Author Topic: Load longevity.  (Read 1716 times)

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Offline HAWKEN50

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Load longevity.
« on: October 01, 2016, 06:54:20 PM »
Regarding how long a cap and ball can be left loaded From an article i found in an old arms magazine about Robert E Lee.....
The Confederate general carried an 1851 Colt Navy and the gun almost immediately made the “commentaries” (i.e. print news) after the war as an object of public fascination. According to Flayderman’s Guide To Antique American Firearms, when the gun was shot in 1870 after the General’s death, every chamber fired as was, last loaded during the middle of the War seven years prior.
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Offline Hawg

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Re: Load longevity.
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2016, 09:02:04 AM »
As long as the chambers are clean and dry when you load it and no water gets into it it would last for at least 1000 years or more. If water gets to it you could dry it out and still use it. They've taken powder from cannons that have been submerged for 400 years and dried it out and it still burned.
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Offline DD4lifeusmc

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Re: Load longevity.
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2016, 12:34:14 PM »
I have left revolvers loaded as long as two years ( I know I know I should shoot more often)  and other than
a dud cap now and then they have gone boom.  The cap could of been a dud on day one.

I keep planning to shoot more often, just life keeps getting in the way.
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Offline Omnivore

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Re: Load longevity.
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2016, 04:10:28 PM »
It's little different than storing metal cartridges for years.  Either way the powder is encased in metal.  Either way, if kept dry they'll fire and if not they won't.  The little bitty flash hole in the the nipple can be overlooked, and a bit of oil left in there can render the cap inoperable when the cap has been left on the nipple for some time.  Since we don't typically oil our metal cartridge cases this isn't a problem.  Otherwise the cap and ball cylinder is essentially a "metal cartridge" that has five or six chambers.

All that being said, having a lubed wad on the powder for days and weeks will degrade the powder, more or less depending on temperature and the nature of the lube.

I left GF1 lube pills in direct contact with the powder for well over a year and they all fired fine.  Although the velocities were more erratic, they fired with good power.  Average velocity measured higher than fresh loads of the same identical specs, but the fresh loads were much more consistent.

You lose up to about a hundred feet per second when lubing under the bullet they way I do, but the benefit is that you can keep shooting all day without fouling up the gun.

Definitely, if you want to keep your gun loaded for extended periods and rely on it to fire, keep any lube entirely away from the powder, make certain the nipples are cleared out thoroughly before loading, and that they're free of oil or grease even on the outside where the cap slips over.

Just as with some metal cartridges that have lacquer sealed primer pockets and case mouths, I suppose one could lacquer seal the percussion caps onto the nipples (though that might be tricky) and even run a bead down around the ball in the chamber, but test, test, test before you trust it.  If you really need a gun that fires no matter what, it's probably a good idea to fire off old loads and then reload periodically anyway, and so for convenience a modern smokeless cartridge gun is still the best choice as a reliable tool.
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Offline Cross Plains Drifter

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Re: Load longevity.
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2016, 05:15:11 PM »
while realizing this convo is re: BP (which even a well plugged steerhorn will keep good for use for years)
i'll add that i'm STILL occasionally loading from a 30+ yr old bottle of Pyrodex, which burns just fine, if not even faster than when new.
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