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Discussion in 'Handguns' started by BIGBEAR, Jun 14, 2019.
Has any one experienced a chain fire , and what do you think caused it ?
In over thirty years using C&B revolvers I've never had a chain fire but I've seen a couple. The shooters were lucky, no injuries. They used a tight fitting ball over a lubed felt wad. No way a spark should have been able to get to the powder through the chamber mouth. The only conclusion was improperly fitting caps. I always make sure the caps are a snug fit.
Or maybe I've just been lucky.
I think that this was the mother of all chain fire threads on this forum.--->>> https://www.muzzleloadingforum.com/threads/first-chainfire.10394/
Some folks on that thread posted about their chain fire experiences and then they even tried to investigate some of the reasons why they occur.
By the end, some interesting experiments took place.
Use projectile. 015-.020 larger diameter.
Revolvers typically use #10 primers. Push them on snug.
Chain fire can happen with too small diameter projectile but usually too loose primer that causes hot gas to get in it.
If chain fire consistant on two chambers no matter what suspect crack in cylinder wall.
When black powder is burning it turns into a liquefied conglomerate of substances that have mass, that flow under pressure and create their own heat and expansion. It flows into every available path until it has spent itself.
You give it a path by the ball (imagine expecting a malleable metal seated valve to never leak) or by a cap into a nipple (yah think that connection would hold water?) and whoopee-do, you get a chamber ignition. Or two or three.
OK, everybody go argue over whether it's by the ball or by the cap (again) based upon their particular lack of observing what others already have.
I have witnessed several. Always due to loose caps (#11 on#10 nipples, usually European made guns), or missing caps, when recoil shakes a cap or two off, or when some dumbass decides to load multiple cylinders, but caps them one at a time. I was at a shoot once where the range officer allowed folks to load all, but would only allow one cap at a time, because he was concerned with people moving from one station to the next with loaded guns. It took a bit of persuasion to convince him of the error of his ways. I have never seen a pistol damaged by a chain fire; they are designed so all cylinders have a way out. In many cases, the shooter is unaware that it has taken place until he lines up for the next shot
I can recall having a chain fire in a Remington the first time I ever loaded one back in 1972, no lube in front of the balls, I would fire a shot, hand it to Dad, he would just get a crack of a cap, I would shoot the next chamber and Dad would get a crack of a cap only, till I realised it was firing both chamber off at the same time. I have for years now used greased felt wads under the ball and never had a repeat experience. I have seen some who have the opinion that chain fires come from the caps setting each other off, I suppose that is possible to.
My chain fires were due to misshapen and somewhat under sized balls. It didn't help that I needed 0.380" balls and I was sold the approximate equivalent buckshot. It was a long time ago and neither the gun store or I knew very much about cap and ball revolvers.
Chain fires can come from any path that the fluidized burning mass of black powder finds.
Chain fires can come from any path that the fluidized burning mass of black powder finds.
Chain fires come from poor fitting caps on nipples.
I have fortunately had only experienced two chain fires since I started shooting a bp revolver, the first was inmo clearly my fault because I was using a damaged round ball, shouldn't do that.
The second I don't feel I caused, after the first I became more safety conscious about how I load the chambers, I shoot a repro pietta 1860 with 454 rb, 30 grains pyrodex and a lubed wad between ball and powder.
I use Remington #10 caps and seat the caps using a wooden dowel.
I had fired a couple of chambers when suddenly the next shot didn't sound the same and kicked harder than the previous shots. I found that the next shot in line at the ten o'clock position detonated along with the one in the barrel.
Needless to say I was quite surprised.
I shot percussion revolvers for many years. Many hundreds of rounds. I had two chain fires. Both times I did not put grease over the balls. In the 80's I started using a greased disc over the powder and never had a chain fire loaded that way. Quite often in the 70's had to settle for over sized caps. I just pinched them and used them.
I don't know if someone has already mentioned this but, I wonder if it could be possible, that the heat generated in the chamber being intentionally fired, could be enough to detonate the chamber next to it?
To the best of my knowledge, I haven't heard of a chain fire in a cartridge revolver, perhaps, the added brass helps prevent a chain fire.
I once heard it said, that it's not the fire of the spark that causes detonation, but it's the heat generated by the spark; this was at the time in reference to how a flintlock spark sets off the charge in the barrel.
As a 4 or 5 year old I started watching my dad fire his Colts and Remingtons many times with his Navy buddy. They always greased the chamber mouths.
That is how I started and to date have never had a chain fire.
I also push the cap on as tight as I can.
I have never seen a chain fire but have read enough about them to be careful loading.
I had a few chain fires with my Remingtons. A few extra pops and extra recoil is all it amounts to. I discarded the original factory nipples and replaced them with new stainless steel ones from Track of the Wolf. That ended the chain fires. I load with a greased wad under the ball and no grease on top.
My one and only chain fire was the first time I tried fake powder. (777) It took the loading lever latch off the barrel. I don't use grease over the balls, or shave a ring of lead. I do use a wad under the ball. I shot that pistol for 20 years without a chain fire, until the day I tried 777. Ponder on that!
I've had two chain fires on a Belgian made Centennial 1960 Army .44 from 1963, Serial # 28XX, 1st Variation, 2nd Sub Variation.
I bought the gun new in 1963 from Dixie Gun Works in Union City, Tennessee. I had probably fired a hundred rounds or so through it before it had a chain fire on the second round, firing the remaining five simultaneously. Barrel and ram were unharmed. I bought a replacement cylinder through Dixie. The replacement cylinder chain fired all six on the first round, shearing the wedge in two, blowing the barrel and ram assembly about 20 meters in front of the gun, and tearing the latch stud loose from the barrel in the process (I was using either Crisco or wheel bearing grease as a chamber sealant - I don't remember which - but the two chain fire events seem to have been at the caps, not the cylinder face.). This would have been about late 1963 or early 1964. After the second failure, the gun sat on a shelf for a number of years before I bought a new Uberti wedge and lug from Dixie (Union City is about an hour's drive from me, so is convenient for in store shopping). Both were way too small to be fitted, so it has been about 55 years since the gun last functioned. I would still like to repair it if I can ever find a suitable wedge and lug that I can fit to it. But truth to tell, I have lost some confidence in it even though the timing and action are still smooth and even quite superb - so, in the future I will probably only fire it as a single shot
Do you have any thoughts about where I might find a wedge and lug suitable for fitting? The base of the lug dovetail measures about 0.444 inches fore to aft. The Uberti wedge that Dixie provided measures about 0.514 inches at the wide end, though it should probably be closer to 0.625-0.70 inches. With big enough parts as a starting point, I can do the fitting and smithing myself.
Try a machine shop and have one built.
Good suggestion. Or build them myself. I don't have the measurements required to duplicate the the stud and wedge, but the Belgian Centaures (Centennial) had deliberate dimensional differences from Colt built in anyway (so they couldn't be used as the basis for fakes), so further departures from original won't hurt anything.
I think the consensus is that Chain Fires are caused by loose fitting caps?
I really don't think original period users of Percussion revolvers greased chamber mouths or used wads. I guess they just hoped for the best or if it chain fired , it chain fired. I just feel chain fires are an inherent evolutionary "quirk" of percussion revolvers that we can reduce with tight caps and wads under the balls.
The Colt revolving rifle was known for constantly chain firing and there wasn't much you could do about it.
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