Follow-up Range Report: Wads versus Over-The-Ball Lube in a Uberti 1851 Navy .36


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J-Bar
March 19, 2012, 12:30 AM
Several days ago I posted a range report comparing lubricated wads to over-the-ball lube in a Ruger Old Army cap and ball revolver. I wanted to find out which one is best for cowboy action shooting. In that study I concluded that lubricated wads between the powder and ball would not give significantly smaller groups over the course of 5 consecutive 5-shot stages versus using my beeswax/Crisco over-the-ball lube. This range report repeats the experiment using a Uberti 1851 Navy .36 revolver.

I shot 5 consecutive 5-shot groups, without cleaning or lubricating the gun during the course of fire, for each of three options:

• No lube at all
• Commercially lubricated felt wad between powder and ball
• Beeswax/Crisco smeared over the ball after the chamber was charged.

The gun was cleaned between each course of fire. I used pure lead home cast .380 balls over 18 grains of Goex 2F powder, and Remington #10 caps, at a range of 15 yards over a rest.

Conclusions:

Conclusion #1: I am not real proud of these groups. 3 and 4 inch groups at 15 yards are rather embarrassing. But in the interest of honesty and integrity I will show you photos of the targets. I am sure many of you have 1851s that can shoot better than this. I am eager to see your photos.

Conclusion #2: There was no significant difference in group size between no lube at all and the lubricated wad. In fact, the groups with the wad averaged slightly bigger than those with no lube at all. I can’t explain it, but there it is. Replicating the experiment several more times would show whether this was a spurious result, or if this particular gun just does not like lubricated wads, or (horrors!!) lubricated wads are not as effective as most folks think.

Conclusion #3: The groups with over-the-ball lube averaged significantly smaller than the groups with no lube as well as small than those with a wad.

Conclusion #4: The barrel was cleaner after 25 shots with over-the-ball lube than with the other options. When I cleaned the gun after using the over-the-ball lube, the ballistol/water solution that I poured out of the barrel still looked pretty white. The solvent was inky black after sloshing around inside the barrel after the other two options. So I think over-the-ball lube keeps the barrel cleaner between shots than wads do.

Conclusion #5: Nothing I have seen in either of these experiments makes me want to change to using a lubricated wad rather than over-the-ball lube.

Results Details (photos):

Group sizes using no lube at all were 2 1/8, 4 , 3 , 2 , 5 1/8. Average: 3.55 inches
Surprisingly the gun was never difficult to cock during this course of fire. I was expecting it to bind up, but it went 25 shots without any lube with no trouble. I normally lubricate the arbor and the inside of the frame liberally with Bore Butter before competition, so this may have helped.

Group sizes using lubricated felt wads between powder and ball were 3, 4 , 3 , 4, 2 . Average: 3.60 inches

Group sizes using over-the-ball lube were 2, 4 , 1 , 1 , 3 . Average: 2.65 inches.

Fifteen yards is farther than most handgun targets are set for cowboy action competition. I shot a 6th stage of 5 shots before cleaning the gun using over-the-ball lube with a bullseye target at 6 yards, normal competition range, one-handed duelist style, semi-rapid fire. The photo shows the gun is OK for cowboy action, if not for longer range work.

Even though the fifteen yard groups are larger than I would like, I feel reassured that my past practice of using over-the-ball lube rather than a wad does not place me at a disadvantage in cowboy action competition. I did not perform these tests in an effort to convince anyone else to change loading procedures. I did it to satisfy my own curiosity.

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Fingers McGee
March 19, 2012, 12:40 AM
Interesting.

Prairie Dawg
March 19, 2012, 05:34 AM
J-Bar:
When cleaning the barrel after shooting with no lube, was there a hard fouling ring in the barrel?
Thanks for the results of both tests.
--Dawg

J-Bar
March 19, 2012, 06:42 AM
J-Bar:
When cleaning the barrel after shooting with no lube, was there a hard fouling ring in the barrel?
Thanks for the results of both tests.
--Dawg
No hard fouling ring was encountered after 25 shots with no lube. I cleaned the gun by field stripping it into the 3 parts, barrel assembly, cylinder, and frame. I sprayed everything with 1/10 Ballistol/water, and sloshing it around inside the barrel with my fingers over both ends and then emptying the barrel onto the ground. That's where I noticed the liquid was inky black. Then I swabbed a soft mop through the barrel and chambers. The mop went through the barrel without any difficulty. I pushed a piece of wadded paper towel through the barrel and then one pass with a bore-snake. Eyeballing the bore after the bore-snake, it looked mirror clean.

I store my guns with a bit of Ballistol in the bore, so there would have been a trace of Ballistol in the barrel when I started the test with no lube. But I did not put anything into the barrel after running the bore-snake through it for the other two tests. I reloaded and fired the stages as quickly as I could...the gun got hot during the tests.

zimmerstutzen
March 19, 2012, 07:56 AM
Thanks for your efforts
That confirms my past results
I have always felt that lube hitting the bore. Before the ball makes more sense

junkman_01
March 19, 2012, 08:56 AM
J-Bar,

A very ambitious and fine experiment. ;)

What I did not see you test though was homemade greased felt wads under the ball. Those dry lubricated wads do not carry enough of the right type of lube to be effective. I'm sure your results would have been about the same as greasing over the ball had you used 'greased' wads under the ball, but with much less mess than greasing over the ball.

J-Bar
March 19, 2012, 09:15 AM
I look forward to seeing photos and measurements for your experiment!

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