Powder load for a 1851 Navy


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thomaslea1
March 9, 2012, 02:43 PM
Bought one from Cabella's. A F.lli Pietta 1851 Reb Nord Navy in 44 caliber. It's a little confusing from my side. First, somewhere on this forum it was recommended that a ".457 soft lead ball be used. The F.LLI book says a ".454 ball and the Cabella's manual that came with it says a ".451 ball.
Next is the powder charge. The F.LLI book says12 - 15 grains FFFG and the Cabella's book says for "Cap and Ball Revolvers - Standard Cylinder Capacity" load 22 grains of FFFG.

I'm pretty sure I can use the ".457 soft lead ball OK (I have a mold this size), but the powder is a different story. I would prefer not to blow my hand off. The powder I have on hand is Pyrodex RS (FFG) and P (FFFG).

Unconfuse me!! Plz.

Tom

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junkman_01
March 9, 2012, 03:33 PM
First off, F.lli is the Italian abbreviation for Fratelli (brothers). The gun is just a Pietta.
Second, use the ball size that fits your particular chambers the best. It can be any where from .451-454. .457 is pretty large and usually used in the Ruger Old Army C&B revolvers.
Third, you CAN NOT get enough black powder into a chamber and still seat the ball to be be of any danger to your person.
Fourth, with a .44 C&B revolver, a decent starting load is 25 grains of 3Fg black powder. You can have no air space between the powder and the ball. Some folks use a filler like cream of wheat or a felt wad to take up any extra space because it is believed that the closer the ball is to the barrel the better the accuracy will be.
Fifth, In any case, you will need some lube, either on the felt wad or smeared over the ball to keep the fouling soft so the gun will function longer. Do not forget to lube the arbor too.

Anglo-Iron
March 9, 2012, 03:33 PM
As I understand it, you have two factors affected by ball size:

Sealing of the front of the chamber (so long as a ring of lead is shaved when you ram the ball, the ball is big enough - unless you have chamfered chambers but these are unusual - Euroarms only I believe)

Engagement on the rifling - the larger the ball diameter, the greater the contact area with the rifling as the ball is squeezed by the forcing cone on entering the barrel.

So, use the largest ball that shaves a ring of lead in all the chambers but that can be seated without undue difficulty.

As for the charge - I would probably start with 25 grains (by volume) of Pyrodex P, however informed experimentation is the key. Hogdon's list 35 gn/vol for a .44 Remington with steel frame. YMMV!

thomaslea1
March 9, 2012, 03:57 PM
Thanks for the info. It is a brass framed gun tho. Will start with a lighter load and see what happens.
I have felt wads.

Thanks again.

mykeal
March 9, 2012, 04:02 PM
Brass framed gun --

Start with 20 grains and don't go over 25. It's true that you can stuff the chambers full and not explode the gun, but routinely shooting a brass framed .44 with loads over about 25 grains will eventually cause some frame damage. Repeated use of heavy loads over a long period of time can render the gun useless.

Pyro
March 9, 2012, 04:12 PM
20 grains of powder under 10 grains of a filler (cream of wheat) works dandy for mine.
Get a very nice compression due to the filler. On top the ball (.451 or .454, both work just fine..prefer the .454 as I've had ball creep with .451) I fill the remainder of the chamber full of crisco vegetable shortening as lube.

I've shot 40 grain loads out of my 1851 brassy, the frame has stretched accordingly but not bad enough to knock it out of commission.

barstoolguru
March 9, 2012, 06:25 PM
felt patchs are fine or some crisco grease will do to as far as the ball dim. the excess lead will shave off when pressed into the chamber

thomaslea1
March 9, 2012, 08:04 PM
Next question is how close to the end of the cylinder does the ball need to be. I used 25 grains of FFFG and a commercial pre-lubed felt patch. After pressing the ball in (and shaving off the required ring of lead), the ball sits about 1/4" down into the cylinder. Is the ball supposed to be flush with the end? Does it matter?

Thanks again.

Tom

Acorn Mush
March 9, 2012, 08:17 PM
There are differing opinions on ball seating depth. One-quarter inch is just fine. Lots of folks (myself included) seat the balls slightly below the chamber mouths, just enough to allow free rotation of the cylinder. The theory is that the shorter the distance the ball travels between the chamber and the forcing cone, the better the resulting accuracy. I would hazard the guess that the vast majority of us wouldn't be able to tell the difference in accuracy, if any.

Just have yourself a grand time shooting your revolver.:D

Rubicon1851
March 9, 2012, 08:34 PM
The quarter-inch sounds about right; I use a homemade 'biscuit' on top of the ball also (in lieu of crisco) to seal it off. Something not specifically mentioned here yet is you will need to experiment with various powder loads to find out which is best for you and your '51. After reading most of the posts and "Blackpowder Essentials" and feeling fairly well prepared, I was still amazed at how the accuracy was affected with even a 2-3grain powder variance. I've settled at 18gr powder (.454rb) for 25-35yd targets. I'm also spritzing the barrel w/windex multi-surface cleaner, a quick scrub w/nylon brush and then swab with some borebutter on a mop or patch after every cylinder. The Blackpowder Essentials sticky is a highly recommended and worthwhile read... the learned folks who authored them will even answer questions you don't have yet! Enjoy!

Hellgate
March 10, 2012, 12:58 AM
I don't use more than 20 grains of 3F powder in my brass framed 44 Pietta '51 Navy Colt.

scrat
March 11, 2012, 12:06 PM
someone said they compress there ball just below the cylinder. DONT DO THIS unless your powder is up that high as well. The ball needs to be seated against the powder. compressed. you cant just seat the ball where you want it. It doesent make a friggen difference on where the ball is. You may even want to just go with 15 grains of powder. Just dont go 25 grains or more. That brass frame will not like it. Some one on here bought one about a year ago (remember reading). They loaded it up to the max and was shooting it all day like that. At the end of the day the gun was toast. Frame was stretched they ended up cleaning it and hanging it on a wall. If you want to do the same then go ahead otherwise load it up with 15-20 grains i would recommend 15. Same time ball size is important. i tried a .454 once in mine Stopped me in my action. Ended up packing the gun, Was done shooting that gun for the day. See the ball was too big, I put in the powder then wad then put a .454 ball on top. Turned it then went to compress the ball to the powder. i laid into that ball hard it went in about 1/2 way then stopped. I could not get it in any further. Same time the cylinder would not rotate because that ball was sticking out. So i ended up removing the barrel then just packed up that gun until i got home and was able to dump the powder and remove the ball. so Stick with .451 or .452. I have a .451 mold. I can tell if i get a ball to big maybe i did not have the mold closed all the way or something. As those are the ones that are a pain to load. OR sometimes at the range i would end up taking out my pocket knife and shave the lead ball sticking out so i could compress it down.

Acorn Mush
March 11, 2012, 01:21 PM
STOP


someone said they compress there ball just below the cylinder. DONT DO THIS unless your powder is up that high as well.

THANK YOU SCRAT!!! That was me:o. I neglected to recommend the use of the cornmeal filler I always use in my revolvers:o:o:o:o:o. THANK YOU for catching my oversight. I assumed the OP was savvy enough to know about fillers and their use, even though he clearly stated he was a little confused regarding load levels (and, by extension, maybe precedures as well). In the future, I certainly won't be making loading recommendations when I am tired.

You maybe saved someone a bulged or burst cylinder, or worse.

junkman_01
March 11, 2012, 01:25 PM
If you read post 2, I think I explained that point very well! :banghead:

Acorn Mush
March 11, 2012, 01:36 PM
If you read post 2, I think I explained that point very well!

Yup, you did.

I certainly won't be making loading recommendations when I am tired.

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