First time at the Range!

Discussion in 'Black Powder Shooting / Muzzleloaders / Handguns' started by TxBlackPowder, Jan 2, 2011.

  1. TxBlackPowder

    TxBlackPowder New Member

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    Just got back from the firing range, and had a blast (no pun intended). The guy who owns the shooting range said he shoots black powder, and gave me a few tips on shooting. It was all good advice...all but one. He told me that I needed to take the gun apart to load the cylinder...not what I had seen on the video's at all. After fighting with it for a half hour, and several of the balls rolling out of the cylinders, I decided to do it the way I had seen in the video's. That worked much better.

    Cabella's told me I should use pellets instead of black powder...that didn't work so well. Trip to Cabella's and back, and all was good.

    What was funny is that there were all kinds of guns at the range..big ones, little ones...ones that would stop an elephant...and everyone was asking about my BP Colt.

    Love the smell of BP!
  2. rdstrain49

    rdstrain49 New Member

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    U R hooked now:)
  3. ofitg

    ofitg New Member

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    Welcome to the fraternity! There's really something "special" about percussion revolvers.

    What problems did you have with the Pyrodex pellets? I've been wondering if I should try them..... maybe I should just continue using loose powder.
  4. TxBlackPowder

    TxBlackPowder New Member

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    The pellets wouldn't ignite. I had to pop 5-6 caps on them to get them to fire. We were getting ready to pull the nipples and force the pellets and ball out. I just kept popping caps, and they would eventually discharge.

    And yes..I'm so hooked. Wish I could go back today. :D
  5. Gatofeo

    Gatofeo New Member

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    The pellets must be loaded a particular way. One end is designed to be easily ignited. Could it be you were loading them backwards?

    There is no need to remove the cylinder to load it. The old timers certainly didn't (with the exception of the 1849 Colts who had no rammer).
    Been shooting cap and ball revolvers for 40-plus years. I rarely remove the cylinder to load.
    This affectation with separate loaders puzzles me. I guess they're useful if you compete and need to load a number of cylinders, but in most instances you can load just fine with the rammer built on the gun.
    I don't often shoot conical bullets, which can be overly long and resist fitting under the rammer. I shoot balls almost exclusively: .454 or .457 inch for my .44s, and .380 inch for my .36 calibers.
    The slightly oversized ball ensures a good, tight fit in the chamber. I also believe that being oversized, the rammed ball creates a wider bearing band for the rifling to grasp. It also seals the ball better in the bore (obturation).

    Pellets are far more expensive than loose powder. Get a good powder flask, fill it with FFFG black powder or Pyrodex P, and use a spout of the proper capacity.
    You'll find this too is quick and easy.
    A folding, wooden pistol holder that holds the pistol pointed upright makes loading much easier than trying to hold it in your hand.
    If you use a felt wad on top of the powder, load it as a separate operation. You'll get a better feel for how much pressure you're applying to the wad and powder beneath, and the first time you find yourself ramming a wad down an empty chamber, you'll thank me. It's much easier to remove a felt wad from the chamber than a ball.
    After seating the wads in the charged chambers, then seat the ball. Here again, you'll have a better feel for how much pressure you're applying to the ball.
    The wad should be seated on the powder firmly, to the point of a slight crunch. The ball should be seated firmly on the wad, but not rammed down hard. Hard ramming can crush the powder granules and affect the burning rate.
    Consistency is key to accuracy.

    You'll find all kinds of suggestions, claims, rumors, myths, speculation, tips, historical inaccuracies, darned good advice and outright lies at the shooting range, in books and on the internet -- all dealing with cap and ball revolvers.
    Some will be apparent, others will require research or the application of common sense.
    You've entered a fascinating hobby, my friend.
    Hemingway observed that the singlemost attribute for a good writer is a, "built-in, shockproof, s**t detector."
    It'd be a mighty handy thing for cap and ball shooters to have too! :D
  6. TxBlackPowder

    TxBlackPowder New Member

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    Gat,

    Thanks for the good advice...several things in there I hadn't thought of. I'm definitely loading the powder and the wad in one step, the going back and loading all of the balls. I hadn't thought about the possibility of missing the powder, and just loading the wad and ball. lol I can see how that would be problematic and frustrating. I did, however, load two balls into one cylinder. (I know...rookie mistake). But that was a result of the bad info they gave me at the range.

    As for the pellets...its very possible they were being loaded backwards. I didn't know there was a front and back. But I like the loose powder better anyway. It has a better smell to it...is that weird?

    As far as packing the ball against the wad...It seems that the ram rod will go down so far before it stops for just a moment, then it pops into place (for lack of a technical term). I just make sure its snug without forcing anything. Seems to be working fine so far. Sound about right?

    And yes...the BS detector. I'm in Advertising/Sales, so I have a masters in BS...I need a minor in BpBs. (Black Powder Bull Sh!t). lol
  7. red14

    red14 New Member

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    Once you go black (powder),
    you never go back.
  8. rdstrain49

    rdstrain49 New Member

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    TxBlackPowder;
    I've been shooting BP since the 60s, still shoot nearly every day (if the temp is above zero) I've spent a lifetime shooting in competition, was trained as an armorer, and I can tell you one thing for sure. If you take everything that Gatofeo says as gospel, you won't go wrong. There's one old guy :) who really knows his stuff.

    BTW, welcome to the wonderful world of black.
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