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Preparing the revolver for loading
Before loading the revolver for the first time since it was last cleaned it is important to cap off. This involves putting a percussion cap on to each nipple and firing it, this clears the nipple hole of any bits or oil that may be in them. Not doing this is a good way to ensure a misfire and possibly pulling the projectiles back out of the chambers with a bullet puller.
You have been warned.
How to load a black powder revolver
1) Pull the hammer back to half cock, catch hold of the loading lever under the barrel and rotate. This will lower the ram in to one of the cylinder holes and give you an index point. From now on we will load the hole closest to the ram by the loading gate. This is the next chamber that will come under the ram if we turn the cylinder clockwise.
2) Using either a pre-measured load of black powder from a phial or throwing a charge from a powder flask and pouring it in to the chamber.
3) If you are using pre-lubricated felt wads this goes in next; if you are using grease or Vaseline go straight on to step 4.
4) Put the projectile in the chamber; if you are using round ball put the spot where the lead was poured in to the mould up and in the centre.
5) Lift the loading lever, rotate the cylinder until the projectile is under the ram, then lower the ram and push the projectile down in to the chamber on top of the powder. This should scrape a small amount of lead off the projectile; if a large amount comes off or it is difficult to push it in the chamber then you are probably using the wrong size.
6) Leave the ram on top of the projectile and repeat the above until all the chambers are loaded.
7) If you have not used lubricated felt wads you now need to fill the chambers with Grease or Vaseline.
8) Now place a percussion cap on each of the nipples.
9) Ensuring that the powder and percussion caps are either covered or are out of the way the revolver is now ready to fire.
The lubricated wads, grease or Vaseline perform 2 functions. (1) They keep the fouling soft thus improving the accuracy of the barrel; it also makes it easier to clean. (2) stops a chain fire where the firing of one chamber causes the others to fire due to the flame going past the projectile and igniting the powder behind.
What to do when things go wrong
Problem. You pull the trigger, the gun fires and the percussion caps fall off the other chambers.
Solution. This usually cures itself as the nipples become dirty, however until this happens squeeze the percussion cap between your finger and thumb to make it slightly oval, it will now fit without falling off .
Problem. You pull the trigger, the percussion cap does not go off.
Solution. There are several possible causes. The percussion cap was not seated properly. Rotate the chamber under the hammer and try again. A fired percussion cap has fallen off the nipple and is wedged between the hammer and the frame; remove and try again. You have a non exploding percussion cap; fortunately manufacturers do not make too many of these, so swap it for one that does go off.
Problem. You pull the trigger, the percussion cap fires but the main charge does not.
Solution. Replace the cap and try again, hopefully it will go off, if not try clearing the nipple hole with a thin piece of wire (you did remember to pack it), put a new cap on and try again. Still no luck, remove cylinder from the gun, remove nipple and clean, check there is powder in the chamber, reassemble and try again. If it hasn't gone off now you must have contaminated the powder with water or oil and it is not going to burn, so the chamber needs to be unloaded; there are two ways of doing this, from the front with a bullet puller or by removing the nipple, digging out the powder and pushing the projectile out
Problem. You try to cock the hammer or rotate the cylinder but it jams.
Solution. Chances are that one of the fired percussion caps has got caught between the cylinder and the frame: disassemble the gun to clear the jam. This can also happen if you have not pushed the projectile below the lip of the chamber whilst loading. Disassemble to clear jam and remove offending projectile.