Another Newbie C & B revolver question


October 18, 2006, 03:20 PM
Hi All...

As GatoFeo correctly pointed out in at least one other thread, a person can hear so much differing info about C&B revolvers and their use it's hard for a newcomer to tell the fact from the rumor from the lore from the BS.

Sometimes it's easy - like last week when I asked a store clerk if conical bullets could be used in my 1851 Navy .44 and he said they could and proceeded to offer me some Hornady .429 jacketed bullets intended for reloading the modern .44 Mag. Needless to say he is no longer on my list of BP references and I still don't know if there is a good conical bullet to use in the Navy. I think I read somewhere on this forum that round balls are more accurate from C&Bs anyway. That wouldn't seem to jive with ballisitic theory but, not having experimented at all, I couldn't argue the point. Maybe the lower velocities of the BP negate accuracy advantages typically found in "modern" cartridges". ??

But one item I have not pinned down is whether or not it is necessary to always fill the mouth of the revolver's chamber(s) with grease after loading in order to prevent a chainfire. Clerks, salesmen et al whom may be mostly concerned about a lawsuit usually say the chamber MUST be greased or the gun WILL chainfire - maybe 99% of the time. On the other hand - I've met a few C&B revolver guys who say with a good and correct overpowder wad and a snug-fitting ball (or maybe bullet) there is no concern about chainfiring. What is Y'All's experience, opinion, etc ????

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October 18, 2006, 03:49 PM
For Conical bullets there are these:

Cabelas (
bigironbarrels (

I have used the ones from Cabelas, they are Buffalo brand and come with wads. I put a review of them here on the forum, here is the link (

As far as chainfires, I never had one, ever. When I shoot I normally use lube over the ball, but I have shot 300 or so out of my .36 navy with no lube and never had one go off. My opinion is with a good seal on the ball it won't. IE good lead ring shaved off and cylinder is in good shape. Course it is my life and it might not be a good idea to shoot with no lube because it might go off, but oh well.

October 18, 2006, 04:29 PM
Shawnee , takeing good care of the front will indeed keep alot of chain fires from happening ...something else you need to watch when fireing if a cap falls off a unfired chamber stop and recap it .. chain fires can and will happen from the nipple end ...its best to find a cap that fits snug and stay with that brand what ever it is .. or if you like the what ever caps are on sale aproach be sure and pinch the caps before useing them // that will uasually hold them tight enough . I use a large suringe to squirt a mix of crisco and bees wax over just 2 balls when i load ..not for fear of frontal chain fires but to keep the fouling soft in the barrel and around the cylinder pin .It `s easy and quick this way and i don`t get the greasy fingers . Something like lube pills would work fine for this too , but as long as just 2 chambers are lubed its enough you can shoot all day and she won`t bind up . and i`ve never had the pleasure of getting the crap scared out of me from a chain fire as of yet ..knock on wood .it`ll probally happen next time

October 18, 2006, 05:56 PM
Many folks have pondered about the causes of chain fires, and more indicators point to loose fitting caps and cap/nipple fit than to whether or not the cylinders are greased. It seems that chainfires especially tend to happen on the first shot or loaded cylinder of a clean gun when the nipples are still very clean and a little too slippery to provide a good tight friction fit for the caps. The close proximity between the cylinder backplate and nipple/powder backflash upon ignition, may reflect back into another nipple if enough air space around the cap allows the flame to be let in, and a chainfire occurs.
Not to say that a chainfire can't originate from the cylinder's front end as well, so that's why many C&B shooters do choose to use grease and/or wads as insurance.

October 18, 2006, 06:03 PM
Just having a tight enough ball to chamber fit should eliminate a chainfire from the front. I use wads because they increase accuracy a bit and greasing the front is messy. As was noted, you can get a chainfire from the rear too, so make sure the caps fit tightly.

I think the accuracy difference of the round ball is because the barrel twist is optimized for them. That doesn't mean a conical can't be accurate though, but it will depend on the bullet and the gun itself. I've only shot balls so I can't really comment first hand, but I've seen some fine groups that have been shot with conicals. I prefer the round ball because it's cheap, accurate and easy to use.

October 18, 2006, 06:16 PM
Conical bullets are thought to be less accurate because the might become canted in the chamber when loaded. Rifling may also play a role.
I would check the plunger on the gun and see if the business end is milled in a concave way, or for a conical. Ubertis typically have the conical milling and this works for conicals and for balls. I have fouind Piettas usually have a concave milling, and this might be more prone to either cant the bullet, or mash the nose down to a round, rather than point.

I would always use something to lube the chamber -- I prefer the lubed felt discs Cabelas sells. I've also used butterbore or Crisco. Never had a chainfire, but it is a good idea to do something to avoid them, and making sure the caps fit well seems a good idea.

October 18, 2006, 07:33 PM
Hi All...

Many thanks, All !!

So instead of plopping a big gunk of Crisco in the end of the chamber there is a lubed wad that is made to be put over the ball in the chamber? Now THAT sounds like a heck of a lot less mess - and that is Mucho Bravo in my book! :)

I bet there is something to that damaging the nose of the conical bullets affecting accuracy - that makes an absolute TON of Sense!!!

Fire flashing from one nipple to the next makes sense too. Sounds like the girlfriend I had my Sophomore year in college though. ;)

Way cool! Many, many thanks, Gentlemen !!!

October 18, 2006, 11:07 PM
No, the lubed wad goes under the ball, over the powder. Yes fire going from one nipple to the other does make sense (Wow on the G/F, usually it is fire coming out of the mouth consuming your body, but hey. Just kidding!) After saying this today, in this very forum:

As far as chainfires, I never had one, ever.

I had a chainfire. It came from the back, not the front. One of my caps came partially off and I had two chambers go off at once. The one at the barrel and the one right next to the barrel on the left. The cap came partially off and I didn't notice it. A spark got in, and set that cap off too. Pretty wild, but no damage and I kept on shooting.

October 18, 2006, 11:14 PM
Holy Smoke, DWave !!! (pun intended)...

How in Blue Blazes could you have a chamber that was not aligned with the barrel actually fire and then not have any damages? Where did the ball go? Lawdy, Lawdy, Lawdy - are Ye spoofin' Poor Ol' Shawnee, Lad??

October 18, 2006, 11:21 PM
Not at all, it went off. I have a mark on the side of the gun, and the ball went forward some direction, too bad it didn't hit the target. :) As far as the gun goes though, besides the mark, it is in great shape, no damage at all. I kept right on shooting. I shouldn't have opened my mouth and said that I had never had a chainfire. As soon as I said it, I had one about 2 hours later.

October 18, 2006, 11:45 PM
the old allen pepper boxes had the nipples enclosed in the frame and nothing much between them. It was a perfect path for the back blast to rush around and over all the nipples. It was fairly common for them to go off like a syncopated machine gun. colt prototypes were the same but by the time he actually started selling them, there were barriers between the nipples and the cylinder was not enclosed in the frame. I do believe that chainfires can result from undersized or irregular balls and from rear ignition.

We had the first in many years just a couple of weeks ago. The guy had loaded his remington with a ball that had previously been used to slug a chamber and it was a loose fit. It was a 12 o'clock/11.oclock chain fire and sounded like a hang fire. the eleven o'clock chamber went off but ejected the ball with very little force. colts and remingtons are set up to allow the ball to escape without damaging the revolver and even those that discharge the six oclock chamber seldom do any harm- just a ball wedged into the loading ram. On the other hand, I recently read about a guy who had a chain fire with his brand new LeMat. the 11 o'clock chamber fired a ball directly into the european mounted loading lever and carried it off the gun.

A guy experimented with setting off revolvers with the barrel off the gun and found that the balls departed the cylinder with very little force. I don't know if you can always count on that happening or not. I do know that black powder derringers with one and a half to two inches of effective barrel often top out at 350- 450 fps.

October 19, 2006, 09:00 AM
This is the first one I have ever had and I have been shooting BP since I was 14. The cap wasn't on the nipple all the way, I just didn't notice it. It went off in a very quick boom-boom. Made the pistol buck pretty good seeing as I had 70 gr. of black powder go off almost at once. I am still disappointed that the ball didn't hit the paper! :)

On a side note if anybody uses Firefox, they are working on a Firefox 2.0. I have the Release Candidate 3 and it has a spell checker for use on text box typing areas. It is great for the forum because I can spell check my stuff quickly. It underlines the misspelled word, then you can right click on it and it has suggestions for the right spelling.

October 19, 2006, 09:53 AM
i read an article just the other day where a guy was able to induce a chain fire with a piece of fuse and he clocked the round .. it reached a wooping 146 fps .. i kind of figured that .. i watched a friend shoot a short barrel 36 derrienger at a can and the ball bounced off it from 5 ft away . seen a test on the 2 different barreled remmies too .. the 5 and 1/2 inch barrel was 150 fps slower than the uasual 7 and 1/2 inch barrel with same loads . I know they didn`t have a way of clocking ball back in the day .. but they did test shooting through pine boards they had an idea the remmies needed the longer barrel to compete with the longer barreled Colts of the day .

October 19, 2006, 10:43 AM
this one has a great deal more burning room than a plain cylinder and it may be compairing apples to oranges but look how puny it is:

dangerous though as an inch of white pine is considered a potentially fatal wound.

October 19, 2006, 01:56 PM
LOL! Arcticap you're welcome to shoot the Pedersoli when it arrives here. Lord knows I will need some coaching! LOL!

Hey Mec - what kind of wee popper is that in the pic? Looks like one you'd take to knock off a disliked cousin at the famly reunion! :eek:

Hey DWave... Gotcha. I've been planning to load powder wad then ball. Thanks for clearing that up!

October 19, 2006, 02:14 PM
not far off there. It was a popular house pistol in England and Europe. this one is a Pedersoli "Liege Derringer." It is a screw barrel design but they also came as straight muzzle loaders. This box lock design also came in double barrel form

October 19, 2006, 02:21 PM
Wow Mec ! Got to be a hoot to shoot !! What do you think the velocity is at say, 50 ft?

October 19, 2006, 02:57 PM
can't say. I fed the data to my ballistics program but it won't work with velocities under 500 fps. I would guess that this thing has lethal potential at extremely close range only. I know it is a point and shoot pistol and I can't do much good with it past 20 feet.

October 19, 2006, 08:49 PM
Hi MEC...

LOL!! Can't get over that little killer! Saw one a bit ago at GunsAmerica for $155 - a single barrel, not the double one, but didn't buy it (yet:banghead: ) That is an absolute riot! Any idea what year that design was developed, or where? Is that trigger fragile at all?

October 19, 2006, 09:14 PM
here's one source:

This form of boxlock has been around since the 18th century in flintlock form. the pedersoli is the only modern replica I know of. It is a close copy of the ones popular in Belgium, England and probably the rest of Europe. the entire thing is fragile and it's hard to say whether the trigger or the delicate stock to frame juncture are the most fragile. This one over bit the percussion cap a bit and we had to open the forward portion of the hammer cup a bit for good ignition. There are no sights. In fact, you are looking at the back of the hammer when you point it at something.
the barrel screws down over this set-up. It will hold 9 grains of goex fffg under the ball. The ball is undersize for the barrel and pedersoli specifies .451" a .454 will work too if you use the tool to screw the barrel back down. Most of these pistols had grooves inside the muzzle to engage the barrel tool. Pedersoli rifled this one full length. a lot of people say the lands are straight but there actually is a slow twist.

October 19, 2006, 09:35 PM
Hi MEC...

Wow! Pretty interesting but I think you just talked me out of getting one of those things!:uhoh:

I'll bet the general intent behind that thing was to be something you poked into someone's ribs and wished them Bon Voyage as you pulled the trigger.:D

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