Begenning muzzle loading question


July 11, 2013, 11:00 AM
I am new to muzzle loading and have a question. I recently bought the 1851 navy brass frame. I know I can only shoot reduced powder charges through this to maintain the frame's integrity. My question is do you really need the lubed wads between the powder and the ball if I clean often and right after shooting? They seem pretty expensive for what they are.

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July 11, 2013, 11:05 AM
Welcome to the madness.

I have the same gun you have, and I shot with two other cowboy action shooters last weekend who use the same gun. They were using 22 grains of powder and shot very well. If you go crazy stuffing powder into the chamber you may eventually cause some stretching, but reasonable loads will give no trouble.

I do not use a wad between ball and powder. If shooting more than a few cylinders full, I will put grease over the ball. But you can probably shoot 3 or 4 cylinders full without any lube before you get much of a binding problem.

Each gun is like a snowflake, each is different. Have fun experimenting.

July 11, 2013, 11:08 AM
You do not need them unless your RB's aren't tight fitting. They may help with keeping the barrel cleaner.

There is a gal who sells rolls of felt for you to punch your own wads.

And then you'd want a 3/8" punch. It's best to use a slightly oversized wad. Some have had success using the cheap punches from Harbor Freight. I did not. There is a retired machinist on another forum who makes custom punches for $10 + shipping. I have 2 of his punches.

July 11, 2013, 12:11 PM
I never use a lubed wad. Just a little lube over the ball. But I've been wondering if anyone knows about how long before a lubed wad will contaminate the powder?

July 11, 2013, 02:55 PM
I figured the lubed wad was less than required since when these guns were in military service there were probably not lots of nicely cut lubed wads available.

July 12, 2013, 01:05 AM
The lubed wads are not needed. You want SOME form of lube but a little oil or grease applied onto the ball after ramming it home is fine.

The grease can be Crisco or some other warlock's concoction. The option I like came from a You Tube video. And that is a drop of Canola cooking oil applied to the ball and allowed to wick around the joint between ball and chamber. It's easy and neat and the Canola oil keeps the BP fouling soft and goopy. It's been my "go to" option since I use my C&B guns in cowboy action meets and things are slow enough to get reloaded without adding on a messy and slow spooning of "lard" over the balls.

I found that the Canola oil does a great job of dissolving the BP fouling to the point where a drop or two put onto the cylinder base pin or arbor does a great job of avoiding the cylinder stiffening up from the fouling. There's some serious black slime in the pin after a day's shooting but it's soft and greasy which doesn't hamper the cylinder indexing around when you cock the hammer.

One thing to be positive of with your brassy. Be sure you can feel the powder crunch a little even with the reduced loads. If you go TOO light and can't ram the ball down far enough to at least lightly compress the powder then the chamber pressures will peak and you'll get the exact opposite of what you wanted by going to a lower amount of powder.

This is actually where the lube wads shine. They fill in some space so you're that much more certain of correctly compressing even a reduced charge.

July 12, 2013, 03:32 AM
What caliber is your revolver? You can have plenty of plinking fun with 20 grains of powder with a .44 or 12-15 grains with a .36.

July 12, 2013, 12:58 PM
its a 44 cal

July 12, 2013, 02:28 PM
A buddy of mine picked up a brassy in .44 a while back. Out of consideration for the brass frame we loaded and shot it with 20 grains of powder. It produced a kick that is much the same as a mid power .38Spl shot from a S&W revolver. And for what he wanted it for that was just fine. And with 20 grains the ball was still easily rammed home to provide a little "crunch" feel so we knew the powder was compressed. It did tend to seat the balls pretty deeply in the cylinder. But the results on the target were consistent with how well either of us shoot any other handgun.

If this first C&B revolver sets your soul aflame and you find that you're shooting it frequently you MAY want to keep an eye on the fit of the gun and watch in particular for signs of the cylinder arbor/base pin becoming loose in the recoil shield. If that occurs it's a sign that you'll want to deal with the issue pronto. A short term fix would be to pull out any pins that hold the arbor in place then use some epoxy as a thread locking compound when you replace it. That'll give you some amount of time. The other option would be to get a new arbor made up with an oversize thread cut on the lathe so it's a firm interference fit into the recoil shield threading like it should have been in the first place.

Or by that time you could just write it off, sell off the internals as parts and buy an all steel gun.

But either way you're a LONG way from having to make such a decision. Lots of the guys here have gotten good lifespans from their brass guns.

July 12, 2013, 07:03 PM
Got a couple of 1858 Remington's that have had a steady diet of 26Grains Of fffg for the past 15 years,The last couple of years they have also seen the same volume of Pyrodex RS.

Being aware of the brass frame had me keep a very close watch on dimensions and fit up. I have measured key areas and have seen no change at all over 15 years of pretty heavy usage.
I have never used wads and the standard 26 grains has been topped off with a .380 case full of corn meal as a filler. The ball has been seated firmly and then the cylinder topped off with Crisco. Its been a real consistent load for me, and my Remmies and Colts all like the load. Mild enough for target work but enough to let you know you just touched off a .44 caliber.

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