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- Last updated: 14/12/2016
Those who have experienced simultaneous ignition of more than one chamber with a percussion revolver will know that, although it may not be too dangerous if it is only two or three (all six at once could be a little naughty!), it is nevertheless a bit disconcerting to say the least. Chain fires will almost always occur from the front of the cylinder when a flash from the detonated charge enters the adjacent chamber(s) and reaches the powder past a badly fitting ball. Although Colt in their original loading instructions discounted the need for any kind of lubrication, I think most modern black powder revolver shooters will use some form of sealant, not only to prevent the above mishap but also to keep the fouling soft.
The first method of lubricating/sealing that I used was to place a dollop of some kind of grease over the top of the ball. Using a lollipop stick as an applicator this is quite successful but can be a little messy. Next came the lubricated felt wads placed between the powder and ball. Supplied by most gun shops, these are cleaner and quicker to use than loose grease, but are now becoming a little on the expensive side.
Pills or Cookies
Homemade grease cookies, or lube pills, are less messy than the grease and as convenient to use as the wads, with the added bonus that they are extremely cheap to produce. Using a combination of beeswax (or old candles) and lard you will need to experiment to get the right consistency. Too soft and they are almost as messy as the grease. Too hard and they are difficult to cut out. I have tried two methods of making these cookies. Firstly I used a length of aluminium tube as near as possible to the diameter of the ball into which I poured the melted mixture, first blocking one end with a lead bullet. When the wax is set tap the bullet free and you can push it out – it looks like a candle without the wick – and slice it to the required thickness. If your mixture is a little on the hard side you may have to warm the tube with a blow torch to push the stick out.
Another way to make these pills is to pour the melted liquid into a flat dish or tray until you have the thickness you need. Once set it can be cut out using a punch. Making them a little deeper than the felt wads ensures that they expand to fill the chamber when the ball is rammed home. The surplus wax left in the dish is simply melted back down for the next batch. After the initial outlay to buy the pan, dish or tray and the punch (PLEASE make sure you have permission before you use your wife’s kitchen equipment!), you can manufacture hundreds of these for pennies and they work just fine.