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quixote100104
09-20-2009, 05:27 PM
Greetings :-),

I have two 19th century American characters I'm fond of, who in turn are fond of solid frame Remingtions. Both are experianced gunmen, both well practiced at the old Remington cylinder-swap (anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about here, watch the final gunfight scene in "Pale Rider" with Clint Eastwood ;-) ) and both are active right through the transition from cap & ball into cartridge after the Civil War.

What I'm wondering about is this: assuming that these characters were open to new technologies (as opposed to preferring to "stick with what they know"), would they find upon experimentation that converting thier revolvers to side-gate loading would give them a reloading speed advantage over the cylinder swap method? I've heard that a practiced hand can work side-gate loading pretty fast, but never actually done it or seen it done.

Obviously, switching would give them a great improvement in the bulk and weight of thier combat-ready reloads, but the assumption here is that they've already become comfortable with carrying a few spare cylinders, so the issue would be the speed advantage, if any.

Thanks :-)

RJK
09-20-2009, 05:52 PM
I'm not familiar with the cylinder replacement method, but if you're referring to loading one cartridge at a time, in a gunfight, I'd go with the bulkier cylinder every time.
Your hands are shaking, the cartridges are small (by comparison) and smooth, making them hard to handle.
Police officers who carried revolvers, carried speed loaders (the cylinder flips out to the side) where they can load six rounds at a time, to eliminate the problem I mentioned above. Hope this helps.

PeterL
09-20-2009, 05:55 PM
If you're talking just reloading speed, then swapping cylinders is much faster.

Chase
09-20-2009, 06:38 PM
So your two gunfighters occasionally find themselves in extended gun battles where more than the standard five or six shots are needed? One can only hope there are big rocks or thick trees to hide behind.

For situations where lots of lead is slung back and forth, the cartridge conversion might be preferred over exchanging spent cylinders for others fully loaded and capped.

Letís say Luke prefers things as they are and keeps three cylinders for reloading. Lukeís fast and formidable until 24 shots are fired from cover. After that, reloading takes time. Most cap and ball revolvers are designed to be loaded with the cylinder in the gun, one chamber at a time.

Typically, the chamber and flash hole are cleared of any debris, fresh powder measured in, and then a ball seated with a built-in lever. Before loading the next chamber, most pistoleers covered the ball with a dab of heavy grease or fat to help keep the ball in place and to protect the load from flame when adjacent chambers are fired.

Even if Luke has a devise for loading the cylinder out of his Remington, all of this means serious down time for a man with one gun.

Letís sat Cole has a gunsmith convert his Remington to a cartridge gun with the side loading gate and extractor. Yes, he can fire all five or six shot, push the empty cases out, and insert fresh cartridges in short order.

But single-action cowboy contestants say if Cole can count to two, he has the magical western movie gun that never runs out of ammo.

Hereís how: After every two shots fired, the first chamber emptied is now rotated in position at the side gate. All Cole has to do is eject the casing and slip in another cartridge, then quickly do the same with the next empty chamber. Now he has a full cylinder again. If he can pause a second or two after each two shots, then he can stay loaded until his ammo supply is gone.

This is only one possible scenario. Other things come into play in each situation.

Hope this helps with your dilemma.

Chase

quixote100104
09-20-2009, 07:09 PM
For situations where lots of lead is slung back and forth, the cartridge conversion might be preferred over exchanging spent cylinders for others fully loaded and capped.

Letís say Luke prefers things as they are and keeps three cylinders for reloading. Lukeís fast and formidable until 24 shots are fired from cover. After that, reloading takes time. Most cap and ball revolvers are designed to be loaded with the cylinder in the gun, one chamber at a time.

While I can see myself setting up gunfights serious enough to require a combat reload or two, I'm not sure even I could stretch it to the point of having them live long enough to have to reload cylinders under direct fire.

This does bring up a relevant point, however. I have always assumed that, even if they stuck with cylinder swapping, they would still be able to have thier weapons converted to bored-out cylinders that would take metal cartridges. Is there a reason this wouldn't work?

I'd imagine that spilling the cartridges when handling the cylinder in a fast reload might be an issue (I wouldn't think the tolerances would be all that tight), but perhaps that could be solved with a few drops of wax dribbled on the edges of the cartridges and allowed to dry during "quiet time" preparation (no, I don't see even the most capable gunslinger melting and applying wax in combat ;-) ). The wax would make things a little messier, to be sure, but we're talking about black powder weapons anyway, which will freeze up pretty fast if you don't clean them religiously after use anyway, I'm told.


After every two shots fired, the first chamber emptied is now rotated in position at the side gate. All Cole has to do is eject the casing and slip in another cartridge, then quickly do the same with the next empty chamber. Now he has a full cylinder again. If he can pause a second or two after each two shots, then he can stay loaded until his ammo supply is gone.

An excellent point which I hadn't thought of. I've actually made a simmilar point in Old West role-playing with regard to that great 19th century 'assault rifle', the Winchester '73 (yes, I know the nomenclature is inaccurate, folks...I'm speaking metaphorically ;-) ).

That makes me think that a side-gate might not be a bad idea even if the cylinder is retained. Obviously, you couldn't preserve the Remington cylinder locking lever system as is while also installing an integral ejection rod (there's a limit to how far even I'll go with gimmickry), but I could see my guys carrying an appropriately sized wooden rod, perhaps tucked under a leather wrist-band, to punch out empties for that kind of topping off, time allowing. That would also make more sense for topping off after a shorter, one-cylinder engagement than a full cylinder swap.

For that matter, one of them is also a journalist, so a pencil from his vest might work for that, which would also be a nice touch.

Thanks for making me think :-).

Chase
09-20-2009, 10:12 PM
My present work-in-progress features a pistol with all kinds of bells and whistles that would make Rube Goldberg happy, but that story is set in this millennium and is way off your topic.

About your topic, Iíve visited the Browning museum in Ogden, Utah. The genius innovator John Moses Browning was truly the Rube Goldberg of guns.

Just one of his many projects in search of the best features of automatic loading and firing during the latter 1800s was to rig a Winchester Model 1892 to fire on full automatic.

I saw both drawings and old photographs of the thing. The gasses of the .32-20 cartridges were channeled into a frame to operate the lever. The trigger was depressed upon the lever closing the breech, and the cycle repeated.

Iím never surprised at the ingenuity and talents of gunsmiths in the era when your story takes place. They seemed to be able to meet every gunmanís fantasy wish.

But about your specific questions here and other places: My hobby knowledge and professional expertise, singular as they are, only cover out-of-the-box firearms and issue small arms of the U.S. Army for in the hundred years beginning approximately 1901 to 2001. Because of my duty as a tactical small arms instructor, that expertise was often extended to some (but not all) captured weaponry.

To answer outside that narrow framework would be pure speculation with all of the unhelpful consequences usually accompanying wild supposition, which I frequently rail against.

Sorry.

Shattuck
09-21-2009, 01:57 AM
Unless you are taking part in very lengthy gunfights, a cylinder swap is going to be much faster than any other method, especially since it doesn't open your MC up for accidentally dropping a cartridge or having trouble slipping a cartridge into place, which is a problem with even the most even-headed person due to the shakes caused by adrenaline that you really can't control.

Here is a video demonstrating a cylinder swap, and he is slow.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3rj89cqQQ8

Messing around with my own I was able to swap cylinders in about 5 seconds pretty reliably, and I'm sure if I spent a lot of time doing it I could shave off a couple seconds. Carrying around two spare loaded cylinders would not be very heavy at all, and I think you would be hard pressed to find many instances in that time of needing more than 18 shots in such an immediate fashion that you could not stop to reload afterward. Added to this the fact that when not walking around town most people who could afford it were carrying around a rifle in a saddle holster, so I can't think of many situations where your MC would need anything other than cylinder swapping.

EDIT: In case you need any of the specific details, the hammer needs to be at about quarter cock to swap cylinders, just enough to disengage the pawl and ratchet arm. I would also say that two spare cylinders is about max, as any more than that and you will have trouble swapping any more due to the buildup of powder residue.