Percussion Wheel Gun Accuracy

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PaulF70

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I have a few of these now and my favorite is the Pietta 1858 Remington in .36.

I have been shooting with 15 and 20gr of FFFg, wonder wad, ball.

I am not too impressed with what I can do with it on paper so far. I have read of people shooting 2" groups at 25Y. I am shooting 2" groups at 10Y, sitting with the gun on a rest (bag).

Surely some of it is my eyes. And it's difficult to be completely consistent with powder charges because I often spill a bit of powder going in the cylinder. (I weigh powder charges for my rifle shooting which made a big difference at 100Y, like a 50% reduction in group size.)

Any tips for me other than practice?

P.S. I bought one of these


and have started shooting in my basement. I can do two cylinders before the smoke is bad. :)
 

Uncle Miltie

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Reduce your powder charge to around 12-13 grains fffg. Fill the remainder of the chamber with white corn meal. Rotate the cylinder to strike the corn meal level. Seat the ball just below the mouth of the chamber, and put a bit of grease over the ball.
 

PaulF70

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12gr is going to give maybe 70 FPE. Not enough for a defense load.

There is no need for grease when using wads.

To clarify, I'm looking for advice in shooting technique and loading technique but not loads per se. 25gr of powder is a very standard load for this gun.
 
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12gr is going to give maybe 70 FPE. Not enough for a defense load.

There is no need for grease when using wads.

To clarify, I'm looking for advice in shooting technique and loading technique but not loads per se. 25gr of powder is a very standard load for this gun.

You may not want load advice, but playing with your load is exactly what you should do. These reproduction cap and ball revolvers can have some variation in their cylinders, cylinder to barrel gap and barrels. Powder charge is one of several variables you are going to need to adjust for.

By the way, standard load for .36 caliber C&B revolver back in the civil war was 12-21 gr of BP and they were using heavier conical bullets. Dixie gun works used to list 21 gr of BP in Remington 36 caliber 1858 reproductions.

Adjusting your powder charge is something a lot of cartridge reloaders and muzzle loader shooters do to obtain accuracy. I’m not referring to guys loading target loads either. This done by serious guys looking for both accuracy and lethality.

Other than your own shooting skills here are the variables you have to account for and adjust. If you know this already, my apologies.

Cap and Ball revolvers in general shoot high, requiring a lot of hold unders and Kentucky windage adjustments at 10 and 25 yards. A lot of C&B revolver owners will modify their revolver sights to be point of aim at 25 yards.

Black Powder charge. Like I stated, a lot of knowledgeable shooters in your shoes adjust their loads looking for what the revolver likes. Since you are using 25 grains you have a lot of wiggle room moving downward to adjust your load or start at 12 gr and work your way up.

Bullet weight. Even todays CNC replica Cap and Ball revolvers have inconsistent cylinder diameter. Some C&B revolvers require a larger round ball to seal the chamber correctly. The standard for 36 caliber C&B is .375, but you might have go up a size to properly seal the cylinder and cut a nice lead ring when loading. Even if .375 is fine you might find that your Remington likes a heavier and larger round ball.

Bullet type (conical vs round ball). Moving to a conical bullet might help or not. Conventional wisdom is round ball is more accurate. While conical bullets provide more penetration. However, some people report opposite in regards to accuracy.

Consistency. You yourself said it. Sometimes you spill some powder. Buy a small funnel or use a powder measure that allows you to easily pour the powder into each cylinder. You can’t make adjustments if you are inconsistent with any of the above.

Only change one variable at a time when working on loads.
 
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Uncle Miltie

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12gr is going to give maybe 70 FPE. Not enough for a defense load.

There is no need for grease when using wads.

To clarify, I'm looking for advice in shooting technique and loading technique but not loads per se. 25gr of powder is a very standard load for this gun.
I thought you were looking to do accurate shooting: my bad.
 

new2bp

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My groups with my 1858 (44, Uberti made for Lyman) are basically the same size as my groups with my CZ75 so I'd say in my case it is just the nut behind the trigger.
 

PaulF70

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You're right, I should not have made that comment about load advice. Sorry.

I have also tried 20gr. Not enough to make a serious study on what's better though.

Bullets... I bought a very large quantity of .375" balls when I got into this. Everything said that was the size to use. It would be a kick if something else worked better.

I have always read though that balls are at least as accurate as conicals in almost any C&B.

I do not get much of a ring... very little... I am afraid they are a touch too small...
 
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I had a Pietta 36 Remington years ago and that particular gun gave me fits. Accuracy was just awful and the only way to get any semblance of it was to load the gun with a cylinder full of powder, as much as it would hold. To be fair, this was when I first started shooting percussion pistols and I didn't know enough yet about trying various combinations of powders, bullet diameters, types of lubes, etc. or checking chamber mouth dimensions. However, none of my other percussion pistols displayed anything close to the issues I was experiencing with that gun. Good luck on your quest to find the right combination.
 
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No, sorry, totally my bad. Late at night. (It does have to be an adequate defense load tho.)
12 grains of 3f pushing a .375 roundball is lethal at the ranges that most indoor firefights happen.
You put that bullet in the right place and it is game over for the bad guy.

BP guns are not about massive power and hydroshock. They are wound channel makers and marksmanship is the key.

So do some load development. Maybe with that pistol it needs 17 grains for all we know. Once you get the load right it will serve you well.

Now I will say if you are limited to a BP revolver for a defense weapon then you should be shooting a .44, an 1860 or an 1851 in fantasy 44 is great. Now if you are a big fella, then consider the Dragoons or a Walker. A Walker loaded with a conical and 40-55 grains of power is the ticket.
 
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I have no problem getting minute of X-Ring groups at 25 yards with percussion revolvers, and I'm far from a match shooter

Shooting high is the biggest detriment to accuracy but these are made for gun fighting , not bullseye shooting
 

M. De Land

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I have a few of these now and my favorite is the Pietta 1858 Remington in .36.

I have been shooting with 15 and 20gr of FFFg, wonder wad, ball.

I am not too impressed with what I can do with it on paper so far. I have read of people shooting 2" groups at 25Y. I am shooting 2" groups at 10Y, sitting with the gun on a rest (bag).

Surely some of it is my eyes. And it's difficult to be completely consistent with powder charges because I often spill a bit of powder going in the cylinder. (I weigh powder charges for my rifle shooting which made a big difference at 100Y, like a 50% reduction in group size.)

Any tips for me other than practice?

P.S. I bought one of these


and have started shooting in my basement. I can do two cylinders before the smoke is bad. :)
I'd ask a known good pistol shot to shoot a group or two for me if I was you. If the load is good this will likely reveal it then all that is needed is technique work and practice.
I've shot grease over ball and cream of wheat filler for years competitively but have switched to greased felt wads over the last few years. It looks like they are accurate as well and I feel are more consistent because they supply the same amount of lube to each shot where as grease over ball is being continually decreased with each progressive shot . Usually wad use means full powder charges to eliminate ball jump to forcing cone but I'm not so sure this is an absolute as filler could be used here as well. I'm not even sure ball jump is harmful to accuracy either it's just what I have always read is true.
Also I don't believe one will ever get as good of target accuracy with a bullet as with a round ball.
 
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12gr is going to give maybe 70 FPE. Not enough for a defense load.

There is no need for grease when using wads.

To clarify, I'm looking for advice in shooting technique and loading technique but not loads per se. 25gr of powder is a very standard load for this gun.
That amount of powder puts the ball just at the end of the cylinder? Is it compressed a little?
 

PaulF70

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12 grains of 3f pushing a .375 roundball is lethal at the ranges that most indoor firefights happen.
You put that bullet in the right place and it is game over for the bad guy.

BP guns are not about massive power and hydroshock. They are wound channel makers and marksmanship is the key.

So do some load development. Maybe with that pistol it needs 17 grains for all we know. Once you get the load right it will serve you well.

Now I will say if you are limited to a BP revolver for a defense weapon then you should be shooting a .44, an 1860 or an 1851 in fantasy 44 is great. Now if you are a big fella, then consider the Dragoons or a Walker. A Walker loaded with a conical and 40-55 grains of power is the ticket.

I'm not "limited" to these guns - I do also have my Ruger LCR & a .380 (both CC guns) - but since I enjoy shooting them and now have more of them than centerfire handguns, and since they are SO cheap to shoot, I want to be able to consider them "home-defense capable."

We have weapons in various places in the house. In a home break-in, you may not have the luxury of fetching a weapon from another room.

Now mind you 2" at 10M is still better than the short-barrel .38 or .380 will do, ever!

I don't really care for a debate of this type, but, round balls do expand - much more and much more reliably than conicals (which are going to be going a lot slower) - and energy is energy. There's no reason not to maximize it. Black powder weapons are entirely capable of producing hydrostatic shock.

(Even with 25g of powder there is barely any recoil; it's just so easy to shoot also.)

I just happened to collect a number of .36s and a ton of associated gear. If home defense was the ONLY mission, and these the only option, you're right that .44 would've been smarter.

But, as for what is "enough" in terms of energy, indeed, who knows. Many poo-poo the lowly .22 rimfire but in an exhaustive study done some years ago it was shown to result in stoppage of bad guys more reliably than any other handgun round! How? Probably because

- With virtually no recoil, one can put many bullets on the target in a short time
- Most people, most of the time, will give up the fight after being shot just once, by nearly anything
- Ammo is so cheap people tend to shoot them a lot and learn the gun very well

It just so happens that these SA, long-barrel BP guns have all the same advantages.

(A moderately-loaded .36 BP gun is close in energy to a .22 LR from a handgun - a hot load is more like double.)

Yet while a 12gr load might do the job, I'd prefer 25g, all things considered.

I think my eyesight is honestly the biggest problem along with loading consistency. I've ordered some tiny funnels to help with the latter issue.

And I've found some .380 balls to try. I ordered lots of .375 initially since that's all that Hornady makes and all a number of retailers carry.

We'll see what happens with more careful loading and various charges and ball sizes. (I'm just not ready to reach for the Crisco yet tho.)

I started this thread only because I read comments that BP revolvers are "SO" accurate they will shoot 2" groups at 25 yards, and, well, mine/me can't do that.

For those laughing at my inability to shoot, please post your 25 YARD targets. Not that I doubt there are many doing a lot better than I am - I know there are. I just want you to walk the walk.
 
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Accuracy questions? Years ago I got this idea to consult only the people with the highest credentials. Maybe national champion pistol shooters. Seems they did very little bench testing of their match pistols. Today I sighted in and tested a new to me caplock match pistol made about 20 years ago for NMLRA matches. No, I did not bench test or try a bunch of different ball sizes or powder brands or charges. Loaded small production hand made caplock with .350 ball, 15 grs. of Shutzen and a 23 thou. patch lubed with soapy water. Fired a 10 shot sighter one handed match style at a 25 yd. target. Now with in 2-3 clicks windage and elevation shot two more 25s to confirm final zero. Moved on to 50 yds. 6 clicks up to start windage good shots about a click higher than called so down 1 click. Now centered and zeroed. Was a good day... Have I done bench testing? Yes, extensive.Wish I had all that wasted time back...Guess it`s nice to know all those old champs were right about my time would be better spent improving my technique and consistency....c
 
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