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The most efficient way to load is with a cylinder loader.
Powder Inc. Cylinder Loader– $75.00 +$12.35 shipping (07-15). Adjustable for all popular C & B revolvers, it cuts loading time in half, makes it easy to wipe off cylinder, recoil shield, and hammer, and minimizes errors. (Note this is a photo taken several years ago. For some time the the vertical rod has been welded to the base.)
Tower of Powder Cylinder Loader– from Dick Dastardly, Biglube.com, $99 +$12 S&H, Stainless Steel.
See also The Cowboy Chronicle, May 2014, P. 44 Cylinder Loading Stands.
Before putting powder into chambers– With Stainless Steel cylinders, hold cylinder up to light. If you didn’t oil nipples or chambers and you can see through all 6 nipples, you don’t need to “pop caps” before loading unless you want to annoy smokeless shooters. It really freaks some people out, so why not? If you oiled the cylinders, you will need to “pop caps” to burn it off.
Using a Cylinder Loader:
Use your Frontiersman Screwknife (or a dowel, etc.) to mark last filled chamber, starting with the empty chamber.
Put powder in next chamber.
APP and 777 make their own lube, so lubed wad not needed, but dry or lubed wad over light charges seals chamber and makes ignition more positive. I use .450 x ¼” Circle Fly shotgun wads (1/2” thick wads cut in half.) With Wholly Black and Pyrodex a lubed wad such as a Wonder Wad is recommended between powder and ball. If you’re using wads, insert and ram them.
Then insert balls into chambers, center rammer over balls. Ram each ball into cylinder.
Insert cylinder into frame. Turn locking screw to lock base pin. Hammer down, holster
The best cap seater is a unicorn horn. It has many functions.
Redwing Trading Co. makes a special Frontiersman Screwknife with a Unicorn Horn handle.
Use your Frontiersman Screwknife to check for balls in each chamber. Sometimes you’ll forget your balls. It can be very embarrassing.
Capping constitutes loading in SASS. It must be done at the loading table. Use the snail capper and Remington #10 caps. Keep your fingers BEHIND the front of the cylinder. MUZZLE DIRECTION!
Seat with unicorn horn. You may use period correct ¼” dowel or period correct Bic pen. Don’t use anything metallic. Don’t use your thumb, or the hammer (Duh!)
If you have to push hard the caps are too small. If you have to squeeze them, they’re too big.
After the buzzer sounds:
Shoot fast. Don’t miss. In other words, do as I say, not as I do.
At the unloading table:
Remove spent caps at unloading table. Spinning the cylinder helps throw some off. Show the unloading table monitor your naked nipples–all 12! There should be no live caps, and no spent caps when you’re done.
After the stage, at your gun cart (near the unloading table and pointed at the berm if possible):
Wipe off front of cylinder with shop towel sprayed with Windex or Windex wipes. Windex wipes are perfect for this, and, of course, they’re historically correct. Rub crud off nipples. Wipe crud off hammer and hammer slot. Recharge. MUZZLE DIRECTION!
Light Loads with Ruger Old Armies
The cylinder is designed for hunting — 50 gr. A stock ram only pushes the ball far enough to clear the front of the cylinder.
Four Ways to load light:
1. Double Ram. Ram once normally. Insert .357 158 gr. RNL bullet between ram and ball and use it as a spacer to push the ball further down. Bullet drops out when done.
2. Filler/Wads— Insert powder as normal. Fill chamber with yellow corn meal from French’s Mustard squeeze bottle or equivalent. (Combustible–adds to smoke). Or use 3/8” or 1/2” thick fiber wads (Circle Fly). Insert ball. Ram. Makes for an accurate, mild load (ball close to forcing cone).
3. Extended rams—SliXRam drop in replacement of stock ram, but longer. It will work with loads as light as 23 gr. without a wad. Adding a wad will allow lighter loads .
Several people have made extended and even adjustable rams over the years. Top is stock. Middle is an extended one by Rowdy Yates at Lee's Gunsmithing. The bottom is a one-of-a-kind adjustable ram by the late Hawkeye Pierce. I'll pass on his advice. If you're going to make one, start with a blued ram. The stainless ones are very hard.
4. (Photo 33) And the best method is a Cylinder Loading Stand– Properly adjusted can load very light loads. (Very used Powder Inc. Cylinder Loading Stand on wood base with a Dixie Gun Works revolver stand, Powder flask holder (PVC), and 10-hole ball holder. The 10-hole ball holder is a piece of half-inch Baltic Birch Plywood. The holes were made with a Chinese Checker bit on a drill press. Base is clipped onto a WalMart folding computer table with reinforcing on the legs and cross brace. Fits on gun cart)
Clean up—Percussion Revolvers
(See also Cleaning Ruger Old Armies For Dummies) You need a cleaner that’s mostly water, detergent, and slightly acidic, with a drying agent. I use Windex Multisurface with Vinegar.
Get a bore snake for each caliber. Spray Windex down bore. Spray Windex on front of snake, lubricant on back. Make one pass from chamber to muzzle. This usually works. Sometimes more will be needed.
Remove grips. Remove cylinder. Spray with Windex.
Cap residue is hardest to clean off recoil shield, hammer slot, and nipples. Spray these areas (Windex). Brush.
Use Q-tips on hammer slot. Spray cylinder, chambers, and nipples. Use compressed air to dry and to clean out nipples.
—the gun’s nipples! (gun cleaning brush. Stainless steel bristles okay on Stainless Steel gun).
The best commercially available nipple wrench is available from The Possible Shop . It features a ratcheting handle and fits Treso & SliX-Shot Nipples precisely. It is good for removing hard to remove nipples.
If you don’t want to remove the nipples every time you clean your guns, when nipples are clean on the outside, use nipple wrench to loosen 180°, exposing “dirty” side. Spray (Windex). Brush nipples again, getting this side. When both sides are clean, tighten nipples. (Apply Never Seize to threads of nipples before first firing and whenever removed) at least 4 times a year.
To really clean extra dirty nipples, a special jig is needed, available from Captain Baylor’s Emporium for only $250—or you can use 12-28 nut in vise, a stainless brush, and elbow grease.
Spray hammer spring from both directions (Windex)
Use High-pressure air after water spray if available.
Lubricate gun. Spray compressed air into chamber from chamber end. Look through chambers. If you can see light through the nipples, they’re clean. Leave nipples dry. Don’t use oil on stainless steel cylinders. You may have to oil blued cylinders. Reassemble.
Use a drop of Blue Loctite on grip screw. Do not over-tighten.
In wet climate dry everything on blued guns, frame, cylinder, barrel (hair dryer, compressed air, etc.), or use WD 40 if you can’t dry. Lubricate: (Ballistol, Break Free CLP, Rem-Oil, and Hornady One Shot Cleaner and Dry Lube all work with subs). Ballistol works best with wholly black.
Detail strip before major matches to get gunk out of areas you can’t get to in routine cleaning.
Rifles and shotguns are covered in Black Powder For Dummies
This ain't brain surgery