Pietta .44 NMA 1858


English Phil
June 27, 2008, 08:54 PM
Have just returned to U.K. from two great weeks in Arizona. Went up the range with my American neighbour and shot my Pietta. Was unhappy that having loaded it with 30 grns of Pirodex it wasn't that good at the target set at 25yds.
My neighbour stated that a .44 should have 44 grns, a .38, 38 grns, we loaded it with 44 grns and it was a great improvment. My only concern is that the Pietta instruction manual states to load it with 24 grns !.
Any advice please.

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June 27, 2008, 09:11 PM
Hi Phill, I think 28-30 grains of Pyrodex should be sufficient. Perhaps you are over compressing the load. My .44's both Colt and Remington copies shoot very good with 28-30 grains of FFF GOEX. Probably not as fast as the Pyrodex powder but very accurate at 25 yards. I do believe your friend and neighbor doesn't know a hoot about loading BP revolvers, IMO. You'd be hard pressed to get 38 grains of powder and a ball in a .36 caliber, again my opinion only.........Mike P.S. Pietta is wrong in their 24 grain max load if it's for a .44.

June 27, 2008, 10:41 PM
Hey Phil:
I've heard that 24gr. gives the best accuracy in .44's, but I'm not a very accurate shooter myself. I enjoy shooting though, and I've gone up and down the scale of powder grains. Like Gunrunner, I pretty much like to stay within the 30gr. range. To me the gun feels right using Pyrodex, and American Pioneer powder in that range. With 35gr. and over, it feels just a little too much.

I just got some GOEX FFFg, and I'll test it from 25gr. up to 35gr. As always, it'l be a blast:fire::D:p


June 28, 2008, 12:36 AM
If your friend thinks 44 grains with a 44 makes sense , he's just wrong.

20 or slightly more grains works best in my Remington and Colt .44's.

June 28, 2008, 05:40 AM
Your friend probally gets his charge load grs..from front stuffer long rifles ..thats where good starting loads are if it`s a 50 cal start with 50 grs of black powder ...54 cal 54 grs of black and so on . This uasaully works good for rifles and carbines.

June 28, 2008, 06:30 AM
I'll echo the opinions about your friend's advice; that's overloading. In addition, generalizations about all .44 cal revolvers, or all .36 cal revolvers, shooting best with a certain load are not correct either.

You need to spend some time developing the correct load for your gun. I'd start with 15 grains by volume of fffg (real black powder, Pyrodex or whatever, doesn't matter). If you use a lubed felt wad or grease over the ball doesn't matter either. Do NOT use an inert filler material - that can come later if you'd like to work on increasing accuracy further. Shoot a full cylnder at a fairly short range - 10 to 15 yards, from a rest. Use the same point of aim for every shot, no matter where on the target the point of impact is. The idea is to see what size group the gun shoots, not to adjust sighting. Next, shoot a group of 20 grains; make sure you load exactly the same way, including the amount of compression. Then shoot a group of 25 grains, and then 30 grains. You should see one group that is clearly smaller; that's your best load. To improve further, shoot loads slightly larger and smaller to see if one is better. Then you can get into adding inert fillers, changing lube materials, compression, etc. to see if they help.

And always be very skeptical of generalizations about all xx cal revolvers.

June 28, 2008, 11:30 AM
I'm mildly surprised that you could even seat a ball over 44 gr. of powder in a NMA revolver cylinder. Must've been a real booger to do.

While one of my own C&B revolvers (a Pietta 1860 w/5" bbl.) gives its best groups with a 30 gr. Pyrodex pellet under a Buffalo Bore semi-conical, most of the others do their best with a RB over a 22-25 gr. charge.

June 28, 2008, 01:37 PM
Were you using Pyrodex "P" Pistol powder?

June 28, 2008, 02:26 PM
Maybe I should start another thread, but lets hang in here and talk about compressing the powder charge. I normally push the loading lever down as far as it will go, but am beginning to wonder if this is a good idea. Recently, using lube pills, I found a bit of pill embedded in the target with unburnt grains of black powder (genuine German FFFg) stuck to it.

I was using a 24 grain load and its obvious that some of the top portion of the powder charge was expelled unburnt - would it have burnt faster had I compressed it less? This was in a Pietta 1858 Remington New Army in good condition.

English Phil
June 28, 2008, 02:48 PM
Many thanks for the replies.
I only thought there was one sort of Pyrodex.
I have loaded my cyclinders with a hand loader, being a novice, can you compress to hard, I seemed to press it down as hard as I can.

June 28, 2008, 03:09 PM
Guys, an important fact is missing in this discussion and that is WHAT TYPE of
BP or Pyrodex are we talking about? FF, FFF or what??? Accuracy does not only depend on how much but just as important what we put in. I am have been able to get great loads in my ROA with Swiss FF or FFF and I am sure Pyrodex is no different.

June 28, 2008, 03:25 PM
drdirk - he specified Pyrodex; Pyrodex is only made in two granulations, designated: P (for pistols, the equivalent of fffg black powder) and RS (for rifle/shotgun, the equivalent of ffg). Pyrodex is quite different from Swiss black powder.

For everyone else - I also find it difficult to believe that one could load an 1851 Navy .44 chamber with 44 grains of Pyrodex (either P or RS) and still seat the ball enough to get it past the forcing cone.

Compression is important - some is mandatory, and too much is not generally a problem. The only powder I've experienced that does not do well with as much compression as I can generate (either with a loading stand or the gun's loading lever) is 777. Real black powder will take as much as you can give it, and so can Pyrodex.

DuncanSA - It is certainly possible that some powder exited your barrel unburned. That's not unusual, and I doubt very much if compressing LESS would have helped; in fact, it might have made it worse: loose powder will 'ride' the gas bubble in the cool portion, being pushed ahead of the flame face.

June 28, 2008, 03:31 PM
Some guns do very well with pyrodex P and others seem prone to hangfires. If you get hangfires, it throws the balls all over the paper. Switch to fffg blackpowder of whatever brand. 28 to 30 grains is about ideal and you can load 40 but with a lot of stress on the loading lever.


June 28, 2008, 04:10 PM
i may be wrong, but i understood the 1 gr per caliber applys to rifles with prb:D

June 28, 2008, 06:07 PM
i may be wrong, but i understood the 1 gr per caliber applys to rifles with prb

grains by volume equal to caliber applies as a rule of thumb for a STARTING load for rifles using a patched round ball. One is expected to develop the gun's optimum load from there.

English Phil
June 28, 2008, 08:17 PM
A photo of my Piatta with a load of 44 grns.

June 28, 2008, 11:29 PM
Great pic Phil...how long did the flame last after you pulled the trigger?:D

Th e very most Black Powder I have gotten into any Remington Cylinder cChamber is 40gr with a .451" ball and that was a Pietta with room for nothing else in between. I have measured Pietta, Uberti, Euro Arms, Armi San Paolo, and one I won't disclose Named Barbie. Under 40gr of FFFG Goex Holy Black.
Who here has ever put 36gr of BP in an 1851 Navy?

A 44-40 means .44cal-40gr BP, 38-20 20gr of BP, :what:

Anyway ,


June 29, 2008, 01:00 PM
Another thing to try if you're having ignition problems with Pyrodex is a different brand of cap.

FWIW, when using Pyrodex or genuine BP in cartridges 'Magnum' primers give the most consistent performance.

I'm not familiar with lube 'pills' or what their composition might be, but if you're finding unburnt particles of both in the target my guess would be that some of the charge is being 'killed' by the lubricant and not being ignited. If that pill is broken when the projectile is seated it would seem quite probable to me, especially if the cylinder metal is still hottish.

June 29, 2008, 03:48 PM
Lube plls are a composition of your favorite lubricant mixed in a melt of Beeswax, Tallow, and Parafin wax...or Bolwax, olive & or Soybean oil, and parafin wax. Wax holds and carries the lube. They won't break as they remain soft and seal around the underside of the ball on top of the powder. I am abe to shoot all day without cleaning a Rem or a Colt Revolver. Accuracy increased on any given Rev I tested.
I do believe I have posted this info before Mech. Anyway ....
If anyone wants to try this and don't wanna make um contact "Rifle" this Forum. Or Me here or in Voy60048. I don't sell um but know who does.

Try um Mech,


Quickdraw McGraw
September 6, 2008, 01:00 PM
New to this area. I am usually in the reloading section but I just acquired a Pietta 1858 Remingon New Army brass framed revolver. I think I have got everything I need to shoot:

GOEX fffg powder
44 (.454 balls)
44 wonder wads
CCI no. 11 caps
bore butter.

I checked the GOEX website but they don't have a load for 44 revolver. I have read that you folks seem to feel that 24g - 25g is a good load.

Since my gun is brass framed (I've heard people call it a wall hanger only) do I have to beware of anything. Not looking for some super high power load just one to put holes in paper, etc. Let me know what'd y'all think!!

Thanks folks

September 6, 2008, 01:49 PM
Hmm. Brass framed 1858 Remington New Army, .44 cal.

Absolute minimum load would be 15 gr by volume fffg real black powder with a lubed felt wad or lube pill. Absolute maximum load would be 35 gr by volume fffg real black powder with the same wad/lube.

HOWEVER, that 35 grain load is essentially abuse for that brass frame. The gun will shoot it safely, but repeated use of a load that high will irreparably damage the gun.

The operating max load is about 25 gr by volume fffg real black powder with wad/lube pill.

Start with 15 gr, shoot 3-6 shots from 7-10 yards at rest using the same POA for all shots. Then shoot 3-6 shots each with 18 gr, 20 gr, 23 gr and finally 25 gr, all from the same range using a rest and all with the same POA. Try to use the same amount of compression every time you load. The idea is to find the smallest group; that will tell you what load the gun likes best.

September 6, 2008, 10:19 PM
This is a very interesting discussion, but there is no standard as to the actual amount of powder. Let me explain; I just filled one of the chambers of the cylinder with Pyrodex P. I emptied the contents into a Lee dipper of 2.8cc which is suppose to hold 34 grains. Yet when I filled my field powder measure up with the contents of the Lee dipper It was slightly more than 50 grains. calibrate your field powder measure so that you will know what you are shooting.
One of the best rounds of the 19th century was the 44 Russian which was 25grs bp and a 246 gr bullet. another one was the 44 S&W 27 grs of bp and 246 bullet. a good load for the 44 1858 NA would be 38.8 grs in a field measure of bp and 138.4rgs 451 lead ball. This is a straight lineal progression from the 44 S&W load, as the weight of the bullet decreases the charge increases to maintain the same energy levels of the projectile.

September 6, 2008, 10:47 PM
You are right of corse oneiron but you forget one other part of the equasion.

Even if both the 246gr. bullet & the 138gr. ball start out at the same striking energy, the ball will loose it's energy much faster than the conical due to it's weight to velocity is much lower than the conicals proportion & there fore down range the conical will have a higher striking energy than the ball.

September 6, 2008, 10:59 PM
Love the photo. But I'm bettin' you had some unburned powder in the chamber next to the one you fired. I just can't imagine that much flame that long after a shot. (Unless you were shooting straight up, I'm assuming your hand is high due to recoil:))

Speaking of compression, I remember reading many years ago and I can't quote the source, but competition ML shooters tried for 40 pounds pressure when seating the bullet. That would be very hard to measure with a revolver.

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