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multiple flash overs

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Busyhands94, Mar 15, 2011.

  1. Busyhands94

    Busyhands94 Well-Known Member

    has anybody had them happen? i am getting my first BP revolver soon (NAA Super Companion) and i am a bit curious on how i can prevent them, for i have heard that they can be initiated through the percussion caps as well as if you don't put any grease over the cylinder. i have read about in the civil war days they would get the occasional flash over with their BP revolvers. i have heard everything from "nothing happens, it is a bit thrilling though" to "that gun blew up in my hand and i got X amount of stitches from the flying bits of the cylinder" however i am sure that it makes a huge difference with what gun you have and what it is loaded with. i plan to load my NAA super companion with 1.5 grains of Bullseye pistol powder (yes, i absolutely checked and checked some more, i know it is a safe propellant) or maybe triple 7 pistol and i am a bit worried about chain fires.
  2. makos_goods

    makos_goods Well-Known Member

    Everyone should read the article I am attaching below. It is one of many tests that have been conducted trying to determine how chainfires occur and how much of a danger do they pose.

    But after having said that I'm sure there will be several answers to even this thread with more conjecture and anecdote instead of proof. Firearms in general are the hotbed of wives' tales and BP shooting is the deepest recess of that hot bed. Too many years of bad information being foisted on us by uninformed gun magazine writers, novelist and unsupported word of mouth have gotten us to this point. That along with the common feeling of empowerment in thinking opinion is as valid as data and experience supported with documentation have probably doomed us to never having consensus based on evidence.

    Read the following and see how a controlled experiment is performed, documented and reported.


    Oh yeah... and that is just my opinion.:banghead:
  3. 45-70 Ranger

    45-70 Ranger Well-Known Member

    Happened long ago to me. In 1965 I was still in my teens and had been shooting BP revolvers for a couple of years. Went to the river to do a bit of shooting and brought along all the stuff needed to shoot but the crisco! Opps! Ok, I was young then, and thought it would be ok. Not so. After firing off the loads in my old 51, I reloaded without any crisco over the loads. I fired a full cylinder and no problem. Loaded again, and the first round was really three! The round under the hammer went off as did both chambers on either side of it. I was a bit taken back, but no harm was done to me or the weapon.

    Did I ever forget the crisco or other lube again? NOPE! Lessons learned as a kid carried with me to this day. Can the multiple discharge happen? Ahhh, yeah, it did to me!

  4. SwampMouse

    SwampMouse Well-Known Member

    45-70 Ranger, did the balls not fit right? I have heard that is what causes it.
  5. rdstrain49

    rdstrain49 Well-Known Member

    Very interesting & good info. And to think, I've been doing it right since the 60s.:)
  6. Foto Joe

    Foto Joe Well-Known Member

    The thing that I'd like to make a point about regarding this issue is: With due caution chain-fires are not something that the average shooter will EVER experience. Properly sized round balls, proper loading procedures and the correct caps for "your" nipples will mean that you probably will never get to experience a multiple ignition.

    I think what is more overlooked and is a bigger safety issue is a possible hang-fire, especially in long guns but it can happen on any percussion firearm and unsafe handling of the weapon can lead to very bad outcomes.
  7. ClemBert

    ClemBert Well-Known Member

    That was a good article to read. Thanks for posting it. However, the article did nothing to address the OP's question regarding chain fire which he refers to as "multiple flash overs". The article concerns the safe capping of percussion revolvers.

    To the OP the prevention of chain fires is two fold. Sealing the muzzle of the chambers properly and sealing the nipples properly. Sealing the chambers requires that the chambers be uniform in their "roundness" and the use of a soft lead projectiles, also uniform and without defects, that are larger than the chamber diameters. Some folks will use lubricated wads, fillers, and/or "grease" sealants as an added preventative measure. The selection and use of such materials is a long debated topic on this forum and others.

    If you take the steps, as highlighted above in blue, you will not get a chain fire initiated from the chamber muzzles. About right now there are a few red faced members :fire: who are going to want to debate me on that note.

    With regard to chain fires initiated from the rear of the chambers AKA the nipples...again, this will require nipples uniform in their roundness without defects. Reasonably tight fitting caps that do NOT get jarred loose when firing will be a key feature in preventing chain fires initiated from the nipple area.

    Now that I've had my say....let the religious debate begin! :cuss:

    p.s. I just noticed that this post is post #666 for me. Excuse me while I go drink some holy water...or beer...
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2011
  8. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member

    I think every C&B revolver shooter should experience a chain fire, just to see what it is like. Load three adjacent chambers but only cap the middle one and fire it. More than likely, all three will go. One down the barrel and one out each side. Keep your off hand away from the gun (fire one handed) and everything should be fine. Only then can you appreciate a chain fire and take what ever steps are necessary to avoid them in the future. :evil:
  9. arcticap

    arcticap Well-Known Member

    Take a look at the burns that Ginormous received when his dragoon double fired. The cylinders weren't adjacent and some folks seriously considered wearing shooting gloves as a precaution after that.





    From the thread below named :mad: Chainfire, yay.

  10. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member

    My statement still stands. I've had several chain fires in my long life and none were harmful to me, the bystanders, or the guns!

    BTW, he shouldn't have had his off hand near the gun. Those burns don't appear to have happened to his shooting hand.
  11. arcticap

    arcticap Well-Known Member

    As mentioned the chambers weren't adjacent and that was his shooting hand:

  12. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member

    I don't believe the story. He must have done something seriously wrong.
  13. Busy, If you will be firing the pre-formed .22 balls that they send with the revolver (50 I think. Used to be anyway) and you seat them properly with the tool they also send, you will NOT have to worry about chainfires. (flash overs). Period. Forget about them. They ain't gonna happen. Period....
  14. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Well-Known Member

    I've had three chain fires in almost forty years of shooting.One was due to using the wrong caps , pinched to make them fit, and two were due to ill fitting, home cast balls, with no lube, one in my '51 Navy sheriff's model, and one in my brother's full length '51.with my '51 Navy Sherrif's model, I actually saw the flashover from cap to cap. Blew the wedge, I know not where, and left me with the barrel betwixt the toes of my cowboy boots holding the grip and cylinder in my hand and wearing a foolish expression of wonder on my seventeen year old [this was a long time ago] face...The cure is to use a Q-tip and smear a little Bore Butter over top of the bullet, and use Remington # 10 or CCI #11 caps, and the stock bullets.None of the components are expensive, or very hard to find, so there's no reason not to use the right stuff. Also, I think after you try the T7, 3F, you'll see there's no need to bend your frame or cylinder pin useing smokeless powder.Plenty barky, believe me.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2011
  15. arcticap

    arcticap Well-Known Member

    It's totally plausible that the 1075 RWS cap simply fell off due to recoil as Ginormous claimed in his 1st post of the thread. It wasn't even a maximum load which not only shows how easily a chainfire can be initiated, but what kind of burns can result from loading as little as 35 grains of powder in a chamber sized to hold 50 grains.
  16. Busyhands94

    Busyhands94 Well-Known Member

    charcoal i saw a picture online of the bullets, and they are actually formed in a way where they have a fatter part in the middle. you have a good point there, i think just using the bullets will be fine. if you look at the bullets they have quite a bit of lead around them http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=231241 although i might coat them in grease or put Crisco or some kind of grease over the chambers just in case, you can never be too careful with guns. i am getting some H&N rabbit magnums soon, they are like a lead cylinder and are really heavy. i think they might seal well due to having more lead contacting the walls of the chamber.
  17. makos_goods

    makos_goods Well-Known Member

    I'll say it again:
    Maybe I should have said it is one of a series instead of one of many. It is the only one that looked at the danger from the projectiles that has been properly documented that I know of. There had been a bunch of conjecture, rumors, stories suppositions, opinions and even anecdotal "evidence" from shooters saying that multiple balls went out and hit the target or backstop.

    Rowdy was adamant that it wouldn't be dangerous (and he should know), Scout decided to put an end to it by conducting a well documented test. That is what my post was specifically about. It's not about after the fact accounts, eyewitness or not; because we have learned how unreliable they can be even if the witness testifies to the best of their ability.

    I am out of town right now so I don't have access to my files. There have been other tests where they set off as many as 5 chambers at once. The one test shot at carboard as well and advised that you would have 5 deadly projectiles. Scout machined the cylinder ring and recorded the first chronographed velocities from a cylinder alone that I am aware of.

    Even in the situation above you have to be careful about what you report, you can only make claims that are supportable. The test that showed the 5 holes on the target "looked" VERY bad. But they really had no idea how powerful the hits were. Some of us were suspicious because the holes looked torn instead of the round grey/black tinged holes you normally see from a ball penetrating the cardboard at normal velocities.

    The 5 shot test used model rocket motor igniters on all five chambers. They left the 6th at the rammer out fearing they would destroy the pistol. That was a projectile test. Then there have been actual chainfire tests. The simplest have been on machine rests or anchored with the chamber under the hammer capped and the others uncapped. It is frightening how often they will go off in that configuration.

    We chose to test front chainfires and did two types of tests. One with the cylinder on the pistol and one with the cylinder dismounted. We could not get a chain fire at all on the pistol. We tried everything from the infamous casting wrinkle to literally cutting grooves on the sides of balls allowing a path. No lube, just intentionally loose fitting balls and openings cut into them. We even dribbled powder all over the fronts of the chambers to simulate bad loading hygiene.

    We got tired of loading on the Ransom Rest and decided to just try to set multiple chambers off with the cylinder off and pointing up at an angle to allow a lot of powder on the chamber fronts ( mean a LOT). We used both nichrome igniters and cannon fuse. The cannon fuse was bad about setting off any loose powder and the front even flash off once before the one chamber it was supposed to ignite from the rear. We then switch to nichrome motor igniters until we ran out.

    We were finally able to get flash overs, but only after carving deep grooves and in one case a drilled hole. Then we added 4F flintlock priming powder down the holes.

    The problem with this account I am giving is that I am all over the page trying to recount 3 different tests. Two weren't ours, and ours had a matrix of different conditions I am not doing justice to in this post.

    Can you get flash overs from the front? Yep, but be prepared to do things no self respecting cap gun shooter would ever do.

    If you get bored before I have a chance to dig the info up, try it yourself. See if you can get one to go off from the front. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that we put 12-28 set screws in five of the cone holes to assure there was no chance of igniting from the rear. They aren't easy to buy so we took some 1/4-28 allthread stock and turned the O.D. down to Ø.215 then threaded it with a die I keep to freshen cone threads ( have taps as well) then cut them to set screw length and slotted them. Or you can do what another experimenter did and filled some old cones with JB Weld (DOOOOOHHHHHH!!!! I hate it when I miss the obvious)

  18. ClemBert

    ClemBert Well-Known Member

    I believe that none other than our own Hawg Haggen has a cap-n-ball revolver where it is claimed that it will reliably chain fire when there isn't lube over the balls. Maybe he'll chime in to give us the details. Either that or he'll point out that I must have inhaled too many smoke fumes and imagined the whole thing.
  19. robhof

    robhof Well-Known Member


    As a long time owner of a Super Companion and having gone through at least 3 bags of the NAA bullets plus assorted homemade 22 cal lead slugs, I can honestly say that I've never had a problem and doubt it's possible if you follow basic precaution. The nipples are in isolated wells, so cap flashover is extremely difficult, and the NAA slugs are a tight fit, my copies are made of soft lead and cast at .224, they are also a tight fit and I just lube them with liquid Alox. The factory slugs are more accurate but my homebrews are cheaper. I just put 2 slabs of scrap aluminum together and drilled a series of .224 holes to a depth just shy of the factory slug, crude but functional.
  20. Busyhands94

    Busyhands94 Well-Known Member

    cool! i was actually thinking about making a bullet mold for mine, i already have made a .17 caliber mold for my Remington rider pistol, so i figure .22 caliber conicals should be a bit easier to cast due to the lead flowing into the mold easier.

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