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How confident are you with cap n ball pistols?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by shephard19, May 20, 2010.

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  1. shephard19

    shephard19 Member

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    I realize the vast majority of THR members haven't shot a cap and ball pistol, but I am curious how confident would you be in a self defense situation with say for example a cap n ball revolver versus a modern pistol assuming the situation is not a drawn out gunfight which the vast majority of gunfights are not.

    Does anyone have an idea of the actual stopping power of a .44 ball versus 9mm?
     
  2. BCCL

    BCCL Member

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    Cap and Ball vs modern, still has the same main keys that modern vs modern does.

    It's the man not the gun and shot placement over ammunition.
     
  3. easyg

    easyg Member

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    Well, the cap and ball revolver has certainly put plenty of men six feet under.
    Heck, even a flintlock pistol can kill a man.
    But I just wouldn't feel confident armed with one.

    Granted, I don't know alot about cap and ball revolvers, but the lack of a sealed cartridge (nearly 100% weather-proof) is a huge disadvantage in my opinion.
     
  4. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    You can load bullets in a leverloader, so you are not stuck with round balls.

    Personally, I have had more misfires with cap and ball than the worst fixed ammo, but if I were loading for serious use, I could be careful.

    This is only a disadvantage if you don't seal your caps, which the old-timers did do. Nobody does it now if they're just playing with cap and ball guns, but you still can do it.

    The front of the cylinder has to be sealed anyway, against chain firing.
     
  5. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    The quality of most of the guns and the nipples' ability to hold onto the caps would be my only apprehensions. They are certainly capable of killing grown men stone dead.
     
  6. Nushif

    Nushif Member

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    On that note, if they ever designed a cap and ball looking pistol that holds a normal round, somewhat like a modified Derringer I'd totally carry one.
    I know it's playing the statistics, but for home defense one shot usually ends the situation as most robbers will run. But again, that's playing the odds.
     
  7. heron

    heron Member

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    I had a .36 that I built from a kit . . . amazingly accurate, considering the sights, and I never had a misfire. Great fun, with all the smoke, and recoil was nearly nonexistent. Also, if you want to be "under the radar," you can buy them mail-order, since BP is not considered a "firearm."

    I wouldn't consider it near the top of my SD choices, though.
     
  8. il_10

    il_10 Member

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    It would be far from my top choice, but I'm fairly confident with my '51 copy. I had some misfires early on, but since I modified the main spring about six months back (piece of rubber between the mainspring and frame) I haven't had one. That's been about 150 rounds ago. They're certainly powerful enough to kill, they don't go through an FFL, and they're far less threatening to a jury if you end up in court over an SD shoot than modern defense guns. I wouldn't carry one for SD specifically, but if it's your only option it's better than a sharp stick. Make sure you know your gun and fiddle with it and work with it enough to make sure you can get reliable ignition; if you use a black powder gun for SD, seal the caps with a thin coat of wax to prevent moisture getting in and you should be okay. OTOH, if staying out of FFLs is your main concern, there are also the conversion kits for BP guns that will get you a perfectly serviceable .38 special or .45 colt (with cowboy loads) delivered right to your door.
     
  9. David E

    David E Member

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    The cap can easily lock up the action on the BP gun, so I'd never seriously consider one for defense.
     
  10. BCCL

    BCCL Member

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  11. Nushif

    Nushif Member

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    I'm thinking an even older style.
     
  12. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    Older than an 1851 Navy?

    Can't get too much older.
     
  13. Nushif

    Nushif Member

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    o_O Must be thinking of another kind then.
     
  14. eight433

    eight433 Member

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    I have two FIE .36 black powder revolvers. I am VERY confidant with them. Confidant I won't hit SWAT past 10 yards tops Confidant that at LEAST one of them is gonna lose a cap or fail to fire. Confidant that a guy with a knife could easily bum rush me while I'm fiddling with the weapon.

    To the guy who said "it's the man, not the gun" I can only partially agree with. Original colts? I'll agree. FIE? Its the gun, not the man!
    These are truly only a half step above wall hanger grade, haha.
     
  15. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    Does anyone have an idea of the actual stopping power of a .44 ball versus 9mm?

    Velocity and energy of a 44 ball (about 145 gr) works out to be the same as a 38 special so you can figure from that.
     
  16. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

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    It's too bad you couldn't ask any Civil War veterans.
     
  17. Snowdog

    Snowdog Member

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    I've had tons of fun with my Pietta 1858 Remington and have developed plenty of respect for what it can do. During my fun blasting things, I discovered some interesting things involving the BC of roundball and have little confidence in roundball's ability at ranges greater than 25 yards. Though anything greater than 25 yards doesn't sound like "handgun" range to me.

    If I were able to cycle the loads often and remain in a dry environment, I wouldn't feel too concerned in the pistol failing to do the job (assuming the caps stay on). Though they certainly don't hold a candle to modern handguns IMO and personally I wouldn't consider one to for defensive use.
     
  18. azyogi

    azyogi Member

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    Out here in the dry I've had cylinders loaded for better than a year fire, with FFFg Goex and fresh caps. Another option is a conversion cylinder, .45lc for colts or remmies. .45acp for a ROA. 2gr of bullseye in a .22 super companion pushes a 30gr conical 1100 to 1200 fps [note only C&B revolver to use smokeless in] Not my first choice for SD but nothing to sneeze at either.
     
  19. 336A

    336A Member

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    I guess David McCanles didn't know round balls were so ineffectual since Bill Hickok shot him through the heart at 75yd with his 1851 Colt:rolleyes: Same goes for General Frasier, who was shot by Timothy Murphy at Beimus Heights during the battle of Saratoga. Timothy Murphy was a member of Col Morgan's Sharpshooters during the revolutionary war. He shot General Frasier off his horse at about 250yd with his rifle.
     
  20. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

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    Some gelatin testing in a magazine article a few years ago showed the 79-grain, .36-caliber round ball from an 1851 Colt Navy to be the equivalent of a .380 ACP hollowpoint, and the 141-grain, .44 caliber round ball from a Colt Walker to be the equivalent of a .357 Magnum, 158-grain JHP - not too shabby. Would I depend on a cap-and-ball for a self defense gun? Not unless I were forced to. If you need more than the six shots, forget about reloading unless you have a second, loaded one handy. There is also the matter of cap fragments falling into and jamming the revolver's action. There is a reason why the self contained metallic cartridge was such a breakthrough invention. ;)
     
  21. nalioth

    nalioth Member

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    It is not unknown for modern cartridges to blow out a primer and lock up a revolver cylinder.

    Nothing is infallible.

    As pointed out early in this thread -
    As seen in this situation: [1] [2]
     
  22. BullRunBear

    BullRunBear Member

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    I'm confident about hitting a man size target up to 50 yards with the ROA or Uberti 1860 Army. I rarely have a cap seize up the cylinder (never, so far, with the ROA). If I had nothing else, either of those would do the job and I would feel reasonably protected.

    Having said that, I would prefer my Model 29, Model 10 or CZ 75b if only because they are faster to fire.

    Sorry I can't help with the RB vs. 9mm comparison.

    Jeff
     
  23. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    An interesting thread. Like "modern" handguns, C&B revolvers can be altered for better performance. Even converted to handle cartridges. The problem with caps jamming the action is a relatively simple fix and properly fitting caps go a long way to preventing many problems. And yes, many died from being shot with the old 36s and 44s, about as many as died from the 31s and early 22 rimfire rounds, from infection!

    I have of necessity carried an 1860 Colt clone (and would do it again) but much prefer my 45ACP S&W N frame.
     
  24. snooperman

    snooperman Member

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    I have shot black powder guns and especially...

    cap and ball revolvers for about 46 years and I would not want to have one for home defense or CCW. There are too many other choices of modern guns that are far more reliable that can do the job much better without the inherent problems with caps etc and ignition problems one can encounter with storage of these kind of guns, when they are loaded for extended periods of time. Blackpowder is very Hygroscopic (attracts moisture) and hense is not as reliable as modern powder over time. My 2 cents.
     
  25. snooperman

    snooperman Member

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    Hygroscopic problems with blackpowder...

    was one of the reasons for the great success of modern smokeless powders. As soon as the modern powder came on the scene , people abandoned blackpowder because of its inherent problems in hunting guns and self defense guns. However , Some of the mountain people of southern Appalachia carried on the blackpowder tradition by hunting with them well into the moderrn era and still do to this day. And, many families still build them the old way, even today in that region. It is a kind of southern art form now.
     
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