"New" 1863 arrived today

Support for the 1863 shooter. Discussions of powders, loads, bullets, etc.
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Free_Stater
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"New" 1863 arrived today

Post by Free_Stater » Fri Apr 30, 2010 11:27 am

I bought a very lightly used 1863 military rifle on Gunbroker last week and got it in today. I've spent the last week cobbling up some ammunition for it, using a cast Lee 410-grain minie bullet over 60 grains of FFG with curler paper as a cartridge.

I got the rifle out of the box and checked everything out, then went to my backyard range. I fired two caps, aiming the muzzle at the ground into dried grass, which moved quite violently from the blast.

I fired three shots at 20 yards to check functioning. Not only did I hit the target, but all three went pretty much to point of aim, at least in the left/right axis. (I only have a handgun range at home, and it's trying to rain out there, so I didn't have time for much else.)

Perfect functioning, but based on the sound of the shot and milder than expected recoil, I think the next loads will be a bit stiffer. (Using Shiloh nitrated paper for these.) Next time I'm going up by five grains.

What are some pet loads? I'd like to approximate the Civil War loading, though I'm sure my bullet choice isn't correct.

Oh, and howdy from South Mississippi, ya'll! The Sharps 1863 is one of the guns that's been on my bucket list since I was a kid, and I'm happy as a pig in slop with the rifle and the results so far, no matter how minimal those results might have been.
When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

Rich Siegel
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Post by Rich Siegel » Fri Apr 30, 2010 12:15 pm

Good to hear the GunBroker deal worked out. I would suggest just using copy machine paper to make the paper cartridges. You can nitrate the paper if you like but you do not need to. The copy paper is more solid then the curler paper but I use the curler paper for the end of the cartridge. Easy for the flash to go through.

As to powder charge, measure the distance from the end of the bullet to the breech face when the bullet is in the bore, up against the rifling. Then, make your paper cartridge to fit exactly (or close) to the length of the cartridge needed and fill with powder. This will give you a starting point. If recoil gets too much, try FG powder.

Rich

Jay Yuskaitis
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1863

Post by Jay Yuskaitis » Fri Apr 30, 2010 4:34 pm

I do really enjoy building & shooting cartridges in my Shiloh Sporter 1863 54 cal. I know folks think it be a might "big" for hunting, but, at this stage of the game, t'will be as close as I'll ever come to having a "BIG 50". Had great luck with Charlies tubes in 1&3/4", 1&7/8" and 2". Just like having short range, mid range, & long range cartridges. My cast bullets are a Rapine ring tail Christmas Tree Bullet, & a Steve Brooks "Charlie Hahn" design bullet. I've surprised myself with the 100 yard groups I've gotten with these 2 bullets, cast 1-30. when I do my part, oh, to be young again, or having better eyeglasses! Enjoy yourself. Jay Y.

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The learning curve...

Post by Free_Stater » Sat May 01, 2010 1:57 pm

Well, I'm still having fun. I got a chance to shoot a few rounds today with the 70 grain FFG load. Using the nitrated paper the cartridges are just a hair too long, so I've now split the difference and loaded more using 65 grains, which I think should solve that one problem. Using the Shiloh cartridge forming mandrel, the paper at the end makes a little twist, and when this is pulled out and sheared off by the block, ignition isn't an issue at all.

It's been a long time since I shot anything other than Pyrodex, so coming back to the real thing was interesting. Smoky, ain't it? :lol:

I just want to get some dry weather so I can get to a longer range. My backyard pistol range only goes to about 20 yards, and at that distance I'm shooting about eight inches high with the ladder sight set all the way down at the 200 yard increment.

But I'm having a lot of fun, and that's the whole reason I bought the rifle. I have plenty of time to get serious later.
When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

Todd Birch
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another '63 man

Post by Todd Birch » Mon May 03, 2010 10:18 am

Free_Stater

Welcome to the world of percussion Sharps rifles - where it all began!

My '63 MR is in .50 like my '63 carbine. This allows me to use the same Lyman 515141 bullet for both that I cast for my 50-70 MR.

I just placed an order for a carbine in 50-70, but I'm considering changing that to another MR in 45-70. If I could find a buyer for my Shiloh '63 .54 Sporter, I'd have both.

I agree with Rich - nitrating paper isn't worth the powder to blow it to hell (couldn't resist .... ;>) Just use some highly combustible paper for the base. ANY paper from newsprint to printer paper works just fine.
"From birth to the packing house, we travel between the two eternities ....." Robert Duvall in "Broken Trail"

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Thanks for the welcome, Todd

Post by Free_Stater » Mon May 03, 2010 11:20 am

I've read a lot of your posts and gleaned a good bit of information here.

I have wanted a Shiloh 63 since I first read about it in the 1977 Gun Digest. In fact, I circled a photo of the rifle in the catalog section and put the book away for 33 years before finally attaining my dream. Needless to say, I spent an awful lot more for this one than the original list price of $360!

Currently I'm experimenting with different cartridge configurations and working to decide which I will use as my standard. I actually like the nitrated paper because it's closer to the original 1860s method of firing the rifle, but I've tried others. Some have worked and a couple have seen limited success. The method I finally choose will depend on such factors as the amount of labor needed to produce consistent results. So far the curler papers are working the best, as seems that, no matter how much paper is left at the rear of the cartridge, the musket cap flash is sufficient to ignite the powder charge. The rounds are a bit fragile, however. The powder charge I have settled on is 65 grains of FFG. The next time I get to town I'm going to get some onionskin paper and try that. I think it might work well.

Anyway, this whole experiment was based on a desire to own a very important piece of history and to use it and enjoy it. So far everything is exceeding my expectations.

After experiencing the military rifle, I wish I had a carbine, too.
When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

Todd Birch
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'63 ammo

Post by Todd Birch » Mon May 03, 2010 2:09 pm

Free_Stater

After reading your initial post, I got out the onion skin paper and went to work ....

I roll a tube with about 1/4" overlap, glue it and set it aside to dry. Then I glue the inside of one end and with a mandrel, insert the 'plug' made out of the same onion skin, shoving it thru' a short piece of copper tubing to form it.

Oddly, if I apply the 'plug' externally (as opposed to internally), I get a little more powder in. Probably 55 grs as opposed to 50. Remember, I'm loading for a short chambered .50, not a .54.

It's just enough to make a difference, and to take a deer, I'd use the 55 gr. load. I just put in for both a moose and a doe draw, and if I get them, I'll take the deer with the '63 carbine.
I often walk up on moose at close range, and for a shot at 50 yds or less, it would do as well.

It is a FUN gun and I really enjoy shooting it! I had a silver blade front sight dovetailed in like Shiloh uses on their 50-70 carbines, and it put me right on POA with my loads at 50 and 100 yds.
"From birth to the packing house, we travel between the two eternities ....." Robert Duvall in "Broken Trail"

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Just a picture

Post by Free_Stater » Sat May 22, 2010 5:15 pm

Other than the cleaning part, I'd have to say that this rifle is turning into the most fun I've had with any new toy since I was about six years old.

Thanks again, everyone. I've got the cartridge making down to a science, and there's 100 rounds ready to fire when I get ready. I took the rifle to a gun club get together, and folks were lining up to shoot the "cannon."

Image
When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

Todd Birch
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??

Post by Todd Birch » Thu May 27, 2010 10:11 am

Free_Stater

Are your bullets tied into the paper tubes? Pretty finicky operation, if so.

Yes, '63s are fun guns! The cleaning not so.

Have you had any fouling issues with the block? I filled the block cavity with ML lube last time I cleaned it, hoping this will prevent binding.
"From birth to the packing house, we travel between the two eternities ....." Robert Duvall in "Broken Trail"

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Post by Free_Stater » Thu May 27, 2010 5:14 pm

Hey, Todd. Yes, when I tried using thread to tie the bullets to the tubes, it was not only finicky, but nearly impossible. But I found that my old standby was much easier to handle: for years I've used waxed dental floss to repair leather, to fabricate work gear out of nylon webbing, etc. so it seemed perfect for this purpose. I make a loop and then wrap three or four times around the bullet, capturing the loop, then run the end of the floss through the loop, pull tight on the other end, and I have a tight fit. Then a simple square knot and trim the excess. It's a very simple process. Or maybe I have OCD or something. I've been finding photos of Civil War era cartridges and trying to duplicate them. I've done pretty well. (The ones in the photo were early results--the new ones are very attractive by comparison.)

After making the initial tubes and attaching the bullets, I cut the tubes to length and add a wrap of tissue paper with a glue stick. After the glue has set up, I add the powder and very carefully twist the tissue about a full turn while pressing the edges of the nitrated paper down into the tube. It's pretty easy to get a very even base this way, and when all looks good I add a spot of glue to the tissue "tail" and fold over onto the base. Trim off the excess paper, and I'm done.

I haven't had any major problems with fouling, but you've hit on a good idea. I'll try that next time. Last week I took 20 rounds out to run a speed test, loading and firing quickly but not rushing myself too much. All 20 rounds went downrange within five or six minutes. I'd have been faster, but my piece of crap inline capper locked up on me, and I had to dig into the can of caps and use loose ones. After that it was back to the kitchen to remove the lever and flash channel screws from the block, then wash out the block in a 1:8 Simple Green mixture, followed by running hot water and five minutes on the stove at its very lowest setting (bringing the metal up to about 190-200 degrees). Set the block aside to cool, then oil lightly. While the block is heating and cooling I use the Simple Green in the bore with a few patches after one or two passes with a 28 gauge shotgun brush. Clean the inside of the action with a cloth soaked in solvent as the last step, oil lightly and reassemble. No rust, no lead, and somewhat lower on the hassle scale than a cap and ball revolver.
When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

Todd Birch
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Location: Somewhere in the Cariboo ....

Post by Todd Birch » Fri May 28, 2010 9:36 am

Free_Stater

You are one dedicated '63 shooter! I've yet to try my hand at tying a tube to a "Christmas Tree" bullet, but I may yet. I'll use dental floss as you did.

Why the extra wrap of tissue paper? The one wrap around the bullet serves most of us quite well.
If you put the powdered tube into a block, you ought to be able to fold over the paper before gluing.

Any time I've tried folding and gluing, I've had ignition problems. I now use a plug cap of the same onion skin paper as the main tube.

Re: Cleaning: "... somewhat lower on the hassle scale than a cap and ball revolver ...'' I like that!
Our local CAS group has a monthly shoot and those of us with cap & ball guns play with them. It's a nice break from the usual rush to make your next mistake with brass cartridge guns.
We never went the 'IPSC in Cowboy clothes' route and the .44s and .45s still rule in our club. Several of us have Remies, Walkers, Dragoons, Armys and Navys.

I can't say that I enjoy the cleaning, but once you work out a method that works for you, it's just part of the game.
"From birth to the packing house, we travel between the two eternities ....." Robert Duvall in "Broken Trail"

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Paper choices

Post by Free_Stater » Fri May 28, 2010 9:52 am

I'm using the nitrated paper, which does have some ignition issues when it's used on the base. When I add a secondary tube of the tissue, ignition becomes virtually 100%. When I can see the color of the powder through the base of the cartridge, I know that the cap flash will make it through. Also, adding the tissue as a separate step gives me a bit of a "funnel" to allow pouring the powder to the edge of the nitrated paper while keeping any of the powder from falling out. I only use half a sheet of the curler tissue; any more would be a waste and cause more than one layer of tissue to appear at the base.

One of my biggest issues was that I wanted the cartridges to be durable. I can now stack two layers of them end to end in a box and seal the box for future use. Currently I'm far enough ahead on loading that I'll be able to go to five or six shooting sessions without making cartridges at all. I did keep out about 20 lubricated bullets separate from the cartridges. I found that if I push a lubed Minie bullet into the chamber, then push a 60-grain Pyrodex pellet in behind it, I can close the block and fire without using up my supply of cartridges. Once the Pyrodex is gone, though, I won't be buying any more. The cartridges are just way too cool, especially when other shooters are around and are seeing real 1860s technology at work.
When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

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The final product

Post by Free_Stater » Fri May 28, 2010 10:22 am

Here are a couple of cartridges in the final configuration.

Image
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Todd Birch
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Wow!

Post by Todd Birch » Sat May 29, 2010 11:14 am

Free_Stater

My friend, you are a genius! You've got a great system worked out.

I use .54 60 gr Pyro pellets, rolled with a lubed 515141 bullet for a quick cartridge, but it's not the same as BP.

Wish we could shoot together sometime. Us '63 men need to stick together.
"From birth to the packing house, we travel between the two eternities ....." Robert Duvall in "Broken Trail"

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Re: Wow!

Post by Free_Stater » Sat May 29, 2010 1:35 pm

Todd Birch wrote:Free_Stater
Wish we could shoot together sometime. Us '63 men need to stick together.
Only if I can tell folks I took my rifle off'n a dead Yankee!

I wonder if there's any way I could add a bayonet lug for a triangular bayonet? Then I could both shoot em and stick em!

Keep telling people I'm a genius; I used to tell my teachers that all the time, and look where it got me.
When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

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