Started by Øyvind F., 20. February 2007 kl. 17:42:09

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Øyvind F.

Øyvind F. - forum admin
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Has anyone here ever experienced one:-P I would love to hear about the excitment..


In almost 30 years of shooting black powder revolvers I have had one chamber chain fire about 12 years ago. The pistol was an Armi San Marco Colt M1860 replica in .44 cal. which I bought about 1983. I had fired about 30 to 40 shots without cleaning and after shooting two or three chambers I remembered that I had forgotten to grease the chamber mouths. Well it was all right so far so I carried on.

As I fired the fifth shot the last chamber also went off. Even though I was wearing earmuffs, there was one hell of a bang. I knew instantly what had happened.

I checked my gun but there was nothing broken. To say that I was frightened was an under statement. I even forgot to check if that the cap on the sixth chamber had exploded. So I have no idea of how it happened.

Why did this (last) chamber not fire when it was to the right of the first chamber? If there was a powder trail on the cylinder face as a result of the sticky sooty deposits of the previous fouling and grease holding grains of black powder it would have fired at the first shot.

I like to shoot practical loads so the Armi San Marco was loaded with a dram (28 grains) of powder and no wad.

Much later sold it and bought the same model by Uberti which I found would hold more powder. My standard load is now 30 grains. However I have not expirienced any more chain fires.

Some time later a friend was shooting a Walker or a Dragoon replica at our club when on firing thr first shot all the chambers except for the one at six o'clock went off in sympathy! The pistol was not damaged. I was not present but was told about it later. It was his lucky day. The consensus was that if on that day he had fallen into a cesspool he would have come up with a bar of chocolate!  



I have had the experience of having a chain fire in a brass framed percussion Colt-style revolver back in the 1960s.  It happened a number of times once the frame loosened up from use and I attribute the sudden increase in chain firing to have been the result of cylinder slap as it gradually loosened up.  In all probability the chain firing was probably due to the slap dislodging the cap and allowing ignition to take place through the now uncovered nipple.

Since then I have a number of percussion revolvers including a Model 1860 Colt Army, an 1858 Remington Navy and a Ruger 'old army'.  I have never had a chainfire in any of the three.  I tend to agree with the article that in all probability, proper fitting caps will greatly reduce the tendency of a percussion revolver to chainfire.  A stiff grease on the front of the ball or bullet will help reduce powder fouling, but probably does little else as long as a proper ball is used.  This should be well cast with no wrinkles on the surface, should be of pure or very soft lead, and should leave a distinct ring of shaved lead when rammed home on top of the powder charge.  

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

A.E. Housman