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Stopping power of a New Army vs modern revolver?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by BigBlock, Feb 16, 2007.

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  1. BigBlock

    BigBlock member

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    Just something I was wondering about last night when I couldn't sleep...how would the stopping power of a .44 Remington '58 compare to that of a modern revolver? I mean, what round would it be similar to? I have a friend that says it's the same as a .38 special, but I'm sure he's just pulling that out of his butt...
     
  2. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    With a maximum charge and depending in part on the bullet weight, it would be close in power to the .44 Special. A .36 revolver would be close to the .38 S&W and approach the .38 Special standard load. Percussion revolvers are just as good for the first six shots as more modern cartridge guns. (No, don't try to get .454 Casull performance out of that Remington!)

    Jim
     
  3. TGeorge

    TGeorge Member

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    Stopping Power of a .44 Cap and Ball

    The NRA ran an article some time ago about the Philippino War in American Rifleman - right after the Spanish-American War.

    The U.S. Army was using .38 modern cartrige types.

    The troops found that the stopping power against Moros - the Muslim Philippinos we were fighting then, was inadequate. A lot of them switched over to .44 Cap and ball Civil War Revolvers and found they were more satisfactory.

    Apparently the U.S. military recently was considering switching back to .45 caliber sidearms but for some reason this was stopped. I think they use 9mms now that are inadequate against "insurgents" in Iraq and Afghanistan.
     
  4. Niner

    Niner Member

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    I don't have a clue what the best answer is to the original question is, but a bp pistol firing lead ball ammo relies on mass more than velocity for stopping power. As far as damage to a human being at relatively close range, I'd think the BP lead ball would do more damage than aproximate size ammo of the steel jacketed higher velocity smokeless round kind.
     
  5. RyanM

    RyanM Member

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    Ballistics would be something like 140 grains at 850 fps through a 5.5" barrel. That's about 225 ft-lbs, or 0.53 lb*ft/sec momentum. I'm not sure what the ballistics for conicals are. Something like 200 gr at 800 fps?

    The classic .38 SPL FBI load is 158 gr at 890 fps through a 4" barrel. 278 ft-lbs, 0.62 lb*ft/sec.

    A standard pressure .38 would be 158 gr at 755 fps, 4" barrel again. 200 ft-lbs, 0.53 lb*ft/sec.

    A .45 ACP will shoot a 230 gr bullet at 850 fps through a 5" auto barrel (equivalent to about a 3.5" revolver barrel), for 369 ft-lbs, 0.87 lb*ft/sec.

    So energywise, a 1858 with round ball is somewhere between standard pressure and +P .38 SPL, from a shorter barrel. If comparing equal barrel lengths, it's probably about the same as standard .38 SPL. And it doesn't really stack up to a modern .45 at all.

    Conicals may do better though, or even better would be a lead hollowpoint, similar to the old FBI load.
     
  6. rifle

    rifle Member

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    Elmer Kieth put it this way approx. "there's no better killer of game or men than the lead round ball". Very lethal wound channel. The Civil War vets that Elmer Kieth knew and discussed the subject said that the Navy Colt lead ball took the fight out of the enemy calvary better than the conical. The conical they said was used more for penetration into a cattle skull for killing it to eat. Of course conicals with round noses don't kill as well as conicals with a large flat metplate. Anyway, at close range(pistol range) a lead ball from a New Army ,loaded with 35gr. FFFg and would be going over 900fps,would be a good bit more lethal than a 38 special. The difference being in the more devastating wound channel of the lead ball compared to the round nose of the 38 bullet. A 45 cal. lead ball may only be about 147 grains weight but that is alot to a human torso when you consider that the ball is a very lethal wound channel maker. One incident as recorded way back in the day where a bunch of soldiers were shooting at a large bear with the Navy Colts and had little effect on it when a horse soldier rode close to the bear and discharged it pronto with two balls fired from the Dragoon Colt. Larger ball and more powder killt a large bear dead. From that a person could conclude that even a 36 ball would play havoc on a human and the 45 ball with some powder behind it,like 35gr. in an New Army revolver, would be down right devastating.
     
  7. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not sure that the Army in the Philippines switched over to cap 'n ball revolvers. My impression is that they returned to the Colt Single Action Army in .45 LC.
     
  8. sjohns

    sjohns Member

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    Gary, that's what I have read also.

    But on the original issue:

    reports during and after the acw speak about the effects of the soft lead ball. Some claimed the 44 would flatten out to about silver dollar size when it hit bone. The round seems to be rather a mangler.

    I know one thing for sure:
    Mental images of C&B being somewhat less than the power of todays revolvers are not enough to allow myself to just stand there and get shot like it was a bb gun or something.
     
  9. BigBlock

    BigBlock member

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    I've heard this before, but if it's true, why did they use mostly conicals during the civil war? And why does a ball kill better than a conical? I would think more lead = more dead...no?
     
  10. mec

    mec Member

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    the conicals were suitable for making combustable paper cartridges and that may be why they were widespread in the late 1850s and afterward. It might be that people though that they were more lethal and accurate whether they really were or not. Bullets were more modern than round balls and loud-talking experts who probably couldn't hit a bull in the butt with a bass fiddle could convince a lot of people that they were better.
    Round balls were in common use. The cased revolvers often contained a box of six cartridges but also had a flask and bullet/ball mould in there too. The .36 caliber projectile some yankey shot into Jessie James was a round ball. When the DNA people dug him up, the found the ball which they saw as an indication that they had, in fact, dug up Jesse James rather than some decoy stiff planted there to allow the real JJ to escape to Texas.
     
  11. Donny

    Donny Member

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    I have spent a lot of time thinking and reading about this topic since I began collecting cap and ball revolvers. My conclusion is that despite their performance on paper cap and ball revolvers are far more effective than they appear based solely on foot pounds energy data. My reasoning on this is the anacdotal evidence provided by people like Elmer Kieth and others who have been witness to shootings where cap and ball guns have been used. I have also used the Taylor Knock Out scale quite a bit to compare modern cartridges to cap and ball performance. According to the Taylor scale a fully loaded .44 Colt Army or Remington Army scores a 9 when loaded with a round ball. This puts it up there with the .38 super, .357 sig and a light .357 magnum load. When loaded with a conical it matches up to a standard .44 special. Despite their performance on paper the round ball's tendency to leave a nasty wound channel and its apparent heavy energy dump on targets makes these guns serious medicine.

    As far as the Phillipines campaign the army sent the troops surplus Rogers and Spencers until the Colt .45's arrived. The troops were well pleased with their performance on Moro fanatics.

    To sum up, cap and ball revolvers may not compare to modern big bore guns but they cannot be dismissed as underpowered even by todays standards. A well maintained and carefully loaded cap and ball revolver is a reliable and potent weapon that should be taken very seriouly especially if your looking down the muzzle of one.

    Don
     
  12. Plink

    Plink Member

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    Things haven't changed much since then with regards to thinking. Today it's still "if it's more modern, then it just HAS to be better" when often it isn't better, just different.

    I don't know about ball performance in handguns, but from a rifle the ball flattens out in game and causes a wound channel far out of proportion to the actual caliber. The same effect might be true at handgun velocities, though to a lesser degree.
     
  13. fineredmist

    fineredmist Member

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    The only advantage a "modern" light weight high velocity bullet has over a "old fashioned" heavy slow moving one is that it shoots flatter. A 405gr. lead bullet fired from a .45-70 at BP velocity (1300fps +/-, 1500 ft.lbs) will punch through a mature buffalo at 200 yds (1060 fps +/-, 1000 ft.lbs.). The bullet drop is 25" at that range. Bullet expansion is small in comparison to a "modern" design but the wound cavity is as large and much longer.
    "Modern" bullets are designed to expand at certain velocity range, should the bullet strike at a lower velocity it will not expand as designed. BP lead bullets use mass and it doesn't really matter what the velocity is, they simply crash through and do the job.
    The higher the velocity the more complex the bullet design needs to be in order to do what is required. The bullet of choice in African big game hunting is a solid (including bronze which is turned on a lath) at velocity less than 2200fps. They penetrate deep and are total reliable regardless of the velocity.
    Big and slow always works.
     
  14. mec

    mec Member

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    The balls do have a flat aspect- partially from being swaged into the chambers and partially from impact. These were recovered from water after passing through a grocery store brisket. Kind of neat how they launched the lids of those water bottles
    [​IMG]
    Ballistic Coefficient (BC) A number based on the weight to diameter ratio of bullets and the shape of the bullet. It is useful for predicting the down-range performance of a projectile. Round Balls have very low BC while bullets of the same caliber have higher BC. In practice, when a ball and a longer bullet of equal diameter start at the same velocity, the bullet will loose velocity slower than the ball. It retains more energy at extreme range and reaches a given distance faster than the ball. There is a very significant advantage to high ballistic coefficient in long range shooting. At the typical handgun distances, particularly with revolver loads, the advantages may mean little or nothing. For example: an optimal loading of a 140 grain .454 “ round ball [BC=. 065] might present a muzzle velocity of 1050 feet per second. The maximum velocity obtainable with a 200 grain Bullet [BC=. 14] might be 850 fps. At the muzzle, the faster moving ball will present 343 foot pounds of energy- a little more than the heavier but slower bullet which carries 321 foot Pounds. At 25 yards, the ball is still traveling 971 feet per second and retains 293 foot pounds of energy. The bullet has lost only twenty feet per second and now has the nebulous energy advantage with 306 foot pounds. The bullet arrives on target at 75 yards .011/second before the ball with only forty -eight more foot pounds of retained energy than the round ball. The ballistic advantages of the bullet would not be apparent to anything on the receiving end.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2010
  15. J.T. Gerrity

    J.T. Gerrity Member

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    George Catlin, the old west artist, was once chased by a bull buffalo that a rifle bullet failed to stop. "Fortunately," he recalled, "I had one of Colt's Dragoon revolvers with me. I drew it and turned [in the saddle] and fired at his head. Instantly, to my great surprise and relief, he fell dead at my feet, the ball having passed through his skull and entered his brain."
     
  16. mec

    mec Member

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    Jim Taylor, writer for New Gun Week, mentioned that his dad had a bunch of original remingtons he had bought from a well-known collector. also had an 1860 army or two. He saw a guy get accidentally shot with a ball load from an Army while standing in a kitchen. The ball hit him in the lower stomach, out the back, through a kitchen cabinet door and was later found in a loaf of bread. The shootee lived but Taylor didn't know whether he ever really got well or not.
    I've heard second and third hand of shootings with a ruger old army, an 1861 replica and one of the Pietta .44 Navy revolvers. all victims were drt . Two were head shots and I didn't get details on the other.
     
  17. ferg48

    ferg48 Member

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    DRT?

    Dropped Right There? or Dead Right There?

    ...anyway, I agree that I would rather avoid a well loaded well shot .44 or .36 bp round ball period...:)
     
  18. Tbu61

    Tbu61 Member

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    Doesn't have to be 36 or 44 to kill...

    A Police Officer from my area got hit in the noggin by a .31 at close range and he was dead before he hit the ground. I was kinda surprised, but I read that in an old news paper clipping hanging on a gun shop wall. Guess a modern .22LR would do the same thing....
     
  19. mec

    mec Member

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    Dead right there. I think the police were tearing a page from the emergency room people. I heard some of them talking one night. " Old lady Jackson was standing right there last night and dfo'ed.
    Done fell out.
     
  20. woodnbow

    woodnbow Member

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    Interesting thread; a local woman shot her ex boyfriend

    with a .44 round ball one round in the chest. (Long history of domestic violence between them) He did not survive and by all accounts died pretty quickly, as in broke off his attack and dropped right there...
     
  21. DixieTexian

    DixieTexian Member

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    Nice of you to inroduce yourself woodnbow. Welcome.
     
  22. sundance44s

    sundance44s Member

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    Easy testing

    Like Mec ..i do alot of this type testing when i get to hearing things and wondering ..we all have a little Myth buster in us ..Wet phone books are my favorite testing tools ...and i`ve tested 38 specials against my 44 remmie loaded cap and ball ..30 grs of goex ...the Remmie 44 cap and ball load went through twice as much wet phone book as the 38 specials ....so those that like me heard a 38 special is the same as a 44 cap and ball ...Myth busted .
     
  23. DixieTexian

    DixieTexian Member

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    So if it is true that cap and balls are more powerfull, then what do y'all think about using them for self defense? Are they reliable enough?
     
  24. Donny

    Donny Member

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    Dixie Texian,

    I get mixed up in this kind of thread all the time in fact I'm involved in one now on a muzzleloader forum. You will have guys that will call you a dang fool for using a cap and ball for self defense and say you should carry nothin less than a .45 auto. Then you'll have fellas who'll tell ya a cap and ball is fine. As far as I'm concerned a modern wheel gun is about as reliable as you can get. If I lived in a rough neighborhood thats what I would carry. But I feel pretty darn comfortable with my cap and ball revolvers too especially the Remington models as I have never had the cylinder tie up because of spent caps. The power of cap and ball revolvers is definitly adequite for self defense. Whether its a good idea is a matter of opinion. Personally I would never feel underguned with a .44 cap and ball revolver. As far as semi auto pistols are concerned, I'd rather have a cap and ball.

    Don
     
  25. sundance44s

    sundance44s Member

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    I must say i do keep my 1858 Remmies loaded for self defence ..but i use the conversion cylinders in 45 LC ...just a little more punch heavyer bullet than the cap and ball ..and much easyer to unload when i need . My 5 1/2 inch barrel Uberti ..sure feels good in my hand on a dark night ...carries well in a shoulder hoster too .
     
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