Butter or no butter

Discussion in 'Black Powder Shooting / Muzzleloaders / Handguns' started by TxBlackPowder, Jan 8, 2011.

  1. TxBlackPowder

    TxBlackPowder New Member

    Dec 29, 2010
    I was recently told that if I put the wad on top of the powder, then the ball, I don't have to "butter" the end of the cylinder. Is that true? I've been putting powder..wad..ball..butter, then capping the nipple. But if I could skip the "butter" step I wouldn't complain. Of course, if I have a chain fire, I would probably complain a little.

  2. Oneida Steve

    Oneida Steve Well-Known Member

    Sep 28, 2006
    Upstate NY
    Yes, you can skip the "butter".

    I have been shooting blackpowder for many years. I stopped using "butter" in the 1980's when I discovered Wonder Wads.

    I have fired thousands of rounds from cap-and-ball revolvers in practice and in competition. I have never had a chain fire with Wonder Wads.

  3. flintlock

    flintlock Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2007
    Upstate NY
    I was going to suggest Womder Wads too, but now I can just say they worked well for me!
  4. redwing carson

    redwing carson Former Guest

    Dec 11, 2010
    western wyoming
    So many are spooked by chain fires. I have been shooting BP handguns for 50 years. I have never seen a chain fire. Chain fire occurs if it does from loose caps or bad nipples. The chain fire happens in the same way a flint lock fires as the heat passes over the chamber port. Any way if it does happen it likely will not hurt any thing. Ball over wad is a great way to go.

  5. TxBlackPowder

    TxBlackPowder New Member

    Dec 29, 2010
    The person that suggested skipping the butter also suggested Wonder Wads. Looks like thats the plan from now on! Really glad to hear that. I hated the mess that goes along with buttering the cylinders.

    Thanks everyone
  6. thomasray

    thomasray Member

    Feb 22, 2004
    Columbia River
    Let me tell you. In 68 it was. I got me a pristine 62 Impala with a white top. And I had a bald blonde to ride shotgun, that's how pretty that car was.

    So one afternoon me and Blondie was down at the gravel pit doing what one might do in a gravel pit in a pristine 62 Impala with a bald blonde. When we got done with that I decided to pull out me old 51 Navy and let fly to celebrate.

    As I recall we used tire weight lead balls on top of a 38 special case full of 3f powder. And rubbed in Crisco real good up front. Not on the blonde, on the .36 tire weight balls. I was standing at parade rest and leaning and resting the pistol across the white top of that 62 Impala. When I snapped her off such a cloud of smoke arose and a POW-POW-POW-KPOW and fire belching everywhere. I knew right then I had me a chain fire. I burned the **** out of my hand and had a black smelly 12" circle of singed paint right in the middle of my white top. every ball but the one at 6 PM in the cylender had shot off.

    Feller here says he never had a chain fire in 50 years. We telling him that one is enough. I just wish I could get a chain fire like that with that blonde one hot day in August 1968.
  7. I experienced three separate occasions of multiple ignition ("chain fire") with the same revolver in the 1970s.
    Trying to recall the exact order, and I've posted this so many times before, that my recall of which chambers went may be incorrect, but the incidents are real enough.
    First time, chamber to the right of the barrel (2 o'clock) went off. No damage.
    Second time, same chamber and the bottom chamber (6 o'clock) went off. Ball lodged in rammer but I pried it out with pocket knife.
    Third time, ball to left of barrel (10 o'clock) and 6 o'clock chamber went. Another ball lodged in rammer, bending it.
    It was a cheap, brass-framed 1851 Navy, probably made by Italian apprentices on a Monday at noon, so I junked the gun for parts.
    In all instances, I use a .451 inch ball with Crisco smeared over it.
    The caps were not pinched onto the nipples. That's a practice I later adopted.
    I'm not a believer that mutiple ignitions occur from the front, with flame or hot gases getting around the ball. I believe that a missing or loose cap is to blame. Either the cap falls off unnoticed during handling, or is knocked off from recoil.
    Good nipples, with caps that fit snug on them, is crucial. I still pinch the caps into an oval shape, just to ensure they cling a little better.
    I have not had a multiple ignition since.

    Enjoyed the story about the hood of your new, white Chevy getting scorched.
    I suffered no injuries from my experiences, but I sure knew something was wrong by the increased recoil and noise.
    All chambers went at once, there was no sensation of a gap between their firing. For a brief second, until I saw the cylinder was still intact, I thought the whole shebang had blown sky-high.
    Been wearing eye and ear protection since!
  8. thomasray

    thomasray Member

    Feb 22, 2004
    Columbia River
    Dear Gat. This was a long time ago but I remember the bang part of it clearly. Especially the moment of incomprehension before the smoke cleared. This was a gun of unknown origin taken in trade. I will follow your theory of fire going into the neighboring nipples. As for smearing grease on top of the balls, after the first shot it was all blown out anyway. I have not shot a Cap and Ball gun since but if I do I will use wonder wads and good pinched caps. I have been looking for a Lyman .54 cal pistol. I have not heard any complaints of chain fire there.

    PS. Never saw the blond again either.
  9. ofitg

    ofitg Active Member

    Feb 25, 2010
    Found this online Manual of Arms from 1861 -


    It also includes the drill for loading percussion revolvers - there is no mention of adding lube over the top of the ball - so for what it's worth, the old-timers weren't really too worried about it.
  10. imray

    imray New Member

    Jan 22, 2011
    hi, I've mentioned this in other threads, so don't be upset if you've seen it but I use cornmeal instead of wads, and butter, just 15 20 grains from the measure on top of the powder and seat the ball, no crisco melting off the end of the cylinder. and as long as you have good tight caps, you should be alright, I don't believe Wyatt had butter dripping off his cylinders, or cornmeal for that matter but, which it isn't necessary for properly loaded cyl. but with todays mentality of hurry up, it is just safer for most to be safe instead of hurry and shoot. best wishes, ray
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Black Powder Shooting / Muzzleloaders / Handguns Bore butter a necessity??? Mar 11, 2004