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First Day with Dragoon

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by mb3, Nov 8, 2010.

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  1. mb3

    mb3 Member

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    Fired my first 12 shots through my Uberti 2nd Dragoon using both 40 gr FFF and 50 gr FFF. All rounds impacted about 1 foot high from 15 yards and were well centered on the target. In fact four of the rounds settled in one jagged hole. I am very impressed with this gun. She is much more fun to shoot with the 50 gr. I was using lubed wads and with the 50 gr of powder I had to use some pressure to seat the ball deep enough to allow the cylinder to rotate. I have heard the gun can be loaded with up to 60 gr of FFF but I am assuming the wad has to be omitted in order to fit the ball and powder, is this the case?
     
  2. Hellgate

    Hellgate Member

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    If memory serves, the original Dragoon load was 40grs powder over a conical ball (200+grs wt). The Walker supposedly could be loaded with 60grs powder and ball but many of them burst upon firing and the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd model Dragoons were born with shortened cylinders that would not hold so much powder.
     
  3. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    According to scrat the wad needs to be omitted. After searching in the Walker Club thread, of all the folks that mentioned having loaded 60 grains of powder in their Walker, none mentioned using a wad that I read about.

    However there might be an exception for Swiss fffg powder since it reportedly weighs about 11.5% more per volume and is more powerful too. (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=550789&highlight=swiss) And one might at least be able to fit in an overpowder card if not a thin wad. There are many different wad thicknesses considering all of the different kinds of factory and homemade wads.

    http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=4773173&postcount=648

    And just as an FYI, Elbert P . Suggins damaged the frame of his Walker by shooting it loaded with two 30 grain Pyrodex pellets

    http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=4319530&postcount=362
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010
  4. Caliper_Mi

    Caliper_Mi Member

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    Somewhere there is a post with some original instructions from Colt on loading. They did not mention a wad - just fill the cylinder with powder, add balls, cap and fire.
     
  5. mb3

    mb3 Member

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    Took my Dragoon out for a second day and had fun shooting her. I was loading 454 round ball with 47 gr FFF Goex. I took her back to 100 yards and was fairly happy with the results. I was able to get 4 out of 6 hits on a silhouette target, with three being lethal hits (chest, neck), the fourth low in the pelvis area (two misses high right). I think shooting at 100 is going to take some practice and maybe glasses. I had some trouble picking up the front sight through the rear notch. I also had one other problem with seating the ball. Sometimes when I would seat the ball, the cylinder would shave lead, but when I retracted the loading lever the ball was stuck on the loading ram. This happened about 4 times out of 24 shots loaded. Is this normal?
     
  6. ironhead7544

    ironhead7544 Member

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    You might need a larger sized ball. Also I would polish the end of the ram. I guess Im going to have to get a Dragoon. Sounds like too much fun.
     
  7. Hellgate

    Hellgate Member

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    I've had the rammer on one of my Walkers lift the balls out of the chambers until I ran a Dremel grinding tip along the inside edge of the face of the ram to remove a sharp lip that was left after machining the piece. The lead of the ball would catch on the lip and stick to the ram. Sometimes you can just ram the ball back in a little harder in order to swell the ball to where it grabs the wall of the chamber and stays put. The Dremel fixed it.
     
  8. mykeal

    mykeal Member

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    Normal? No, but not unheard of. Change to .457's.
     
  9. Gatofeo

    Gatofeo Member

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    Following are excerpts from a post I wrote some years ago, concerning a February 1975 article in the American Rifleman that reported what the dissection of original paper cartridges revealed.
    Though the American military specified charges and bullet weight, in actual practice the paper and foil cartridges of the 1850s through early 1870s varied greatly.
    Nearly all foil and paper cartridges were assembled by contractors, not military armories. There was a great deal of variance in powder charge and bullet weight, in all calibers (.31, 36 and .44). Apparently, contractors paid little atttention to what the manual specified.

    Here's what I wrote some years ago:

    Colt recommended the following, more than 125 years ago:
    1 dram = 27.3 grains (grs.)
    .44 Dragoon: 1-1/2 drams of black powder (41 grs.) and a round bullet of 48 to the pound (about 146 grs, which calculates at about .46 caliber) or a conical bullet of 32 to the pound (about 219 grains).

    Old loadings will occasionally list a 218 gr. conical bullet with a 40 to 50 gr. powder charge. This is intended for the Colt Model 1847 Walker or the later Dragoons, which have a larger capacity than the Colt M1860 .44 revolver.

    In "A History of the Colt Revolver From 1836 to 1940" by Charles T. Haven and Frank E. Belden, the authors list load recommendations from Colt in the 1850s and 1860s.
    Haven and Belden note, "FFG black powder is best for the large and medium-size revolvers, and FFFG for the small pocket models, but any grade that is available will work reasonably well."
    Gatofeo notes: In my own experience, I use FFFG in my .31, .36 and .44 revolvers with fine accuracy. I don't see much need to use FFG powder in the .36 and .44 revolvers if you can get FFFG.
    But if all you can get is FFG, then use it.
    I've found best accuracy to be with real black powder, not substitutes.


    As you discovered, it's difficult to seat a greased, felt wad under a ball with a maximum load. To accommodate the room that the wad occupies, reduce the powder charge by a few grains. This won't appreciably affect velocity, but the greased felt wad will help keep fouling soft and the bore cleaner.

    If you desire to use absolute full charges, apply grease over the ball. If you use the greased, felt wad between ball and powder, there is no need to apply grease over the ball as well.

    The best practice is to seat the greased felt wad as a separate operation from ball seating. This makes things easier. After all wads are seated firmly on the powder, then seat the ball firmly against the seated wad.
    There must be no airspace between powder, wad and ball or a dangerous condition exists that may cause what experienced reloaders call, "an instant disassembly."

    I use balls slightly larger than what tradition recommends: .380 inch in the .36 calibers or .454 or .457 inch in the .44s. The larger ball encourages better accuracy and retention in the chamber during recoil.
    It appears that the larger ball, because it creates a wider bearing surface for the rifling to grip, enhances accuracy. At least, that's what I postulated years ago. Others have stated it as fact, but I don't know how you'd positively identify the cause and effect.
    I've tried smaller balls of .375 and .451 inch and noted reduced accuracy. Perhaps that's proof enough, I guess.

    Best accuracy with the Colt design will be obtained when the wedge tightly joins the frame to the barrel assembly. It's long been my practice to tap the wedge in on a clean gun (to avoid interference from fouling) while turning the cylinder.
    When the cylinder begins to drag against the rear of the barrel, tap the wedge OUT very slightly until the cylinder turns freely again. This is the "sweet spot," as I call it, with minimal gap between cylinder face and barrel, that will bring best accuracy.
    If you can push the wedge out with you fingers the revolver is assembled much too loosely. It won't be unsafe, but accuracy will be marginal.

    With a loose wedge, my Colt 2nd generation 1851 Navy will produce 6-inch groups at 25 yards from a benchrest. A tight wedge will result in 3 to 3-1/2 inch groups, all loads being equal. That's how much difference a tight wedge can make.
    My Colt Navy is probably capable of even greater accuracy, but my 55-year-old eyes struggle against its marginal sights.

    Enjoy that Dragoon. I hope the above helps.
     
  10. mb3

    mb3 Member

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    Thank you for all of the information. I can see there is some learning curve to shooting BP pistols well. I will try the .457 ball see if it will help with retention and accuracy of the ball. In addition, I am going the check the end of the loading ram for a sharp edge or burs. Have any of you opened up the rear notch on the hammer to allow a better sight picture? I can barely see the FSP with good light and I am considering using a triangular jewelers file to open up the notch slightly. My shots seem to favored the right side of the target so I believe I should move the rear notch to the left slightly.
     
  11. Hellgate

    Hellgate Member

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    Here's what I have done: I got a Dremel tool (you'll love it if you do. There's no end to the damage you can do with it) and deepened and widened the rear sight notch in the hammer. I mounted the frame in a padded vise and created a wider "U" notch from a "V" notch. That alone will give you quicker sight acquisition. I calculated the amount I needed to lower the rear sight and then (gulp!) went to the bench grinder and ground the hammer down that amount. In some guns the rear notch is so close in alignment with the top of the barrel that you cannot grind anything off to lower the point of impact and you can only get a higher front sight if you want to fix it. Three of my guns shoot to point of aim (two Remingtons and a '60 Army[Pietta]) and the rest need a 6 o'clock hold (all Colts). All of them are about 4"-7" high at 15 yds. Here's the formula for how much to raise the front or lower the rear sight: First you need to measure your sight radius from the cocked hammer sight notch to the tip of the front sight. Next you need to determine the distance at which you are going to be sighting in or shooting. Let's say the targets are 10yds away and the sight radius is 10" and the gun shoots 6" high. The formula is a ratio. Everything is to be stated in inches. The correction on the gun is to the sight radius as is the correction needed on the target is to the distance. X/sightradius=6"/360" You then solve for "X" X/10=6/360 X=1/6" or about .17" One of my Navies is pretty ground down and the other is merely widened for a better sight picture. If you can't get all the metal ground off you can just accept the fact that you hold just below center of the target. It is not a disadvantage for hitting ringers but can be a problem if you have a real close but small target to hit like golf balls during a team shoot. One other concern: Keep your cylinder gap the same each time you reassemble the gun so: two layers of typing paper will give you about .007" gap. Fold a piece of paper in two and as you tap your wedges in you stop when the cylinder binds the paper a bit. That way you get the same tension each time you tap in the wedges. Real tight or real loose might change your point of impact so it is best to be consistant.
     
  12. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member

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    Or you could fix the gun! If your wedge controls the cylinder gap, then your arbor is too short. The barrel should be supported by the arbor and the lug at the bottom of the barrel. A too short arbor, and tapping the wedge to get the proper cylinder gap, puts undue stress on the arbor and will eventually loosen it, and creates a pie shaped cylinder gap. The wedge should only be finger tight and it's only purpose is to secure the barrel on the arbor.
     
  13. Hellgate

    Hellgate Member

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    Junkman,
    I've not mastered the arbor length adjustment on my guns as they shoot "good enough". I suppose I have started out with guns with short arbors and am not sure any of them except my Uberti 3rd Mod Dragoon are thumb tight on the wedge. All the rest get tapped in to set the gap @ .007". Do you know of a source of info on the arbor adjustment? I believe there is a drilling, tapping and set screw involved.
     
  14. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member

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    Hellgate,

    I learned all about arbor length from one of our own members right here, denster. Search for his posts and you will find the information you seek.
     
  15. Hellgate

    Hellgate Member

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    Hey Junkman,
    Thanks. I just "mined" the postings for the info. 'Preciate your tip.
     
  16. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member

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    You are most welcome pardner.
     
  17. Mossyrock

    Mossyrock Member

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    While you CAN drill and tap the arbor to lengthen it with a screw, you can also lengthen the arbor by building it up with JP Weld, and trimming it back util the correct length is reached.
     
  18. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member

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    Whatever floats your boat. Just get the length correct and you save wear and tear on your revolver.
     
  19. rcflint

    rcflint Member

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    Larson Pettifogger had articles in the SASS "Cowboy Chronicle" concerning tuning opentop Colts. Ubertis, which have short arbors can be fixed by drilling a hole in the end of the arbor to fit Dillon Locator Buttons. Adjusting the thickness of the button's head can set up the barrel so that the lug at the bottom just touches the frame when the arbor bottoms out on the barrel's hole.

    See back issues of the Cowboy Chronicle, and ask Pettifogger on the CAS City or SASS wire.

    Maximum loads in the Walker can damage (crush) the wedge.
     
  20. mb3

    mb3 Member

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    Have any of you Dragoon owners either changed out the stock Uberti grips or refinished the grips? I like this pistol a lot but think the grips would look better (more original) if they had a natural finish instead of the shiny lacquered finish.
     
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