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Chamber Firing


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#1 Spirithawk

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:24 PM

As we all know, chamber firing is when multiple chambers of a black powder revolver fire simutaneously when the trigger is pulled. It was long thought that flame, and or sparks, from the fired chamber flashed over igniting the other chambers if they weren't properly sealed. That is why most folks top the loaded chambers off with some form of grease. However that may not be the case. I always wondered about that as it would seem to me the over sized ball forced into a chamber would pretty much effectively seal it on it's own. I recently read an article that made a lot of sense. It claimed that chamber firing is actualy caused by loose fitting percusion caps. When one is fired the sparks are able to get underneath the other loosely fitting caps causing multiple chambers to fire. Makes perfect sense to me and all the grease in the mouths of the chambers couldn't hurt but still won't stop chamber firing. Felt it's something we all need to know about. Posted Image

Edited by Spirithawk, 20 February 2012 - 08:25 PM.


#2 PA RIDGE RUNNER

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 09:03 PM

I have no experience with black powder revolvers but have thought about chain firing incidents. I too think that the ball should seal the chamber very well. Of course what do I know. Since it takes only a few seconds I would grease them. Just as the ball sealing the front it would seem near impossible for a spark to work its way under a cap too. Then again we all know it does happen for whatever reason and when it does it can and does cause damage both to the firearm and to the shooter.
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#3 Spirithawk

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 09:52 PM

Paul, the problem is that not all caps fit tightly on all nipples. I often pinch my #11 caps to get them to fit tight on the nipples of my 1860 Colt Old Army. If I don't I can actualy point the pistol to the sky and they often will fall right off. I agree, it sure doesn't hurt to insure the chambers are sealed good too. I use waxed felt pads between the ball and powder. They are no where near as messy as grease. Another cool thing about them is that you can push one on top of your powder charge, fill the chamber just short of the top with birdshot or a few buckshot and then add another pad to hold the shot in the chamber. Makes a great load for snakes and small vermin. Would sure ruin a bad guy's day too. Posted Image

Edited by Spirithawk, 20 February 2012 - 09:54 PM.


#4 mudduck

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 03:42 PM

Soft lead bullets, banging around in ones pockets or saddle bags, over a period of months, could cause bullet deformation ( a flat spot or crease). Also, this may also happened because of inferior bullet molds. Also, black powder is quite corrosive, shooting and not cleaning could cause the chamber to break down due poorer grades of steel. Could also be from a cracked cylinder, manufacturer defect. Read some about the Colt Walker after you got yours, reports say that "fewer than 300" were returned for ruptured cylinders, Although with only 1100 (original) Colt Walkers made, a 25 percent failure rate is pretty significant

#5 Spirithawk

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 05:16 PM

Jeff, thankfuly there's quite a differance in the quality of the steel used in modern replicas as compared to the originals. :)

#6 mudduck

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 06:13 PM

Here is an interesting read on chamber firing http://www.geojohn.o...owder/bps2.html

#7 cayugad

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 11:04 AM

The very first black powder revolver I owned was when I was very young. I had a lot of fun shooting it. It was an 1861 Navy Colt made by some Italian company. I was at a range and had loaded everything as normal. The powder, the ball, and then some stuff called Spit Ball. And I will admit, I was not careful about making sure the entire cylinder was packed.

When I pulled that trigger. I had the shock of my life. The main cylinder of course went off, but the cylinder next to it also went off. Why the chain fire happened... to this day I can not be sure. All I know is the revolver frame was stretched. And the gun IMO was ruined. I had the revolver fixed but never had the nerve to fire it. I sold it. The person that fixed it, a gun smith explained to me that even though I used Spit Ball, if that cylinder was not completely packed, as you shoot and load, unburnt powder grips the side of the cylinder walls. Even though you push a ball into it, there is a chance that some powder is sticking between the ball and the cylinder wall.

And when you shoot some of the poor fitting revolvers, you can see the sparks just fly around the end of the cylinder. He suspected one of them sparks jumped chambers. And that was all it took. Accounts talk about during Civil War battles how some soldiers would in their haste to arm themselves, load their revolvers and not lube the cylinders. This resulted in a lot of chain fires.

So I do not know what the cause of one is, but believe me when I tell you to take all precautions and load carefully.
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#8 PA RIDGE RUNNER

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 07:01 AM

Thank you for the first person experience. I read that report and have thought about it some and it does make sense. The chance of a spark entering a chamber through an exposed nipple is quite small but still in the realm of possibility. The possibility of a spark or fire entering an adjacent chamber at the front seems much more feasible especially with the crack between the cylinder and barrel that is necessary for the cylinder to rotate freely. It would seem to me that swabbing the cylinder between loads and very careful loading of the powder would be quite prudent with these weapons.
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