Range Time with the 1866 and the 1851


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StrawHat
April 12, 2012, 07:41 AM
We had some nice weather the other week so I grabbed the FrankenTrapdoor and the short barreled 1851 and headed for the property. Normally, I only carry one or two firearms when I go shooting and rarely do I mix ignition systems but I like the trapdoor and wanted to see how the revolver would shoot, so I could justify the mix. The 50 Gov't shot as I expected it would. Trip the trigger, loud boom, lots of smoke and a hole appeared about where I expected to see one. The 1851 was a horse of a different color. I had never fired it in particular (nor any 51 for the last 30 or 40 years) so I approached it a bit differently. Shooting started out close until I got used to the sights and then progressed out farther and farther. My first shot at 25 yards had me on paper and a little windage got me near where I wanted to be. The next three actually cut a group I could live with. Reload and the paper goes to fifty. The groups opened up some but I could see the potential so I reloaded and started my usual procedure of walking and looking for targets of opportunity. While I could not hit as well at the long ranges as I could with the rifle, I was pleased that at least out to 100 (and maybe a bit farther) yards, I was holding well enough to worry a five gallon pail lid. Anything smaller and I had trouble holding a sight picture. The sighting on the 1851 is the standard hammer V and front cone. I will clean up the V to a square sided notch and install a dovetailed front sight for the next outing and see if it allows me a steadier picture. But I was pleasantly pleased with the 51. I doubt it will replace my 60s as a frequent flier but it will not be a safe queen.

The FrankenTrapdoor? Well, that is one of my favorite rifles and does get out quite a bit. I need to try one more bullet in it and decide what my load for that rifle will be. Then set the sights and forget about them. As it is, I can easily live with the current load, Lyman 515141 cast with 40/1, over a full casing of ffG powder, homemade lube, and a large rifle primer. The new bullet will be similar except a hollow base design.

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Foto Joe
April 12, 2012, 10:58 AM
100 yards with a Navy, am I reading that right?? I'm impressed!! Most days I have a hard time just seeing a barn at that distance let alone hitting the thing.;)

StrawHat
April 12, 2012, 11:08 AM
Two shots were taken at or about 100 yards. One was a solid hit, the other taken later in the day caused the lid to move around so it may have hit just under. I do not use paper targets after I get my initial sighting done. From then on, I walk the property and use rocks, stumps, pail lids, etc and natural rests to test my ability. The long shots were taken because "...I wonder if..."

Foto Joe
April 12, 2012, 11:43 AM
I ran my 2nd Model Dragoon out to 100 yards a few years ago. I was quite impressed that I was hitting a 2x2 lead catcher about 2 out of 6 shots. Of course this is apples and oranges simply because there was 40gr of 3f pushing that .454 round ball.

I've been toying with the idea of takng my Fake '51 and lowering the V-notch in the hammer a touch to try to get it to hit closer to POA. It will probably be a waste of time though simply because the chambers are under-sized for the barrel. She shoots nice at 10-20 yards but I do get flyers on a regular basis.

Although completely off topic, what do you think about using a "small" brake hone to ream chambers? Keep in mind that this is a $129 gun that I have used to experiment on. It's been de-farbed and browned and being a Fake Navy it's brass as well. I'm not trying to make a bulls-eye shooter out of it, I simply use it for experimentation so I'm not tempted to do it on an 1860 or a Dragoon. I realize that using a hone to ream the chambers will NOT give me exact specs on all six holes, I'm just wondering if you used a cordless and were meticulous about it if it could possibly work.

StrawHat
April 12, 2012, 03:11 PM
I used to use specific reamers to ream the cylinders. As I recall, .452 or .454 for the 1860s and .380 for the 51s and 61s. This was done when we were still using originals on the target line (replicas had only just started and were not as available as originals). One fellow had an 1860 reamed so that he could load a 200 grain target SWC and it would rest on a "ledge" inside the chamber. Made it very easy to repeat the loading. A brake hone and a power drill would give me the willies and I doubt it would be accurate enough for what you are trying to accomplish. I don't remember where my tools are or even where I got them, nearly 50 years ago. Perhaps Brownells or other gunsmith caterer would have them. Then you could do that Dragoon. One guy used a 51 or 61 cylinder and reamed it for a 45? ball. Nice easy powder charge and yet it still cut the large hole in the target. Or maybe it was a Remington shooter but you get what I mean.

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