Black Powder Pistol

Discerning Shooters’ Black Powder Pistol and Black Powder Revolver Depot

My thanks to Michael Shepherd of for permission
to reproduce the photo of an English Turnaround Percussion Black Powder Pistol

Dale Calder who hails originally from Whangarei, New Zealand has had an interest in handguns including black powder pistols over many years.
He has now reached a point in his life where he would like to indulge that interest further by participating in the firing of reproduction
black powder revolvers and pistols here in Auckland, the City of Sails, where he is currently residing.

Archive for the ‘black powder revolvers’ Category

Black Powder Pistol – A Salute to the Ruger Old Army

Black powder pistol shooters will have been saddened to learn that Ruger have now apparently discontinued production of their range of black powder revolvers.

I had aspired to own a new Old Army .45 cal cap ‘n ball single action model with 7.5″ barrel, all resplendent in stainless steel, which had as its basis the three screw Blackhawk models. But such was not to be.

All of the reviews I had read on Ruger, pointed to it representing the very pinnacle of achievement in the evolution of the cap ‘n ball black powder revolver. So I have decided to examine some of the other marques of revolver which might go some way to removing the void left by the loss of this auspicious handgun. In the final analysis, I was left with really only two choices .. although that is not to say that other revolver makes don’t represent fine value, but it’s the old maxim of “what you pay for, is what you get”.

In recent years the Italian manufacturers Uberti and Pietta have come to the fore, producing a range of models, in a range of calibers. And you can choose between brass or steel frame, or go for the more expensive stainless steel option. No denying it, brass looks real pretty .. but one needs to avoid overloading the powder in these pistols or you will see stretch. Although cheaper, they will certainly shoot loose over time .. the more so if full loads are used. Not what you are looking for.

Rather than conventional black powder you might like to consider Pyrodex which seems to have an affinity with these guns .. but do check the maker’s recommendation first.

My inclination would be to go for either a steel model with brass trigger guard to lift the aesthetics .. or if dollars permit .. stainless steel. Given that black powder is highly acidic, (it sucks water out of the air while settling on your pride and joy) it is imperative that you clean your black powder revolver immediately after firing and before storing away, so as to avoid corrosion and pitting. If for this reason alone, stainless steel comes up trumps; it just makes the whole task of cleaning that much easier.

Ok .. so .. Uberti or Pietta? In the past Uberti was seen to have the better quality control with respect to the revolvers they were producing, but now if you were to match both brands of revolver, produced in the same year, you would find it hard to discern any appreciable difference, quality wise. The Pietta models seem to have reversed the trend of a few years back when they were substantially cheaper than Uberti. Now the opposite seems to be true with a beautifully crafted Uberti 1858 New Army Black Powder Revolver selling for about $100 less than its Pietta counterpart. So, of the two, I figure I would be leaning towards the Uberti – which at just over $300 in the stainless version represents excellent buying if you are seeking top quality matched by price, in your choice of black powder pistol.

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Flashover – A Real Danger With Your Black Powder Pistol

Posted by admin on August 22, 2008 under black powder revolvers

So .. why should you be concerned about flashover in your black powder pistol? And indeed, just what is flashover?

Flashover occurs (and we are here referring to black powder revolvers as opposed to single shot pistols) where the flash resulting from the discharge of one chamber causes the powder in other chambers to ignite .. with often devastating consequences. Injury or even death can result to the shooter .. or even any observers close by.

There are a number of ways that the problem of flashover can be addressed.

Using a greased or beeswax covered ball slightly larger than the bore so it is packed into the cylinder with the loading lever is a method that many of the old stalwarts will use, whereby some of the lead is actually shaved away. An added benefit of this is improved accuracy.

Crisco, a popular brand of shortening is also often used to top each cylinder and has the added effect of retarding black powder residue.

Wads are perhaps the most commonly used, however if you choose these it is important to ensure that these are resistant to high heat and compresssion and are water resistant. Vegetable fiber wads are excellent in that regard. Furthermore, wads will give your revolver a good seal thus minimizing blow by.

After measuring out your powder and pouring it into each cylinder it is also a good idea to pack a wad in on top .. just a memory jogger which should ensure that you don’t go load a second charge! This is in addition to the wad used to seal the cylinder.

In situations where you may be using a lesser charge in a black powder revolver it is a good idea to put some sort of filler such as cornmeal between the powder charge and the ball, because the chances are that if you don’t you will not be able to seat the ball far enough down so that it sits firmly on top of the powder. It is important that you don’t have any airspace in this area as this can blow out or bulge your cylinder or black powder pistol when it is fired .. and that could prove catastrophic!

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