cap and ball rabbit gun


April 5, 2011, 03:05 PM
anybody have any suggestions on that? i would like to try using a BP revolver for rabbit hunting. it needs to be small caliber, accurate enough to make a clean humane kill, i am looking for something modestly priced and preferably a kit. i was thinking about a pocket Remington kit. although i am starting to really like the brass frame Remington revolver kit Dixie sells.

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45-70 Ranger
April 5, 2011, 03:35 PM
Well sir, I never thought about a dedicated C&B rabbit gun, but I had some good results some years back with a Remington .36 in steel. This one would print point of aim at about 20 yds, and was pretty good at staying on target. I popped my share of bunnies with it in the old days. I hit a few with a Dragoon with full tilt loads and it was kinda messy:eek: I found that a 36 loaded a might mild was a sure thing on busting bunnies for the cooking spit. Sadly I sold the weapon to another and never replaced it. Got a colt or two, but not a 36 Remmy:banghead:

Good luck on your quest,


Shoot The Moon
April 5, 2011, 03:55 PM
You may find that MEC stops by and offers his perspective - if I remember correctly, he has accounted for more than a few wabbits with a '51 Navy.
Although I am somewhat envious of you having the freedom to shoot'em with cap and ball, ('tis against the law here) I reckon that it won't be too efficient if you need to keep the numbers down. We have some land here where we keep our horses and like to keep the rabbit numbers down. Although I have shot a few with the 12G, I reckon the most efficient tool for the job is a silenced .22rf or an air rifle. Whenever I fire the 12G, I'll get my rabbit, but the other 10 that were grazing near it hop off and take an hour to return!

Foto Joe
April 5, 2011, 06:23 PM
Personally, I'd start with a .36 Navy. Get yourself a bag of tangerines and set 'em up at 10, 15 and 20 yards. When you can smack 6 tangerines in a row, yer ready to start bunny hunting.

My dad taught me to hunt rabbits starting when I was around 6 years old. My bunny gun was an old single-shot 22 short that he'd bought in the 30's for $2 at Monkey Wards. His way of teaching me to head shoot rabbits was as follows: I hit 'em in the noggin and he'll clean all I can shoot. If he hears bang then "splat", that's a gut shot rabbit and I had to clean it myself. I learned to head shoot 'em pretty quick, even a 22 short can make a mess out of your future dinner.

Suffice it to say, it ain't sportin' if ya have to aim at center mass on a poor old cottontail rabbit.

April 5, 2011, 08:29 PM
Years ago, I wanted to shoot squirrels with a BP pistol. I had a .36 navy I really liked, so I went to a gunsmith friend of mine and had him drill & mount a Bushnell Phantom 1.3 pistol scope on it. The accuracy was uncanny with modest loads. It filled the pot many times by only shooting head shots. Yeah I missed some, but they were clean misses. Bill

April 5, 2011, 09:23 PM
If you have $200.00 for the gun, buy a used Remington 870 shotgun. Better than any pistol of any year or make for humane kill of rabbits. Will also shot BP in shells, if you must. Enough smoke for two pistols.

April 5, 2011, 11:15 PM

Either of those two would make a great Rabbit Gun, the Remington Pocket Pistol, or, the Remington New Army 44. I have BOTH of those pistols in my private collection. I have read however, in various reviews, that the pocket pistol is a bit underpowered at over 25 yards or so, that there have been statements made that at 25 yards, the pistol ball actually bounced off a fence post and did not penetrate deeply enough to lodge at all. I think thats because they propably used the reccomended "all round" load of 7 or 8 grains of BP, I load mine, with 12 grains, and I use slightly oversized conicals, not, round balls. I hand cast my conicals with a mold purchased directly from Lee Precision, a short 103 Gr 9mm pistol conical sized to .356 from the mold. (Dixie Mold #356-102-1R). I downsize the conicals in two steps, by first pressing them through a Lee .329 sizing die, and then, press them through a Lee .323 sizing die, which means they are just a slight smidgen above the diameter of the recomended .321 round ball diameter. The downsizing operation is a bit of a stress on both the dies and the arm, so, I lube up the bullets, tip to base, with cheap ol crisco vegitable grease, I would recommend this to you if you try this little trick of downsizing a standard modern conical bullet down to an appropriate size for BP use.) They are a bit tight going down, but I press them down into the cylinders using a loading press, I don't use the loading lever on the pistol, which is rather small and has a reputation of pulling through the pivot screw hole in the base of the loading lever, a known problem with these pocket pistols. I only use the loading lever to retain and lock the cylinder pin in place, and I carry spare cylinders and a hand held loading press with me in my possibles bag. The conicals seem to work just fine for me, although a bit of a bother to prepare and load.

I don't need to go to all that kind of fuss and bother with the 44 Cal however, as there are stock 44 caliber BP pistol conical molds of the correct sizing for the 44 BP Revolvers. The recomended load of 20Gr seems a bit light to me, I would go up a bit from there, to 25 or so. The cylinder of the 1858 Remington Army 44 Cal is a bit long, I can load it with a 35Gr charge, and often do. But I would think twice about using a 35Gr load on a delicate lil rabbit, might not be alot left !!! LOL !!!

The reccommendation from Charles (Above) about opting out for a shotgun is a good one, I know your preferance for home-builts and pistols, so my recommendation to you would be a .69 Caliber smooth bore pistol kit of some type loaded with a shot load. I had one of those, a flintlock kit pistol, back when I was your age, and I just loved the thing to death, I bagged many a rabbit with it back in the day, many times comming home with a brace of 4 or 6 rabbits in one afternoons outing. Great and FUN gun that !! The following pic is from the online Dixie Catalog, and it's a 50 Cal, not a 69 Cal, perhaps a bit over budget at $315.00 for the kit, but a very nice pistol kit at any rate.
Dixie also has a percussion 50 cal kentucky pistol, already assembled, not a kit, at $198.75, which is probably closer to the mark of where your budget may be.

Have fun with it !!!


ElvinWarrior... aka... Dave, "EW"

April 5, 2011, 11:41 PM
If you're considering pocket pistols I'd recommend the 1862 Colt Police. It's 36 cal. 5 shot with a longer barrel than the Remington pocket.
It's a bit fussy to shoot because of cap crap but there are rather simple ways to slightly modifying the gun to eliminate that problem.

April 6, 2011, 12:08 AM
Rabbit gun...

April 6, 2011, 02:27 AM
i found one i am interested in. it's a Remington repro.
i figure i could use a low powered load with some .44 balls or perhaps even shot. i just need it to be humane, if i am going to take an animal's life to feed myself and my family i would like to thank the animal by making a clean humane kill that will be free of suffering.

Shoot The Moon
April 6, 2011, 11:43 AM
I have never shot an animal with any pistol caliber round, but if you are a good enough shot to hit the head every time, why not? (other than per my earlier post, the other rabbits will take an hour or more to return...)

If on the other hand, you hit Buggs COM with a .44 round ball, I wonder what's left to eat?

(not to mention if your RB passes through the gut or through the bladder, you'll ruin whatever meat is left)

Although I love my C&B revolvers, a moderated .22RF or air rifle is the way to go for feeding the family - one rabbit might make a meal for two depending on size, but you'll eat better if you have a couple at least.

April 6, 2011, 12:50 PM
i don't care about scaring the rest of the bunnies away. i just would like only one rabbit, two at the most. no use in getting 12 rabbits if you do not plan to eat them all, God gave us animals as food, not target practice. besides, you don't need to aim COM on a rabbit, it's not a 200 pound attacker with a knife. you just need a medium/low powered load with a head shot for a humane and ethical kill.

Shoot The Moon
April 6, 2011, 01:38 PM
Busyhands, I think you mis-understood my comments - I am not advocating shooting rabbits that way, rather I was trying to say:

'if you can make a humane head shot every time, then fine, but if you miss and/or shoot the rabbit in the body, you will a) kill it inhumanely and b) ruin the meat you were after in the first place if the shot travels through the intestine or bladder'

If I am honest with myself, I know that my skills with the revolver are not good enough to guarantee hitting the head every time from anything beyond 30 feet. Hence I would only shoot headshots. If you are more skilled (plenty are!) then go ahead.

As for treating animals as target practice, again I think you mis-understand. I will eat whatever I shoot, or give/sell it to someone who will. The rabbit holes in our grazing fields have the potential to break a horse's leg - hence I keep the numbers under control. Sadly, Myxamatosis has mostly taken care of that the last couple of years.

If I have a surplus, rabbits can be sold to the local butcher's where I live. Having shot a few for feeding my family as you plan to do, I can tell you that one bunny will not make much of a dinner for four people, even with plenty of vegetables.

April 6, 2011, 02:25 PM
I don't agree that a body shot is inhumane. The vitals in the frontal portion of an animal's body containing the heart and lungs are an acceptable target. And there's not as much meat to be ruined in that part of the body.
People often hunt rabbits with scatterguns and there really is no inhumane shot that can be taken on a running rabbit, or an inhumane wound that can result from shooting a rabbit with one.
Wounds are simply the result of being a predatory hunter and hunting for food. It's the nature of the food chain and there's going to be winners and losers.

Shoot The Moon
April 6, 2011, 02:47 PM
Ok, fair comment - a heart/lung shot is going to cause rapid death I guess - especially with a .44 RB! However....

I'm really not trying to be difficult - I just think that given the OP's stated aim of a humane kill and edible meat afterward, a headshot is the best option - and that whilst it is far from impossible, it would be hard to do repeatably with a cap and ball revolver, at the sort of distance that one might hunt wild rabbits. The risk of being 4" out on a heart/lung shot and shooting Buggs in the guts means 1) death is not instant 2) there is strong risk of ruining the meat as the gut/bladder is perforated. From experience, rabbit pee makes the meat taste bitter - it can be covered up in cooking but I'd rather not.

For the avoidance of doubt: I am pro-hunting, understand the food chain and have no problem with shooting to eat.

April 6, 2011, 03:08 PM
I know what you mean.
But no shot is guaranteed when hunting because there's so many factors.
I wouldn't advocate not taking a shot at a rabbit because the gun or the load isn't accurate or effective enough.
Then there becomes so many reasons to not take a shot that we lose sight of why people hunt small game animals to begin with.
The type of hunting weapon and degree of success are secondary to the simple act of stalking and hunting in and of itself. It's about "the challenge".
Folks get into range of the target using whatever method they can and take the shot as it's presented, and let the chips fall as they may.
As far as gut shots, carry a portable cooler in a backpack with reusable ice packs and put the dead animal on ice.
A little bit of body fluid being spilled on the interior of the body cavity doesn't really ruin any edible meat.
Just like if any game meat spoils or gets badly damaged, it's easy enough to trim it off.
Worse comes to worse feed it to a dog.
That's not a reason to not take a shot or to choose another weapon.
That's just the nature of hunting a moving target.
Animals don't always stay still posing and waiting for the hunter to take the perfect shot. :)

April 6, 2011, 08:55 PM
''Animals don't always stay still posing and waiting for the hunter to take the perfect shot...''
I know....darnit!

April 6, 2011, 10:33 PM
Busyhands, if you really need to hunt to feed your family, a single shot black powder pistol is not the best choice. A shotgun is better by far. But even then you will go hungry if all you eat is what you have shot.

My guess is that you are smart enough to have a job which pays an income and that your shooting is a hobby, not a life support system for you and your family. Same for the rest of us.

So, when you shot that rabbit add some quail meat to the stew and you will have a meal.

Hitting a quail with a pistol....not so much!

April 6, 2011, 10:35 PM
Were I you, I'd go with a .36 caliber. The .31 might be a little light. Even if it's not, it's not available with a long barrel that would enhance accuracy by virture of a longer sight radius.
I have two repro Remington .36s but they're not very accurate. One is an Uberti made in 1973, with modern adjustable sights, and when I picked it up I figured I really had something.
Well, the darned rifling is so shallow that the best I can get is about 4" groups at 25 yards, from a benchrest. And to make matters worse, it shoots high, even with the modern Patridge sight cranked down all the way.
Yeah, I could get it rebarreled, and a new sight on it, but seems like it's more trouble than it's worth. Instead, I'll keep it for the rarity it is.
And it is rather rare. How many Remingtons have you seen in .36 caliber, with modern Patridge sights?

The other Remington .36 has fixed sights and about a 6 inch barrel. It's a Pietta I bought about 10 years ago. Gives me about 3" groups at 25 yards from a benchrest.

But an Uberti might be better for you. Ubertis have slightly deeper rifling than Pietta. They tend to be more accurate. Most Ubertis I've seen are noticeably better finished and fitted than Piettas.

A good 1851 Navy can be very accurate, especially if you replace that con-sarned brass, front sight that glows with every little bit of light and makes precise sight alignment difficult.

Shooting rabbits calls for precision, to slip a ball into the head so you don't ruin meat.

My mother, who was European, made wonderful rabbit. She'd fry it first, then put it in a red wine sauce that contained spices and prunes. Then the whole lot was put in a covered pot and put in the oven.
When the rabbit was served, you got a generous ladle of red sauce, and a couple of prunes as garnish. This was served with rice, or wild rice.
Darned good eating.
I wish I had that recipe for the red wine sauce with prunes. After she died, I never found it in her recipe box. I guess she just made it from memory.

April 6, 2011, 10:52 PM
you could probably get quail with some snake shot at rather close range, however i would want the shot to be from a larger bore with more pellets such as a .44 or something large enough to throw out a generous amount of shot. if a cap and ball is not suitable for hunting then i guess i will just use it for plinking and target shooting instead, however i just love black powder, it adds to the thrill of the hunt. my shooting is not a life support system, however i would like to help put food on the table and enjoy hunting as well. nothing is more fun than getting up early in the morning and shooting guns! haha!

April 7, 2011, 10:25 AM

Nice Choice on the Remington, looks like a GREAT BARGAIN !!!

Just an FYI...

I was a nosin around a web page that had been recomended to me, the "Middlesex Village Trading Company"... This is a specialty house that only imports reproduction 17th century types of guns from India. The owner, goes through, each gun, meticulously, and makes sure everything is up to snuff, polished, timed properly, tuned properly, before he puts them in stock... Here are three examples of the unusual types of things he carries... Thought you might appreciate these.


ElvinWarrior... aka... David, "EW"

April 7, 2011, 10:38 AM
Actually a .31 caliber is the perfect size. AND Yes its enough to take down a rabbit. if it can take down a grown man it can take down a rabbit. a lot less mess a better kill than using a .44 cal or bigger. I like the pistols that EVIL posted however those large caliber guns are just going to destroy the meat and carcus. Small caliber .31 is the best to use. Now if you wanted to go smokeless a 22 short would be very good as well.

April 7, 2011, 11:42 AM
I've shot rabbits with my 2nd Generation 1862 Colt Pocket Police. The .36 is good for small game.

My first choice of a handgun for rabbits now, is my 20X20 Pedersoli Howdah loaded with shot. I've had good results with #4 buck and field shot.

Having rambled a little ~ I recently bought a Uberti SS 1858 that is proving to be one accurate tack driver. It will definitely see some use.

April 7, 2011, 06:25 PM
body shots at 15 yards or so with a 61 Navy Uberti replica. The 36 kills them DRT with little meat distruction. I would not be able to hit one ten feet away with my 31 Remington pocket model. Shoots way over the sights.

April 8, 2011, 12:06 AM
either way i plan on getting a cap and ball even if i cannot hunt rabbits with it, however i am starting to think that shot would be perfect for snake hunting around October when you can find way too many rattlers (to the point of it being dangerous to livestock and pets) i mean the gun i am interested in is .44 caliber, that throws a decent amount of shot. sure beats .22 LR snake shot.

April 8, 2011, 07:09 AM
The 31 would work for a caliber. However all the common 31s are built on the small frame which makes it a bit harder to hold and shoot accuractely. Too bad no one makes a copy of the Manhatten revolver. You could build your own by using and 1851 and lining the bore and chambers to 31 caliber. With decent sights it would be a fun revolver, but with decent sights, the Navy Colt is a fun revolver. Even with issue sights it isn't too bad.

April 10, 2011, 04:22 AM
I have tried all of these and they work.

April 10, 2011, 08:52 PM
I love my Pedersoli 20x20 Howdah Pistol and can't wait to hunt small game with it.
I considered reaming out the rifling in my CVA Colonial Pistol to use it with shot.
Instead, I'll probably just build a single shot or double barreled .50 caliber smoothbore sidelock or inline.
Maybe I should buy another 58 Rem Pietta with the 8" barrel and ream out the rifling and chambers. I could use it as a shot-only game getter.
Probably be easier to do with a .36 or .44 cal 51 Navy, due to removable barrel. I could chuck the barrel in the lathe and ream it out.

A .69 caliber smoothbore BP pistol should make a good small game gun with shot.

I'd love to get one of those Kentucky pistols and ream it out to .54 cal (28 gauge) smoothbore. You could use it with shot or patched round ball.

April 11, 2011, 05:05 PM

Who would you get to do the reaming and how much would it cost?


April 11, 2011, 11:53 PM
I would probably make my own D reamer and do it myself. Yet another danged project to have to work on.

I may just make a 1/2" D reamer and just ream out the rifling and use it as a .50 caliber smoothie.
I think it would be easier than reaming it out to .54. Unless you start out with a .54 caliber gun.

April 12, 2011, 11:27 AM
Here in the People's Keystone Republik, cap and ball revolvers are not legal for rabbits. Unless they are under 23 caliber. They, in any caliber, are legal for ground hogs and coyotes. And I must say that I have plugged many ground hogs with my Ruger Old Army. Also a few raccoons, possums, skunks, and a few stray cats.

I would actually prefer to use a .36, but I have yet to find as smooth an action combined with the barrel length I would want.

A friend of mine has tinkered with building a 22 caliber muzzleloading barrel to fit into his Repro colt 44. It would fit down the barrel and threaded bushing would hold the barrel in place with the barrel extending back to a nipple under the hammer. (Obviously the cylinder must be removed.) Odd way of doing things. May as well have a muzzleloading pistol.

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