This is a great forum site for black powder enthusiasts. I am relatively new to shooting cap and ball and have taken advantage of the wealth of information found here since early last Fall. I say "relatively" since I began collection of original Civil War era firearms back in the early seventies. While my dozen weapons can not be described as a "pristine" collection, it can be called an investment. Anyway, family and friends began bugging me with "why have all those guns when you don't shoot them", and I realized that I could never do so, at least not without giving my insurance agent a heart attack. Thus I began researchiing reproduction cap n' ball revolvers and that led me to this wonderful forum. When I began shooting at the range with my 1851 Navy Colt reproduction in December I did so with a lot of confidence based on the knownledge gained from this site.
For those like myself (newbies) searching for information, here is a brief summary of what I found about Black Powder shooting. First, there are essentially three groups of enthusiasts: the Historians, the Pure Shooters, and those that keep a foot in both the other's camps. The argument of who makes the best reproduction revolver will never end. My personal choice is Uberti because I think their guns have a better "feel" of quality and their product line is more historically accurate. There is nothing wrong with Pietta, they seem to shoot fine and certainly have the better price value. Grease over the loaded cylinder is a big topic. From a safety standpoint it is a must only if you are not "shaving" the ball when seating. However, it does help reduce fouling and makes cleaning much easier. I grease every third full cylinder that I fire and it really helps. If you don't make your own lube from recipes found on this site then my preference would be for a commercially available natural lube (if you can afford the hobby you can afford the commercial products), a 5oz tube will go a long way. Crisco is for cooking (not even that if you believe the health nuts!) and breaks down in the heat and makes a mess. Lubed wads work fine for safety purposes and ok for fouling (better than Crisco). Surprise!! Everyone is right about hot water and soap for cleaning a black powder weapon. Using an electiric hair dryer to dry everything thoroughly works great (even if not exactly historically correct). Microwaves are a no-no. Ovens take to long unless you multitask and cook a meal at the same time. Washing your revolver in the automatic dishwasher just does not seem a good idea. First, it is not a historically accurate method, the 33rd Virginia Inf did not have electirc dishwashers, and second it seems like a good way to get "pistol whipped" by the wife. Black powder vs Pyrodex is another debate that will not have an ending. Both work. Powder pellets have not proven themselves in the market for revolvers and seem to offer too much opportunity to get the wrong load in the wrong gun. Caps also bring on debate, #10 vs #11, but it is the end result that counts so use the one that gives you the least trouble. Tools that prove useful: nipple wrench, small screw driver, small wooden mallet (driving the wedge), long needle nose tweezers (great for picking cap debris out from under hammer etc.), small needle nose pliers, small flashlight. What caliber or which gun question? I suggest starting a collection and shooting them all - it is all about having fun (I'm now shooting three). Finally, safety, as with most everything common sense goes a long way with shooting black powder. Unless you are an obitual chain smoker, handling black powder can be safer than shooting many modern weapons. The very process of loading calls for your attention to detail so if you do that and follow safe firearm procedures called for by every weapon you will have an enjoyable experience and as important, so will those around you.
Thanks again for all the instruction.