.44 ball meets playdough... any guesses at ballistics?


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Snowdog
November 13, 2004, 05:59 AM
Looking through some pictures I had stored, I found some interesting photos of a penetration test against play dough using a Pietta 1858 steel frame cap and ball revolver. The notes from the test indicate the load was a Hornady .454 lead ball over 35 grains of FFFG. I remember this combination shot quite well, offering good accuracy along with what seemed like good ballistics against play dough.
Penetration was recorded at 17", which is quite deep when compared to modern JHPs (as there was no expansion).


Since I've never had the opportunity to chronograph any load from this revolver, does anyone want to take a stab at what kind of velocities should be expected from a .454 round ball over 35gr FFFG from an 1858 Remington? I'm under the impression the ball weighs in at around 135 grains or so, but I could be mistaken.

Pietta 1858 Remington clone, .454 Hornady Round ball, flask of FFFG powder and injured play dough block:
http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid146/p6d056adf864e4f963144facdde03f193/f647cb74.jpg

A close up of the recovered slug after penetrating 17" along with the "exit wound" of first block of play dough:
http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid146/p089ade3c712e15f02683f3f5a72c1bbf/f647cb88.jpg

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c_yeager
November 13, 2004, 06:35 AM
Looks nice, i wonder if you have any pictures of similar tests of modern loads to compare it with.

Interesting that the ball didnt seem to deform at all. It looks to me like the little ring that got shaved off when it was loaded is still visible.

I would love it if someone could post what kind of velocity we are looking at.

I am trying to justify getting one of these and putting it in the nightstand. :evil:

Snowdog
November 13, 2004, 08:25 AM
Maybe a 255gr lead flat nose .45 Colt, such as a cowboy action load would likely yield similar results, with deeper penetration to be expected (superior sectional density).

Though it wouldn't be my first choice for defense, I've gained an enormous amount of respect for the cap and ball revolver when loaded to potential. My first shot from my Pietta replica punched through a pressure treated 2x4, menacingly splintering the wood in an unexpected fashion as it went.
I have no doubt these were every bit the "fight stoppers" they were heralded to be in their day, assuming the ranges weren't excessive.

You're right about the shaved ring on the recovered slug. Also, if you look closely you can even see the impressions the lands made (same location as the ring) as it traveled through the barrel. The bullet also looks less spherical than it should, giving the impression the front hemisphere of the ball was flattened ever-so-slightly. Further witness to the impact is the fabric etching on the front of the slug left from the denim covering the play dough, which is more noticeable in this picture:

http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid146/p9d3fdc4468241a8d88479a93a68e70a2/f647a5a0.jpg

Warren
November 13, 2004, 02:49 PM
Man, what a cool photo.

mec
November 13, 2004, 06:25 PM
I got this with a Uberti Remington .454 Ball and 35 Grains of Goex

fps spread (5)
35 Grains FFFG .454 Uberti 855 37
Next time out I might get something different

Chuck Dye
November 13, 2004, 08:18 PM
Lyman’s first edition Black Powder Handbook gives velocities for a .451 inch 138 grain ball as 826 feet per second/826 foot-pounds with 34 grains C&H FFFg, 979 feet per second/293 foot pounds with 33 grains G-O FFFg. A .454 inch ball is nominally 141 grains, a difference, even without considering the shaved ring, that is surely much smaller than variations in guns, powders, and balls.

Snowdog
November 14, 2004, 12:15 PM
Mec & Huck Phinn, thanks for the information... it's exactly what I was looking for. Upwards to 900 fps is a bit hotter than I was expecting. It's a comfort to know that revolver/load combination drives along with .38 Special +P energies.

Gatofeo
November 16, 2004, 11:52 AM
Ahhhh .. but figures are misleading.
The long, distinguished history of the Colt 1851 Navy in .36-caliber proves it as a manstopper. The .44-caliber ball is an even better manstopper.
Why? A number of reasons.
When a ball is rammed down, it is no longer conical in shape. Think of it as resembling a half a grapefruit with half an orange resting on top, flesh-to-flesh.
Remind you of something? Yep, it's the grandaddy of the semiwadcutter bullet that has proven its worth since Elmer Keith created it in the 1920s.
That full-sized shoulder of the ball not only scrapes fouling from the bore, but helps to cut a full-caliber hole and transfer its energy quickly. Not so the conical bullets, that act much like a sharp pencil.
Also, balls are properly made of pure or nearly-pure lead. This is for reasons of accuracy but it also improves the projectile's terminal performance. Reams of documents from the Civil War and later attest to the deadly effect of a soft lead projectile hitting the body.
Soft lead tends to flatten. I've recovered .36-caliber balls as big as a nickel.
The .38 Special bullet is typically hard-cast or jacketed. It needs about 1,000 feet per second for it to reliably begin to expand. Even then, it's not assured.
A Colt 1851 Navy over 24 grs. of Goex FFFG, with 81-grain ball, will do about 1,000 fps from its 7-1/2 inch barrel.
The late gun writer Elmer Keith (1899 - 1984) grew up around Civil War veterans in Montana, as a youth. His first revolver was a Colt 1851 Navy in .36 caliber and they showed him how to load and use it.
These veterans reported that the lead ball, when propelled by a chamber full of powder, was a good manstopper. Conversely, they also reported that the conical bullet was not as good, tending to zip through an enemy soldier without as much effect the round ball.
The round ball lacks the penetration of the conical but its post-rammed shape and softness are not to be dismissed lightly.
Cap and ball revolvers are not toys. Their ballistics may seem unimpressive compared to the ballistics of today's modern bullets but don't be fooled. I've also been impressed by the "slap" a lead ball delivers downrange.

Gatofeo
November 16, 2004, 11:53 AM
Ack! I said a lead ball is no longer conical in shape. I meant spherical! :eek:

Snowdog
November 16, 2004, 12:34 PM
You make some very fine points, Gatofeo. The slug I tested dug in quite deep. However, in the real world, the soft lead slug would quite likely hit something hard such as a rib on the way in or out. In such cases, I'm sure we'd see some nasty tissue damage (not to say the "crush cavity" during my controlled tests were anything to sneeze at).

I certainly have tons of respect for cap and ball revolvers.

Dr.Rob
November 20, 2004, 10:46 PM
Weird.. I thought those Hornady round balls were 180 grain, that's the weight in the conicals I bought for my 1860 Army replica.

My Navy only gets soft lead... the conicals I've found don't fit in the cut-out to load them. I think the 36 cal balls are 90 gr? or was it 135...

Darn it now I'll have to go look it up tomorrow.

Rob

Jim K
November 21, 2004, 10:14 PM
It has been a while since I ran tests, but the .44 C&B is almost identical in performance to the .44 Russian or the original .44 Special. The .36 C&B is almost identical in performance to the .38 S&W or the original .38 Special standard load. Make no mistake, a C&B revolver is dangerous; they are not toys.

BTW, if a ball has to be rammed so hard that it is no longer spherical, it will not shoot accurately. It is probably the wrong size ball for the revolver.

Jim

mec
December 4, 2004, 10:44 PM
"Weird.. I thought those Hornady round balls were 180 grain, that's the weight in the conicals I bought for my 1860 Army replica."

Thats about the right weight for a .495 ball for the fifty calibers. Surprised me the .44s were so light too.

Chuck Dye
December 5, 2004, 02:04 AM
volume=4/3·pi·r³
density of lead=11.34 grams/cm³=2,867.8 grains/inch³

warbirdlover
September 23, 2005, 08:50 AM
Just e-mailed Hornady and the .454 ball weighs 142 grains

bb75
October 20, 2005, 11:11 AM
well all I have to say is this with black powder the modern gun folks always need to find out the ballistic variables, and when they find out that black powder is as affective a modern rifles they go crazy with all kinds of excusses, and aguremnets, but black powder is extremly effective I shot a deer last year with my custom 1861 fayetteville rifle (Confederate rifle 2 band), that with a 415 grain hogdon hand casted mini ball and 80 grains of 2fg goex passed directly north through a doe butt through chest at 70 yards and then into a tree 20 yards behind, the bullet was only traveling at 1200fps,and it flatend her to the ground, I'm faially sure with the right person tacking thier time and the right shot he or she could do it with a revlover, my own choise would be a single shot pistol, from 45 and above cal.I just would want a bit more powder than 36 grains, I'd prefer a minimum of 60 to be good and 3fg , but these are my opinions . bb75

mec
October 20, 2005, 11:20 AM
here are a few loads from a uberti remington
Load .451 Ball Velocity Spread 5
28 Gr. American Pioneer Pietta 506 fps 57
22 Gr./Vol. Pyrodex P Uberti 748 57
28 Gr./Vol. Pyrodex P Uberti 975 66
28 Grain Goex FFFG .454 Uberti 795 31
28 Grain Swiss FFFG .454 Uberti 959 32
35 Grain Swiss FFFG .454 Uberti 1089 33
28 Grain Pyrodex P .454 Uberti 966 54
200 Grain Lee Bullet .452
22 Grain/Vol. Pyrodex Uberti 777 14
28 Grain FFFG Uberti 764 41
22 Grain Swiss FFFG Uberti 785 44
fps=feet per second

Beartracker
October 20, 2005, 06:48 PM
here are a few loads from a uberti remington
Load .451 Ball Velocity Spread 5
28 Gr. American Pioneer Pietta 506 fps 57
22 Gr./Vol. Pyrodex P Uberti 748 57
28 Gr./Vol. Pyrodex P Uberti 975 66
28 Grain Goex FFFG .454 Uberti 795 31
28 Grain Swiss FFFG .454 Uberti 959 32
35 Grain Swiss FFFG .454 Uberti 1089 33
28 Grain Pyrodex P .454 Uberti 966 54
200 Grain Lee Bullet .452
22 Grain/Vol. Pyrodex Uberti 777 14
28 Grain FFFG Uberti 764 41
22 Grain Swiss FFFG Uberti 785 44
fps=feet per second
Jim Keenen and Mec, Your figures look right to me and are more on my way ot thinking but it's funny how much difference you will find in test conducted with the same model revolver, powder and ball by other folks on the web. It makes me think that not all test are done the same or someones chrono is way off.
I do believe that the .36 would give more of the same velosity as the .38 special and the .44 is much closer to the .44 special.
I'm shooting .38g of Goex fffg and a .454 ball , the damage this load can do is scary!:) During the war and after a man would trade several guns just to get one .44 Remington. They didn't feel that way for no reason at all and it sure wasn't because they thought of them as inferiour for protection from man or beast. :) These gun's do there damage by the way the ball hit's and rolls and flattens when bone is struck and by the channel wound it leaves along it's way. Todays bullets act on shock do to speed of impact but the ball can leave a man or critter just as dead and have many times during and after the war, Mike

BP pistol hunter
December 5, 2010, 09:45 PM
You can get 1000 + fps (313 ftlbs) with a 141 gr .454 ball and 35 gr of 777 in an 8 inch Pietta 1858 revolver and over 1200fps (450 ftlbs) if you go up to the 12 inch version. I have them both and that is what I have chronographed them on both my chrony and my hunting buddies as well. I use a wad between the powder and ball. 777 is way hotter than pyrodex or swiss but it does not liked to be compressed too much. I have gone as high as 40gr of 777 and have reached higher velocities but accuracy starts to fade a bit and velocity spread gets too unpredictable. 777 powder has given these old guns a very welcomed power boost. I have taken a wild boar with my 1858 stainless bison revolver with a 12 inch barrel using a .454 ball and 35 gr of 777 and the boar dropped dead no need for a follow-up shot. This load creates a very serious and large wound channel due to the soft lead expanding rapidly and basically just tearing it's way through the flesh dumping all it's energy on the target. A pure lead ball driven with 35-40 gr of 777 has far more killing power than most people give them credit and will take deer or hogs cleanly up to 50 yards with authority.

Noz
December 6, 2010, 11:43 AM
Look at some of the results of "low speed" heavy bullets with a flat nose out of hunting handguns.
A favorite is a hunter in Africa that had an opportunity to shoot a Cape Buffalo at pistol range with a single action 454. His first shot went through the lung area and out. The buffalo was dead but didn't know it yet and turned to run. The second shot caught him in the left hip joint, went thru the body cavity including the paunch and exited through the right shoulder joint. The buffalo realized he was dead at that point. The pistol was a Freedom Arms 454 with a hammerhead solid cast bullet. Way too much is made of the concept of KE. In exterior and terminal ballistics the operative factor is momentum. This assumes a properly shaped bullet, large meplat, of heavy for caliber weight at moderate speeds.

Snowdog
December 6, 2010, 12:56 PM
I had some images attached to this post when I created it 6 years ago. Unfortunately, I think they were carried by a site that has since folded.

They were from my Play-do days when I would shoot everything into the stuff to compare expansion and penetration with other rounds. The Hornady swaged roundball fired into the Play-do in this thread had no only expanded, but had an imprint of the denim on the surface (I had always drapped 2 layers of denim over the Play-do).

It was an interesting image, too bad it's gone.

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