Le Mat

Discussion in 'Handguns' started by rodwha, Jun 13, 2013.

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  1. Jun 13, 2013 #1

    rodwha

    rodwha

    rodwha

    58 Cal.

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    Having watched Mike Beliveau's video on it I became curious...

    Do these have a safety function? With 9 shots an empty is certainly no big deal!

    What is a max load for the .44 and 20 ga?

    What is the recoil like shooting the shotgun barrel?

    What is the range for the shotgun keeping the pattern under 24"?

    Are these prone to cap jam problems?

    What is the real difference between the Army, Navy, and Cavalry models?

    Being a Pietta I'd guess it takes a .451" RB?
     
  2. Jun 14, 2013 #2

    btech

    btech

    btech

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    I don't own one, but I'll tell you what I know:
    There is no safety position on the Peitta models.
    The recoil from the shotgun was described as "unpleasant".
    The 44 caliber cylinder loads just like any other revolver.
    The differences among the models is mainly just a different trigger guard. No difference in design or caliber.
    Dixie Gun carries them new and occasionally they appear used on Gun Broker. They usually sell for $600-800 used and $875-1000 new, which is why I don't own one.
     
  3. Jun 14, 2013 #3

    btech

    btech

    btech

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    A few of the antique gun sites have real ones ranging from $15,000 to $20,000.
     
  4. Jun 14, 2013 #4

    F.G. Ford

    F.G. Ford

    F.G. Ford

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    I've see and handled a LeMat revolver.
    They are unusual and different, but they are not a $800 gun.
    Waay over priced, and just a novelty.
    The shot gun barrel was designed to shoot a single round ball, so a fifty grain charge, and a patched round ball was a stout load, but not unreasonable.
    The internals are a bit fragile, so continued shooting will present a problem.
    Fred
     
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  5. Jun 14, 2013 #5

    rodwha

    rodwha

    rodwha

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    The cost will likely keep me from buying one as well.

    In many of the videos I noticed the loading arm was bouncing around.

    Judging by the depth of the seated RB, Mike used 30 grns of 3F and a wad, and there wasn't much room left. I'd guess the max charge would be near 35 grns.

    It seems several guys mentioned how flimsy the loading lever assembly was. With many of the originals missing the levers as they broke off, I'd think it couldn't handle much heavy use.

    Mike used 60 grns of 2F with an ounce of shot. Is that about standard for a BP 20 ga?

    On another video it shows recesses in the back of the cylinder. I was given the impression that these were a safety feature that Pietta left out.

    If I ever have $1000 burning a hole in my pocket I just may get one anyway...
     
  6. Jun 14, 2013 #6

    oletymepreacher

    oletymepreacher

    oletymepreacher

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    Mine is the cavalry version. I have had this for many years. Using the loads listed in the manual the revolver shoots well. The shot tube will shoot either shot or .600 patched roundballs. HC shot is #2buck. I don't find any recoil problem with the shot barrel. .451 balls in the cylinder.

    The only problem I have had is the loading lever came undone under recoil. I took it to a gunsmith who fixed the problem.


    24" buckshot pattern is good to 15 yards, but I haven't patterned it at longer range.

    The Cavalry model has a lanyard ring, and the takedown is different than the Army or Navy. Other than that, all three models are the same. I chose the Cavalry model because I ride horses, and the lanyard ring offers more retaining security while riding. I spent $400 on this at Cabela's a few years ago. I found it in the Bargain Cave, a returned unit that looked unfired.

    These are fun shooters.
     
  7. Jun 14, 2013 #7

    rodwha

    rodwha

    rodwha

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    How much powder/shot in the 20 ga? And is 2F, with that short barrel, still optimal? I'd have thought 3F would work better in such a short barrel.

    What is the max load of the .44?

    I like the takedown lever over the pin.

    I'd be all over it if I could have it for $400! Great find!

    I'm curious what you had done to hold the lever down? From what I could see it appears as though there is a hook on the side. Bending it over a little it may hang on better...

    The huge front sight seems a bit, well, huge. Doesn't it take up a good bit of your sight picture?
     
  8. Jun 14, 2013 #8

    oletymepreacher

    oletymepreacher

    oletymepreacher

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    Don't know the max load. The cylinder isn't very long, so there is a limit to the amount of powder that will fit. I use 3F in the 20 ga.,30 grains, with 7/8 or 1 oz of shot. I have tried both weights of shot, and probably favor the 1 ounce.

    Bending the spring doesn't do much to hold the loading lever in place. The gunsmith found that the end of the lever was laying against the frame and he ground a little off the frame.

    The way this revolver is built, the front sight is just right. The rear sight is a notch in the hammer. When the gun is cocked, the hammer notch is also higher. Mr. LeMatt didn't copy Mr. Colt.
     
  9. Jun 14, 2013 #9

    Wes/Tex

    Wes/Tex

    Wes/Tex

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    Remember that Col. LeMat designed a combat weapon, not a target arm. A good majority of original reference calls them the "Grapeshot Revolver" which, besides it's nine shot capacity, was it's real selling point. It's original design was for .42 caliber cylinder and .63 grapeshot barrel. The U.S. ordnance report of May, 1859 says .41" bore for cylinder chambers and .65" for the shotgun bore. The military tests were done with 16 grains of pistol powder and a 0.75" long "elongated ball" projectile. These appear to have been pre-made paper cartridges, though those may not have been available that early. The "grapeshot" barrel got 40 grains powder, unspecified as to type, with a paper cartridge with 15 buckshot or round ball, actual size about .640" since it weighed 406 grains. Their results on wood penetration at 30 paces was 2.5" for the "elongated ball", 2.5" for the round ball from the "central barrel", and 1.0" for the "Buckshot at 15 paces....". As you can see, the gun was designed for combat at combat ranges.

    You must also remember that the loading lever was designed to be held by friction through a hole drilled slightly off-center. The lever also changed sides on the gun during it's production, early ones on the right and later on the left as now done on the replicas. Pietta went with a more standard .451" cylinder diameter and 6.75" long barrel instead of the 7.3" length on the originals to prevent forgery. According to DGW, the bore is 7 lands of .440" & 7 grooves of .452". They also recommend a 22 grain load of FFFg for .451" balls and a 30 grain FFg load with a .630" ball or .75 ounces load of buckshot. These sound reasonable. A friend had one of the first model out some years ago now and we found these loads about max for comfortable shooting considering pistol weight and grip shape.

    The three different models now available are called Army, Navy & Cavalry and vary only by spur trigger guard, lever type barrel release & lanyard ring on the Cavalry version; round trigger guards, knurled pin barrel release & holed butt cap on the Army & Navy versions. These two also vary with the Army having the cross pin barrel selector while the navy has a spur type selector that pushes up and down. They're certainly interesting but I prefer the Colt design, especially for comfort in shooting. Your mileage may vary! :wink:

    If you'd like to read more in-depth accounts of LeMat's guns, I'd recommend that you check around for copies of "Confederate Handguns" by Albaugh, Benet & Simmons or "Firearms of the Confederacy" by Fuller & Steuart. These date from 1963 & 1944 but your local library should be able to locate copies under their library loan program. The first is a detailed history of the guns while the second is a good source of original correspondence about contract and delivery from Confederate sources.
     
  10. Jun 14, 2013 #10

    rodwha

    rodwha

    rodwha

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    Due to the cost it's near the bottom of my list of needs, but after seeing many videos and reading a bit about them, I now want one!

    Thanks fellas!
     
  11. Jun 15, 2013 #11

    Wes/Tex

    Wes/Tex

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    The "cool" factor is definitely high with LeMats and the first view of one can generate interesting comments, even from gun nuts. Keep an eye out on the sales boards, used ones show up at times at better prices once the "cool"wears off.
     
  12. Aug 13, 2019 #12

    Montana Muzzleloader

    Montana Muzzleloader

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    I have one & it's a blast to shoot. I shoot 30 grains of 3F & .451 balls. My shot barrel loads mimic everyone else who posted above. The loading lever is indeed fragile & I bent it's screw on my first range visit. Taylor's carries the parts but beware there are two different screws. Make sure you order the correct one! I bought it used & the nipples were frozen in place. I managed to get all out but one. I did get it out, but I used a milling machine & also had to order the oddball metric size tap to clean up the threads. It's perfectly fine now. I'm still working on getting mine to actually function as a repeating revolving cylinder handgun. After firing, the cylinder almost never wants to turn though it works fine any other time. I thought it may be cap jams but I'm not so sure that's it. I'm beginning to think its from fouling on the base pin/shot barrel. Any thoughts on this?
     
  13. Aug 13, 2019 #13

    nkbj

    nkbj

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    Makes me wonder...
    Why didn't the replicators stay with the original caliber?
    Because everybody would want another .44?
     
  14. Aug 13, 2019 #14

    bang

    bang

    bang

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    Can shoot what keeps ball flush. 25 gns enough. 30gns and 6 00 pellets in 20g
     
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  15. Aug 13, 2019 #15

    rodwha

    rodwha

    rodwha

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    What caliber are you thinking they were? My understanding is that these are pretty close to the original caliber.
     
  16. Aug 13, 2019 #16

    rodwha

    rodwha

    rodwha

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    So about 25 grns with a ball is maxed out?
     
  17. Aug 13, 2019 #17

    bang

    bang

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    25 is what works for me in my 44s. Produces best accuracy for me. Inside door knob diameter at 25 yards all day long. Every guns is a bit different so you need to experiment with it. I suggest starting at 20 and work up till it suits your need. I use low end of what produces. If you shoot accurately at 25 and no change or goes off at 30 I would fall back to 25. IMO it doesn't need to go boom, crack/pop is peek. Over powder is just more smoke and fouling. Just IMO.
    The charge for the 20g I read about. I would stick to 30gn fff and 6, 00 pellets. The important thing on the shot is weight. Weigh 6, 00 and if you use different size use equal weight on same charge.
     
  18. Aug 14, 2019 #18

    nkbj

    nkbj

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    Going off of memory but was thinking that they were about .42.
     
  19. Aug 14, 2019 #19

    rodwha

    rodwha

    rodwha

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    I lost my mind for a moment. Indeed they were some oddball size like .42, and the shotgun was something like 16 ga, right?

    And then he made a smaller caliber version too (also oddball?).
     
  20. Aug 14, 2019 #20

    nkbj

    nkbj

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    Really don't know. I was just thinking they were .42. Don't know what other calibers.
     

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