December 24, 2010, 06:43 PM
I recently acquired an H.Aston .54 caliber, made in 1850. I'm pretty sure another member of this forum has one. I'd say it uses a patched .535 roundball, which I have, but what black powder charge would be used?
Does any company make repros of this gun?


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December 24, 2010, 07:20 PM
The second edition Lyman BP manual lists a .54 caliber 8" barrel with loads of 35-50 grains.

December 24, 2010, 07:44 PM
Thanks. That's a good sized ball to be pushing out. I wonder what the velocity would be with, say, 50 grs? I'll bet it would do some damage.

Jim K
December 24, 2010, 08:28 PM
That is the Model 1842 pistol, a reliable and well-liked weapon. It is nearly identical with the Model 1836, the last U.S. military flintlock pistol, except that the 1842 uses brass furniture instead of the iron used on the 1836. Some 1842's were undoubtedly used in the Civil War, even though they were obsolete by that time. (Any claimed CW association that would add to the gun's sale price should require documentation.)

I know of no repros, but those pistols are fairly common and relatively inexpensive (under $800 for a shooter). They are well made and if the barrel is in good shape can be fired with no problem. The original projectile was a round lead ball of .537" caliber, issued in paper cartridges which were torn to load the powder and ball then discarded. No patch was used and the cartridge paper was not rammed into the bore. The ball was retained by friction and a fairly tight fit. The cap is the standard musket cap.

While it would be silly to suggest using one as a defense gun, I have little doubt that anyone with evil intent just might find a need to be elsewhere after looking at the muzzles of a pair of .54 pistols, antique or not.

I have used those .54 caliber pre-lubed bullets with good success, though they are heavier than the original balls and the powder charge should be reduced accordingly. Note that unlike the rifle musket, the wide head of the ramrod does not go into the barrel; it is spread out like that to be easy on the hand.


December 24, 2010, 09:32 PM
Interesting info on the ball used. I was going to use a patched .535 just to keep the pressures down but maybe I'll look for a larger ball. I'll probably shoot it a few times then put it in the case. It has two cartouches on the grip and some other inspector's marks on different parts that I'm researching. Great gun, well made, and lighter than it looks.
Thanks for the info.

December 26, 2010, 03:42 AM
I think my dad had one of those at one time. Reminded me of the 1836, but for brass furniture and percussion ignition.
Looks like it could open a fresh can of whoop-*ss on someone.

December 26, 2010, 10:27 AM
Is there a guideline for when a roundball should be patched? Does it have anything to do with whether or not the barrel is rifled?
I have a Pedersoli Kentucky pistol .44 caliber (rifled) that I use a patched ball in, but I also have a little ASTC HERO with a screw barrel that I just place a ball in, then screw the barrel over it.

December 26, 2010, 11:05 AM
I'm always a bit cautious when considering firing an antique. I might start out with a 25 grain load behind a patched ball - doesn't take much to push a ball out of a pistol barrel with some alacrity. Don't know what the maximum load would be - once you get so large you just make fire out the front end and don't add anything to the velocity of the ball.

As to when to patch the ball - it depends on the design of the gun. Your screw barrel is designed for a naked ball. Your rifle is probably going to want patching, unless it is a bullet-designed barrel, in which case patching for bullets isnt needed, but still is for round ball. With the heavy bullet, the base (hollow or flat) will obturate and fil the riflings, which wont happen with round ball.

December 26, 2010, 11:31 AM
I use a patch with the Belgian rifle - it was relined to .50 caliber. I'll start low with the Aston - I'm cautious, too. It's built like a tank, but surprisingly light. Like I said, I'll start with a smaller ball and a light load (and stand behind a post).
I hear different opinions on whether or not to fire an antique or even clean it up at all (I fire my originals a few times a year). The Aston was pretty rusty, so I used Naval Jelly and removed the rust. I kept the brass basically the way it was, with a a little cleaning.
This 1851 .36 had an old reblue job at some point, which detracted from the value but protected the gun (made in 1862).

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