Ever Leave A BP Revolver Loaded For A Long Time?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by ThomasT, Feb 25, 2021.

  1. ThomasT

    ThomasT Member

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    About a year ago we went to shoot our BP guns and my bud pulled out his 1861 Colt and with no time spent loading fired off all 6 shots. All but one of the rounds were full power. One round was slightly weaker than the rest but still went off. Then he told us that gun had been loaded for over a year and kept ready to go. I was impressed that it fired so well.

    So has anyone else left a gun loaded and ready to go and what were the results? I just got new nipples for my 1858 because the factory nipples were sized for #10 caps and all I have are number 11 caps. The CCI caps fit very tight on these nipples. Much tighter than Remington #11 caps. I feel that with a tight fitting ball and the CCI caps this gun could be left loaded for a long time and be counted on to go off.

    I had read something over at the BP section on TFL about using Beeswax to make a dab on the lip of the cap before installing to help keep moistier out of the charge. Anyone heard of that before?
     
  2. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    I think there have been several threads like this. If the powder is kept dry, a well loaded gun will usually keep the powder dry, the gun will be able to be stored indefinantly and still work. Some have tested this out.

    As a youth my father gave me a book about gun safety which brought up many circumstances where people had done unsafe things, at great cost to them or others. One particularly memorable to me was a family that had a heirloom blackpowder rifle hanging on a wall. It was actually known when it was last used by an ancestor, over 100 years ago (immediate post Civil War). A kid had a friend over, was showing him the rifle, stupidly aimed it at his friend, cocked it and pulled the trigger. Yeeeup, you guessed it; it went off, killing his friend. The last ancestor who had used it had brought it back cleaned it, loaded it, and hung it back on the wall. Apparently a common practice then, since if you needed a gun quickly it had better be a loaded one.
     
  3. damoc

    damoc Member

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    This won't go over well with the safe queen crowd LOL but all my revolvers are left loaded all the time in fact I clean, load fire one shot so the hammer has a safe spot and the bullet lube gets pushed into the mechanism and they keep very well.
     
  4. Zygodactyl

    Zygodactyl Member

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    I left one loaded for about a year un caped and it worked fine. I wouldn't recommend it but I was young.
     
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  5. Dave Markowitz

    Dave Markowitz Member

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    After his death, Robert E. Lee's Colt 1851 Navy was fired. It had been loaded 7 years previously. All rounds went off with no problems.

    Black powder is a mechanical mixture that if kept away from moisture, contamination, and temperature extremes, lasts basically forever. If you want to keep a percussion revolver loaded do the following:

    1. Remove all oil from inside the chambers and nipples.
    2. Charge and load with a tight fitting ball or bullet. Make sure no lube is in contact with the powder. You can place lube over the ball, or dribble melted wax over the balls for an extra sealing measure.
    3. Cap the nipples with properly fitting caps. Seal them with dribbles of wax or use nail polish.
     
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  6. whughett

    whughett Member

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    I’m assuming you’ve loaded five and fired a cap on the empty chamber!!;)
     
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  7. gtrgy888

    gtrgy888 Member

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    I do likewise, because I keep the 1851 for weekend trail use and putting around town. I have a monthly ritual that takes a full Saturday. At dawn, I drive way out onto federal land for a shoot with some blocks of wood for targets. I spend a good 1-2 hours leisurely shooting and loading. After cleaning the hillside, the empty gun gets holstered and I keep a loaded spare in the SUV while I drive the empty gun home. After cleaning and greasing all parts of the gun in a process that takes 3-4 hours, I take a break for dinner with the family. Then, after everyone is tucked in, I take 30 minutes with rubbing alcohol, Qtips, and pipe cleaners to swab 5 chambers and 5 cones two times over. While the cylinder air dries, I make a snack and watch some TV. Then I load the 5 degreased chambers with 28 grains of whatever authentic powder I can find in stock, seat the balls to the same depth and compression, administer a ring of BoreButter around the edges of each ball, then cap and seat the caps down tight. Loaded this way with #10 caps, I’ve never had the gun fail to shoot all 5 chambers a month later. I’ve also noticed no difference in ballistic performance between the old chambers and newly loaded ones.
     
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  8. whughett

    whughett Member

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    As to oiled chambers contaminating black powder. As an experiment I loaded 50 rounds of 45 Colt in the following manner then left them atop a cabinet in a Florida garage From June to the following January. All 50 rounds shot as expected. I will note the rounds were boxed with the bullet down.
    45C. 28 grains 3F, waxed card, 1CC Grits, lubed felt 1/8” wad, 230 grain round nose bullet.
    The interior of that garage in May can be 90 degrees, never been in it in July or August so 100 or more? I’m saying would that thin film of oil on a chamber wall contaminate the powder.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
  9. Rich1939

    Rich1939 Member

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    FWIW
    Back around 1970 a friend asked me to clean up his grandfathers muzzle loading shotgun. My first step was to see how far the ramrod would go into the barrel. Yup, it was loaded. using a rod with a wood screw on it's tip I extracted the shot, some wadding and the powder.
    I touched off the powder with a match and it went off like it was just put in there yesterday. According to my friend the gun had never been fired in his or his father's life times.
     
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  10. Gordon
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    Gordon Contributing Member

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    I usually keep my beautiful little 5 shot .36 1862 Colt Police Uberti loaded , out of all my BP weapons . It is easy to make safe by placing hammer between chambers. It is small and easy to tote around and the .36 ball (.380") with 20 grains of FFFG and a nice fitting Remington #10 cap shaves a nice ring and I use a smear of anhydrous lanolin on the front of cylinder and arbor and action is packed with Mobil 1 grease . It does get fired at least once a year so far, and always goes off nicely. I then soak the gun with out grips in warm Moose milk on a vibratory lab hot plate up to the recoil plate with the cylinder removed and blow off with air after a few hours . I degrease the cylinder and reload the next day or so. It's nice to have one BP loaded. I was thinking of also keeping my 10 ga. Pedersoli SxS coach gun loaded or the old ASM Walker loaded, which I rarely shoot otherwise. But just keep the little Colt police loaded as it is kept in a locked pistol box for safety reasons.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
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  11. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    I bought a used 1992ASM Colt Sheriff .44 in early July '08 that was loaded with 28 grains of BP by the seller.
    It wasn't capped and the balls were covered with Bore Butter. --->>> https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/my-1st-revolver-its-a-colt.375452/#post-4669829

    I don't know how long that the seller had kept it loaded and stored in a soft pistol case, but when I fired it 4 months later, the velocity of the balls were so weak that they barely penetrated a hard foam target backer.
    One may have even bounced off the target foam.
    I was able to recover the balls which showed that they had fit the chambers tight.
    But I don't recall how I stored it, but maybe only placed it inside of a brown paper bag and put it in a storage cabinet.
    The Bore Butter showed some signs of deterioration.
    It was during some humid months when inside temperatures could get hot where I used to live at the time.
    Without capped nipples, the powder lost it's potency.--->>> https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/recovered-revolver-balls.403486/#post-5046527
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
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  12. gtrgy888

    gtrgy888 Member

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    The better question would be “to what extent does oil weaken powder?” For any modern substitute powder like 777, I’ve experienced borderline squib loads in a cap and ball just by seating lubed felt wads and leaving them alone for 1 month. Those wads can sometimes contain as much as 2-3 drops of oil that seep into the powder over a long time loaded. To see this, just squeeze one hard between your fingers. One of these long loaded chambers didn’t ignite at all. When I unscrewed the cone, fouled lube dripped out. I guess all the oil had seeped right through to the bottom of the charge. This is especially likely when you properly compress the ball, which leaves nowhere for the squeezed oil to go except directly into your powder! My recommendation: test the performance of a random cartridge on a stack of pine boards the same day you load your ammunition, again after 1 month, and again at 6 months. This will reveal the effects of oil on your cartridge power over time. If you decide to lube, you might choose to add it above the bullet or in a ring around the grooves. For a cap and ball, you can also prevent chainfires without any grease at all by using a cornmeal filler above the powder (though I would still add grease over ball myself to limit leading in the barrel and soften the fouling).
     
  13. gtrgy888

    gtrgy888 Member

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    I’d ask the owner if they were in the habit of degreasing chambers prior to loading, if they used lubed wads, and how their powder was stored. So many things need to be done right to rely on these guns.
     
  14. rodwha

    rodwha Member

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    I have a Remington NMA that I typically reload after cleaning. Ended up moving to a place where the outdoor range is over an hour away so it ended up sitting over 6 years. It was loaded with Triple 7 and my bullets. Each went off like they were loaded 6 mins ago and seemed no different. I don’t oil the chambers if it’s being reloaded.
     
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  15. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    I question if storing it loaded for potential carry or home defense use, then why worry about using lube to soften fouling at all?
    If and when a person eventually ends up going to the range to fire it off , then they can add some lube over the balls after they get there.
    If they don't use lube then they can swab apply some Ballistol or mineral oil in their barrel after shooting the cylinder.

    If the gun fouls that badly from 5 or 6 shots of black powder, then there's other powders that don't need any lube at all.
    Which I believe that the lube is really optional if only shooting a maximum of 5 or 6 shots.

    The same question can be asked about lubing 6 chambers.
    Some folks may only need to lube every other chamber, which means that only 3 chambers would need to be lubed.
    And if only loading 5 chambers then they may only need to lube 2 chambers if any at all.
    I think that folks are simply used to lubing every chamber even if they don't really need to for carrying loaded or home defense.

    There are other ways to stop chain fire besides putting lube over the balls such as by using over powder cards or dry wads.
    There's alternatives to use instead of worrying about chain fires such as using fingernail lacquer, cap keepers or vinyl tubing can also be used to seal caps.
    Of course if a person is going to the range then they will usually need some lube to fire multiple cylinders of black powder.
    Is there a gun that can't fire 5 shots without chamber lube?
    May as well install a cap post and a cap shield too just in case there might be a cap jam brewing. :D
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
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  16. ThomasT

    ThomasT Member

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    I would never use a lubed wad over the powder for a gun that was being stored. Maybe some lube/grease over the chamber mouths for an air seal. I agree with Duelist1954 Mike Bellivue that chain fires happen from the nipples and not from the front of the cylinder past a well fitting ball.

    Interesting story about General Lee's gun being stored for 7 years and firing as normal after all that time. I don't doubt it at all.
     
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  17. gtrgy888

    gtrgy888 Member

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    Look at a slow motion video of how many sparks are produced per shot. I wouldn’t trust overpowder paper or every other chamber lube to be my insurance against chain fires. In one YT video with the Remington NMA, you can see the cylinder gap blasting lube off adjacent chambers. That’s some significant blast blowing right over your chambers with every shot. Since I load powder full to the top on every chamber that’s even more reason to seal the ball edges at minimum. I’ve considered dripping candlewax to seal, but the combination of open flame, hot wax, and powder seems ill advised in the extreme. Bore Butter is fine.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
  18. whughett

    whughett Member

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    I failed to mention that the wads used in my experiment are home made using a 50/50 mix of beeswax and solid Crisco. The melting point of beeswax is over 140F Crisco 117F.
    When I first stared with black powder I used Wonder Wads. Your right some of them can be saturated and on warm days the oil can be squeezed out.
    Wife and I will be headed south so as we get the 2nd vaccine. In the interest of knowing I’ll load two of my pistols that stay north before I store them away.
    I’ll do a 44 and 36, powder wad and ball. It will only be about three months however.
     
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  19. damoc

    damoc Member

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    The only trouble I have had with the BP or sub losing its power over long loaded storage it was with Pyrodex. 777 and real BP seem to hold up 100% maybe that would not be the case if I did not live in a dry environment. The only problem I have noticed with long term real BP loads is with caps fail to fire.
     
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  20. gtrgy888

    gtrgy888 Member

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    Keep us posted how it goes. It’s always good to have more data points.
     
  21. Blackpowderwarrior

    Blackpowderwarrior Member

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    I do this same procedure brother. Has worked great for me!
     
  22. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    With one of my revolvers I loaded lubed felt wads over powder, under ball, and left loaded for a month. Many shots had one or more of
    _ weak discharge
    _ flaming wad following ball
    _ wad stuck to ball or
    _ wad separating from ball just before impact leaving two holes in the cardboard target.
    Last time I did that.
     
  23. Timtoolman

    Timtoolman Member

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    I’ve had my Clements .50 conversion loaded now for 13 months , hope it goes bang when I finally do shoot it
     
  24. vintovka

    vintovka Member

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    As a testament to the longevity of black powder i have some original .43 Spanish American war ammo dated in late 1880s . The cases are very degraded (some falling apart). Out of curiosity i loaded the loose powder in a ML and it worked as well as new black powder, Oils and greases like light penetrating Oils (especially WD -40) are the bane of MLs. They do what they are supposed to do and seep into threads and other areas. They also seep out into formerly dry powders affecting ignition. Like many things today the "cure" may be far worse than the perceived 'problem" for which was used.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
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  25. gtrgy888

    gtrgy888 Member

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    I scratch my head about modern loading practices. There’s no way great great granddad, anticipating a morning battle, would load 5 chambers with 15 grains of powder, place a lubed wad on top of each, and seat undersized balls, followed by loosely fitting caps by hand to ensure only 3 out of 5 ignite on the first strike. How any of that nonsense became commonplace is a mystery to me. Colt literally told us right in the box how to load the guns properly. If one follows his instructions to the letter and uses some common sense, these are still viable weapons.
     
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