Pietta 1851 Navy

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Para1911A1

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Hi Guys,

Well, I finally took the plunge. I just made a deal on a used Pietta 1851 Navy 36 cal. My first Black Powder gun. But, now I have a few questions. I found the manual on Pietta's website. According to them .36 cal, .375 ball 9-12 grains of powder. I'm concerned because I read many post talking about 18,20,21 grain loads?? Am I missing something? This one was proofed in 1989 [AH]. Are the old ones better or worse than the current production? Next, I'm thinking Pyrodex is a safer way to go. I already reload normal cartridges, so storing smokless powder for years. Not sure I want to step up to risk of real Black Powder.
 

Para1911A1

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One more question. It says don't use burning patches. Do they mead the patch around the ball? Right. I plan to use lubed wads under the ball
 

hawkeye2

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You don't use patches in a revolver, just a snug fitting (.375") ball. Lubed wads work fine and are safe, personally I don't put anything combustible in my revolver chambers but that's my choice and many here make up replica paper cartridges. It's capable of handling all the black powder or substitute (no smokeless at all) you can fit in the chamber but you'll probably find your most accurate load between 15 to 20 grains. There's no problem using Pyrodex except that you have to clean immediately after shooting though you should anyway no matter what powder you are using. A pound of real black 3f will last half a lifetime in a .36 (350 20 grain shots) and there is almost no danger in storing it. The quality of the newer Piettas is much better than the old ones but if your gun's timing and trigger are OK than you have nothing to concern yourself over.
 

Para1911A1

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You don't use patches in a revolver, just a snug fitting (.375") ball. Lubed wads work fine and are safe, personally I don't put anything combustible in my revolver chambers but that's my choice and many here make up replica paper cartridges. It's capable of handling all the black powder or substitute (no smokeless at all) you can fit in the chamber but you'll probably find your most accurate load between 15 to 20 grains. There's no problem using Pyrodex except that you have to clean immediately after shooting though you should anyway no matter what powder you are using. A pound of real black 3f will last half a lifetime in a .36 (350 20 grain shots) and there is almost no danger in storing it. The quality of the newer Piettas is much better than the old ones but if your gun's timing and trigger are OK than you have nothing to concern yourself over.
GREAT, Thanks :D
 

bang

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Shoot several cylinders worth of varying volume of powder to find which load provides best performance. 9-12gns is plenty but I think the manufacturers keep the load to low end for their considered safe load. IMO 18gns is top end for a 36 revolver.
Should you not get that after working up to a max load you might want to check the cylinder chambers diameter against the barrel max diameter. Sometimes, for what ever reason, the cylinder chambers are under the bore max. if they measure out correct then I would try .380 ball. This will give more surface area engagement to the bore. If the cylinder measures under bore max you can ream or have it reamed to proper of bore max +.001/.002 fit for bore.
It boils down to what performance you choose to achieve.
As far as powder. I've been using Pyrodex "P" 20 plus years. The availability is very good in my area. It has performed just fine for me. As stated no matter which you decide to use clean thoroughly asap. Regardless of anything treat all powders as corrosive. I have never used an over powder wad but do seal over ball with wax and veg oil that has been melted into a nice sticky paste when cooled. Again that's a preference choice. Keep good lube on cylinder base pin so hot gas residue doesn't bind up the cylinder rotation.
 

Zonie

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Hi Guys,

Well, I finally took the plunge. I just made a deal on a used Pietta 1851 Navy 36 cal. My first Black Powder gun. But, now I have a few questions. I found the manual on Pietta's website. According to them .36 cal, .375 ball 9-12 grains of powder. I'm concerned because I read many post talking about 18,20,21 grain loads?? Am I missing something? This one was proofed in 1989 [AH]. Are the old ones better or worse than the current production? Next, I'm thinking Pyrodex is a safer way to go. I already reload normal cartridges, so storing smokless powder for years. Not sure I want to step up to risk of real Black Powder.
The light powder loads shown in the manual are due to company lawyers who want to cover all bases against any possible suit.
Sam Colt sized the chambers so that it is impossible to overload the chamber and still get the ball pressed in so it is below the face of the cylinder. As I recall, his loading instructions even mentions this.

I'm sure you already know this but, never use smokeless powder of any kind in your cap & ball pistol. There are no safe smokeless powders that will work. There are several things that make smokeless powder dangerous in these guns but the main reason is, the cylinder and barrel are made from low carbon steel that is not hardened so it is rather weak.
 

Para1911A1

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Shoot several cylinders worth of varying volume of powder to find which load provides best performance. 9-12gns is plenty but I think the manufacturers keep the load to low end for their considered safe load. IMO 18gns is top end for a 36 revolver.
Should you not get that after working up to a max load you might want to check the cylinder chambers diameter against the barrel max diameter. Sometimes, for what ever reason, the cylinder chambers are under the bore max. if they measure out correct then I would try .380 ball. This will give more surface area engagement to the bore. If the cylinder measures under bore max you can ream or have it reamed to proper of bore max +.001/.002 fit for bore.
It boils down to what performance you choose to achieve.
As far as powder. I've been using Pyrodex "P" 20 plus years. The availability is very good in my area. It has performed just fine for me. As stated no matter which you decide to use clean thoroughly asap. Regardless of anything treat all powders as corrosive. I have never used an over powder wad but do seal over ball with wax and veg oil that has been melted into a nice sticky paste when cooled. Again that's a preference choice. Keep good lube on cylinder base pin so hot gas residue doesn't bind up the cylinder rotation.
Great!! Thanks I agree the charge is not as important as the accuracy it provides.
 

Para1911A1

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The light powder loads shown in the manual are due to company lawyers who want to cover all bases against any possible suit.
Sam Colt sized the chambers so that it is impossible to overload the chamber and still get the ball pressed in so it is below the face of the cylinder. As I recall, his loading instructions even mentions this.

I'm sure you already know this but, never use smokeless powder of any kind in your cap & ball pistol. There are no safe smokeless powders that will work. There are several things that make smokeless powder dangerous in these guns but the main reason is, the cylinder and barrel are made from low carbon steel that is not hardened so it is rather weak.
Yes, I am aware of the smokeless dangers, But thanks for mentioning it. Can't be too careful.
 
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Hello Pars1911A1,

I believe the 9-12 grain loads are recommended for the Brass Frame revolvers.

AntiqueSledMan.
 

Para1911A1

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Well, I did some checking around, and I am one of the lucky ones. My LGS sells Goex.
 

Para1911A1

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Well Guys,
I finally made it out to shoot the Navy. I did fine. Shot very accurately at 7 yards. Only shot a few cylinders because I was using an adjustable measure. that was kind of a pain. I ordered a 20 gr. spout for my powder flask, not here yet. The one question I have. The lubed felt wads I got won't go down straight on top of the charge. is that important? or do they seal good when the ball is rammed on top?
 

Golfswithwolves

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Please note that it is important to leave no excess air space in the cylinder (to avoid blowing up the cylinder). Therefore it is wise to use a filler (cornmeal or similar) over small powder charges. A cylinder full of powder or powder plus filler should keep the wads from not going down straight onto the charge. Good luck and have fun!
 

Stantheman86

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I'm thinking of getting one of the Pietta "Old Silver" 51 Navies ,although I haven't owned a Pietta in 10 years.

I recall shooting Bullalo Ball-Et .36 conicals in my Pietta 1851 Navy with Pyrodex P and peening the wedge slot. Some say this can occur from the act of loading, I don't know. Stay away from conicals I guess.

Also had a brass frame .36 Navy Griswold and Gunnison by Pietta that was overtimed. I wasn't patient enough to deal with it so I sold them off . Apparently it's an easy fix , some of them need a little tweaking.

I fired a bunch of conicals through my Uberti London Navy and never had a problem.

FYI the Pietta Customer Service rep told me that they don't heat treat their barrels since for Blackpowder they don't have to. For what it's worth they're still better quality steel than originals.
 

F.G. Ford

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I am not a fan of Pyrodex powder, but have to say that it is great in a cap & ball revolver.
You can shoot all day long and the cylinder and action will not seize up, and the accuracy is every bit as good as real black powder.
You owe it to yourself to try both, and see which gives you best results.
I have greased the cylinder pins on my revolvers and still cylinder rotation became difficult after two or three reloads
Pyrodex or Tripple seven is the way to go.
Conicals do give you more foot pounds of energy, but that is marginal. Loading is difficult ( with fat fingers ) accuracy is fair as compared to tight fitting round balls.
Round balls in a 5-7" barrel shoot hard and FAST, keeping bullet drop to a minimum out to twenty five yards.
Just wait until you get to a good and safe sand pit where you can shoot at various ranges, you will be amazed what your .36 cal. percussion revolver can do.
As said before, if you are using the Pyodex or Tripple 7 powder it is absolutely imperative that you clean immediately after shooting. The same with real black powder. But synthetic powders are very corrosive.
Fred
 

Boston Bill

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I am not a fan of Pyrodex powder, but have to say that it is great in a cap & ball revolver.
You can shoot all day long and the cylinder and action will not seize up, and the accuracy is every bit as good as real black powder.
You owe it to yourself to try both, and see which gives you best results.
I have greased the cylinder pins on my revolvers and still cylinder rotation became difficult after two or three reloads
Pyrodex or Tripple seven is the way to go.
Conicals do give you more foot pounds of energy, but that is marginal. Loading is difficult ( with fat fingers ) accuracy is fair as compared to tight fitting round balls.
Round balls in a 5-7" barrel shoot hard and FAST, keeping bullet drop to a minimum out to twenty five yards.
Just wait until you get to a good and safe sand pit where you can shoot at various ranges, you will be amazed what your .36 cal. percussion revolver can do.
As said before, if you are using the Pyodex or Tripple 7 powder it is absolutely imperative that you clean immediately after shooting. The same with real black powder. But synthetic powders are very corrosive.
Fred
I use Pyrodex and Bore Butter and do not find it at all corrosive. I had a 44 I forgot to clean for like a year and no sign or rust. I believe that would be due to the Bore Butter. I love that yellow stuff.
 

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