View Full Version : Range Report on Pietta Colt 1860 steel frame from Cabelas

12-19-2010, 10:08 AM
I recently picked up a Colt 1860 steel frame from Cabelas, made by Pietta. This is a new production revolver, and the quality is excellent. Timing and lockup are tight, and it disassembles and re-assembles very easily.

I had read that some of the older Piettas were a bit iffy in terms of production quality. Well I am quite impressed by the current models. The fit and finish is as good as a Uberti.

For folks who may be unfamiliar with cap and ball revolvers, here is how I loaded it:

Here is the revolver ready to load:

Fill powder in each chamber (I used 30 grains of Goex FFFg):

Put a ball in the chamber ready to load:

Press the ball into the chamber (you should see a ring of lead shaved if it is a good tight fit):

Spread lube over the cylinder face to keep sparks out and keep the fouling soft and easy to clean. In this pic I am usiing a Castor Oil based lube (actually a tub of hair product). It was pretty cold and my TC Bore Butter was too hard to squeeze out.

12-19-2010, 10:09 AM
Cap the nipples on the chambers. I am using CCI no 11 magnum caps, loaded from a capper. At this point the revolver is ready to fire, so treat it as a loaded.


Here is the target at 15 yards. This revolver and load is shooting about 6-8 inches high at this distance, but grouping very well. If the height were corrected, almost all balls would be in the black circle.


Overall, this revolver is easy to load and disassemble and clean. I wiped out the bore after shooting each cylinder and it came out shiny. I shot about 90 rounds, before running out of caps.

Things I noticed for improved reliablity include keeping the hammer face and the frame gap in the hammer clean of fouling. If crud builds up there it can slow the hammer strike resulting in inconsistent firing. If this is kept clean, it fires perfectly.

To clean it, I took it home and unscrewed the nipples and scrubbed out the cylinder and barrel with soapy water. I then poured boiling water through the cylinder and barrel, and when it dried oiled it up. Everything came out great.

These things are tons of fun, I should have got one years ago.

12-19-2010, 10:15 AM
Looks like it would be a lot of fun to clean....... :D

12-19-2010, 12:23 PM
Real black powder (not pyrodex or other substitutes) is the easiest powder fouling there is to clean.
The only solvent needed is cold water.
Very very simple.

Following a light brushing and good swabbing with cold water, follow up with a light oiling of the metal and store it, just like you'd do with any other firearm.
Just make sure to clean right away and you're good to go.

I own and shoot a couple of those as well as other black powder handguns, as well as shotguns and black powder cartridge double rifles.
The only solvent I use is cold water.
Holland and Holland (top of the trade, London Best maker, makers for royalty...) still prescribe cold water as the only approved solvent for cleaning black powder guns and rifles made by them.
Black powder is really great stuff, I love turning new and old shooters on to real black powder.


12-19-2010, 12:35 PM
I love these things as well as real muzzle loader rifles, the pistols are just a pain to load though? nice report/pics thanks.

12-19-2010, 1:05 PM
Toby, the pistol was actually pretty easy to load. I could load all six chamber with powder and ball in a little over a minute. It took a little effort to press the balls in, but not much since they are moderately soft lead.

Tinkerer, I have to agree with you. This real BP is much easier to clean than Pyrodex (which I use a lot of) and makes a more satisfying 'BOOM' report also :-)

12-19-2010, 1:58 PM
#11 caps were tight and did not fall off? Would #10 caps be better? What size round ball .451 or .454?

I have the Remington 1858 New Army and an extra cylinder (Pietta). I haven't purchased caps or the black powder yet.

12-19-2010, 2:44 PM
Big Irishman-

Stick with that Goex.
It's very consistent, and costs less than pretty much any other black powder you'll find.
I've found it to be as consistent as Swiss, and some of my rifles are more accurate with it. For instance, my Westley Richards double rifle is more accurate with Goex than Swiss, The Purdey gets the same accuracy with either, but more velocity with the Swiss (not by much though)

Warning on that pyrodex, you'll get perchlorate in your residue and it will damage your steel.


12-19-2010, 2:48 PM
RJF, #11 fit fine and stayed on tight and provided very reliable ignition. I did try #10 and they did not provide reliable ignition, sometimes they required 2 strikes to ignite.

I used .454 balls and they fit nice and tight.

Black powder can be hard to find. If you can't get it you can use 'Pyrodex P' instead, although as Tinkerer points out it is not optimal for long term use.

12-19-2010, 3:21 PM
#11 caps were tight and did not fall off? Would #10 caps be better? What size round ball .451 or .454?

I have the Remington 1858 New Army and an extra cylinder (Pietta). I haven't purchased caps or the black powder yet.

This was one of the first guns I ever purchased (in fact, through Cabela's)
I had it in stainless and all was involved in cleaning was a quick hot soapy bath.

I used the .454in balls and you could hit empty shotgun shells at 75 yards easy.

12-19-2010, 3:50 PM
For first round shot this is ok. However after firing 6 rounds you are breaking the number 1 Rule of Black Powder. Never pour from the flask to the barrel or chamber. Always use a powder measure.

12-19-2010, 3:58 PM
Stay away from Petroleum based products as they do not mix well with black powder and just gum everything up. Bore butter can also be used During the winter months a lot of people either will use crisco or Lubed felt wads. Which are a lot easier to use. i usually keep a warm wet rag with me. Some people will keep a spray bottle with them. mixed with a small amount of windex. This will help on the cleaning. You may get out 2-3 full cylinders then it will start loosing its performance. What i do after every two full cylinders. Take the wet rag and wipe down the arbor shaft. then apply another light coat of lube. For the internals the best thing to use is graphite powder as it does not attract black powder residue and if you have any cap frags fall in the works they will easily come out instead of sticking to a grease or oil

12-26-2010, 4:15 PM
Vincent, I have three cap and ball and two muzzleloading pistols, lets get together and go burn some smoke.

12-26-2010, 5:01 PM
Black powder can be hard to find. If you can't get it you can use 'Pyrodex P' instead, although as Tinkerer points out it is not optimal for long term use.

I can't find black powder locally. I have been using Triple 7.

Do you make any adjustments to your load volume when using a substitute powder?