of cap & ball pistol that are made by a handful of manufacturers. By showing you many of them here I am not advocating the use of them all equally.

Let’s start with caliber. The original caliber for Sam Colt’s Patterson revolver was .36, which works out to a .375 round ball that we shoot in them. This is a larger diameter than a .357 magnum and a 9mm (.355), but in real ballistics, the .36 caliber cap & ball pistols are not worth consideration. It is said of the original Pattersons, famous for being carried by the first Texas Ranger Jack Hays, that besides falling apart upon firing at regular intervals, close head shots were required to disable your enemy. I personally own two replicas of these pistols and they don’t fall apart when I shoot them, but they don’t have a lot of oomf either. Stick to the .44 caliber pistols, even if they are not always historically correct for the frame type of gun.

There are three frame styles that you may want to familiarize yourself with. They are the 1851 Colt Navy, the 1860 Colt Army, and the 1858 Remington. The Colts have a feature (more of a bug than a feature) in that they lack a top strap over the cylinder. This makes them point really well for snap shooting, and the notch for the rear sight is actually in the hammer. You will never feel a gun point more naturally than a Colt cap & ball revolver. The problem with them is that they are held together with a “wedge” that requires a screwdriver and a hammer to remove. This makes reloads almost impossible in the field.

The 1858 Remington has a top strap like a modern remover and the cylinder is removed with a slide pin. Therefore cylinders can be replaced in seconds, so carrying extra cylinders is the closest thing to a speed loader that you will find with a cap & ball pistol.

Another thing is that the Colts don’t have a notch between chambers on the cylinder (though sometimes they have a dimple) in which to rest the hammer. Don’t forget, this is old technology. The hammer smashes the cap directly, so leaving the hammer down on a chamber means that the hammer is sitting against a live cap. You aren’t going to do this, so if you don’t want to carry your revolver with an empty chamber (which is required in cowboy action shooting), you are going to want a place to safely rest the hammer for carry.

With the Colts you have to trust that if you put the hammer down on the space between chambers that it isn’t going to get bumped off and end up sitting next to or on the cap. Even a dimple is not a positive lock, and I don’t like to give Murphy’s Law a lot of room when dealing with firearms. The ’58 Remingtons have actual notches in the cylinder between chambers to secure the hammer for real. I also find, especially in the ’51 Colt patterns, that busted caps tend to fall off an jam the gun, regardless of the brand of cap. Whereas with the ’58 Remington, hot caps will sometimes fall in your hand (burning them) but they don’t tend to fall into the gun rending it inoperable.

This is why Ruger, when picking a pattern for their only cap & ball pistol, chose the ’58 Remington. From what I can tell the Ruger is no longer made. It was called the Ruger Old Army and it is most likely the strongest cap & ball pistol ever made. They are still available on the market and you can find them in both blue and stainless versions, with 8″ and 5 1/2″ barrels. I have never owned one because my guns were purchased for historical value, not defense. The Ruger is substantially more expensive than even the stainless steel Italian copies.

Most of the guns you will find for sale today are made in Italy by either Uburti or Pietta. I don’t see a lot of them listed on GunsAmerica, but if you search on 1858 or “old army” or sometimes even “new army” you’ll find them. I see them a lot in local gun shops. The brass framed ’58 was purchased from Kittery Trading Post in Maine for $125, the steel framed one was bought on GunsAmerica several years ago for $150. Both have served me well and been extremely reliable. I have also bought several pairs of cap & ball pistols from Cabelas (watch for the sales on the website), and even a few from Dixie Gunworks over the years, though they tend to be more expensive than most.

If you are intent on buying a new gun with extra cylinders, I would buy the stainless ’58 Remington currently on sale at Cabelas. They have some great prices for stainless so grab one while you can. Most are made by Pietta, and the parts for them are readily available and fairly consistent.

Cleaning Your Guns

There is no such thing as an article about black powder pistols without an important section on cleaning your guns. As explained above, real black powder is extremely corrosive and will destroy your guns if not cleaned immediately. The black powder substitutes are not even close to as caustic, but they require almost the same care. I generally do not leave guns overnight even if I am shooting straight Pyrodex or Triple Se7en. The good news is that you don’t have to buy expensive cleaning solvents, or even Hoppes #9. The most effective cleanser for black powder guns is soapy water. I use dish soap, a tooth brush, and cleaning patches on either a jag or a smaller diameter brush. Lead fouling generally isn’t an issue at these velocities and the guns clean up really easy.

I personally stopped taking down my cap & ball pistols beyond the level of field strip many years ago and have seen no ill results. I try to keep the guts of the gun out of the water and use the tooth brush to get the black off. Brass frames will never be the same once you shoot them once, but the nickel, stainless and black finishes clean up almost perfect. I then let the guns dry overnight in a dish rack then spray they through with Rem-Oil until it drips out the other side. This method has served me fine for years and I no longer have boogered screws on my guns from wrestling them out and cranking them back in. I personally only use Rem-Oil in my cap & ball revolvers because I never remember to bust a cap in the chambers before filling them with powder after taking them out of the safe. Common black powder wisdom says to do this to burn off any oil that may be at the bottom of the chambers that would otherwise wet and deactivate the powder nearest the flash hole. In my experience Rem-Oil dries to dry and doesn’t leave any oil behind to get soaked up.

Storing Guns Loaded

The most common question I have gotten over the years when I tell people that I sometimes carry a Civil War pistol when it is legal and my normal carry permit doesn’t work wherever I am is “don’t the chambers get rusty from the black powder?” The answer is no, they don’t, even with real black powder, even if you leave the nipples uncapped for a long time. There have been guns found from the 1800s still loaded with no caps, and even with caps, and they have fired on the first cap. When cleaned the guns showed no rust inside. Rust needs air, and there is apparently not enough air in the chamber, even after years and years, to rust the gun. And even old black powder lasts indefinitely.

I personally tested this with two guns for this article. My brass framed ’58 Remington was left loaded, uncapped, after I carried it for a time back in 2007. Likewise a little 3″ 1860 Army that Cabelas used to sell back then. Both guns fired all of their chambers, and all but 3 out of 12 on the first cap. The snubby hang fired a bit but it fired, and boom is boom. Neither were intentionally kept in dry environments for the purpose of testing them at any time. Upon cleaning them, neither gun showed evidence of rust inside the chambers at all. Both were bright and shiny.

You may be wondering, how to do you empty the chambers without firing the gun? Technically you can, either with a ball puller that fits on the end of your cleaning rod (works like a cork screw), or with an air device that was made for deer hunters who went all season without getting a shot. If you don’t trust that your gun won’t rust if you leave loaded chambers in it you could clear them when you need to in either of these ways. Otherwise just suck it up and shoot them out and clean the gun. It’s a labor of love.

Whether you keep a loaded gun in your house outside of a safe for protection is a matter of personal preference and I won’t get into that here. Suffice it to say that a loaded and capped percussion revolver is the same as any other single action revolver. You have to thumb the hammer back for every shot, and except for a hot cap in your palm occasionally, they are no more safe or dangerous than any other single action pistol.

So There You Have It!

I have to admit that I have wanted to write this article for a long time. It is disgusting that political pandering has cost many people their ability to enjoy shooting a pistol at the range, as well as to defend themselves with a handgun. I am not advocating that anyone break the law or skirt what they know is legal and illegal. If you are in this sticky situation, do the research and see what your state and local laws say. It is worth your time and there is a good chance that this loophole in federal firearms does apply to you at the state and local level as well.

In closing I’ll mention (because this is a discussion board and people will bring it up anyway) that I do not suggest you buy conversion cylinders for your guns if you are in this situation with pistols where you live.

To digress a minute back into history, you may be wondering what happened to all of the percussion pistols of the 1870s when the cartridge revolver came onto the scene. The answer is that many percussion pistols were converted to cartridge use, and this is still available today. There are two companies making cartridge cylinders that fit right into a ’58 Remington and can be reworked into even the 1860 Army and other cap & ball pistols. The loophole for cap & ball pistols doesn’t apply to guns fitted with these cylinders under federal law. You are, according to federal law, manufacturing a working real firearm when one of these cylinders is installed, and if you can’t own a handgun legally you most likely cannot do this where you live. Otherwise it is perfectly legal, but again, the gun may have to be registered. As I have clearly shown in this article, you don’t need a conversion cylinder to have yourself an extremely effective handgun that can be reloaded easily with cylinder swaps. In fact I would argue that you can swap a cylinder faster on a ’58 Remington than you can remove and load six cartridges through a loading gate, and at $70 each you can buy 4 extra cylinders for the price of the converter.

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  • Mark Norcross, Redding, CA December 5, 2010, 2:22 am

    I own three black powder revolvers, one Uberti, one Pietta, and an old Hawes (no longer made). I found some of your statements a bit bizzare. For one, I have never ever loosened the set screw above the wedge, not do I use a hammer and awl to drive out the wedge. Instead, you can use either a wedge puller or a simple screw driver under the lip of the wedge to pull it out. I don’t have to “bang” the lever either, just place it between two cylinders and press. Next, I didn’t understand your staements about the lack of a safety; the original Colts as well as both of my Italians have pins between the nipples that sits in a slot in the hammer face. It effectively keeps the cylinder from turning or the hammer from touching a cap.
    Your ’51 Colt seems to be 44 cal., which is not the authentic caliber; all were made in 36 cal, and only nonhistoric replicas are made in 44. Also, Colt made an 1861 version of the Navy, which looks like an 1860 Colt Army, but is in 36 instead of 44. There were several other Colts you did not mention, such as the 1849 Pocket (.31 cal), or the 1862 Pocket Navy and Pocket Poice (both 5 shot .3 cal). The Pocket Navy has the standard Navy scene from the 1851, but the police has a rebated cylinder. Colt manufactured them in 4.5, 5.5 and 6.5 barrel lengths.
    I don’t know much about the Paterson, but I do know that Colt made an awful lot of pistols in .36 caliber, specifically all of its “Navy” pistols, so I have to doubt the veracity of your claim that these guns had to be used at point blank range–they were simply too popular to have been so useless.

    • Kent Shuford June 11, 2012, 5:20 pm

      I disagree with one thing you wrote. Everything I’ve researched says that the 1861 Navy with the round barrel, that looked like the 1860 Army was in fact .44. It’s the only Navy I’ve found that indicated anything other than .36. The reason was the 1851′s were not as powerful as their army cousin and they were manufactured to compete with the Army model. Whether it was truly a Navy model or a hybrid between Navy received and grip and an army cylinder and barrel assembly remains another debate.

    • JSW June 13, 2012, 10:14 am

      I’m not certain my 1861 Euroarms .44 Navy-octagonal barrel is an authentic representation of the era’s revolvers, but it has no indents on the cylinder as a hammer rest. However, I’ve always carried it with the hammer resting between nipples and have (thus far, of course) never had an AD. Not that I’ve shot it a lot since the 70′s when I grew tired of BP guns, but I certainly never felt under gunned when hunting small game with it (MN does not allow them for deer hunting). Loads with 30 grains of Pyrodex and a .451 ball were as accurate as any of my modern weapons, for sure.

      • mhobtr June 16, 2012, 8:42 am

        I have an original 1861 Colt Navy. It is 36 caliber.

  • Mark Norcross, Redding, CA December 5, 2010, 2:24 am

    I forgot one thing. To empty a black powder pistol, I simply pull the cylinder, unscrew the nipples with a nipple wrench, empty the powder, and press the balls out with a cleaning rod inserted from the rear of the cylinder.

  • john hutchison June 2, 2011, 11:21 pm

    great article thank you lots its a keeper for sure again thanks

  • Your avid new fan June 6, 2011, 8:04 am

    William –

    Thank you very much for a fantastic article! I’ve been searching for a long time on the Internet for a full explanation of cap and ball revolvers, and of their proper operation. Your complete and detailed descriptions, as well as your thoughtfully recounted experiences, are absolutely wonderful.

    You have helped to start me out on a great new path of firearms enjoyment, as well as into a new hobby. I have read and saved all of your excellent text for future reference, and all of your superb images for visual pleasure… until such time as I can take photographs of my own (soon to be acquired) classic replicas.

    With this presentation, you have finally demystified this type of gun for me. It’s something in which I’ve been interested for almost 20 years… but knew of no one who could actually explain it all.

    Know that your words and pictures have done me a great favor – and many others, I’m certain – who have been curious about these intriguing and beautiful guns. On all of our behalf, please accept my profound gratitude for your first class effort.

    See you at the range, my friend!

  • Bill Watson November 30, 2011, 10:01 am

    Great article on black powder revolvers . I presently own three revolvers from Pietta an 1858 brass frame Remington , Dance and Brothers 1851 44 cal . and an 1857 Navy Arms and your article was a great help . Thans

  • Will Courtney June 10, 2012, 11:43 am

    Overall well written, but I disagree with the evidence of the 36. While not a “magnum” it would, as they say, “make ‘em quit”. Also I prefer conical bullets to balls, more energy though you do sacrifice powder capacity. Also I have tuned mine to be able to work for CAS competition and they very rarely jam with real black powder or a cap fragment. If the head space is rite you should be able to get at least two full cylinders through without fouling being a problem. Many of mine will shoot all day with only a damp rag wiping the cylinder face every 3rd or 4th loadings.

    Also there are conversion cylinders out there now that will turn a 58 Remington or a Walker or Dragoon into a cartridge revolver and the cylinders are available through the mail as a fire arm “part”. Though it’s best to check local laws before going that rout.

  • Dan June 11, 2012, 9:35 am

    Thank you for the fine article. Those guys had it tough compared to todays wepons.

  • Zeno Streletz June 11, 2012, 11:31 am

    Nice work, as usual. This site you guys started is really
    great.

    Zeke

    • Administrator June 11, 2012, 11:34 am

      thanks Zeke. Kind words are always welcome.

  • Don June 11, 2012, 11:37 am

    Many states have premption laws so no local authority can be arbritary in who gets what. Many states out any firearm that expells a bullet using the force of gun powder. All muzzle loading handguns and rifles are illegal.

    • scott June 11, 2012, 1:41 pm

      Why is there always a misinformed person ruining good comments; what Obama crapola is this “All muzzle loading handguns and rifles are illegal..” Maybe you should try reading something or find a simple way for you to get educated before you spout stuff out of your pie hole!!

      • Douglas Kulp November 12, 2012, 8:54 pm

        I am not going to apologize for the comments given here. I feel as I am not the Admin., it is not my right or place to do so. I will tell you I “THINK” the answer you were given shows the writer is disagreeing with you. Most of us would not have fired at you with such force.

        Do some more research on the subject … I think would be a good reply.

    • Richard June 11, 2012, 5:27 pm

      Don, Not sure I understand what you are talking about. Preemption (what I presume you meant as premption) laws for what? Simply put in most states muzzleloaders are not considered firearms – certainly in federal jurisdictions they are not – they are a separate class altogether. A given state may have laws pertaining to their ownership, use or carry – but they are certainly not illegal in the country. They are in fact much easier to obtain and do not fall under current federal firearms laws. Not sure what you meant by arbritary – are you trying to spell arbitrary? Still don’t understand what you are saying. Only have decades of expertise on this stuff – so maybe you can ‘splain it to me……

  • publius June 11, 2012, 12:31 pm

    Slight correction: Firearms up thru and including 1898 (not “before” 1898) are not covered under federal law.

    • Chuck June 19, 2012, 3:49 pm

      You mean after Jan 1, 1899 don’t you?

  • roger June 11, 2012, 12:54 pm

    You can also get a conversion cylinder for the BP pistols that a drop in and shoot cartrigas. in most states except Illinoise for example you can get the BP gun and conversion cylinder sent to your house. No registration.

  • Diablo June 11, 2012, 12:56 pm

    I own many of these guns for cowboy action shooting…Another big loop hole
    is the fact you can buy conversion cylinders to shoot cartridges in them I own some
    in 45 long colt.My 1858 Remington shoot to point of aim and group at 2 in 25ft.

  • roger June 11, 2012, 12:56 pm

    A BP pistol will run you about $400 and conversion cylinder around $300.m Not cheap.

    • Mick J January 19, 2014, 7:49 pm

      $400.00???? Where you shopping!? 1858′s can be had for under $300.00 all over the retail and web shops alike.

      • Steve January 24, 2014, 1:35 pm

        Try “Cabalas” during the “Christmas” season. You’ll find that 150.00 will get you a really good deal, and you can have it shipped directly to your home. The only down side to that is you have to a signature by an adult when delivered.

  • slfree June 11, 2012, 1:24 pm

    I bought a used 1858 Remington replica from a pawn shop in another state and they sent it to my door. Its nice leaving the government out. I bought everything the range salesguy said I needed. Spent 20 minutes very very carefully loading all 6 cylinders then placing 6 caps. I proudly fired my new toy, smoke belched, the kick was not much due to light loading. The ball hit the edge of the target. However, All of the unfired percussion caps then fell off. My hands were so greasy from the gun butter I almost could not hold the gun. Spent another 25 minutes loading one cap ar a time. Was not able to fire the last 2 cylinders. I removed the cylinder from the frame wrapped it carefully and went home. Previous owner had buggered up the nipples and I was unable to remove any. Weirdly enough the 2 loaded chambers fired just fine into the woods later that evening. Never consider anything gun related to be safe. Cleaning took forever and when I was done I sold it at a loss as I was honest about the nipples. I think I’m going to try a flint lock rifle next. That way I only have to get it right once.

    • JSW June 13, 2012, 9:58 am

      One ‘trick’ you may want to try when putting on your caps is to pinch it slightly before putting it on. This gives the cap a little more compression against the nipple to hold it in better. As for the flintlock- have you ever heard the expression ‘flash in the pan’? It came about due to flintlocks and matchlocks firing off the powder in the frizzen, but not the chamber.
      Due to the huge span of time since these kind of weapons were common place, there’s much forgotten in their use, things being ‘rediscovered’ by afficianados who really love their activities.

      • Mick J January 19, 2014, 7:55 pm

        Actually, ‘Flash In The Pan’ is a term that refers to photography of old. I know what you mean…but again, its not really proper use of the term when using it in the manner in which you have. No biggie…jus’ sayin’.

        • pat August 24, 2014, 3:56 pm

          The term “flash in the pan” was in use and written in many 18th century writings……..It predated photography by well over 150 years, i really love snooty folks who write silly comments that are painfully silly…………………………your comment was a :flash in the pan”, lock, stock, and barrel i would say

    • Rupert Brice August 23, 2013, 1:20 pm

      Darn, what a shame for a first try! Also, any welder worth the name could have tacked a round bar onto those bad nipples and you could have taken them out easily. It is such fun that its a shame to give up so easily from one bad experience.

      • william sargent September 5, 2013, 9:00 pm

        slfree- I had the same thing happen to me. I bought a black powder revolver from cabellas, 1858 peitta replica for $220.00 free shipping, no tax and I got a starter kit with it which was very cool. I was excited because I really wanted to get into black powder and watched alot of youtube videos to learn. Found out alot of ranges dont let you shoot black powder, problem I didnt figure on, which sucks, but I found an outdoor range that charged me $10.00 for four hours. I loaded up the six cylinders and the kit gives you lube wads to put in the end of the cylinder so no chain fire, first shot all the percussion caps came off and half the lube wads flew out.
        I was like what the heck ! But I dont give up, I learned now to pinch the percussion caps and they stay on and I bought crisco and lube up the cylinder, and I bring soap and water and a sponge and I also have rags to wipe oils up and now my shooting with a revolver is so enjoyable, I love it, I bought another gun and I have extra cylinders and I also roll up my round balls with rolling papers, I use real powerder, 30 grains, 15 grains of corn meal and twist up the ends and have over 200 .451 round balls all rolled up with rice rolling papers and what a cool time shooting, I just bought a conversion cylinder for my 5 1/2 barrel black powder gun and as long as you use cowboy action lead bullets that only shoot around 850fps you will be okay, steel frame only, but its cool too but have to be real careful on the .45 cowboy loads, don’t fool around and think you can shoot more powerful loads. I paid $220.00 for the gun, $250 for the cylinder and total of $470.00. I just priced the uberti cowboy cattleman and they want over $600.00 for the gun. I saved atlittle money there and i can shoot indoors and bought a Lee hand loader and load my own .45 colt ammo and having a blast !

        • Stephen Tag December 23, 2013, 5:28 pm

          Careful William; those “lube wads” are meant to go between ball and powder, not over the ball. So; powder, then wad, then ball. Or; powder, ball, bore butter or equivalent over the ball.

        • rockdc December 23, 2013, 5:33 pm

          Careful William; those “lube wads” are meant to go between ball and powder, not over the ball. So; powder, then wad, then ball. Or; powder, ball, bore butter or equivalent over the ball.

          Moderaters- please use rockdc as my name

  • Dustin June 11, 2012, 1:33 pm

    Great Article. Wish they would rephrase the title though before the wrong person reads it and tries to make a law….

  • Bill Albertson June 11, 2012, 2:04 pm

    I hope to hell Boxer and Feistein don’t read this or you can kiss your loop hole bye bye. Anyone looking to buy a pistol go for the Remington replica. Mine is Italian made and the old addage “Always carry your six gun with the hammer on an empty chamber.” doesn’t apply. My revolver when on half cock places the hammer BETWEEN two loaded chambers. The Union Army used to issue the Colt during the Civil War. Many soldiers turn their Colts back into the armory and bought the stronger framed Remington out of their own pocket.

  • Nesaray June 11, 2012, 2:41 pm

    Inmagino que Colt tambien utilizaba antecesor’s de papel y lino disminuyen el tiempo de carga, con determinadas mezclas alquimicas siguen siendo muy potentes, siempre fueron secretos los molinos de polvora en este pais

    • william sargent September 5, 2013, 9:04 pm

      you are in America buddy, buy a lesson and learn to speak english so us rednecks can uderstand you !

      • william sargent September 5, 2013, 9:05 pm

        *understand

    • Mick J January 19, 2014, 8:12 pm

      Huh?

  • Amigo June 11, 2012, 3:08 pm

    Que?

  • DaveM June 11, 2012, 3:09 pm

    Minnesota Statutes 624.712: “”Pistol” includes a weapon designed to be fired by the use of a single hand and with an overall length less than 26 inches, or having a barrel or barrels of a length less than 18 inches in the case of a shotgun or having a barrel of a length less than 16 inches in the case of a rifle (1) from which may be fired or ejected one or more solid projectiles by means of a cartridge or shell or by the action of an explosive or the igniting of flammable or explosive substances; or (2) for which the propelling force is a spring, elastic band, carbon dioxide, air or other gas, or vapor.

    “Pistol” does not include a device firing or ejecting a shot measuring .18 of an inch, or less, in diameter and commonly known as a “BB gun,” a scuba gun, a stud gun or nail gun used in the construction industry or children’s pop guns or toys.”

    MN 609.02 DEFINITIONS:

    Subd. 6.Dangerous weapon.

    “Dangerous weapon” means any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, or any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or great bodily harm, any combustible or flammable liquid or other device or instrumentality that, in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is calculated or likely to produce death or great bodily harm, or any fire that is used to produce death or great bodily harm.”

    In other words, a rubber band used to “shoot” paperclips or a soda straw used to blow spitwads is a pistol, according to Minnesota law. An aerosol can is a dangerous weapon. So is a garden hose, a rock, a vehicle, most household cleaners, the fuel in your gas tank, your shoes, a piece of wood or virtually any hardware item…..in fact, I’m having trouble thinking of anything that could not be “a pistol” or “a dangerous weapon” under Minnesota law.

    If the authorities wish to, you can be arrested and charged for simple possession of anything that falls under the definition of those two statutes. I have a Swiss Army Knife in my pocket. I am illegally carrying a concealed weapon. What’s in your wallet? Or under your kitchen sink or in your garage or car or closet or place of business?

    Several people who planned to protest at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota were arrested before the convention began after their homes were ransacked and “dangerous” items such as empty fruit jars were found and seized by police.

    • mach37 June 11, 2012, 5:38 pm

      You are crying “wolf.” How do you produce “great bodily harm” let alone “death” with a paper clip propelled by a rubber band, or a spitwad and your own breath? You don’t.

      • Scurvy June 12, 2012, 2:23 am

        Actually, mach37, he’s not exaggerating. 35 years ago I prosecuted misdemeanors in Minnesota, and both state law and municipal ordinances at that time defined firearms as weapons that used “self-contained” ammunition. In other words, matchlock, wheel lock, flintlock, and percussion rifles, shotguns, muskets and pistols weren’t considered to be firearms; nor were air rifles, either spring or pneumatically operated.

        Unfortunately, Minnesota Statute 609.02 was gradually amended over the years specifically to include black powder, pneumatic and spring fired weapons. It appears that, under the language of the statue as amended, a crossbow or an ordinary bow is also prohibited, as the statute includes “any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or great bodily harm.”

        This sorry situation came about because, for many years in Minnesota, every time a county attorney or the Attorney General’s Office lost a case they sprinted over to the legislature in the best crybaby fashion and got the laws amended to make it even easier to prosecute. A few decades of this sort of thing, and the people of this state are burdened with a criminal code that lacks any form of internal consistency. The irony of all this is that Minnesota reformed its criminal code in 1963 just to abolish this sort of catch-all legislation. But, as we all know, no man’s life, liberty or property are safe when the legislature is in session.

        • Capt Bart June 3, 2014, 10:39 am

          Just discovered this site and thought I’d add a little smoke to the confusion. I keep a firearms attorney group on retainer since I own firearms and the odds of some prosecutor trying to make a name is more worrisome than the annual retainer fee. In my state, the federal definition of firearm applies to all state laws. Per my legal advisor, a cap and ball revolver is NOT a firearm; never mind the number of folks C & B sent to their reward from about 1836 until the 20th century. Just like pre 1898(?) firearms are antiques and not covered by all the FFL/paperwork stuff, the Cap and Ball replicates are not “Legal” guns. When I got the .45 Colt cylinder for my 1860 Army it came with a warning that if I put the cylinder into a C&B revolver I was “manufacturing” a firearm and as long as the cylinder remained in the gun it was a legal firearm, not a C&B. My attorney also pointed out that while I could beat the rap (of carrying a C&B where “firearms” were not allowed), did I really want the heartburn of the argument and the ride downtown over a “non-” gun. Basically he said, don’t be stupid.
          Oh, I live in Texas where if you have a CHL you do not go through the screening at the capital; you flash your ID and then carry on into the dome! Even our governor shoots coyotes while jogging in the parks in the capital, so maybe we are not the typical state. Next session we should have open carry for hand guns in Texas; long gun open carry is legal now but some DA’s get all bent out of shape over it. I do love my state.

  • Baldeagle6 June 11, 2012, 3:39 pm

    A good article, BUT – - I wish you had not slanted it towards the perceived “loophole” inherent in the laws regarding antique firearms and non-cartridge replicas thereof. All we need is more ammunition for the “antis” to use in trying to abolish the ownership, use, and possession of ALL firearms. If the “Brady Bunch” get their hands on this, they will be demanding that this “loophole”, like the “gun show loophole” be closed now and forever more!

    The intent of the “antique firearm” (pre-1898) exemption is to facilitate the collection and transfer of antique firearms. When we try to turn it into a way for those who are not authorized to legally own and carry firearms to still carry weapons, we do all law-abiding gun owners and collectors a disservice.

    Likewise when we point out the power of muzzleloaded weapons, we also add fuel to the fires of anti-gun passion.

    There are already laws in some jursidictions that place “firearms type” restrictions on pre-1898 guns. We don’t need more.

    Let’s think about who may be reading our blogs and be guided accordingly.

    • Rick June 12, 2012, 8:38 am

      Let us live in paranoia and fear.
      You really think the anti-2nd Amendment crowd need help? They are pressing on every front, including black powder. Getting good information out to our people is critical.

    • xiazon January 24, 2013, 9:40 pm

      Or perhaps we stop cowering in fear over the constant onslaught of liberal propaganda. At a certain point we must say enough is enough and stop running. We are American citizens entitled to our rights which INCLUDE the 2nd Amendment. I’m so tired of everyone whispering lest we be discovered DOING NOTHING WRONG!!! The illegal legislation they pass and attempt to pass are the problem, not those following the constitution. Stop whispering and cowering and start standing up for your God given rights!

    • Mick J January 19, 2014, 8:22 pm

      Haha…my God, do you really think that this article will be the catalyst for the anti 2nd nutz? The NRA has kept this from happening for a long long time. So fear not a good read… Just keep your shorts on… And your powder dry.

  • northshoreboy June 11, 2012, 4:28 pm

    Great article!! But I do agree with baldeagle6.

    • Mark N. June 11, 2012, 5:20 pm

      As do I; blackpowder firearms are defined as “fireams” under California Penal code as respects possession, and possession by a prohibited person is a felony! Check your local and/or state laws! (Particularly if you live in Illinois, Massachusets, New Jersey or New York.)

  • Dick June 11, 2012, 5:04 pm

    regarding “Colt” style open top revolvers: I don’t find it necessary to remove the wedge at all, I loosen the wedge, usually with my thumb, and slide the wedge out until it is just held by the screwhead, and leave it in the barrel, and never mess with the screw. So many folks don’t understand the principle of the wedge. Thumb pressure, or a VERY light tap with the handle of a screwdriver makes it as tight as is needed to be effective, any more “driving” of the wedge will cause distortion of metal, either of the barrel or the wedge itself. Just not needed. Picture a boxcar wheel on a rail, the contact surface of that wheel is about the size of a dime, and the “contact surface” is microscopic for the wedge. I have an old screwdriver handle with no bit in it, that I use for a “cheater” on those guns with very short loading rod levers, and also on a wedge if I cannot loosen it with my thumb. Of course, once a wedge or the wedge slot is damaged by over “driving”, this procedure probably won’t work. I have five “colt style” pistols that I have used this procedure on since new with success.

  • jerry June 11, 2012, 5:51 pm

    i wonder if someone can tell me what oklahoma has to say about this? can primitive or muzzeloading arms be carried by anyone? please someone look into this and tell me? thanks!

    • Mick J January 19, 2014, 8:25 pm

      Why cant you look into it? Just curious.

  • Rob Dell June 11, 2012, 6:22 pm

    Gee, what kind of fool would prance around, waiving the “loophole” flag for every Hillary and Finklestein gun-grabber to snatch and go with to ban black powder firearms? Oh, looks like William F. Rothschild is that fool. Thanks, schitthead. When they pass that ban, I hope they call it the Rothschild Bill so everyone knows who to pay a visit to.

    • william September 6, 2013, 7:45 pm

      exactly my point, this article is to inform the liberals anti gun jerks that there are so called loop holes, they arent loopholes the fact is they know they are there and have been approved as a primitive way of shooting, dont group that into regualar cartridge gun shooting, and when some one has a good response to write dont be bias and not print it so your article dont look bad, it is a one way article and if I see it correctly it is to educate the liberal gun grabbers as to more bullshit they can go after just to go after more gun rights, articles like these shouldnt be written, people can figure out on thier own, this sucks

  • LJ June 11, 2012, 6:37 pm

    Actually MN law is that restrictive. He did leave out the portion of the law that says “for the purpose of committing a crime.” The question gets to be how hard is it to prove intent to commit a crime.
    A paperclip straightened out and driven through the eyball could be able to reach the brain and kill someone but it may be hard to prove that is the intent of the paperclip in your pocket. The spitwad may not be a problem but the titanium straw you got off the internet could easily used to kill someone. Especially if it has a slanted end and acute tapered edges.
    Your best bet is to have a CCW permit which makes that ASP in your pocket legal despite the MN law on dangerous weapons.

    • Duray June 11, 2012, 10:18 pm

      There is no such thing as a CCW in Minnesota. MN issues a Permit to Carry a Pistol. Period. Do you have a statute to reference which shows a Permit to Carry applies to an ASP in Minnesota? I’m not saying there isn’t one..if there is, I wanna look it up.

  • Henry June 11, 2012, 6:46 pm

    A simple way to turn a black powder revolver into a cartrdige pistol is to buy a R & D drop in cylinder. Check out Howell Old West Conversions web-site.

    • Rick June 12, 2012, 8:40 am

      They cost as much as a real firearm, so what is the point? Get a percussion pistol AND a low end Peacemaker clone for the same money.

    • Harold June 21, 2013, 10:33 pm

      yes, I ordered my Pietta 1858 New Army .44 revolver and the drop-in conversion cylinder and both were delivered to my door. Now I can shoot .44 round balls or .45 Long Colt Cowboy ammo….I LOVE it!

  • Neal June 11, 2012, 8:20 pm

    I found your blog very informative to the uninformed and acurate. I read all of the pros and cons and agreed with many of the postings. I have been in the gun business for nearly 50 years and own many black powder replica firearms. I have enjoyed many hours of shooting and indured many more cleaning each one after a shooting session. The only thing I did not care for was the “loophole” indication as a way for unqualified individuals to get around their statis. Once you change the piece from cap and ball to cartridge you are the in possession of a “firearm” and that is not good advise to be giving someone that has already been denied the right to own a firearm. This could get them into a whole lot more trouble. Other wise your article was great.
    Other than the evil overlords forcing yet another ban on the American Citizens (in good standing) I am sure they have been trying to figure out a way to ban these types of revolvers for a long time before you wrote this blog. Keep up the great work

    Bentrider

    • Harold June 21, 2013, 10:42 pm

      I disagree with you, sir. If the conversion cylinder reclassifies the revolver as a “firearm, then the conversion cylinders would be illegal to sell without a background check……same as someone selling the “receiver” of a shotgun or rifle……you simply can’t sell a receiver without a background check. Not sure what state you live in….maybe this revolver conversion is illegal where you live, but it ain’t in MY stomping grounds.

  • AK June 11, 2012, 8:22 pm

    In the late 90′s, a Missouri nurse was shot dead by a psycho with a Colt 1860 replica. Immediately, Congresscritter Dick Gephardt (D-MO) started screaming for percussion pieces to be regulated as any other firearm. The sound of crickets made him lonely. He retired soon after that.

    There’s a lesson there somewhere.

    • Al Joy June 11, 2012, 9:50 pm

      In NY state you can buy a black powder pistol/revolver without a permit.
      However if you possess caps, balls and powder in the same proximity as the gun, you are in possession of a “loaded firearm” In order to possess the pistol, caps, balls and powder you must have a Permit issed by the state of NY. Note the weapon does not have to be loaded in order to qualify uder NY law as being a loaded firearm, only that all components be available.

      • Harold June 21, 2013, 10:45 pm

        still cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would live in NY state on purpose

        • Mick J January 19, 2014, 8:34 pm

          New York is terrible, only criminals have guns. Also….look at any site that sells swords, knives, blow guns, etc. Etc. You will always see…’can not ship to N.Y., N.J., and of course…Mass. I shop BUDK.com regularly, and can buy knives and swords all day long and shipped to Ct. Connecticut!! Imagine that, but New York….forget about it!

  • Paul June 11, 2012, 9:41 pm

    I liked what you said. The federal law dose exempt these arms, just as you said. However some states are like nannies. They do not alow you to have any thig they do not approve. Like ma . You need a pistol permit
    to get them. I have a few of the guns you stated & a few single shots. One was a trapper pistol & the other a patriot pistol by Thompson arms. I picked up the patriot unfired for more than I should have paid & it is a beautiful peace.

  • Larry June 11, 2012, 10:21 pm

    Good information and well written but what the @%$#! is the intent of mentioning the word “loophole” in such detail within the same context of owning and shooting cap and ball revolvers? I agree with Baldeagle6′s post and as I read the article I kept wanting to hit the delete key for each time that phrase was used. I guarantee this will come back to bite law abiding collectors, historians, reenactors and anyone who enjoys the freedom we now have to own and shoot these replicas. Think before you publish. Once you hit the send button there is no going back.

  • Michael June 11, 2012, 10:24 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your artical. So much so I saved it for future reference. Thanks for taking the time to write and post all the information. I’m a hand loader and this sounds like so much fun to do.

  • Terry June 11, 2012, 11:45 pm

    Great article! I learned a great deal. Might even buy a smokestick just for kicks.

  • OregonJake June 11, 2012, 11:48 pm

    I agree on the 58 Remington. With practice, you can pop in a fresh cylender in less time than it takes to load any newer Colt. I load all of my BP pistols heavy, and apply an organic grease around each ball. Now, as far as the 36 goes, I have only one, but it will penetrate a piece of cord wood as far as my 44′s will.

  • Wolfgang June 12, 2012, 1:46 am

    Actually federal law states any gun manufactured on or before December 31st, 1898 is NOT considered a firearm, so the article should read “…before 1899…”.
    Check your facts first!
    Wolfgang

  • Dick June 12, 2012, 8:18 am

    It is great to see all of the discussion of our Second Amendment rights that sites like this help keep alive. But, just not saying the word “loophole” does not make it go away. We are not the only people that can read. This is not the only place that, “loophole”, and many other words are being discussed. We need to take our heads out of the sand and recognize the threats to our Constitutional rights that do exist, whether we say the words aloud, or whisper them secretly to each other.The word “loophole”and many others, are being used right now to attempt to further restrict, or actually strip us of the right to keep and bear arms, black powder or modern, all included . We must support the organizations and people that are carrying the fight to keep those rights from being further destroyed or restricted. These people and organizations are not secrets either, find them and give them your support.

  • Jack Goodspeed June 12, 2012, 10:52 am

    Bill,

    Exceptionally well tested, documented and written article. More complete than the stuff some people get paid to write. As someone who started with an original 1860 Colt Army that came back with an ancestors personal property after he was killed in 1863 I appreciate the “hands on” report. I had to always make sure that the final part of the loading process was to put a good cap of crisco or grease over the projectile to prevent the fairly frequent discharge of two cylinders at once when I neglected that step. Otherwise the old gun functioned flawlessly with 35 grains of ffg behind a .452 Speer swedged semi wad cutter (standard .45 auto reload projectile) and punched a perfect hole, usually in under a 3″ group at 50 feet hand-held. Mighty good for a gun that was just over 100 years old the first time I shot it. Over the years the gun stayed as good, only I got worse.

  • Ed Humphreys June 12, 2012, 11:41 am

    Nice article, but I suspect that Ruger will continue to make the OLD ARMY at intervals, rather than on a regular production basis. I suspect the higher cost limits how many they could sell. Mine is a first generation stainless .44, bought new, and I have never had any problems, even if I stuff the cylinder full of FFFg powder and a conical or round ball. And I can load all 6 chambers, as Ruger provided a notch in-between each chamber for the hammer to rest. It is deadly accurate at some considerable distance!
    Cleaning is easy. I disassemble it, then wash with soap (Spic ‘n Span),water, and an old toothbrush. I then rinse in hot water and spray it all the way through with WD40, dripping, and proceed to blow it dry with compressed air. It can sit for months and still be in perfect condition. And it’s true with mine, you can dry fire it all you want, and the hammer never touches a nipple.
    I hope Ruger makes the Stainless model again so I can buy some for my (now adult) kids. Fabulous cap ‘n ball!

    • Administrator June 12, 2012, 12:09 pm

      No I think its done. Don’t forget they have collectors out there who are starting to pay more for them. Re-releasing it would piss them off.

  • Steve Florman June 12, 2012, 10:38 pm

    Two thoughts: first, there’s a difference between being able to purchase a percussion handgun legally, and being able to carry said handgun legally, as the Minnesota poster pointed out. I can purchase (and have purchased) a number of used and new percussion pistols in MN, but only my carry permit allows me to lug one around loaded. (I prefer a M1911 for obvious reasons!)

    Second, never, ever, ever let someone talk you into buying a brass frame percussion pistol. Even with light loads, if you shoot often, eventually the frame will stretch out and the timing will be off. You can’t fix that. You’ll save a few bucks up front but the day will come when the weapon will be useless. Pay the extra for steel.

    Nice article!

  • Big H June 13, 2012, 11:25 am

    I have two BP pistols one Ruger 45 Old Army( Rugers are 45 cal. not 44 cal) and a 58 Rimington with a 12inch barrel. The Ruger is the tuffest and the most reliable BP made, the 58 Rem. with the 12 inch barrel is the most fun to shoot, I use one pellet of powder(30 gr.) and a round ball works great up to 60 yards on prairie dogs.

    Get out and make some smoke!

  • VOS June 13, 2012, 12:53 pm

    Since you guys are playing in my backyard I just have to say a few things. Remember, all our rights are “loopholes” that let us do stuff that other people may not want us to do. Hodgdon’s 777 expressly says to avoid compression of the load (last time I checked the label), but Pyrodex has no such prohibition. Back in 2003 I published a load in Muzzleblasts (official magazine of the NMLRA) using Pyrodex in the Ruger Old Army that is the balistic equivalent of a factory .41 mag. Don’t fire a percussion revolver unless all the loaded chambers are capped. This is a much more likely cause of chain fires than lack of grease at the chamber mouth, (provided you have big enough balls). I wouldn’t trust the hammer-nose-between-the-chambers safeties. Very little hammer movement is needed to free the cylinder and turn the gun into a land mine. Finally, I used a Wonderlube/shortening mix for chamber mouth grease for years on the pistol line at Friendship and never had a cylinder bind up from fouling. I use Tetra (synthetic) gun grease on the internals, and can leave it in place for years without it gumming up the works. I learned to avoid petroleum products as they seem to react badly with black powder fouling, and can make your gun alot tougher to clean than it needs to be, (even with nasty, dirty, stinky real black powder).

  • Bill June 13, 2012, 9:22 pm

    Hi I’m a convicted fellon in Michigan and love these old style guns
    Now I’m a non-violent fellon but a fellow none the less what can I do to get back
    On the hunt, but I want to hunt big game any tips on my situation?

    • Administrator June 14, 2012, 7:45 am

      How about 444 Marlin ballistics out of a muzzleloader?

      http://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/traditons-evolution-bolt-action-inline-muzzleloader/

    • Douglas Kulp November 12, 2012, 9:34 pm

      As “ANY” kind of a “Felon”, you can never get a gun or hunting permit.

      Sorry, to tell you, but being a felon… even a non-violent felon, has consequences beyond your jail time.

      “I” would rather it be just this way … no offense … just saying

      • alex rad December 24, 2013, 10:42 pm

        im a felon, i got caught with weed, whoop de fucking do, who are you, CHRIST!!! people like YOU are why our second amendment laws are being stripped every day. Soon it will be if you get a ticket, you wont be able to own a firearm. to tell YOU the truth, im a non violent felon, you should put your head in the toilet and flush a few times, for being the dumb ass you are. like you NEVER commited a crime, you just didnt get busted assshole. your lucky this isnt the ole west, you wouldnt be alive, and you must be a commie, our[us american. our forefathers] wrote all are free, all should be able to protect themselves, as i did 2 weeks ago fighting off three blacks trying to rob me at a truck station, if i didnt have that little 2″ knife, i might be dead. so to hell with you and your gun controlling ways, id say u commit a gun crime, cut both trigger fingers off!!!!rape cut the dick off, steal, let the person you stole from come to your house and take what ever he pleases. but you your whats wrong with this country, by the way, im so succesful, i bought my gun rites back!!!!

        • Mick J January 19, 2014, 8:57 pm

          Good grief….I’m a convicted felon from a non violent crime in 1976… And i feel your pain. But the way you just reacted to some one else’s opinion, well i don’t think you should have any kind of weapon either. Grow up, you behave like a child.

    • Harold June 21, 2013, 10:56 pm

      well, if you’re a convicted felon, you’re not supposed to be in possession of a firearm….PERIOD. While most black powder guns are not considered to be “firearms”, is it really worth the risk of going back to jail?

      • william sargent September 5, 2013, 9:38 pm

        In the state of Texas you can have a firearm, but can only have it in your house for personal protection, can’t hunt with it. But if some dude comes bursting thru your front door going to rape and kill your wife and kids at least you can blast the crap out of them with the biggest gun you got and not go to jail !

  • Wayne June 17, 2012, 1:08 am

    I had a 44cal 1851 a number of years ago and would go dear hunting with it. Loaded with mini ball it had great knock down power. I tested it on a junked 63 impala from twenty feet with wad cutters, round ball, and mini ball. the first two types penetrated one door into the interior the mini ball rounds went through both doors. Cinder blocks at 50 ft turned to dust. Shotgun plastic wads loaded with small shot peppered paper targets at 15 ft. At one time I saw spare cylinder available making a speed loader, which worked well for cowboy shooting events.

  • Nesaray June 19, 2012, 4:32 am

    ?,Antes de llegar el General a Japón, se autosumistro dos botes de Polvora y los viejos Molinos continuan sin Aparecer

  • JTCoyoté June 20, 2012, 1:52 am

    Some years back I kitted together an 8 inch Pietta 1858 Remington .44 I got from Dixie. I found the optimum accuracy and “punch” load in my little Remington consisted of the Lee 452/200SWC micro-groove bullet, cast in wheel weight alloy, powered by 22 grains (actual weight)of Hodgdon Triple Se7en ffg, separated by a single .460″ milk carton wad. The bullet must be loaded using a cylinder loader however, since it’s too long to squarely clear the throat in normal loading. The Cylinder loader is a valuable accessory for charging these beauties uniformly as well as for exploring the wide variety of conical bullets available. I shoot my pistols at 25 yards generally, I figure if I can hit the apple every time at that distance, anything attacking inside 50 yards is toast… but I digress. With the Chrony set up at 10 to 12 feet from the muzzle, the 200 grain SWC breaks the screens in the high 900s occasionally sliding into the low 1000fps range. It consistently groups 6 shots within 3 inches at 75 feet when I do my part.

    • VOS June 21, 2012, 10:48 am

      Once again, I don’t believe Hodgden wants you compressing 777! Use Pyrodrex if you want to compress a load. That’s alot of pressure for your Pietta since you’re load is comparable to a pretty warm .44 special. I don’t think Pietta built their Rem. ’58 with that kind of load in mind!

      • JTCoyoté June 22, 2012, 5:58 am

        VOS

        I agree with you totally as far as compressing Triple Se7en goes… the 22 grains by weight load above is merely tight with no compression. The cylinder will hold 24 grains of Triple Se7en behind the 452/200SWC Lee without compression and still have clearance to spin.

        My experience with 18 to 22 grain by weight loads are the best. They are more accurate and less punishing than the heavier or compressed loads spoken of in the article, and give very consistent velocities of around 980fps at 18gr. to 1100fps at 22gr. I never compress Triple Se7en even in cartridge guns nor is it wise to use tall wad stacks or inactive fillers in cartridges… It likes just tight best… If you must error however, error on the side of a little loose.

        I have fired this load many times without even a hint of stress… You’ve correctly assessed that the 18 to 22 grain by weight loads give similar ballistic variations one would expect from various powders behind a 200 grain bullet from a .44 Special. However the heavier weight of the Remington yields a milder recoil for sure, yet the pressures generated with the loads mentioned here are well within the structural limits of the 1858 Remington with a steel frame.

        Here is my first outing some years back with the Remington using Triple Se7en…

        http://britishmilitariaforums.yuku.com/topic/1805/A-new-load-for-the-Remington-Army

        JTCoyoté

  • Dirt July 14, 2012, 6:00 pm

    Wow, this article has lots of good info.
    Always wanted to try out cap & ball wheelguns. Don’t know if I ever will-I think the loophole thing is kind of overblown. I mean, it requires some pretty solid skill to get these things to actually shoot. It’ll be challenging enough for the average enthusiast to remember to collect the correct components, and to use them correctly. Any crook will get bored, frustrated, or just get their cartridge gun from wherever they do. Somehow, I don’t think we are going to have a rash of high profile crime with cap & ball-ever.
    Still, thanks for the peek into traditional arms. Hopefully more will be on the way?

    • Johnnie Roper November 2, 2012, 5:33 pm

      Dear Friends,
      Very good article for a beginner to learn from. Don’t knock the power and ability of the .36 revolver to kill. Hickok
      used them to very good effect. However, that man had an almost uncanny degree of co-ordination of hand and eye! I also saw a photo of a .36 ball that was dug out of the body of an unfortunate shooter! Someone must have gotten REAL
      careless at the range! The spent ball was pictured alongside a Quarter! They looked pretty much the same size!!! A\U.S.Quarter is about 15/16ths. of an inch! Food for thought! A pure lead ball is a very, VERY nasty thing to get hit with! I had the misfortune to accidentally drop an 1858Remington with the 5.5″ barrel. It landed on the point of the butt on a lino tiled floor and bounced. When the pistol stopped, the hammer didn’t, and the cylinder rotated the quarter inch necessary to allow the hammer to rest on a cap. The second bounce was (Unfortunately!) on the hammer, and the gun discharged. The ball went through the fleshy part of my left hand. It felt as if it had been hit with a sledgehammer! It looked a lot worse. Like a piece of raw hamburger! I was lucky! I could still move all my fingers! I will soon have the full use of my hand back. I have handled all types of weapons, even when I lived in my native England, I have had one accidental discharge before this, but as always, the gun was pointing in a safe direction, and the only thing damaged was a favorite picture of my then wife’s! In this case a certain percentage of the blame WAS mine. I was carrying the gun in a holster I had designed and made for myself. The design was faulty. I had positioned the belt loop too low on the holster, and the pistol sagged until it was more nearly at 15 degrees, instead of the 45 degrees I had hoped for. I bent to pick up something off the floor, and the pistol slid out!
      If people comment on the hand, I shall tell them tongue in cheek, that a Yankee Cavalry captain got me at Shiloh!
      I have since, “Operated,” on the hammers of both my Remungtons, so that the hammers have a bigger bite in the safety notches than before. Something I would respectfully suggest that all persons who carry loaded 1858 Remington’s do! Better safe than sorry. But better yet, DON’T EVER DROP ONE!!!!!!!!!
      Gunslinger, from Phoenix, Arizona, the Pistoleero’s Paradise!

  • Wild Bill, (used ta be) July 26, 2012, 6:07 pm

    Can anybody tell me what the Okla laws are concerning carrying Cap and Ball Revolvers open and conceiled are. Im 65 retired and been a resident of the state since 79

    • Mick J January 19, 2014, 9:24 pm

      You’ve been in the State since 1979….your sitting in front of a internet connected computer, and your asking who…? Come on man.

  • Leif Carlsen July 26, 2012, 6:54 pm

    The practice of loading and capping spare cylinders makes some degree of sense in a controlled environment, like a match. Perhaps choosing a more appropriate weapon makes better sense, however, as any unfortunate slip or bobble could result in an inadvertant discharge of at least one chamber. It seems to me that promulgating the idea or practice of carrying the equivalent of an impact explososive on one’s person, with the intent of attempting to change cylinders in the stress of a gunfight, is ill-advised or even negligent. A slip or fall while carrying a cylinder in this condition could have disastrous results, as well.
    May I suggest a heavy-for-caliber loading in your snubby? The heavier projectile provides more resistance, and better powder burn. It seems a logical choice, as maximum velocities are limited by short barrel lengths.
    I enjoyed the article and data.

  • TayNinh_66 July 31, 2012, 2:06 pm

    Massachusetts has no restrictions on purchase of BP revolvers or rifles, but you can’t buy powder or ammunition without a license. Round balls can be considered ammunition. In other words, check all sections of your state regs, not just ones that pertain to BP.

    Shoot Safe

  • Cody September 11, 2012, 1:07 pm

    I cant buy a firearm in Texas. I ask my local game warden a he told me that I can hunt with either primitive black powder or bow hunting. I like dove hunting so I got a double barrel black powder shot gun Cabelas from and a Hawkins 50 cal for dear hunting. I also own a 45cal black powder revolver I carry wile I hunt. I have been checked several times wile hunting by game wardens and never had a problem with hunting or carrying a black powder firearm. I enjoy primitive hunting so much more than the way I use to hunt. There is a lot of challenge and fun in hunting with black powder and I hope people like me can keep doing what we love. (Hunting)

  • krock October 11, 2012, 11:43 pm

    Excuse me baldeagle6 but who do you think you are talking about when you say you do legal gun owners a dis service when people normally prohibited from owning guns buy cap and ball pistols? I happen to be a felon and I am not embarrassed or the least bit sorry about my crime nor should I be because my crime shouln’t be a crime. I punched an a-hole in the mouth for going into my car without permission (second degree assault) and then the a.t.f.ags stormed me when I was coming out of gilbert guns in rockville md. then they locked me up for 39 months in fed prison. All becuase 18 usc 922 g makes it a felony for me to go into the woods and target shoot. I have been a shooting sports enthusiast since I was 6 years old and I am so happy to learn that I can have cap and ball guns. Remember its not up to you to judge those with felonies, sure you are riding high now with all your 2nd am. rights
    but just keep thinking they can’t be stripped from you by our nazzi fourth rike government and they surely one day will !!!

    • MH Snider November 12, 2012, 10:05 pm

      Personally I feel the 1960′s laws about felons not being able to own guns is bullshit and completely unconstitutional. Last time I checked the constitution and 2nd amendment it did not say anything about not being able to keep and bear arms for any group of people. If anyone was paying attention Obama has now made it illegal to own a firearm if you have a medical pot card. Pretty soon it will be you can’t own a gun if you drink beer or because you drive a red car.

  • riptorn November 4, 2012, 7:56 pm

    Do you all know what bugs me most about the replies to this article? no one knows how to spell or has the initiative to look up spelling in the dictionary. Dear? Deer! Wile? While! Lets get educated! All in all a good article, which is based on first hand experience. I agree with most of what was expostulated and feel that if you want to shoot BP revolvers, then go out and buy one and get experience shooting it. It is not necessary to produce 2″ groups at 25 yds but to get out and shoot. Learn by reading, doing, and looking up words in the dictionary. You’ll be a better person in self-realization.

  • nick phillips November 14, 2012, 3:04 pm

    Thank you for this interesting and informative article. I was considering buying a cap & ball pistol and did some researching on the web and came cross your post. I now know much more about C&P pistols and will certainly buy the Remington 1858 from Cabella’s.
    Again, thanks for the info.

    • Administrator November 14, 2012, 3:28 pm

      You are very welcome.

  • Jim Stone November 27, 2012, 7:36 pm

    Thanks for the article. I am a target shooting enthusiast and have been thinking of getting into black powder pistol shooting. I am reading everything I can so I hopefully won’t make a stupid mistake in purchase or use. This helps.
    Jim Stone Jacksonville NC

    • Victor January 18, 2014, 10:50 am

      Hello Jim, I know its been a long time since you posted this. I bought a BP cap and ball revolver without doing the homework. Come to find out the caps are hard to find if you can even find them. I was told I could use the #11s by pinching them. But they still fall out sometimes. I guess I will try to find a revolver that uses the #11s. Hope you had better luck than me.

      • Mick J January 19, 2014, 9:32 pm

        I just received 10 tins of #10 caps from Cabellas…thats 1,000 primers. Not all that hard to find at all.

      • john March 16, 2014, 7:04 am

        just buy tresco nipples and the #11 cap will fit perfect

  • Rupe January 12, 2013, 1:07 pm

    Great article……many thanks! I am just getting into BP shooting and greatly appreciate the information!

  • grassroot January 18, 2013, 4:14 pm

    That ” Armi San Marco” Walker clot copy can’t be 9 pounds can it?
    The originals were only around five pounds. How would they get another four
    pounds hung on it?

    • grassroot January 18, 2013, 4:15 pm

      Meant to type ” Colt” sorry

    • Dave July 24, 2013, 5:58 pm

      The Colt Walker weighs 4 lbs. 8 oz.

  • paul January 26, 2013, 2:50 pm

    I bought a 36 cal 1851 Pietta and a Kentucky Long Rifle 45 cal that had been abused years ago and left that way. I started messing around with the revolver and got it to shoot once. It took two weeks getting the longrifle unplugged. I created long drill bits, used hammers and finally used a plumbers torch. The heat made the old lead run out, and made the nipple red hot so I could remove it. Soap, water, brushes, q-tips are great tools. Don’t be scared, it’s a learning experience. Check out Muzzleloaders Primer online and study. Now, they are my guns of choice and have purchased 9 more. Enjoy!!

  • jake February 16, 2013, 3:54 pm

    Can anyone tell me where i can buy ammo for a colt 1850 naval arms revolver . (was used in the pale rider with clint eastwood)

    • Administrator February 16, 2013, 7:29 pm

      It is a 51 navy and probably a .36 caliber ball.

    • Dave July 24, 2013, 5:57 pm

      The revolver Clint Eastwood used in Pale Rider was the .44 caliber Remington 1858 New Army with the cartridge conversion cylinder.

      • Mick J January 19, 2014, 9:35 pm

        Why would or how would they have a conversion cylinder in the 1800′s? Really….

        • Dean N August 16, 2014, 3:34 pm

          “Why would or how would they have a conversion cylinder in the 1800′s? Really….”
          Why – for the convenience of using cartridges.
          How would they have a conversion cylinder – they would purchase one from a merchant who is in the business of selling such items.
          Be assured they had them then (then being shortly after the introduction of the Colt Peacemaker in 1873 or so).

  • rt66paul March 25, 2013, 11:01 am

    I do not know about your state, but some Felons have successfully applied and received hunting licenses. Most have to be off of parole for 10 years – I am sure that the original offense might have something to do with getting reinstated. You might try asking a local judge first.

  • jerry July 7, 2013, 1:59 am

    The statement with lead ball protection with fps and such , I agree with with you for the simple reasons that they did kill more people than most modern weapons , Only one fact the main cal is the .31 and .36 first I believe this would be effective round for minor protection and carry with out the encumbrance of the .44 six ” plus. Simply speaking the speed makes the velocity = great impact , Example : the common .22 cal standard has good average kill range and mainly used for small game and take the mag round and .223 ar 15 is a .22 with 3 thousands more , meaning if they packed some extra powder in their .36 cal , and there was no Armour vest with equal death especially six rounds. Today’s black pistols; yes the larger cal with more powder is better protection same apply s with most guns its one’s personal choice for home protection or comfort with pocket carry or mercy hunting kills . My question to any one here , is it safe to use a conical lead bullet in a Kentucky .50 cal pistol not just the lead rounds ? If so would one use some gel too help or not to use at all. Thanks

  • Dave July 24, 2013, 5:51 pm

    FYI: The Colt Walker weighs 4 lbs. 8 oz.

  • jerry August 4, 2013, 10:14 am

    I agree !!

  • william September 6, 2013, 7:39 pm

    Admin: I wrote a few replies and comments and they never got posted….. what kind of crap is that? what is this some sort of liberal peice of crap hidden agenda to strip our rights? Black powder is black powder whether you like it or not, it does not require back ground checks and that is it. sorry you couldnt post my writings because they were not in any violation. Just turned me off gunsamerica, there are alot more informative information out there that doesnt confuse people and call these laws loop holes, the government knows they exist and they stand up as policy whether you like it or not. I suggest you get into some other activity like collecting barbie dolls or something because you are bias when it comes to guns.

    • Mick J January 19, 2014, 9:38 pm

      Your insane….what the heck are you talking about? Wow…. I can only imagine why your comments were not posted after reading this one.

  • Tom Dokulil October 30, 2013, 4:22 pm

    Anyone out there help me on this one? I have a 1858 New model Remington. The owners manual says to use .451 round ball. I have acquired a large number of .439 round ball ammo. Is it okay to use the smaller diameter ball? Anyone in the Twin Cities area of MN that would buy/trade for the .451?

  • Joe November 16, 2013, 12:12 pm

    I recently purchased cap & ball revolver made by Connecticut Valley Arms Inc. Patent #49652. Can anyone give me some infor on it? Wood handle and the cylinder has ships etched into it.

    • Mick J January 19, 2014, 9:40 pm

      Google CVA .50 Cal….injuries. Then take a sledge hammer to it and thank God your not blind maimed…or both.

  • Daniel Ockowitz December 10, 2013, 11:16 am

    Paint the nipples with fingernail polish

    It works well to hold the caps
    Daniel B

  • Victor January 18, 2014, 10:42 am

    I bought a cap and ball revolver Pietta .44 Navy Yank. Come to find out there are no #10 percussion caps available in the whole United States. I thought it would be cheaper shooting than a .22. The cap is as hard to find as a .22 round. Not to mention 40 bucks for 50 rounds of .22 mags. I tried pinching the #11 caps, its a hit and miss situation.

  • Mick J January 19, 2014, 9:41 pm

    What color….? Hot pink?

  • Razorback March 13, 2014, 12:20 am

    Great article. I recently got a 1851 Confederate “Navy” 44 from cabelas. Yea it has a brass frame, but since all it is for is fun, no biggie! I have found a light load it loves, a 40S&W case filled with fffg over a 457 ball. Couple hundred through her and no ratchet marks in frame and is fun!!!!

    P.s. WTF is wrong with you folks posting here? Grow up.

    Folks who did not commit violent crimes should not have their rights taken, oterwise, screw em

  • Razorback March 13, 2014, 12:27 am

    Also, my 1851 calls for #10 caps, yet all i can locate are #11, they work fine, just cant point it in the air! Like i said, its a plinker, no problem!

    • Administrator March 13, 2014, 12:00 pm

      If you pinch them before you put them on they will stay put.

  • Mark G March 17, 2014, 12:14 am

    I’ve got an 1847 Walker Texas Ranger commemorative, manufactured by Traditions. It is .44 Cal Perc. Revolver with a 9″ blued barrel, sim Ivory grip, gold engraved ‘Texas Ranger’ and brass trim. Beautiful show gun and shoots well (only shot about a few times). Thinking of selling it with a custom holster, original box, & accessories. Any idea of what it is worth?

    • Mark G March 17, 2014, 12:16 am

      I’ve got an 1847 Walker Texas Ranger commemorative, manufactured by Traditions. It is .44 Cal Perc. Revolver with a 9″ blued barrel, sim Ivory grip, gold engraved ‘Texas Ranger’ and brass trim. Beautiful show gun and shoots well (only shot about a few times). It is # 88 of 1,000. Can’t buy one now. Thinking of selling it with a custom holster, original box, & accessories. Any idea of what it is worth?

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