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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi. I may be over thinking this, but I’ve seen what can happen to firearms if they’re not cleaned/stored properly. I have a blued ROA. I have heard that it’s fine to leave a powder charge in the cylinder indefinitely. Doing this would make the pistol better as a quick-grab defensive gun. My concern would be the suggested practice of firing a cap per cylinder chamber to clear out residual oils to ensure proper ignition. If I do this, then load the cylinder, and then store the pistol, would the fired primer residue be corrosive? Or would just the process of burning out the nipple/cylinder cavity set up the metal to invite corrosion due to the lack of protective oil layer?


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More than 10 years ago I ran an informal test to answer most of your question, for myself. I packed both black powder and Pyrodex (in separate "pills") in tiny snap-top plastic vials, along with steel ball bearings. I then stored them at room temp. I visually checked them every month, visually, without opening them. All of the black powder vials showed light rust on the balls after two months. After a year I opened all the vials, and the black powder ones had medium rust on the balls, enough to make them gritty. The Pyrodex vials had light rust on the balls. Now, as a result of that test, I never store my BP revolver with a loaded cylinder. I did not test the primers in any way. One should know and remember that potassium nitrate (in the black powder) is a salt. And that BP is a mixture, not a compound.
 

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More than 10 years ago I ran an informal test to answer most of your question, for myself. I packed both black powder and Pyrodex (in separate "pills") in tiny snap-top plastic vials, along with steel ball bearings. I then stored them at room temp. I visually checked them every month, visually, without opening them. All of the black powder vials showed light rust on the balls after two months. After a year I opened all the vials, and the black powder ones had medium rust on the balls, enough to make them gritty. The Pyrodex vials had light rust on the balls. Now, as a result of that test, I never store my BP revolver with a loaded cylinder. I did not test the primers in any way. One should know and remember that potassium nitrate (in the black powder) is a salt. And that BP is a mixture, not a compound.
Thank you for that. I have never left any black powder arm loaded for any length of time other than for a couple days at a time during hunting season. I have always considered condensation that forms when you take a cold gun into a warm environment, etc. but your test shows what happens even in a consistent state environment.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
More than 10 years ago I ran an informal test to answer most of your question, for myself. I packed both black powder and Pyrodex (in separate "pills") in tiny snap-top plastic vials, along with steel ball bearings. I then stored them at room temp. I visually checked them every month, visually, without opening them. All of the black powder vials showed light rust on the balls after two months. After a year I opened all the vials, and the black powder ones had medium rust on the balls, enough to make them gritty. The Pyrodex vials had light rust on the balls. Now, as a result of that test, I never store my BP revolver with a loaded cylinder. I did not test the primers in any way. One should know and remember that potassium nitrate (in the black powder) is a salt. And that BP is a mixture, not a compound.


Thanks for that info. To err on the side of caution, and take care of my favorite gun, I think I will follow suit, and leave the Old Army unloaded.


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Pyrodex is BLACK POWDER with graphite and potassium perchlorate added to modify the characteristics. It still is a mixture of compounds and elements as is BP. KClO4 is more reactive and more caustic than KNO3 but the graphite appears to provide a reduction in activity during storage. KClO4 in pure form is highly explosive. There are some other trademarked materials in Pyrodex. Any moisture will cause Pyrodex to react just as it does BP. KNO3, KClO4, and about a million other compounds are salts.
 

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Wild Bill Hickock was said to shoot his 2 1851 navys every night and claen and reload them. But then again his life did depend on his guns.
 

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Left mine loaded for 2 years, got hurt and couldn’t shoot anything. 5 chambers fired off just fine. Had to pull 1 round ball and wad, charge was oil soaked mud. No lasting impact on the gun.

When we moved back down here, I took a double barrel English caplock from my father in law. It was his wife’s great great grandfather’s gun. He had been gone since 1921, Confederate veteran. Gun needed a good clean up... starting with clearing the cobwebs from the barrels. 2 caps and 2 clouds of smoke later... That was in 2011, a full 90 years since the owner died... Nobody in 90 years ever thought to check if it was loaded.

Had it checked out at Dixie Gun Works, which is 2 hours up the road on a heavy traffic day. They said it needs a new stock and the muzzles trimmed back. Other than that it is safe to use. Proof marks date it to circa 1881-3...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Left mine loaded for 2 years, got hurt and couldn’t shoot anything. 5 chambers fired off just fine. Had to pull 1 round ball and wad, charge was oil soaked mud. No lasting impact on the gun.

When we moved back down here, I took a double barrel English caplock from my father in law. It was his wife’s great great grandfather’s gun. He had been gone since 1921, Confederate veteran. Gun needed a good clean up... starting with clearing the cobwebs from the barrels. 2 caps and 2 clouds of smoke later... That was in 2011, a full 90 years since the owner died... Nobody in 90 years ever thought to check if it was loaded.

Had it checked out at Dixie Gun Works, which is 2 hours up the road on a heavy traffic day. They said it needs a new stock and the muzzles trimmed back. Other than that it is safe to use. Proof marks date it to circa 1881-3...


What do you mean by “muzzles trimmed back”? I’ve never heard of trimming gun muzzles before.


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Grandfathers 1870's Manhatten cap and ball revolver was stored loaded , sometimes prior to WWII . Gun was in top of grandfather's closet , forgotten .
About 1985 My uncle replaced the caps and fired one round . One ball came out the barrel and a second ball came out an adjacent chamber on the right side , shooting stopped . The chamber wall had rusted through .
He dug the remaining balls out with his pocket knife ... all the cylinders were rusted very badly .
My experience indicates loaded long term storage , 40 to 45 years , with black powder isn't a good idea . Indefinitely sounds like a long time as this .
Gary
 

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Just a few days ago, I decided to clean up some black powder stuff I have, to include a brass flask that was about half full of FFFFg black powder. After I removed the filler plug, I found the spring loaded metering gizmo was totally contaminated and wouldn't function. Further, black powder had formed clumps and wasn't easy to get out of the flask. After soaking the metering device in solvent, breaking up the clumps, and pouring out the old black powder, it cleaned up pretty good and now functions like it is supposed to. I don't know how long the black powder had been in the flask but it sure made a mess. I'm always nervous when dealing with black powder because just a static charge can cause a huge explosion, especially when there is a half pound of it.
 
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