......March 2006 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
Custom Old Army Ruger - A Packin' Pistol by Sarel

The idea was to come up with a black powder version of a “Packin’ Pistol”.  So what would this be? My view is that it is a revolver that packs useful punch.  It should convincingly stop a rolling pinecone, put a big hole in a clay bank or through a decent splash if water is struck. 

It started out as a 7 ½ inch barrel Old Army with adjustable sights.  The modifications are:

     Cut barrel to 5 ½ inch and use factory short loading lever of their fixed sight model. 
     Remove Warning notices on barrel 
     Re contour front sight ramp, and make new blade for heavy bullet loads. (This item must still be blued – it is tool steel) 
     Scallop left side of “thrust plate”. 
     Reshape bottom of grip frame – removing sharp corner radiuses. 
     Fit St/steel Lanyard ring 
     Thin grip panels down 

It still begs for a “Bisley” type hammer, I’ll get to that……… (click image for larger view)

What loads should such a serious black powder packin’ pistol be fed?  Serious work requires heavy bullets.  A good starting point is the 250gr Lee REAL bullet.  This design tapers to the rear, making it very easy to seat.   The 300gr Lee Improved Minnie also has a tapered body, but has a deep hollow base that makes for a bulky bullet.  The 300gr Minnie does however penetrate impressively in soaked telephone directories! The heavy bullets require a higher front sight blade – at least 0.090" higher. The factory blade will shoot about 9 inches high at 25 meters.

The modified 280gr Lee REAL Flat Nose bullet shown in the photo was made by running a milling cutter into the mold – not making the bullet any longer, just removing the cone shaped nose.  The result is a nice and compact bullet, with a useful nose. 

The powder used is Wano (German), with CCI number 11 caps.  The bullets are pan lubed, using a mixture of 50ml mutton fat/ 50ml Beeswax/15ml Caster oil (made in the microwave).  I have not yet chronographed the loads – simply because I don’t think knowing the velocities are going to make the loads more effective !

My loads are:
Powder Charge Bullet
FFFg 22 grains 2 x 143 gr Balls
FFFg 24 grains 300 gr Lee Improved Minnie
FFFg 26 grains 280 gr REAL Flat Nose
FFFg 30 grains 250 gr REAL
FFFg 35 grains 200 gr Real
FFFg 40 grains 40 gr Ball

These heavy loads should only be used in Ruger Old Army revolvers.

Have fun!

 ...Book Review by Engineer Bill...

"Shooting Buffalo Rifles of the Old West" by Mike Venturino 

2002 MLV Enterprises
Soft cover, 8½ x11, 279 pages
Features: table of contents, text, black and white photos, modern and period, data tables, scaled drawings, bibliography and appendix of resources.

The author, in the introduction, carefully defines exactly what he’s going to consider a buffalo rifle.  Terminology of the buffalo hunter period and modern terminology is compared to eliminate confusion.

Part l (pages 1-69)

The following buffalo rifles are clearly photographed and described in detail:
Trapdoor Springfield
Winchester single shots
Modern reproductions

Part II (pages 70-167)

Descriptions provided of the basic reloading, testing, and results, for all the above mentioned rifles’ different cartridges using cast lead grease groove bullets.  Fourteen pages are devoted to paper patch bullets in .45-70 only.  The author shared his own personal evolution, starting out making smokeless rounds to reproducing the performance of black powder rounds to eventually shooting black powder only in his rifles today.

Part III (pages 168-201)

Modern competitions are described: NRA BPCR Silhouette, NRA Mid-Range, and Long–Range Black Powder Target.  The closest range to some of these targets is 200 meters and can go out to 1000 meters! Of interest to me is that the author had 5 top champions describe in their own words all the details involved in crafting 1000 meter rounds.  The impression I got was that this kind of reloading required very, very, meticulous, regular and immanently repeatable methods and materials.

Part IV (pages 202-276)

A variety of topics are included in this part. One chapter is on sights, covering the more standard rear sight, the tang sight, and the telescopic sight, with a page of photographs showing how to read a vernier sight. Other chapters describe how the buffalo rifles were used, the lives and times of the buffalo hunters, modern hunting and buffalo hunts.  The book concludes with how the author cleans his rifles and a review of his personal favorites.

As you can probably tell I particularly enjoyed this book. The author has a pleasant conversational style, sharing insights and anecdotes. Material is presented in a logical and orderly fashion, and represents a wealth of information.   This book can be read from a general interest or highly technical standpoint.  If you are interested in buffalo rifles, I recommend this book highly.

On Bill’s scale of books, 1 to 5, 5 highest, this is a 5!

All articles submitted to the "Brimstone Gazette" are the property of the author, used with their expressed permission. 
The Brimstone Pistoleros are not responsible for any accidents which may occur from use of  loading data, firearms information, or recommendations published on the Brimstone Pistoleros web site.