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Walker replica

50-70RB50-70RB Member Posts: 706 ✭✭✭
I did a search of Walker replica questions and could not find one that addressed my question. I have a CVA Walker replica revolver. I am wondering if anyone has experience in shooting conical bullets in them vs. just round balls. If so, what diameter (.454?, etc.), powder charge, any articles, references I could use? Etc.? Any and all will be appreciated. Thank you very much.


  • stegsteg Member Posts: 871 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    First, you must use pure lead to make your bullets. Scrap lead from tire weights, pipe, roofing, etc. are really lead alloys that are much harder than pure lead and will wear out the rifling out of your barrel in quick order. Pure lead is what was originally used in percussion period guns. Second, you should use a .454 mold. When ramming down the bullet into the cylinder, it should leave a ring of shaved off lead on the face of the cylinder. Third, use a round ball. A round ball will give you greater accuracy and range. It is hard to ram a conical projectile accurately into a cylinder. The point will end up off center and the projectile will tend to wobble when it leaves the muzzle. In olden times when paper cartridges were common, the paper and powder held the conical in place during ramming. Lastly, the optimal powder charge for the walker varies with the individual gun. I would suggest a charge of between 40 and 50 grains of FFG Black Powder.
    Before loading your Walker, cap each of the cylinders and fire the gun to clear any grease, etc. from each cylinder cavity. Leave the spent caps on the nipples during loading. This will keep any powder from leaking out of the nipples during loading. This is important because leaked loose powder can cause all of the cylinders to fire at the same time (called a chain fire) which is not very pleasant!Do not cap your gun with new caps while loading. It is too dangerous. Use spent (fired) caps.
    I would start with 40 grains with 10 grains of corn meal as a filler on top to start with. Then, increase the ratio of black powder to cornmeal until you get to 50 grains of BP. I don't recommend a larger charge than that because the recoil of that large a charge is something you don't want to experience in your hand!
    I also strongly recommend the use of wonderwads between the powder and projectile and the use of wonderlube on top of the projectile instead of the usual lard or bearing grease. It is less messy.
    I hope all of this is helpful.
  • 50-70RB50-70RB Member Posts: 706 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    A big thank you for responding steg. I already do what you've suggested but I always use 3F. I have a .454 mold that throws a 300 grain bullet with 4 grease grooves. I'm going to shorten some to two grease grooves and load them. I should be able to get them as concentric with a cylinder as a person can do at the muzzle of any other arm when loading maxi-balls, sabots, etc. Should be interesting. I'll start with 40 grains and have a kinda .44-40 or .45 Colt performance from a cap and ball gun. I'll be doing alot of chronographing. I know pressures will be higher than with a ball as a ball has less bearing surface so 40 grains will probably be where I stop too, and work down instead of up. Thnks again.
  • GatofeoGatofeo Member Posts: 230 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Hard lead will wear out the steel barrel?
    The paper tube attached to the conical kept it straight for ramming?
    Well, I hasten to disagree.

    The reason soft lead is used is because black powder gives its best accuracy, and no or minimal leading, with soft lead. Soft lead is also easier to ram into the chamber, as opposed to a hard-lead projectile (ball or conical).
    I've experimented with hard alloys in cap and ball revolvers. Not only is it more difficult to ram, thus straining the rammer and its parts, but leading was bad.
    For whatever reason, hard cast bullets cause leading when used with black powder.

    The old, original conical bullets (and those made today, intended for cap and ball revolvers) have a reduced-diameter heel on them. This heel goes into the chamber, while the larger diameter of the conical bullet rests on the edges of the chamber. This is what aids alignment, not the paper cartridge.

    I've found best accuracy with balls of slightly larger diameter. For the .44s, this means .454 or .457 inch; for the .36s this means .380 inch balls. Ruger recommends .457 for its Old Army.

    Balls are almost always more accurate than conical bullets. The only exception I've found is Lee's design. In my Remington .44 that particular conical bullet is as accurate as a ball, probably because it not only has a heel to help alignment, but the next bearing surface up from the heel is also slightly smaller than the main bearing ring, which is oversized. This helps seat the bullet straight.
    I don't know if anyone sells the Lee bullet as cast, but Lee sells the mould. I cast my own of very soft lead. It drops from the mould at about 200 grains.

    Trying to seat a bullet straight, that lacks this reduced diameter heel, is an exercise in frustration. The bullet is nearly impossible to get seated straight; it wants to tip one way or the other.
    If I were you, I'd avoid trying it. Instead, buy some conical bullets made with the heel. Dixie Gun Works is a good start, as it offers modern and vintage designs.

    The conical bullet for your Walker should have a heel slightly smaller than the chamber mouth diameter, and the largest part of the bullet should be about .454 to .460 inch. This will ensure a tight seal of the bullet when it's rammed, mostly to keep the bullet from shifting during recoil.

    Colt recommended the following, more than 125 years ago:
    1 dram = 27.3 grains (grs.)
    .44 Dragoon: 1-1/2 drams of black powder (41 grs.) and a round bullet of 48 to the pound (about 146 grs, which calculates at about .46 caliber) or a conical bullet of 32 to the pound (about 219 grains).

    I can't find a contemporary recommendation for powder charge and conical bullet size for your Walker. I suspect that the powder flask was set to fill the chamber nearly full, leaving just enough room for a ball or conical bullet. No one probably bothered to weigh what that setting produced.

    Steg's suggestion to start with 40 grains of FFFG black powder, and some filler, is good.

    Certainly, fire some caps on your empty revolver to clear the nipples of oil or dust, but no need to leave the spent caps on the nipples. If you experience powder leaking through the holes in your nipples, during charging, then the hole is too large and it's time to change nipples.
    The hole in the nipple must be small, to prevent hot gases from squirting back through it and possibly scorching the shooter's face or hand. If enough pressure squirts back, it can actually cock the hammer!
    Only a very tiny hole should be visible through the cone of the nipple, about the diameter of a pin or smaller.

    Multiple ignition (chain fire) most likely originates at the rear of the cylinder, but not from powder leaking through the nipples (unless you need new, proper nipples).
    It is most likely caused by loose caps that fall off during handling, or are blown off from recoil. To prevent this, use caps that fit the nipple snugly (No. 11 size is probably what the Walker requires, though the originals and some early reproductions used No. 12 caps, which are no longer made).
    If the cap is a snug fit on the nipple, that will work. However, it's also a good idea to pinch the cap into an elliptical shape so it clings to the nipple under tension. This will help keep the cap on the nipple.

    I suggest you use a felt wad soaked in lard, tallow, Crisco or tallow hardened with beeswax or even straight beeswax, between the ball and powder. Such lubricated wads are easier and cleaner to use than grease over the ball, and will help reduce fouling in the bore.
    If you use a greased wad twixt ball and powder, there is no need to put lubricant over the ball.
    Well, almost never a need. I live in the remote Utah desert where temperatures can get hot and humidity very low. On a few occasions, shooting under such conditions, I've had to add a natural grease over the ball even though I used a greased wad under it, just to keep fouling soft.
    Most of the time, however, this much lubricant is not needed.

    Avoid any petroleum-based greases or oils in your revolver. Petroleum-based products (WD-40, bearing grease, STP, Break-Free CLP, etc.) create a hard, tarry fouling when fired with black powder. Years ago a chemist told me that it was the hydrocarbons that caused this. Whatever the cause, it's real. Use natural animal or plant oils and greases. I use olive oil to keep my revolvers from rusting and it works just fine.

    Hope the above clarifies a few things for you.
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