Rifles Misc All rifles not covered elsewhere!

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Old 12-28-2011, 10:14   #1
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Question Black powder, cap and ball for home defense or SHTF??

I was watching a video on Youtube in the shtf/WOL section just for the heck of it, and there was this guy telling people what type of weapon they need, and he said that obviously newer cartridge guns would be better, but he recommended cap and ball muskets if you dont have a cartridge gun.

Now, it's just common sense that something is better than nothing, but I wonder how well some of the reproduction black powder revolvers would fare in a desperate situation like that?

If you do the math, you'll find that people depended on black powder guns for longer than they have with cartridge guns. Cartridge guns have only been around for about 140 years, and for the first 20 of those years, some people still used black powder weapons. Black powder weapons were used by people for hundreds of years for hunting, protection, war, etc. They kept people alive when they lived on the frontiers and there were no convenience stores or grocers around, and people had to grow or hunt what they ate, or starve!

Anyway, I was looking at a few cap and ball revolvers, like the Pietta 1851 Confederate Navy short barrel revolver, which is .44 caliber, and can be quickly reloaded if you have spare cylinders at the ready, and the cost of that pistol is only $130, and you can get as many spare cylinders as you want.

I was also looking at the awesome, but much more expensive reproduction Confederate army Lematt pistol. The confederate officers couldn't get Colts/Remingtons, etc. during the war, so they looked elsewhere, and I think the inability to buy other brands of pistols actually ended up being a benefit, because they found and bought Lematts. This pistol holds 8 .44 caliber balls, not 5 or 6 like others, but what's really awesome about the Lematt, is that under the barrel is another, wider barrel that houses a 20 gauge shotgun load! We all know how effective a sawed off shotgun can be as a defensive weapon from closer ranges, and the Lematt's shotgun barrel is VERY short! Hard to miss with that one! Plus, you can buy extra cylinders for quick reloads too.

So, I dont really know how comparable the ballistics of round lead balls are vs. modern bullets, but they obviously got the job done for a long while. Plus, I believe you can buy conical bullets for repro cap and ball guns.

I haven't mentioned black powder rifles yet, because they only hold one shot, unless it's a rifle with a revolving cylinder. The guy I mentioned on the Youtube video was actually speaking of muskets, but you'd only have one shot before you were over-run I guess....... I'm mainly speaking of black powder revolvers for closer range defense, if you dont have access or money for a cartridge pistol, because you can buy them for $130........

If you notice, the revolvers I pointed out are reproduction Confederate guns, and that's no cooincidence....... I'm from NC originally!

Again, obviously modern guns would be better, so no one needs to point that out, but what do you think of using multi shot black powder revolvers with extra pre-loaded cylinders for home defense or the much less likely SHTF or WOL?
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Old 12-28-2011, 11:03   #2
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If I was to use a cap and ball revolver for defense I'd go with the Remington because the cylinder can be swapped with out using tools, just drop the loading lever, pull the base pin, swap cylinders, push base pin back in and raise the lever. All the others you mentioned need a screwdriver to remove a wedge followed by pulling the barrel off before swapping the cylinder. Watch the movie Pale Rider and in the gunfight towards the end you can see the Remington cylinder swap being done with a cartridge conversion gun. Much easier than a Colt type.
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Old 01-02-2012, 08:09   #3
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Old 01-02-2012, 12:28   #4
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I wouldn't feel unarmed with a BP revolver.

Back in the late 70's I bought a Ruger old army cap and ball revolver. It was very accurate with a moderate load of black powder. At 75 yards I could keep them in a picnic size paper plate off a sand bag. I don't recall what the charge I used was but I remember the groups really opened up when I started getting near max loads. I took a good size six point buck one year with that gun and that same medium load. I don't see any reason it wouldn't work just as good for defense.

Edited to add: If I were going to get a BP rifle I would get one of the newer inline rifles. I have never used one, but I know some guys that hunt exclusively with BP. They tell me the inline rifles are more accurate than a traditional BP rifle and that you can scope the inline rifles.
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Old 01-02-2012, 14:49   #5
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I used to have a Ruger Old Army too back in the early '80s. Wish I'd kept it, like you I found it accurate and reliable. I usually loaded 40gr. of Pyrodex P if I remember right behind a .457 round ball, topped with grease. That soft lead ball really flattens out and expands while staying together when it hits. The old Colt Dragoon was known for it's stopping power with an identicle load. Another possibility for a blackpowder defensive rifle is one of the Remington style revolving rifles being sold that way you'd have multiple shots and could still do the cylinder swap. It would be lower power than a single shot hunting style rifle but the multi shot capability would be nice.
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Old 01-03-2012, 07:38   #6
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Depends how deep the "S" is after it hits the fan and how far down the available technology goes.

The advantage to blackpowder is that one can make it from naturally occurring materials. The caps are more of a challenge.

Hence a flintlock musket with a mold for hollowbase slugs might make sense.

Otherwise, go with a currently popular caliber and a firearm you don't mind losing and both the current-times defense and the most likely SHTF scenarios are covered.
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:29   #7
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Old 01-03-2012, 16:33   #8
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Larry, I to wish I had kept my Old Army. I let a relative talk me out of it.

To the OP, As far as SHTF or whatever you call it. I don't buy off or believe in all that stuff. However I do think a cap and ball revolver could be used for personal defense. There are better choices but I wouldn't feel unarmed with a Old Army in my hand.
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Old 01-04-2012, 17:56   #9
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Buy a modern handgun before you go use a ball and cap pistol for a SHTF situation.

You should unload, clean and load one of those EVERY DAY for it to be reliable. Back in the old west, many gunfighters did this. They were afraid the temperature change over night would make their powder in the cylinder damp.

As far as a black powder rifle. A modern inline muzzleloader with a 209 primer is like a centerfire rifle. You can shoot up to 300 yards accurately against game with one.

Again buy a modern centerfire rifle before you put your life on a muzzleloader.
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:20   #10
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Originally Posted by Mac4570 View Post
Larry, I to wish I had kept my Old Army. I let a relative talk me out of it.

To the OP, As far as SHTF or whatever you call it. I don't buy off or believe in all that stuff. However I do think a cap and ball revolver could be used for personal defense. There are better choices but I wouldn't feel unarmed with a Old Army in my hand.

I agree with you that the likelihood of having a SHTF or WOL situation break out in our society is very low. Probably like 1% or less, and I certainly have not stored up any provisions for such a time, but many, many people are, and that market is booming!

I was mainly asking about a home defense situation, but I thought I'd also make it pertain to a SHTF situation, for the point of asking whether blackpowder weapons would hold up over time in a less than ideal situation.
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Old 01-08-2012, 12:39   #11
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I understand. I think a Ruger Old Army cap and ball revolver would hold up over time just as long as a Ruger Blackhawk would. Provided you cleaned it properly and maybe had an extra set of nipples for it.

Again I do think there are better choices for a self defense handgun but a good quality BP revolver could work if that is all you had.
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Old 01-15-2012, 23:01   #12
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Lightbulb Options

Two schools of thought for SHTF 1 Having and early style 1800ish flintlock or later percussion cap rifle, seems great for lost of reasons. a) BP may or may not be hard for you to reproduce now, but will be harder later in SHTF for sure. b) stock piling enough BP or sub might be like have lots of little bombs around. Good? The flintlock has primitive appeal, but also is prone to weather. c) caps are harder to make, but can be stocked up now as well as ammo, powder, lubes, tools etc with your powder stash.
2 Modern ammo is every where and is the most efficient and as easy to use as it ever been. Ammo can be reloaded easy and its cheaper in the right calibers. Prepare and have a good modern weapon for SHTF and have the BP for back up or fun or even SD. Sure they still kill. If you go BP get what you need now and learn everything you can to be proficient. There is a reason the US Army switched to cartridge guns. Check this out to see all you can do with a modern shot gun and all the options and the BP options you could have. Maybe the best of both worlds?
the 21st century long hunter series - YouTube

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Old 01-16-2012, 01:27   #13
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I would think because of it needing caps, it really doesn't have an advantage over a flintlock in a desperate times situation.
If you know what I mean? You still need a cap. Seeing that you need caps, you could just load the components used in a black powder pistol in a cartridge; instead of buying caps, buy primers.


For someone that isn't allowed to own a modern firearm, the cap & ball revolver makes sense for self defense.
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Old 01-18-2012, 03:16   #14
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Old 01-18-2012, 03:18   #15
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Old 01-23-2012, 07:25   #16
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I bought a Uberti third model Dragoon a few months back.

It's a big handful of revolver for sure.

Would I want to defend myself with it?...No..probably not. It would work in a pinch..but a 10/22 rifle..or even a .22 revolver would probably be better.

If it was all I had..or all I could legaly own..that's a different story.
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Old 02-02-2012, 21:40   #17
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Caps are cheap and easy to get and are less problematic vs the flintlocks. I would take either, but the caps were the newer more reliable tech in their day. Hard rocks can be found and are every where and the premade flints are at most good major sporting goods stores.
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Old 02-03-2012, 07:17   #18
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Originally Posted by theboonedockssaint View Post
Caps are cheap and easy to get and are less problematic vs the flintlocks. I would take either, but the caps were the newer more reliable tech in their day. Hard rocks can be found and are every where and the premade flints are at most good major sporting goods stores.
So, the SHTF arsenal would have a semi-auto pistol in one of the most calibers (.45, 40, 9mm?), a bolt in a popular rifle caliber (.308?), a cap & ball revolver, cap & ball rifle in same caliber, and a flintlock rifle.

What about a birdshooter?
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Old 02-03-2012, 07:57   #19
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Originally Posted by JASmith View Post
So, the SHTF arsenal would have a semi-auto pistol in one of the most calibers (.45, 40, 9mm?), a bolt in a popular rifle caliber (.308?), a cap & ball revolver, cap & ball rifle in same caliber, and a flintlock rifle.

What about a birdshooter?
This post doesn't really speak to that; it is mainly questioning black powder revolver possibilities.
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Old 02-03-2012, 08:05   #20
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Originally Posted by Win_94 View Post
This post doesn't really speak to that; it is mainly questioning black powder revolver possibilities.
The cap and ball revolver is a start, and with proper sights and caliber (.44 comes to mind) will do very well for game in a SHTF. It is not, however, even a mediocre choice for home defense.

The general gist of the OP is curiosity about home defense and SHTF with primitive weapons opens the discussion a bit.
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Old 02-03-2012, 08:13   #21
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Originally Posted by JASmith View Post
The cap and ball revolver is a start, and with proper sights and caliber (.44 comes to mind) will do very well for game in a SHTF. It is not, however, even a mediocre choice for home defense.

The general gist of the OP is curiosity about home defense and SHTF with primitive weapons opens the discussion a bit.
If you know this, why the "So, the SHTF arsenal would have... What about a birdshooter?" question?

My response to that question was implying that if you want an answer to that question, start a new thread.
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Old 02-03-2012, 08:34   #22
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The point is that one must think about the environment implied by the various levels of SHTF.

The birdshooter question was a more "in passing" comment intended to expand folks thinking.
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:38   #23
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I shoot Ruger Old Armys, I have had problems using a greased wad over the charge, I think if you stored using a dry wad over the charge, and grease over the ball (or conical round) failures to fire would be greatly reduced. However the conversion cylinders are a complete game changer where reliablity is concerned, I have one and it has never failed to fire. Not every state makes hand gun ownership easy, the advantage to a BP revolver set up is that there is no hassle with registration, and a paper trail. A sword in the thatch so to speak.
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Old 02-03-2012, 16:37   #24
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For a bird shooter use a smoothbore musket as your flinter gun. That way you can load round ball for big game, shot for birds and rabbits or buck and ball for defense. This was the gun of choice for many frontiers men due to it's versatility.
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Old 02-03-2012, 19:29   #25
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Good point!

Rifled slugs give a bit more accuracy than ball, making the flintlock potentially good for large game. These can be cast so resupply is about the same challenge as finding lead.

That and a large bore cap & ball might be all one needs for truly primitive conditions. The only problem is that if replacement caps aren't available, the revolver becomes a back-up or emergency use item with the flintlock the go-to tool.
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