Cleaning Black Powder Cartridge Guns

Discussion in 'Black Powder Shooting / Muzzleloaders / Handguns' started by Shrek73, Feb 7, 2020.

  1. Shrek73

    Shrek73 Well-Known Member

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    I grew up shoointng black powder muzzleloader and cap and ball revolvers. A few years ago I jump into the black powder cartridge firearms, 1st and 2nd Model Iver Johnson and Colt Model 1877's. I also fire a Snider Enfield 2 band rifle that I bought back from Afghanistan. To clean these firearms I complety break down each to the frame, scrub with soap and water, heat to remove moisture and lube.

    I rebuilt a Colt Model 1892 and I am currently working on a Colt Lightning. 32-20. I have read both guns are black powder only but wonder how throurogh these gun need to be cleaned. The 1892 had a crane with a staked cylinder and ejector. There is no way to dissemble the cylinder like i do with the 1877's and Iver Johnson's. How do you clean something that you cant disassemble. That makes me wonder if I am cleaning them too much.

    Do I completely disassemble the Lightning rifle each time I fire it, or do I only need to worry about the chamber and barrel since no gasses should escape into the action. The same could be said for my Snider Enfield, when I am cleaning the breech it doesn't look like it gets any fouling.
     
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  2. Firpo

    Firpo Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I’m gonna watch this one Shrek. I have an old BP German combo gun and would appreciate knowing what folks think. The rifle barrel has been relined so I comfortably shoot smokeless in it but the shotgun barrel is a different story. I shoot BP in that one. All I did was clean it real good with “moose milk” and the receiver got straight Ballistol. Seemed to work just fine for me.
     

  3. Grizzley1

    Grizzley1 Well-Known Member

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    The cartridge casing should confine the fouling to the chamber and barrel. On a revolver you'll get a little bit of fouling on the cylinder face because of the cylinder gap but that just goes with the territory.

    When I first started shooting my Sharps rifle I too had concerns about fouling getting in the nooks and crannies of the action and found that it just didn't get all that dirty even after running several dozen rounds down range. Of course I have to run a damp patch downbore to keep the fouling under control while I was shooting it, but that just is what you have to put up with black powder ammo.
     
  4. Firpo

    Firpo Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    You should have seen the looks I got from the guys at the trap range. First they couldn’t believe what I was shooting, then came the cloud of “stinky” smoke. Pretty darn funny.
     
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  5. jim brady

    jim brady Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to watch this thread closely. I load both BP and smokeless cartridges in my 1886 Trapdoor Carbine. I REALLY pay close attention to my barrel because it has very fine pitting that catches BP residue.

    As a side note, I've cast a bunch of 405 grain HB bullets with the purest lead I have (not all that pure) and I'm just guessing at the alloy. For this bullet I'm not supposed to have ANY antimony, and I've taken out all of it that I can from my casting lead. Original bullets had 18-1 lead/tin. From what I've read I can go as high as 40-1 in the Carbine barrel to allow the bullet base to expand without cracking with the antimony. A harder bullet is O.K. with smokeless loads, but not for BP in the old 3 groove barrels. The 1886 load is 53 grains FFFG compressed, 405 grain bullet deep seated.

    I'd like to shoot this one even more, but again the cleaning process with my barrel has me spooked.
     
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  6. Kweeksdraw

    Kweeksdraw Well-Known Member

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    I use Ballistol full strength so I don't have to wait for water to dry. Scrub with toothbrush, then wet patches until clean. Dry the parts a little with clean patches. Do the bore with wet patches until clean then a couple of dry ones. That leaves enough oil to protect. Because it's a CLP for black powder it won't rust. When I do the lockwork on a gun I don't want to disassemble, I flood it with Ballistol and blow out with compressed air, with all wood removed of course. If you do this often, it will keep crud out of dead ends like crane and ejector assys. I haven't had any trouble with greasy build ups.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2020
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  7. Catman1942

    Catman1942 Well-Known Member

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    ballistol for the gun and the barrel. soak the cartridge cases in a little ballistol and that squirt spot cleaner the wives have for dirty spots on clothes. that last tip comes from pedersoli who makes some good blackpowder rifles. also wipe between rounds with a damp patch and then two dry. you wont believe your accuracy doing this. now for the perfect damp patch that you wipe between rounds with. mix a little ballistol and high quality antifreeze with water and use that to dampen you patches. cleans blackpowder crud very well and has super metal parts and bore protection. i would never use antomoy (sp) in lead for black powder. tin hardens well and if you want them to cast a little better and firm up a bit use the old buffalo hunters tip. they put a silver dime in every lead pot when melting lead. the bullet falls out of the mold better also. you dont have silver dimes so use a small piece of 700 degree silver solder available from brownells. you wont believe how your cast bullets goes better and look better. its not a new tip but goes back to the buffalo hunters. if your target shooting fire one fouling shot down range and then wipe. then your ready to print better than good groups. dont forget to wipe between rounds. it really isnt that hard to do. the groups are worth it.
     
  8. sharps4590

    sharps4590 Well-Known Member

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    I've been shooting BP cartridge firearms, rifle and shotgun, since the early 80's. Break action and falling/rolling/swinging block actions are a slam dunk. Ballistol works as good as anything and better than a lot. TC's liquid bore cleaner works well also. None do anything for cleaning that hot water doesn't do. With Ballistol it's also a protectant. TC's cleaner needs a protectant after use as does water. You should be able to get your barrel and chamber clean in about a half dozen patches. Then lube it up good and you ought to be good to go. That's what I've done for almost 40 years and my barrels look like new, those that either looked new when I got them or were new. If kept clean, BP and cast bullets don't do anything but polish up a bore till it looks like glass.

    If I shoot a particular rifle a lot, about once a year I'll strip it down for a good cleaning and lube. I've never found any rust in any of them.

    Lever actions, pumps, and revolvers are a little different story. Pump and lever action rifles can be cleaned quite handily by turning them upside down in a gun vise so the open part of the action faces down. If done carefully all the crud will fall out of the action rather than down into it. The only revolvers I've ever shot BP in are Colt or Remington percussion and Colt SAA's. Ordinarily I'll remove the cylinder and clean it, the bore and the outside of the frame. Then I'll spray WD or something into the hand slot and the bolt slot until it runs out the bottom of the frame. It's wise to remove the grips before doing so. If I shoot a revolver often, about once a year I'll stirp it down completely. I've never found any rust in any of them....yet. As far as a revolver you can't tear down completely, I'd soak the internals good through every slot and let it run out. For that Ballistol would be my first choice.
     
  9. Kvasir

    Kvasir Well-Known Member

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    I don't shoot any BP cartridge guns. But I've shot a ton of cap and ball, and various muzzle loaders. I've always just removed the wood, and thoroughly scrubbed them in hot water with a little dish soap. The muzzle loaders I would submerge the percussion nipple or flash hole on flintlocks and use a pile of patches to pump water up and down the bore.
    After drying, I would oil the crap out of everything to prevent rust.
    My nearly 40 year old flintlock, and 35 year old cap and ball revolvers still look and shoot like brand new. I would completely break down the revolvers every few years. But not every cleaning.
     
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  10. Shrek73

    Shrek73 Well-Known Member

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    Wow, thanks for all of the great advice! I was so paranoid of the black powder corrosion that I was cleaning them more that I needed to. I suppose it still doesn't hurt to break pistols apart and inspect the insides, especially the 1877's. I think I will stop breaking down the Snider Enfield every time and the Colt Lightning rifle once I get it up an firing.

    Typically I would coat everything thing with a thin layer of bore butter, which I use on my flintlock. I never had any corrosion issues.

    I have never heard of Ballistol, but looks like I may be ordering some soon.
     
  11. jim brady

    jim brady Well-Known Member

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    Shrek - I know nothing about the Snyder design. One particular area on my Springfield (maybe you have a similar area on your Snyder) is the ejector. On my Trapdoor, the ejector rides on the breechblock retaining pin, and it is spring-loaded. That spring fits into a recess in the breech. One of my concerns is getting water in that recess and on the spring causing rust. The only way I see around getting those rusty is complete disassembly of the breechblock and swabbing out that recess with a Q-tip each and every cleaning session.

    You guys have me interested in Ballistol. Gonna have to give it a try...
     
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  12. Shrek73

    Shrek73 Well-Known Member

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    I went to the range this morning and fired a Colt 1877 chambered in .38 LC, a Colt 1892 chambered in .38 LC, and a Iver Johnson 2nd Model Safety Hammer Automatic chambered in .38 S&W. I purchased the Lee .358 150 grain semi was round nose mold, and wanted to see the perfomance in my BP .38's

    I just finished scrubbing the guns with Ballistol and they seemed clean. I did not break apart the actions and clean the insides, which I used to do. I squirted the insides as best I could tru the hand hole and hammer opening. I will monitor the guns throughout the week to see if any rust appears.
     
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  13. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    On my BP percussion revolver I take the grips off, take the cylinder out and remove the nipples. I put the gun, cylinder, and nipples in a dishpan of hot soapy water, scrub down barrel with a brass brush and a swab. I treat the cylinder chambers the same. All flat surfaces and nipples get scrubbed with a scotch-brite pad. Rinse, put on a cookie tray and put in the oven at lowest heat to dry for 15-30 minutes. I take it out, wipe down with oil while it's still warm, and reassemble.

    My .45-70 cartridge rifle...Brass brush dipped in warm soapy water, then swabs until the swabs come through clean. I disassemble the action from time to time, not ever time, and give it a more thorough cleaning. I give it a light coat of oil before putting it away.

    I'll have to check out this Ballistol. Is Remoil similar?
     
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  14. Shrek73

    Shrek73 Well-Known Member

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    No, the Ballistol is different. I bought a can from Amazon a couple of weeks ago. It foams and dissolves the fouling.
     
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  15. Kweeksdraw

    Kweeksdraw Well-Known Member

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    Black Eagle, go to the Balistol website and study up. Then as time permits google things like "best clp", "best firearm oil". Your preferences will probably change a few times over the years, but to me it's a fun part of the hobby. Ballistol is not the best product for everything, but for what Shrek wants; avoid getting water in places not to be disassembled and protect from black powder corrosion, it is probably the best.