Muzzloading patches.

Discussion in 'Black Powder Shooting / Muzzleloaders / Handguns' started by Small_bore, Feb 27, 2011.

  1. Small_bore

    Small_bore New Member

    Nov 2, 2010
    I've always shot revolver's and know that a pre-lubed wad loaded over the powder can ruin the powder over time, as the oil eventually seeps into the powder load. Will a pre-lubed pillow ticking patch have the same effect when keeping a rifle loaded? Excuse me if this question seems somewhat lame, I really have no knowledge of anything other then cap n' ball revolvers.
  2. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    I'm curious why you put a wad between the powder and the ball?:confused:

    I seat the ball or conical right on top of the powder, then if I'm shooting right away use CVA grease or Crisco on top of the ball...I don't leave them loaded since I have other handguns around loaded that would be better for "defense," but I know guys who put a "WonderWad" on top of the reduce the chance of a chain fire but also to grease the way for the ball down the barrel.

    I haven't used wads, but I am curious if anybody else puts the wad between the powder and the ball???

    The ball is should be oversize for the chamber and that little ring of lead you get when you load tells you it is the proper sized ball or conical, and also shows that it is a tight seal so there will be no leakage is what I was told years ago when I started shooting them, and have had no problems since?

    Since my proper ball size for my Traditions .44 is .452, and that is the size of my .45ACP lead SWCs, I shoot them a lot in my Traditions the same way...they are a little harder to load but they shoot fine...and since I have about 3000 of them left over from my IPSC days it saves me from buying balls and conicals:p

  3. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    The wonderwad is supposed to be between the powder and ball, not over the ball. If your friends are doing it that way, they are doing it wrong. This isn't a new thing, by the way. In "Hell, I Was There", Elmer talks about cutting up an old felt hat he found, to make wads for a cap-n-ball revolver, when he was a pre-teen.

    To answer the question, I guess it would depend on how greasy it was, why type of grease (animal grease does not have the penetrating ability of petroleum products) and how big your charge was. I used to use 90 grains of FF under a spit patch, with round ball in a 50. It might stay loaded all hunting season, but when I finally fired it, two or three months down the line, I didn't notice any degradation of the charge. Still shot to point of aim. Seemed to have the same recoil.
  4. Small_bore

    Small_bore New Member

    Nov 2, 2010
    My brass 1851 doesn't like big charges, so I use a wad for added compression.
    I like using the wads, less of a mess and quicker to reload. Just push one down, then push your round ball or conical over it, cap and bang bang.
  5. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    My ML rifles I don't leave loaded, even when I come in from the field I unload through the muzzle at the end of the day even if I'm going out the next day.

    BUT I have a buddy who does NOT, and has gone a year with a greased patch over a charge in all of his rifles, and then it shot normally when he pulled it out to shoot it before deer season.

    As far as the Wonderwad, it could be they use it right, and since I don't use them I didn't pay attention closely enough?;)

    I DO know from reading and research that in the "old days" when CnB revolvers were actually used daily, they did NOT use patches, but loaded the ball directly over the powder and then greased over the ball to avoid chainfires. The "wad" is a relatively "new" invention. Now far be it from me to second guess old Elmer, God bless him and everything he meant to us, but even HE wasn't shooting them from 1840-1870 LOL;) The guys who carried them holstered during that time loaded powder enough so the ball would BARELY seat enough to keep from binding, then grease with whatever grease they had available (YES many people claimed holsters were a MESS) but in a pinch, or a firefight, they did not even grease at all, trusting the tight ball to keep chainfires to a minimum. Interestingly, actual historical evidence of "chainfires" is really sparse, and it is believed many shooters didn't grease at ALL if their balls were sized properly.

    There is a school of thought that the grease was more of a bullet lubricant used by experienced shooters than meant to avoid chainfires.
  6. redwing carson

    redwing carson Former Guest

    Dec 11, 2010
    western wyoming
    The wad over powder goes back a long time. I think you will find putting grease over the ball is more of a modern concept. The fact is the paper cartridge and bullets {Conicals} were the most used ammo. I have never seen anything in the old Colt handgun Insts. calling for any lubes. So far as chain fires an over worked warning for sure. The chain fires are more likely to happen from caps that are too large or lose on the nipples. The fire ball from an exploding cap passes over the poorly sealed nipples fires the chambers. This is the same firing principle that occurs when firing a flint lock. The lubed wad over powder is much more prefered to gobs of grease in the chamber mouth. I doubt that the lube will harm your powder. The problem is more likely that the powder will rust or ring the chamber. Colts and Remingtons do not have enough area ahead of the chamber to allow the gases to escape without blow back around the cylinder pin. Grease in the chamber can and does blow back into the action and pin. This causes binding in the action. This problem was corrected in the Rogers & Spencer revolvers. The ROA copied the R&S gas escape system and they are very forgiving also.

  7. imray

    imray New Member

    Jan 22, 2011
    I agree that leaving a rifle loaded over a long period might not be a good idea. i have left one of my rifles loaded for a year once, and it wouldn't fire even with several caps. I called and old timer friend that had been shooting over 5 decades and he said: take and clean out the bolster, or the drum, which is the piece the nipple screws into. Then carefully pour in 3, 4 , 5 grains of triple fff powder, work it into the fire hole as needed carefully with non ferris needle, toothpick, until its full. then take it out and cap it and shoot it. Usually the charged ball will fire. Even if the powder has got wet and soggy, you can get enough good dry powder to clear the barrel, easier than a ball puller.
    Back to your question, I believe the powder can soak up the oil out of the patch, but there shouldn't be enough to soak all the way through the full charge unless your only loading 15 or 20 grain shots. If that is the case I'd discharge the gun not more than a couple days after loading.
    I usually charge my deer rifle and leave it charged 3 days the shoot the charge out and put in a fresh charge and ball, It just seems to be the way my rifles work best. If I try to leave them a week they tend to draw moisture and sometimes wont fire without considerable cure, which I don't have time for while aiming at a fine buck. I have only been muzzleloading about 25 years so I still have tons to learn, but my advise is not leave a rifle loaded over 3 days, as standard practice. I will say in my opinion, never put a uncleaned gun away, this will cause more damage than a loaded gun, except for the danger factor, of someone getting shot. best wishes, ray
  8. I have an unbroken set of American Rifleman magazines, dating from 1929 to last month's issue. Folks, that's about 975 magazines.

    Some time back, I posted on numerous message boards that the earliest reference I found to using a greased felt wad under the ball of a cap and ball sixgun was the May, 1930 issue (p. 31) of American Rifleman.
    After I posted that, I found yet another reference in a 1929 American Rifleman. Both were suggested by Major Julian S. Hatcher.

    In 1930 Hatcher wrote: “To get good results with these guns, it is essential to use plenty of lubrication. One way to do this is to use greased shotgun wads, and another way is to use greased felt wads that you can make yourself out of an old hat or any other similar material. The felt should be soaked in an equal mixture of Vaseline and paraffin or beeswax.
    “The use of these wads will greatly alleviate the fouling you obtained,” Hatcher replied.

    Today’s experienced black powder shooters prefer natural greases and oils, rather than those based on petroleum, such as Vaseline. Experience has shown that petroleum lubricants, when used with black powder, often produce a hard, tarry fouling.
    Natural greases and oils keep fouling soft and easily removed by each shot, or with a damp patch.
    An exception appears to be canning paraffin, which does not leave this hard, tarry fouling. A chemist told me years ago that it lacks the offending hydrocarbons. I am unsure of the reason, but I found it works quite well.

    Keith's book, "Sixguns" was released in 1955. In that book's chapter on cap and ball sixguns, he references using an old felt hat to make wads. He suggests soaking the wads in a mixture of tallow and beeswax, no proportions are given.
    Born in 1899, Keith was 13 when Civil War veterans showed him how to load his original Colt 1851 Navy. To my knowledge, Keith never said where he learned to use a greased felt wad.

    I've done a fair amount of searching on the net for the early use of felt wads twixt ball and powder, but I've never found anything earlier than that 1929 American Rifleman.
    Alas, my collection of 1928 magazines is incomplete. I find no mention of it in the few I have. I have no earlier editions.

    Whatever the vintage, the use of a lubricated felt wad between the ball and powder is here to stay: it's easier to carry and less messy to load at the range or in the field. I've also found it encourages better accuracy; a good, hard felt wad seems to scrape fouling from the bore with each shot and keep the bore cleaner.

    About a dozen years ago I posted a 19th century factory recipe for bullet lubricant. The original recipe called for simply "tallow, beeswax and parrafin."
    Experimentation led me to use very specific ingredients: mutton tallow, beeswax and canning paraffin (for its purity, who knows what lurks in old candles, especially the scented or colored variety?).
    My "improved" recipe was well received and someone named it after me: Gatofeo No. 1 Bullet Lubricant.

    Today, that recipe is all over the internet, almost always carrying my name. It is not commercially available but you can make your own. The "Gatofeo" name is in the process of becoming a registered trademark.
    The recipe is:
    1 part canning paraffin (used to seal jars of fruit preserves)
    1 part mutton tallow
    1/2 part beeswax
    All measurements are by weight, not volume.
    The ingredients listed must be used. Any substitution results in an inferior product. Of late, it's become difficult to find mutton tallow. Dixie Gun Works stocked it for years, now it appears they can't get it anymore. You'll have to search the net, or make your own by rendering sheep fat.
    Real beeswax can be difficult to find in some areas. Toilet seals used to be made of it, but in the past 10 years they and other "beeswax" items have become synthetic; read the label!

    I use Gatofeo No. 1 Bullet Lubricant for felt wads, shotgun wads, bullets and patches for black powder. It's also a good lubricant for low velocity bullets such as .38 wadcutters, though it's a little moister than typial Alox-based lubricants.

    Sorry for the digression ...

    Anyway, I know of no Civil War or 19th century use of lubricated felt wads in cap and ball revolvers. The most popular lubricants/sealants in those days were candle wax (composition varied), beeswax and probably whale oil or perhaps olive oil (called "sweet oil" back then).
    I know that Colt's contracted out paper and foil cartridges containing a powder charge, with a conical bullet attached (no wad) and in some surviving cartridges it appears the bullet was dipped in beeswax. Whether this was for sealing, or to keep fouling soft, remains unknown.

    If anyone can cite the use of greased felt wads prior to 1929, in a diary or some kind of reference, I'd be interested.

    I just know that the greased felt wad twixt ball and powder works wonderfully in my revolvers. I use almost nothing else.
  9. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Good post, Gato...

    But what about the old standby, Crisco?

    When I started shooting capnballs that's what I used, because I read it in the back of an old Dixie catalogue.

    And my 8 or 10 tubes of CVA revolver grease that I bought on clearance years ago and still have some left, looks, smells and feels surprisingly (suspectingly?:p) just like Crisco too....:cool:
  10. Hawg

    Hawg Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2011
    Colt in their literature specifically said not to use wads, so they were around during the 1860's. at least. I don't think (and this is just my opinion) they used over ball lubes as a lubricant but used wax as waterproofing. Gen. R.E. Lee's 51 Navy was fired seven years after his death. it was noted the chambers were covered in a black waxy substance. It was also noted all six chambers fired without a hitch.
  11. "Good post, Gato...
    But what about the old standby, Crisco?
    When I started shooting capnballs that's what I used, because I read it in the back of an old Dixie catalogue."
    -- polishshooter

    Crisco? Oh heck, I used a tub of that stuff in the 1970s, smearing it over the seated ball. Learned to do that from the Lyman No. 44 reloading handbook, copyrighted 1967.
    Then, I was given Elmer Keith's book, "Sixguns" as a gift, first published in 1955. In his chapter on cap and ball sixguns, he suggests using felt wads, cut from an old hat, and soaked in a mix of beeswax and tallow (no proportions given).
    Well, I mixed up equal parts of lard and beeswax (back in the days when toilet seals were made of real beeswax, not the petroleum-based synthetic beeswax found today), and cut felt wads from an old cowboy hat I got at the local Goodwill store.
    I used a sharpened .45 ACP case for the cutter.
    My only cap and ball revolver at the time was a cheap, brass-framed, Italian-made 1851 Navy in .44 caliber. On three separate occasions I experienced multiple ignitions ("chain firing") with it. The last incident ruined the gun. I blame my use of ill-fitting caps for these incidents, not anything to do with the seated ball or its Crisco covering.
    The revolver was cheap, but it was a good learning tool.

    Grease over the ball still works, but it's messier than using greased felt wads. I also find that such wads keep the bore cleaner, shot-to-shot.
    I'd never go back to Crisco, unless it was all I had. Good memories, though.
    My late father observing me load the revolver summed it well one day:
    "Boy, I'd hate to get shot in the a$$ with a deep-fried ball!"
    I still laugh over that remark, 35+ years after he said it.
  12. scrat

    scrat New Member

    Nov 21, 2009
    Kentucky fried balls. hahahhahaha .

    I as others have used to use grease over the balls. sometimes i still do however i find the felt wads much easier to use. if i am going to store a gun for a long time though i use a fiber wad between the powder and ball then put the grease over the ball. MMMM i have also used the beeswax. however i find using it with 60-40 beeswax, olive oil works out very well i have even melted down the mix and dropped in the balls. then pulled them out and let them cool on some wax paper then put them back in the container at the range i would just load them it would shave the lead and wax a hair. most of the wax shaved would stay in the cylinder kinda like a prelubed ball or lubed bullet.
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