Best Ammo for 1851 & 1861 Colt Navy Replica's

Discussion in 'Black Powder Shooting / Muzzleloaders / Handguns' started by Steve-O, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. Steve-O

    Steve-O Member

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    Gents & Ladies (If there are any frequenting this Forum),

    I have just joined the Forum, I am glad to find a core group that loves these old firearms as much as I do.

    I enjoy building an finishing these kit replicas (See my set of Colt Navy replicas Attached) but I have not really done any serious shooting with them.

    I have run into an issue with ammo. I have a .36 cal 1851 CVA kit (top), a .44 cal Pieta kit (middle) and a .44 cal 1861 CVA kit.

    I bought some Hornady swaged balls (.36 and .440) and they will not stay set in the cylinders when rammed into place. I even bought Ox-Yoke wonder wads and the balls still don't stay put. What is different about these balls? Are they just too small? What is different about swaged balls?

    In addition I am using CCI Magnum #11 caps, but have some issues with them coming off the nipples, should I use #10s. What do I need to do to stop this problem?

    All help appreciated, Thanks,
    Steve-O

    Attached Files:

  2. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    The problem is - you bought rifle balls.

    Rifles (or single-shot pistols - they work the same) use a patched ball. A 45 caliber rifle uses a 44 caliber ball stuck in a greased patch, which brings it up to 45 caliber. Same as a 50 caliber uses a 490 ball.

    Revolvers, on t'other hand, don't use patches. They use oversize balls, and as they are forced into the end of the cylinder, they have a little ring of lead shaved off the edge. This guarantees a correct, TIGHT fit, which is extremely important.

    A 36 caliber revolver normally takes a 375 ball. A 44 revolver normally uses 454 balls, except for the Ruger, which takes 456 balls.

    If the caps won't stay on, then yes, you probably need a smaller size.
  3. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Also, I see that all of your guns are brass framed. They will not take the pounding a steel-framed gun would. Don't use max loads.
  4. David13

    David13 Active Member Supporting Member

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    I have 2 .44s and I use the lead .451. They sit nicely and shoot nicely.
    When you buy your lead, you need to look at what .44 it actually is. They usually use .451 or .454, tho' there are other sizes.
    For me, with my barrels, the .451s shave a nice little ring off each ball. And they shoot nice.
    Your .440s are just too small.
    As to your caps, use #10. Some say pinch the 11s but I don't think that's a good idea, as they may fall off.
    Those are some nice looking guns.
    Look around here and some of the other forums, and you will find a wealth of info on all aspects of black powder.
    And also online videos, and Youtube. Even Hickok .45 has some good black powder videos.
    dc

    Yes, the load. I use about 24 grains of Goex. And I get some real nice distance and accuracy. A real bang. And that's with the steel frame.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2013
  5. Hawg

    Hawg Active Member

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    I'll second the .375 and .454 balls. While .451's may work there's more revolvers that let them move under recoil than not. Keep loads down around 15 grains for the 36's and 20 for the 44's with those brass frames.
  6. Steve-O

    Steve-O Member

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    Thanks Guys!
    I appreciate the info and hints.
    I certainly don't want to shake my pistols apart!
    I have two brass powder flask measures, one for the .36 and one for the .44, neither are marked. Can anyone tell me approximately what loads these are? Both flask measures came with the CVA kits. I am using Goex FFFg black powder, but I also have a can of Pyrodex "P", it say smokeless replica black powder, Pistol powder on the tin. Which is better for these guns?
  7. Old Grump

    Old Grump New Member

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    .375 balls, #10 caps, 25 gr of FFFg for the 36, I have the same gun and at 10 yards I get this.

    [​IMG]

    Seems like a dinky load but it went all the way through that heavy plastic jug and a solid block of ice.

    No help on the 44's I'm afraid, mine are Walkers and I suspect they are considerably heavier duty than your guns. I do use #10 caps and .454 balls though.
  8. Steve-O

    Steve-O Member

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    Good info from everyone. Thanks a bunch!
    Can anyone tell me what a "swaged" ball is and why it's different?
    Where's the best place to get .375 and.454 balls?
  9. GunnyGene

    GunnyGene New Member

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    I have the .44 Navy CVA, and have put many balls thru it in the past 15 years or so. I usually use 28g of FFFg (per the CVA recommended standard load in their booklet), but it will handle up to 33gr (max load that still leaves room for the ball) occasionally without a problem, although constant use may deform the brass frame a bit. Stick with 25 to 28 gr for the most part. I have an adjustable marked powder measure, so don't know what your's might be, although I suspect they are on the low side. Your Pyrodex "P" grade at the same loads will be fine.

    Ditto the others on ball sizing, and I use a generous application of grease patch or Crisco on top of the balls after loading. This prevents potential crossfire as well as lubing the barrel. Also make sure your cyl to barrel clearance is correct.

    As for where to buy supplies, you'll probably need to find a local gunshop that carries balls, etc., or you can recover and recast your own. You can also use soft lead from other sources. Molds are available at gun shops and on-line. Google "black powder supplies".
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  10. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    "Swaged" means "formed under pressure". There are two ways to make lead bullets. You can melt the lead and pour the liquid into a mold. This is called "casting". Or you can take a piece of lead and squeeze it into shape under heavy pressure. This is "swaged".

    Normal people can't swage bullets - the equipment needed is much too expensive.

    When you cast a bullet, the very top, where the molten lead went into the mold, will have a flat on it. With BULLETS, that's all right, because they make that on the bottom and that's supposed to be flat. With BALL, though, they are supposed to be round all over. If you seat a cast ball with the little flat spot at the very top, it doesn't hurt anything. If it is off to one side, though, it can be running down the rifling, and can increase the size of your groups, slightly. With a swaged ball, since it is perfectly round, you don't have to be that careful about how you put the ball in the gun.

    Also, with black powder guns, you need pure lead, or as close as you can get. Any other metal alloyed in the mix makes the ball harder. You want as soft a ball as you can get. Because hard metal is more difficult to swage (which means it costs more to make) Speer and Hornady and them folks use pure soft lead in their swaged balls. Somebody that cast a ball, though, might use wheel weights, or some other alloy that is harder that pure soft lead. Lead actually casts better if there is a little tin mixed with the lead, but that makes the bullet harder.

    These are the two reasons that "swaged" is considered better than "cast".
  11. Hawg

    Hawg Active Member

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    25 grains of FFFG in a brass frame will batter the recoil shield and will eventually stretch the frame beyond use.
  12. Steve-O

    Steve-O Member

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    Thanks again guys!
    I'm learing as I go here.
    I built the .36 cal kit in the early 80's, but I just finished the .44 cal 1861 this past month.

    The attached photos show the powder measures that came with the ASM CVA kits. The one for the .36 cal is stamped Made in Italy and the number "18", the other came with the .44 kit and is not marked at all.

    I assume the smaller measure is for "18" grains. Do you think that is correct?
    What load do you estimate the other measure (for the .44) to deliver? My guess is 24 grains. The "end on" photo shows the .36 measure on the left, while the .44 measure is on the right.

    Attached Files:

  13. Steve-O

    Steve-O Member

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    Thanks Alpo,
    For the explanation of swaged balls!
  14. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    The 18 is PROBABLY grains. I have two suggestions.

    Buy (expensive) or find a friend that owns a powder scale, and weigh the charges thrown.

    OR

    Buy an adjustable powder measure for black powder pistols.

    http://www.amazon.com/Traditions-Pe...id=1362809196&sr=1-6&keywords=powder measures

    This one measures from 5 to 45 grains. Open it to full open, pour a charge in it, and then keep closing it until the powder is at the top of the tube. Then look and read what it says.

    The neat thing about having the measure is you can figger out what load works best for your gun, and then file the spout of your flask to throw that amount.

    Remember that black is heavier than Pyrodex. They take the same amount of room, but the weight is different. When using Pyrodex, swap volume for volume with black, but not weight for weight.
  15. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    And you're welcome. :)
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