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Cap and Ball loads
11-18-2016, 12:24 PM
Post: #1
Cap and Ball loads
I just bought a 2nd gen Colt 1851 and will be looking to buy a .44 cal either Colt Dragoon or Walker depending on how the auction goes. I have a couple of Shiloh BP cartridge rifles I use 1.5 Fg Swiss in, but I have not loaded a cap and ball. I think the 1.5 Fg is a little large for revolvers. I was wondering what bp is commonly used, both brand and Fg, and what the ball diameter should be for Colt .36 cal and Colt .44 cal? I know in my Shiloh the .50 is really .511 or .512 and the .45 is really .458 - .459. Is it the same with cap and ball revolvers? Do you put a wad with a grease cookie in them then the ball? I know to seal off the cylinder chambers to prevent multiple chambers from firing.
Thanks in advance for any help.
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11-18-2016, 07:23 PM
Post: #2
RE: Cap and Ball loads
Good on you!! They are really fine handguns. For your .36 cal. Navy use Hornady or Speer swaged .375 or cast .380 dia. balls The 44 Colt's use .457 either swaged or cast. I usually use 3 fg but 2 fg will work also. 15 to 20 grains for the Navy and 25 to 30 grains for the Army. I use 35 to 40 grains for the Dragoon. You can very well use a lubed felt wad between the powder and ball or if you are doing a bunch of shooting on a range day use bullet lube over the ball seated in the chamber. Chain firing is usually a result of a cap falling off a charged chamber or I believe due to harmonic detonation. It can happen but is rare in a well built revolver. I only take the gun down once a year for internal cleaning and well oil the parts. That way any powder fouling that ends up in the action falls on the oil and not on unprotected metal. In over 40 years of shooting these I have never had rust on internal parts. Once a year pull the nipples and give the seats a good gleaning and re-lube. Do not over tighten but just snug them up. I use Slip 2000 in the bore and chambers and on the arbor with a drop on the hand. I find the best fit on these is Remington #10's for the Navy and Army and CCI # 11's with the Dragoon. I give the caps a little pinch when seating to help them stay put. When firing, turn the pistol to the side when cocking for the following shot as this allows cap debris to drop free rather then into the action via the hammer opening. Enjoy your 2'nd Generation Colts... they are really the best of the breed!
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11-19-2016, 12:09 AM
Post: #3
RE: Cap and Ball loads
Thanks Eric,
Eric,
You gave me just what I needed to know to get started. My 45-70 Sharps load is 62 grs of Swiss 1.5 Fg with a 545 gr Postell bullet. So 40 grains in a handgun will be fun. I love shooting my Shiloh Sharps BPCRs and that got me interested in the iconic Colt cap and ball revolvers. I know they came well before the 1874 Sharps, but I am really liking the black powder shooting. Can't wait to get these guns to the range. I have been reading all about the Colt C, F, and Signature Series revolvers and looking at the online auctions for some deals. I have been looking at the Blue Book of Blackpowder gun values which is a starting point. I don't really have an interest in the imported guns; I looked at a Pedersoli Sharps when I got interested in BPCRs and promptly bought two Shilohs at an online auction. Never regretted that. So I have been only looking at the 2nd generation Colts. "Real" or not, I figure they are the closet I will get to owning an original Colt shooter.

Thank you again for taking the time to get me some great starting info.
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11-19-2016, 10:06 AM
Post: #4
RE: Cap and Ball loads
I would recommend the Dragoon series of Pistols only for 2 facts: The Walker is just a bit to big and heavy for really good use unless you have a horse to tote them around and 2'nd the loading lever does not have a lever catch and it will drop under recoil which is a real pain in the butt. A Dragoon is still plenty big and powerful to smoke up a range. I use the lubed felt wads between the powder and ball as it is the least messy when shooting. I do use commercial lube over the seated ball for a extended shooting session (wonder lube, bore butter, Remington grease etc. all good for this). Many percussion revolvers were used on the buffalo range as the cartridge models were not all that plentiful except for the conversions until after 1880. I do use Uberti 1860 Army models for CAS as they do take some hard use in the sport. I will shoot a pair of Colt Navy's occasionally just for the joy of having owned them and style points...of course!
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11-19-2016, 10:52 AM
Post: #5
RE: Cap and Ball loads
The ball sizes and powder granulation that have been suggested here are spot on. The swaged balls are really nice to use as you don't have to concern your self with the sprue on the balls. Common practice with cast balls is to have the sprue pointed up when loading them in the cylinder. Swaged balls are nice and round so just drop it in and ram it home.
I have found 2 exceptions to the rule of thumb for ball sizes. First is the Ruger Old Army, normally it take the .458 ball diameter and some of the colts will be very happy with a .454 ball. Best to measure the cylinger openings and purchase balls a few thousandths over that diameter.
The second one is the little Remington pocket .31 cal. I did a lot of reserach, or as much as I could find before I picked up one and they all said, .311 balls. Nope those would have been too small. I ended up needing .319 diameter balls. However talk about a fun little thing to shoot! Yes it shoots high, and yes its not designed for folks that have fingers the size of large bananas but other than that it is fun and relatively accurate with what little I have played with it so far.
Good quality cap and ball revolvers are fun to shoot and can be quite accurate once you fine the right load for them.
Sam
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11-19-2016, 11:16 AM
Post: #6
RE: Cap and Ball loads
They are also very economical to shoot and you do no have to clean brass after a range session. I find I use my cap and ball pistols more than the cartridge guns. 2 other's are really worth a look: the 1863 Pocket Navy and Police. .36 caliber in a nice small package.
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11-20-2016, 11:09 AM
Post: #7
RE: Cap and Ball loads
Thanks both of you for all the good info. I am used to some experimentation on bullet sizes and loads from shooting the Shiloh Sharps so I don't mind testing bullets/loads. I am ordering some balls and wads now. Do either of you use the conical bullets? I noticed the mold I got with the 1851 has a round and conical cavity in it. Seems like the round balls would be simpler.
I am looking at a 1862 Pocket Navy .36 cal right now on an auction. My wife really likes the look of the 1851 so I think she will shoot the Navy and enjoy it. Good thoughts on the Walker vs Dragoon; I wondered about that loading lever not being supported. My daughters love my Colt .45 SAA 4 3/4" barrel. Both of them shoot it better than any other handgun they have tried. So I will see how they like the BP revolvers.
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11-20-2016, 11:45 AM (This post was last modified: 11-20-2016 11:46 AM by Eric Johanen.)
Post: #8
RE: Cap and Ball loads
I have and use original .36 and .44 caliber Colt molds picked up many years ago. Both in very good condition and occasionally cast conical bullets from them. The RB is more accurate than the conical but the conical has more weight hence stopping power. With conical bullets use the lower charges to allow for the extra length of the bullet. I use paper combustible cartridges with the conical bullets to speed reloading time and they are fun to use. 90% of my shooting is with the RB. Cast a few from your mold and check the size, if they are proper diameter shoot a few and see how they print. You are going to have a whole bunch of fun!!
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11-20-2016, 05:40 PM
Post: #9
RE: Cap and Ball loads
OK - I'll do that. I'm looking forward to it. I'll probably stick to RB for now. I have seen original molds online for a lot of money. If you have some they are worth some $$$
Thanks again
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11-20-2016, 10:25 PM
Post: #10
RE: Cap and Ball loads
They were a whole lot cheaper 30+ years ago! You can look for the 2'nd generation molds as they show up from time to time.
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