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  1. I have been shooting BP rifles and pistols for years, what a kick . . . I have found from some serious shooters of BP that Windex with Vinegar will clean it the best. I had been cleaning them in soap and water then oiling them down really well. Now I use the vinegar Windex and it will clean them better, IMHO, better than the soap and water ever did. Some of the people shooting Cowboy Action shooting pistols just take the grips off and put the whole pistol in the Windex, and they are “serious” cowboy action shooters too, no problems. I pull the Nipple off my Hawken and spray it down the barrel and into a trash can and the powder residue just flows into the trash can, then oil it down . . .

  2. I clean at the range: a spray bottle of Windex/water, a few tools and cleaning rods and brushes, and some oil and patches. It goes quickly, and I don’t anger SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed!) at home with the BP residue in the utility room sink.

  3. I have tried using powder made from white sugar and saltpeter, as well as charcoal and saltpeter, without the sulfur. Mix the powders wet, and then granulate through a screen part way through the drying process. Dextrin would be a good idea with the charcoal.

    As you say, pack all the powder in the case that it can hold. With .357, it should be enough to kill a rabbit.

    I made the mistake of loading the first round with about 6 grains of the white powder. After firing, the bullet was protruding from the muzzle of a 3-inch barrel. Subsequent loads were using about 20 grains.

    No doubt, using sulfur would improve the performance.

    Sugar is definitely less messy to work with than charcoal, but it comes with a load of water on board. So, the finished product is heavier for the amount of actual fuel. However, steam is also

    Also, if there is a shortage of saltpeter, iron oxide (red rust) can be used as an oxidizer supplement, according to the manuals.

    Thanks for the cleaning tips!

    Now, we need some good info on stone-age methods of separating the organic matter from “compost tea,” preparatory to separating the saltpeter from the table salt. The 1862 manual from the Carolinas said to use blood or “glue” (hide glue?) to get this done. Modern manuals say to use alcohol.

  4. The main disadvantage, in my opinion, of using cap and ball BP revolvers for defense is the extremely long reload time compared to modern weapons. For those first five shots though…

    Granted there are range and ballistics issues, but at standard handgun distances it shouldn’t matter too much.

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