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Patching a Pistol ball?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Jenrick, Aug 1, 2008.

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  1. Jenrick

    Jenrick Member

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    Here's a question, possibly silly/stupid.

    A rifle shooting a round ball is normally patched for the rifling to do much correct? Well my 1860 Army is rifled, and shoots a lead ball. I've never seen anything indicating that I should patch the ball for accuracy. Is patching a pistol ball in a revolver an option?

    I can see where closer range shooting (say less then 50 yds) it's probably not going to be an advantage as the range isn't far enough to matter. Once you start going out beyond that would patching help?

    Thanks, and I apologize if I missed a previous thread, didn't find anything when I searched.

    -Jenrick
     
  2. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    One does not "patch" a revolver ball.
    You may use "wonder wads" or the equivelant under the ball, and/or use borebutter or crisco or a similar thick greasy goo on top to seal the chamber against chainfires and soften the BP residue.
     
  3. Jenrick

    Jenrick Member

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    Well why exactly doesn't one patch a revolver ball? I know it's not normally done, I'm curious as to why.

    -Jenrick
     
  4. Steve499

    Steve499 Member

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    Percussion revolvers have chamber diameters, at least in theory, larger than the bore diameter. The ball is supposed to be oversize to fill the chamber which in turn makes the ball oversize for the bore. The ball should be rammed into the chamber bare and should leave a ring of sheared lead around the chamber mouth.

    If you did load a patched ball into a revolver's chamber I would think it might shed the patch as it jumped from the chamber to the barrel, which would make for terrible accuracy.
     
  5. Jorg Nysgerrig

    Jorg Nysgerrig Member

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    If you recover a ball you've shot from it, the answer will become quite clear. You'll find that the ball engages the rifling quite well.

    I wish I had one around to take a picture of, I think it explains it all.
     
  6. mykeal

    mykeal Member

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    Steve499 put his finger on it.

    Revolvers by design require a gap between the chamber and the barrel bore. A patch would not transition between the chamber and the bore; the discontinuity would cause it to be stripped away, leaving the undersize ball loose in the bore and causing a very large discontinuity in the gas pressure wave.

    Long rifles, and single shot muzzleloading pistols do not have the gap, so a patched ball will work very well in those guns.
     
  7. Jenrick

    Jenrick Member

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    Ah, now that makes perfect sense. I knew that the ball was slightly oversized of the cylinder but didn't realize that it the cylinder was oversized compared to the bore as well.

    Thanks,

    -Jenrick
     
  8. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I don't agree exactly.

    It has nothing at all to do with a patch shedding in the cylinder gap.
    It has all to do with being able to load the rifle with a ramrod.

    The reason is, front stuffer rifles have to have patched balls that fit the rifled bore loose enough to ram the ball down the bore. If the ball where being engraved by the rifling, you could not load one without driving it down the barrel with a hammer.

    With a revolver, you ram the balls in the cylinder with the loading lever, and it has enough mechanical advantage to force them in the cylinder over-size.

    The chamber throats are larger then the barrel, so the over-size slug seals the bore without a patch.

    rcmodel
     
  9. FieroCDSP

    FieroCDSP Member

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    Hmm....makes me want a cap and ball revolver, just for fun.
     
  10. Jorg Nysgerrig

    Jorg Nysgerrig Member

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    They are a lot of fun, but you have to take the time to enjoy them.

    Jenrick, I made this terrible MS Paint drawing to give you an idea of what a recovered ball looks like.

    [​IMG]

    The lighter gray area is where the ball has been shaved off/flattened and the lines indicate where you would see rifling marks. When you see one in person, it will become quite clear how it engages the rifling.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  11. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Rcmodel is, as usual, exactly right.

    I have actually used oversized, unpatched balls in a .36 flintlock with very good success. The ball must be started with a hammer, but that isn't too difficult, as anyone who has ever slugged a revolver barrel will tell you. Once the ball has entered the bore, it actually doesn't take much effort to seat it with the ramrod -- assuming a clean and lubricated bore. In point of fact, I was somewhat concerned about the ball moving off of the powder before firing, and felt the need to keep the barrel from tipping down prior to firing.

    Accuracy was as good as with a patch, and leading was not a problem. The patch simply gives us the same results with a lot less effort. Cap-and-ball revolver shooters should be grateful they get to omit a step, AFAIC.
     
  12. Voodoochile

    Voodoochile Member

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    As long as the ball didn't hit anything substantial that is, ;) because most of the ones that I've shot are usualy damaged or flattened to the point of being an unrecognizable hunk of metal.

    But your picture does represent what a ball will look like when loaded into the cylinders chambers.
     
  13. SeanSw

    SeanSw Member

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    I fired a few powder puff loads with a patched undersized ball. At 10-12gr ff pyrodex the patches still left the barrel. I didn't fire for accuracy though.
     
  14. mykeal

    mykeal Member

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    Interesting.

    Rcmodel - I'm not sure what it is you don't agree with.

    I agree that it's a lot easier to load a patched ball in a long gun muzzleloader than an unpatched, oversize ball. But let's look at the other question - have you ever successfully loaded and shot, accurately, an undersized, patched ball in a rifled bore revolver?

    I think my explanation of why that isn't done is correct, but if you have a better explanation, I'm willing to learn.
     
  15. Jorg Nysgerrig

    Jorg Nysgerrig Member

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    You got me there, Voodoochile. :) Most of the time there isn't much left. The best examples I've recovered were had all the right conditions. I was shooting on a pleasant January afternoon with the temps reaching a balmy 21 degrees. The range was a flat area of desert that had been cleared and there was about an inch or two snow with a nice frozen crust. The ground underneath was frozen as well. With a 25 grain charge, the balls just skipped along the ground downrange and came to rest. One just needed to follow the trails in the snow to find them.
     
  16. zoned10x

    zoned10x Member

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    > I have actually used oversized, unpatched balls in a .36 flintlock
    > with very good success. The ball must be started with a hammer,
    > but that isn't too difficult....

    Fwiw, the patched ball in match-grade muzzleloading pistols is routinely started with a small hammer driving about a two-inch short starter. The fit is deliberately snug so the lubed patch reaches deep into the rifling, but not tight enough to cut the patch. After the initial start it requires an aggressive arm stroke on a ramrod to get the ball moving down onto the powder An oversize lead ball sans patch can be loaded in the same manner with about the same amount of force. The big benefit of using a patch around the ball, though, is that there is no bore leading. Combined with a damp patch between rounds, the bore will remain clean during an entire day's practice which can easily consume 100+ rounds.

    A patched ball might be successfully rammed down onto the powder in a revolver with the lever and plunger. During firing the patched ball would be driven from the smooth oversize chamber bore into the forcing cone and then into the rifled barrel bore. I can see where the patch and ball would not handshake well when meeting the lands and grooves and might react as if there was a bore obstruction.
     
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