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The Gun Crank

F.Ill.Pietta 1858 Remington Army "Buffalo"
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F.Ill.Pietta 1858 Remington Army "Buffalo"
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Historically Inaccurate, but Practical

As far as I know, nobody in America ever manufactured a brass framed Remington Army with a 12 inch barrel. Only the italians could come up with something so strange, some say. The original Remingtons had steel frames and shorter barrels. If you are looking for a sixgun to carry during a reenactment of any kind this is not a good choice. In fact, you might be teased pretty severely for bringing such a gun.
 
I think the "Buffalo" model, as it is advertised, is a practical gun though. Many people don't like the brass frame versions of cap and ball revolvers. They claim the brass stretches out and the gun shoots loose eventually. This is probably more truth than fiction, but the Remington frame design greatly reduces the chance of this happening. With any brass framed gun hot loads are a bad idea. Still, with the 12 inch barrel this brassy can be quite powerful with a standard powder charge.
 
The barrel not only allows 900FPS + velocities, it also allows greater accuracy due to a longer sight radius and very nice target type ajustable sights. I have personally clocked round balls traveling over 1000 FPS at the muzzle of my Remington. I would not recomend such hot loads for a very long time, but it can be done.
 
Accuracy is another strong suit of this revolver. Shooting a coffee can at 50 yards is no problem. I have yet to do any very serious target shooting, but accuracy from this revolver seems to be on par or better than a good many cheap .22s I have fired.
 
Power wise the cap and ball revolver won't seem very impressive. I prefer a powder charge of about 25 grains of FFFg black powder. I have tried the black powder substitutes before, but I still prefer black in cap and ball revolvers and cap lock rifles. I use cheap cooking lard for a lubricant for my revolver. I charge each chamber and seast a .451 round ball, then smear a little lard in each chamber mouth to keep the fouling soft. Petrolium products like vaseline and axle grease make literally asphalt tar in a black powder barrel. I prefer more natural lubes like crisco, lard, or TC Bore Butter. Caps should be No 10, No 11's can let sparks in around the edges and fire off more than one chamber at a time.
 
One very interesting option offered by Dixie Gun Works for this revolver is a walnut shoulder stock. You need to replace the hammer pivot screw with an extended one to use the stock, but that is an easy 10 second job. Shoulder stocks are a compromise. They allow you to hold much more steadily with a revolver, but they bring the sights closer to the eye, making focousing more difficult. Shoulder stocks are illegal on modern revolvers that take cartridges, unless the barrel is over 16 inches. A short barreled stocked revolver is technically a sawed off rifle. However, if the firearm doesn't take fixed cartridges the government doesn't care.
 
A black powder load in the Buffalo model is about as powerful as a 44-40 standard length revolver. If a person affixed the shoulder stock to their buffalo they would have a dandy small game carbine. The only problem with a stocked revolver, aside from the sighting issue, is that you can not ever place your free hand foreward of the cylinder to support the barrel. Most shoulder stocks come with some kind of extended trigger guard to give your off hand something to hold on to. If you had your hand up on the barrel like a normal rifle the sideflash from the cylinder would burn your arm. Also, if the revolver were to chain fire, more than one chamber goes off, you would more than likely shoot yourself in the hand, and bits of smashed ball would probably also fly off the frame and hit you in the arm. Chain fires claimed the arms of several civil war soldiers who were using revolving rifles before their commanders had their men lower the loading levers and use that as a shooting rest.
 
I was thinking that a perfect use for a stocked black powder revolver would be for a trap line gun. Many shots on trapped game would be relatively close range. A .44 round ball wouldn't mess up too much of a fur. On longer shots, say on the occasional small game animal, the stock would be an advantage. Another plus is that a cap and ball revolver isn't technically a firearm. State regulations may make it like a firearm, but federal laws are still much less restrictive on who can own a cap and ball revolver. For a person who enjoys traditional things, who hunts small game, and who spends some time in the woods just loafing around a .44 black powder carbine makes sense.

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