Thursday, May 05, 2011

Range Day

Today started out being a potentially very crappy day but wound up being quite good.

The past couple of days I was having problems starting the '07 Nissan Xterra that I bought back on April 23.  I was also hearing some sort of noise at low speed. Yesterday I called Peruzzi Nissan, the dealer from whom I bought the truck, and made an appointment for this morning.

The starting problem turned out to be a bad battery. They told me that they checked it and it had a bad cell.  The noise I was hearing was a loose heat shield that they tightened. I was at Peruzzi for about an hour and a half and got home around 10:00 AM.  It seems to be starting and running fine now but I guess the real test will be if either problem recurs. I really hope this is the last time I need to take the Xterra in for unscheduled service.

Since I'd already scheduled a flex day and we had a beautiful Spring day with the temp in the low 50s, I decided to go to the range.

I brought my "Cowboy Pimp Gun," a Ruger Single Six in .32 H&R Magnum. I named it that due to the faux ivory grips and color casehardened frame. I also brought my Euroarm 1858 Remington percussion revolver.

Today I shot at 25 yards and started with the CPG.  With PPU 98 grain LRN .32 S&W Longs it shoots about a foot low at 25 yards. The trigger has almost no takeup or creep, but is heavy, probably at least 8 pounds.  My groups were nothing to brag about.  I may look into getting a trigger job.

The Euroarms got more of a workout.  Last week I'd made up 20 combustible cartridges, something I haven't tried before.  They consisted of a .457 Hornady round ball and 30 grains of Goex FFFg black powder inside a cartridge case made from nitrated cigarette rolling paper.  Such cartridges made from nitrated paper or intestine were very common in the 19th Century, especially during the Civil War and for several years afterward.  Properly constructed they greatly aide in quickly loading a caplock revolver.

My paper cartridges, on the other hand, need some work. I need to use a mandrel with more of a taper to ease loading into the chambers and to cause the paper to rupture more when the round is rammed home.  I did have several ignition problems, probably due to an excessive amount of paper at the base of the cartridge. For my last 5 shots with the paper cartridges, I put a few grains of powder from my flintlock priming flask in the chambers before loading the cartridges. These all went off on the first cap.

Note that if you are shooting a percussion revolver and on a round the cap pops but the charge does not fire, if you then fire the next round in the cylinder there is a high likelihood that you'll get a chainfire. What happens is that when the cap from the failed round fragments it unseals the back of that chamber. When you fire the next round there is flashover and it's enough to get both chambers to fire. This happened to me a couple times today until I realized what was happening.  (I have actually been meaning to test this because with a properly fitting lead ball in a good condition revolver, I do not see any way it is possible to have a chainfire from the front end of the cylinder. As far as I'm concerned, the most likely source of a chainfire is from a missing or poorly fitting cap.)

One thing I noticed when shooting the paper cartridge is that they smell different from loose powder and ball. It took me awhile to figure out the aroma, but it bears a resemblance to the smell of a spent model rocket engine.

After my cartridges were used up I pulled the cylinder and found bits of paper in the chambers, which I cleaned out before continuing with loose powder, ball, and wad.

For the remainder of my shooting I used Hornady .454 balls and 30 grains of powder measured with a flask. Compared with the .457s I've used before the smaller balls load a lot easier and still give acceptable accuracy. I will probably use them from now on in the Euroarms and my Pietta 1858 Remington .44. I also plant to try them in my Rogers & Spencer to see if they are as accurate as .457s. I'll continued to use .457s in my Ruger Old Army as that is the specified size for it.

The wads I used today were from the first batch of homemade wads I made a couple weeks ago. To make them I ordered some 1/8" thick hard white 100% wool felt from out of Little Rock, AR. I'd read about Durofelt on The High Road and their product came highly recommended. I also picked up a set of hollow punches from Harbor Freight. I used the 7/16" punch that I'd reamed out to about .45" using my Dremel.  After punching out the wads I lubed them by soaking them in a mix of mostly beeswax with some mutton tallow, melted in a double boiler. Once the lube solidified the wads looked like little lube cookies.

Note: Melting mutton tallow on the kitchen stovetop is almost guaranteed to piss off the wife.  It reeks.

I'm quite pleased with my homemade wads and don't see myself buying Wonder Wads anymore. While the Wonder Wads work fine, the homemade wads hold more lube, seem to keep the powder fouling softer, and the gun binds a bit less. I'll have to see how my lube mixture works in hot weather, as I might want to add a little paraffin canning wax to the mix to stiffen it a bit.  As-is the mix might work well for lubricating the cylinder base pin of caplock revolvers.

Overall, a pretty good day.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like fun!

joshusa said...

Should of gotten a Chevy truck like me ;-) Cool range report. I thought you would of taken the Radom!!

Cemetery's Gun Blob said...

I recently switched to pure ballistol on my cylinder pins, and any binding issues have disappeared, but then again Remmie's are known for binding issues.

Dave Markowitz said...

I've used straight Ballistol for lubing the cylinder base pins of my Remingtons and I get about 18 to 24 shots before it needs to be pulled and wiped down. It sometimes gets hard to pull after 18 shots without a wipedown, depending I think on how humid it is (the more humidity, the easier it is to pull, because the fouling stays softer).

This is one area in which the Rogers & Spencer is superior to the Remington, as I can get at least 40 shots without any binding due to fouling.

EgregiousCharles said...

Cigarette rolling papers are chemically treated to slow burning; after all a smoker wouldn't want the cigarette flaming up and burning their nose. So I don't think it's the best kind of paper to start with for a combustible cartridge.

Flash paper would seem like a better choice.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I've been mostly away for a while. Comment: pure mutton tallow doesn't reek - if you don't like the smell, mutton protein smells. If you've got questionable mutton tallow, boil it with water. The impurities dissolve in the water. Then chill it - the fat solidifies. Take off the solid fat, pour off the water. Scrape away the layer of fat that was in contact with the water - it will contain some water and some protein.

If you need to, boil the fat to drive off any residual water, but you shouldn't need to.

Anonymous said...

Double sorry. Comment about wads. Wool wads is good. I'm Australian. We get fires here... badly. My father was born 1914, and he didn't like shotguns much, although he'd use a H&R single-barrel one on the farm when he had to. Reason: he'd seen more than one fire started by old-fashioned (non-wool) shotgun wads that were ignited when the powder went off against them.