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One of the things I really rail about when it comes to writing about guns are the dogmas that seemingly came from nowhere. Cylinder loading devices are one of those things. Nearly everyone in the black powder world at least has one, but I question whether they are used very much.
The subject of my current condemnation is the cylinder loader from powderinc.com. I had resisted buying one for years, largely because of the price. But for this new Black Powder Project, I figured it would be a nice interlude . I generally buy my powder in bulk from Powder Inc. And they have been around forever. So I figured it was a good product that many of you would like to find out about.
And it is a good product, that’s the funny thing. You could not ask for it to be better built, made of solid stainless steel, with inserts for all the common revolver calibers and a robust linkage at the top, connected to a solid ball at the end.
The problem is, it doesn’t work at all on what I would say are the most common reason to need one of these things in the first place, the Johnson & Dow bullet from Eras Gone bullet molds. That mold just became available again, so this would be a great time to buy one and gear up for shooting it.
Turns you that you should save your money.
I developed my own method for loading revolver cylinders off the gun back in the 90s. I was an early member of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS#19811), and before they went nuts with all of their nanny rules, they allowed you to shoot Paterson Colts, which are five shot guns.
Since I’m one of those guys who never shuts up, and can talk and talk and talk between stages, I often found myself due to visit the loading table in two minutes, with no guns loaded. So I had to rush to load my guns.
Well the Paterson has a separate loading lever. It is not mounted on the gun. So you have to take the gun apart, then painstakingly line up the lever with each cylinder, using the cylinder pin for leverage.
So to make a short story long, I figured out that I could just tap the balls in with a hammer, then use a brass pin to seat them down in the chamber, and that no loading lever was ever needed.
The key is to be gentle. Just ring the bullet as it swages into the chamber. Remove the lead ring, and use a thin brass rod or punch for the rest. Brass won’t scratch your guns.
With the Johnson & Dow, which absolutely does not fit the 1851 Navy at all, and that does not clear the loading lever on all modern Pietta 58 Remmies, this is the most efficient way to use the cool and historically correct conical.
I have some new bullet projects that are more fitting for defense loads than the historic bullets. And they fit more guns. But these J&D molds are very reasonable, and they make great bullets. So I would grab one if you are a BP revolver enthusiast already, or just getting into this awesome and extremely rich corner of the shooting world.