Cleaning 1873 after black

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Aug 23, 2007
Guys here lately I've been thinking of getting a Uberti 1873 revolver, and shooting black powder loads from it. I know it is relatively simple to remove the cylinder to clean it, and the frame, and I know how to clean a barrel. Question is, does one need to disassemble the entire works and pull the hammer, trigger, and other mechanism bits each time one shoots black powder?

I have a mid 70's percussion revolver which I once took apart to see how it works, and the innards were pretty crusty from all that black powder.

Thanks in advance.
In my experience all that is necessary is to pull the cylinder and clean everything you can access. Maybe once a year go into the action if you shoot this gun a lot. I love black powder revolvers.
I shoot BP in my Blackhawk frequently. I clean it the same way I clean my other BP (the SAA and it's offspring were designed as BP firearms). I remove the grips, remove the cylinder and put the entire thing in the dishwasher. It is well dried by the drying cycle. Then just lube it up. and put the grips back on.

This takes (discounting the DW time) about ten minutes.
Even on my percussion revolvers I found that I only need to perform a full on detail strip down and swab out the internals about every 100 rounds fired. And those are a LOT more dirty and spread around the fouling a LOT more thanks to the amount that flashes back out the nipples. 100 rounds amounts to three days of shooting for me since my primary use is in Frontiersman cowboy action shooting.

With cartridge guns the amount of fouling is focused far more around the forcing cone so you will likely find that you only need to do a full detail strip down and clean about once ever couple of hundred rounds. In the meantime just wipe off and oil anything you can without removing the grips.

By BP guns are lubricated with Ballistol because it's "friendly" with BP fouling where regular gun oils can form tar like buildups. If you want to use BP I urge you to buy a supply of Ballistol to use with your BP guns. There may be other options but Ballistol is the one I know about that works for certain. By the end of the third day with my percussion guns the internals are certainly "inky" with a mixture of fouling and oil. But it's a smooth consistency that doesn't hurt the feel of the gun and the oil prevents the fouling from attracting water and producing rust. I haven't had any corrosion issue in the 6 years I've used the guns in this way.

I think some of you guys suggesting to just remove the grips and flush out the insides are talking about your Rugers. On a "proper" 1873 removing the one piece grips means that you're about 70% of the way to a full detail strip down anyway. At that point one may as well finish the job.
Thanks fellas. I reckon each time I can refrain from turning screws reduces the likelihood of chewed up slots etc., even with good gunsmith screwdrivers in use.

I use Ballistol in a few applications around here. That soiled diaper/liquorice odor takes some getting used to, but it works well I have found.

Beginning to rethink the whole black powder thing altogether. I dunno.

Thanks for the good information, it gives me something to think about.
I only have one BP gun. A Ruger Old Army. (Stainless) Yes, it will rust with BP. I usually scrub the barrel and charge holes down with hot soapy water (dishwashing detergent). Rinse with extremely hot water and then apply Ballistol to every thing.

The nipples got me one time and, I found some corrosion on them. Now, I take them off every cleaning and give them a scrubbing too.
Beginning to rethink the whole black powder thing altogether. I dunno.

The look and feel of shooting proper black powder is just so different from using smokeless that you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try.

Besides, compared to the blank ended chambers and nipples found on my cap and ball revolvers cleaning an 1873 would be a super simple cinch! Your first time around it may seem like you're worrying about the whole thing. But with a bit of practice I'd be surprised if it takes longer than 10 to 12 minutes per gun at the end of the day to do the "short version" of cleaning the barrel, cylinder and a general wiping down of the frame then lubricating it all again. And as you put the best options for bucket, brushes and jags together I'd bet on likely less than 10 minutes.

Oh, and do bring along an old plastic wide mouth peanut butter, salsa or nut "jar" half filled with soapy water. You want to dump the brass into that then wash it when you get home. Your BP brass will become quite stained. But that's not a big deal.
Take out cylinder.

Use a .45 nylon bore brush, get a hot thing of water and add some Dawn. Froth it up, slather it on, scrub away... rinse with HOT water and set aside to dry.

Use the bristle brush and some patches and jag do clean the bore w/ the hot water. Wipe off any fouled metal with soapy water. Set aside to try.

Coat everything in a light coat of Ballistol Sportsman's Lubrication.


Should take no more than 15 mikes.
I got some BP sub from a buddy and tried it in one of my .44 Specials and one of my 45 Colts. Sheesh....If cleaning the revolver was a pain, it paled in comparison to the brass!
Yeah, I'll keep some of it around, but doubt I'll ever use it again.

After a cowboy action match I clean a lever action 1873 rifle, a double barreled 12 gauge, two percussion revolvers, and 100 brass cases, all used with real black powder, in about an hour. It's really not that big a deal.


Handguns are completely disassembled once a year, after maybe 600 shots or so. Cleaning the cylinder, frame, and barrel is sufficient between matches, as long as you squirt some lube down into the action and cylinder hand slot. Ballistol or Bore Butter works fine.
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Wish you were in my part of NC. I have a bp revolver that picked up in a pawn shop many yes ago that rarely gets used. I'd almost give it to ya to shoot. Still got some Pyrodex, wads, balls and caps too.
According to Sam

The Colts had the wedge that knocked out allowing a field strip into frame, cylinder, and barrel components. The original instructions called for removing the nipples and cleaning the cylinder and barrel in warm water. Then drying and oiling them, taking the gun down to clean the lockwork when needed and giving the order to remove screws.

Some report cleaning every part with soapy water, some never clean with water. Everybody else is doing it wrong. General consensus is avoid petroleum based lubricants and solvents. They make goop.
JBar said:
After a cowboy action match I clean a lever action 1873 rifle, a double barreled 12 gauge, two percussion revolvers, and 100 brass cases, all used with real black powder, in about an hour. It's really not that big a deal.

Hey JBar, what do you use for cleaning the cases?
Hey JBar, what do you use for cleaning the cases?
Put the dirty brass in a coffee can with hot water and a drop of dish detergent after I get home ( don't mess with liquids at the match). Let 'em soak while I clean the guns. Rinse with plain water and let them dry on a towel. After they are completely dry, and I have accumulated several matches worth of empties, put 'em in my Dillon vibratory tumbler, corn cob media, a capful of Dillon case polish. They look new in a couple of hours.

Keep it simple... Leave the spent primer in the case during polishing. I've never had a problem with primer pockets. I have waited several days after a match before washing brass and have not seen corrosion, and Missouri is humid. Same with guns, although if it's going to be more than a couple of days before I get back home to clean them, I will spray them down inside and out with Ballistol aerosol.
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