H Aston Model 42 .54 Cal Percussion Cap Single Shot Muzzleloading Pistol

Discussion in 'Handguns' started by B Tom, May 12, 2019.

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  1. May 12, 2019 #1

    B Tom

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    The H Aston Model 1842 .54 Cal pistol was used by the US Army during the Mexican-American War of 1846 - 1848. However, it is my understanding that it remained in service through the first years of the Civil War (by both sides). I have a H Aston Model 1842 (manufactured in 1849) that I would like to try out at the shooting range. Does anyone know what type of real black powder is used (i.e. FFg or FFFg?) and what load in grains by volume is required (e.g. 25, 30, 35 grains by volume?). I've already got the 0.530" diameter lead ball and lubed ball patches. The pistol is in very good shape and just waiting to be tried.
     
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  2. May 12, 2019 #2

    cositrike

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    I’m interested too. What is the service charge? I’ve googled it but can’t seem to find out.
     
  3. May 12, 2019 #3

    Zonie

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    In the back of the Dixie Gun Works catalog there is a chart of the powder loads for old and new traditional muzzleloaders.

    In it, it says, .54 U.S. Pistol Models 1819, 21, 26, 36, 42: .535 diameter ball, 35 grains of FFg powder.
     
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  4. May 13, 2019 #4

    cositrike

    cositrike

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    Thank you Zonie
     
  5. May 13, 2019 #5

    8 BORE

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    Thank Dixie for putting the info into there catalog
     
  6. May 13, 2019 #6

    cositrike

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    That too, but as I don’t have a copy, I thanked the guy who looked out the information for me.
     
  7. May 13, 2019 #7

    B Tom

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    Thank you very much for the feedback so far regarding using 35 grains by volume of FFg. For my curiosity, what is the drawback if one would use FFFg instead of FFg on the US Model 42 with a 35 grain load? I ask because I wonder what black powder grades (e.g. FFFg, FFg, etc) were available back in the mid 1800's for the US Model 42 pistol? Is the FFFg grade more for the more modern muzzleloading pistols made in the last few decades only?
     
  8. May 13, 2019 #8

    Zonie

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    The black powder back in the mid 1800's was about like it is today.
    Both 2F and 3F were used to describe the particle sizes.

    The Model 1842 was a military pistol and I believe it would have used powder that would have been used in the muskets and rifles of the time and that would be 2F.

    Because of its finer particle size, 3F powder burns faster than 2F powder so the breech pressure rises faster and to a higher pressure. To get a similar breech pressure to what a 2F powder would make, many people think they should reduce the 3F load about 10% of a 2F load.

    In the case of a 35 grain load of 2F that would make the 3F load about 32 grains. Dropping the 3F load down to 30 grains won't really be noticed in power or recoil so if you use 3F just drop the powder charge down to 30 grains and be happy. Dropping the load from 35 to 30 saves 5 grains of powder with each shot. That results in a savings of 30 grains with 6 shots fired so the 7th shot powder is free. :)

    The 3F powder will burn a bit cleaner leaving less fouling than 2F does.
     
  9. May 14, 2019 #9

    B Tom

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    Thank you for the wonderful education Zonie. Your feedback has been very informative. My next step is to acquire the black powder and give the pistol a try in the near future. I also hope I can hear from others who have actually shot with the US Model 42 pistol and hear their stories about it. The historical significance of owning a 170 year old pistol just thrills me. :)
     
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  10. May 14, 2019 #10

    Zonie

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    I know what you mean.

    I once owned a Model 1842 Springfield musket. This was the first totally percussion musket issued by the military.
    It was all original except for some initials that had been carved into the stock, probably after any military duty it might have seen.
    The lock indicated it was made in 1845.
    It could have been in the Mexican/American war and it is very likely it had seen duty in the Civil War. Oh, the stories it could have told me if it could only have spoken. I would have gladly spent hours after hours just listening to its tales.
     
  11. May 14, 2019 #11

    Smokey Plainsman

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    The Aston is a good pistol and was used before the revolvers came into the picture. I used to have one. Good guns.
     
  12. May 14, 2019 #12

    cositrike

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    I have one and have shot mine, but now I’ll give it a go with the service charge, just to see how it shoots. Others have told me that just for paper punching, a much lower charge will be ok, so I’ll try that as well. Enjoy your pistol. I also have the 1836 (flintlock version)
     
  13. May 14, 2019 #13

    OldRvr

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    That is great information , thanks for the source. I have a 1829 US N. North Perc Conversion that is very similar to the Aston. I have fired it and got it on Paper as a trial using 3F , but I think I will try for more accuracy using that Imfo.
     
  14. May 14, 2019 #14

    Stantheman86

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    I would assume these were used in service with paper cartridges?

    A .535 ball implies using "bare ball"? Since no way could any paper be involved there.

    These are neat pistols, I saw one for sale at a recent gun show. $700 was a bit much for me, it was in maybe Fair-Good condition.
     
  15. May 14, 2019 #15

    B Tom

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    My readings have indicated that a .535 ball plus ball patch is somewhat too tight and sometimes difficult to drive down the barrel completely. Hence I have acquired 0.530" balls and will give that a try in the future.
     
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  16. May 15, 2019 #16

    Stantheman86

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    Maybe try .520 balls with a .10 patch, I dont think a super tight combo would add much accuracy.
     
  17. May 15, 2019 #17

    cositrike

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    I’m using 0.530 and 15thou patch
     
  18. May 16, 2019 #18

    B Tom

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    I also will be using 0.530" balls (Hornaday #6100) with 0.015" lubed ball patchs (including applying with my finger a little dab of lube paste at the tip of the bore ID before setting the patch/ball over the bore opening to help drive it down). I guess I am still hesitating with either the FFg or FFFg black powder. Maybe I will try out both and slowly work my way up with the grain by volume load. But Zonie's comment is perfectly logical that being a military pistol, the Model 1842 .54 cal pistol must have been compatible with the same black powder used with the muskets of that time (hence FFg size). So I will definitely try FFg. I would still love to hear from anyone else that has actually shot with the pistol. Great input from everyone so far!
     
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  19. May 23, 2019 #19

    B Tom

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    Cositrike, I am curious. When you previously shot your Aston, what powder grade and load did you use?
     
  20. May 23, 2019 #20

    cositrike

    cositrike

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    I’ve used 2f and about 20g if I remember rightly. .53 ball
     

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