New guy with a few questions.


January 16, 2011, 06:38 AM
Hi, I've been into guns since a kid (now 40 :neener: )
I've owned various rifles in various calibles (bolt and semi-auto) but have never owned a handgun let alone BP firearm so here's a few questions.

I used to do a fair bit of reloading some years ago and always had a softspot for ye olde BP cap n ball revolvers :cool:
Anyway I finally got round to buying one. I'm English but live in France who have OK-ish gun laws but for BP gun you just need to be 18+ I bought mine online and it arrived the next morning :D

I bought a Pietta 1858 and a few bits to go along with it (.454 balls, cleaning kits etc) I also got some FFG powder as FFFG seems to be more or less sold out everywhere. From what I've read thats OK but 3F would be better. I havn't shot it yet, I was going to try 25grains (volume not weight) to start with is this OK?

Now for the main question I was going to ask was about the proof marks, as it's a Pietta it has Italien proof marks going by the proof marks my 1858 was made last year (2010) so I assume that means it was made on their newer tooling (CNC's) I was under the impression that their older stuff was a poor quality?

Heres a piccy of the proof mark (I have taken quite a few pics which you can see here )

And here's something I found about proof marks

Do I need to (or should I) ream out the cylinders or not?
I can easily get an 11.5mm hand ream (.4527") my cylinder chambers are .4465" I did push a ball down the barrel to measure the bore and measuring the ball isn't easy but seems to be 'about' .4495"

Oh one last thing, do I stick to round balls or give conicals a try? I was considering getting a LEE 450-200 mold. Do the conicals give much more power? I've treid searching but havn't really had much luck. What is the average muzzle energy for both RB and conicals in an 1858?

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January 16, 2011, 08:35 AM
Unless your gun is the one in a thousand, the round ball will be more accurate, I've tried the Lee REAL bullet(a minnie ball) and the Lee conical for my ROA and went back to the round ball. I did try some of the Buffalo Bullets, sort of a half round ball with a flat base, the best accuracy of any conical, comparable to the ball, but a bit pricey for plinking as they sell only the bullets and no molds.

January 16, 2011, 08:50 AM
25 gr by volume ffg is a good starting load.

Pietta's older tooling, like anyone's older tooling, lead to fit issues. The new tooling does produce better parts as well as less expensive parts. They did have some startup problems but seem to have corrected them quickly. I'm not going to say the old tooling produced poor quality; it might better be said that Pietta's price target didn't allow for quality control consistent with that tooling. That is to say, I blame their earlier quality problems on their manufacturing philosophy rather than the tooling itself.

If the .4495" measurement is groove-to-groove, then reaming the chambers to .4527" will probably result in an increase in accuracy. However, you may not shoot well enough to take advantage of the improvement - I don't generally shoot offhand pistols well enough to see the improvement, but I can notice it when shooting from a rest. It all depends on how you shoot and how good you are.

I can't comment on round balls vs conicals as I shoot round balls exclusively.

Prairie Dawg
January 16, 2011, 10:41 AM
I own a bunch of Pietta 44s.
They all shoot great with .451 round balls.
I shoot cowboy matches with mine an use 20 grains FFFg, a lubed wad & .451 RB.
20 grains FFFg, a bit of cornmeal, .451 RB & grease over the ball.
If you are doing something else with the gun, then that load might be a little light.
However, most cap guns shoot more accurately with light loads.
Play with yours and see what it likes.

In my experience and based on everything I've read, conicals don't shoot very well in cap guns.
Yes, yours was made with the new tooling.
I think Piettas are better than they ever were.
I own a bunch & shoot them every weekend.
Enjoy the smoke.

Prairie Dawg
January 16, 2011, 10:43 AM
For ballistics & velocities, check out the Lyman Black Powder manual.
All the info you want & more.

January 16, 2011, 12:32 PM
I'm waiting for "The Complete Blackpowder Handbook" by Sam Fadala (5th edition) to arrive, hopefully that should have some good reading in it. I like Sams stuff, I have a book about .22's he wrote very interesting stuff.

I'll look out for the Lyman Black Powder manual too (amazon France don't have it) but there are one or two on ebay ;)

January 16, 2011, 01:14 PM
I'd try about 20 grains of Swiss #2 powder (3Fg equivalent). A .454 round ball should give best results. You may need to ream the chambers, but try shooting first.

And contact both the Muzzle Loader's Association of GB and the Arquebusiers du France. They should be able to put you in touch with someone local who knows what he's doing. Both organizations have strong pistol shooting programs.

January 16, 2011, 02:15 PM
Do I need to (or should I) ream out the cylinders or not?

Post #12 by that saint "rifle" is truly a great read. ha ha ha ha ha ha :)

January 17, 2011, 05:16 AM
Thanks for the link :) thats will take some digesting!!!!!!
I might get a spare cylinder and ream one as see what the differance is.

January 17, 2011, 10:42 AM
where's a good place to get a barrel sleeved?

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