How to Load a Black Powder Revolver

Black powder cap and ball revolvers are fun to shoot. The sight, sound and smell of traditional black powder weapons are unlike any other type of firearm. The modern replicas of the famous guns the cowboys of the wild west shot are safe alternatives to the modern gun. Follow these steps to load, handle and shoot a cap and ball black powder revolver.

First a few words on safety. Even though these are replicas they are still a type of firearm. They must be treated with the greatest respect and care. All rules for safe handling of guns must be followed. Always treat a firearm as if it is loaded and primed. Always point the gun in a safe direction. These guns do not have a modern safety, they must be carried with the hammer down on an empty chamber. Black powder firearms are not designed for use with smokeless gun powder. The use of smokeless powder will cause the gun to explode do to high pressures.


Cap and ball revolvers should be used with FFFg black powder only. This powder creates a low pressure when fired. The design of these types of revolver cannot handle higher pressure. The amount of black powder to used is measured in volume not weight. The amount varies with each caliber. A .31 caliber will use about 8 grains per chamber. A .36 caliber will use about 10 grains. A .44 caliber will use about 14 grains. Each manufacture will provide their own recommendations but these are safe measurements. Soft lead balls that are designed specifically for these firearms should be used. Do to the low pressure any other type of projectile will not safely work. Pre-lubricated wads will make the cleaning process easier. Use only percussion caps that fit your gun.

 Loading a Cap and Ball Revolver

  1. Clean your weapon. All dirt and grease must be removed.
  2. Pull the Hammer back to the half cock position. This will allow the cylinder to rotate.
  3. Place a cap on each nipple. Point the gun at a safe target. Fire each cylinder. This will clear the nipples of debris.
  4. Place the hammer in the half cock position. Point the gun upwards and rotate the cylinder. The spent caps should fall off. If not you must pry them off.
  5. Use a Black Powder Measuring tool to pour the correct amount of FFFg into a chamber.
  6. Place a pre-lubed wad over the chamber that has the black powder in it.
  7. Place the proper lead ball over the wad and press down.
  8. Rotate the cylinder around till the ball is under the plunger. Use the plunger lever to seat the ball against the powder. The ball must be set firmly against the powder. There must not be a space between the ball, wad, or powder. Add a touch of grease to the mouth of the chamber.
  9. Repeat steps 5 through 8 for the other chambers that are to be loaded. Remember to leave one empty to set the hammer on when not in use.
  10. Place a percussion cap on each loaded cylinder. Extreme care must now be taken as the gun is ready to fire.
  11. After firing any weapon that uses black powder you must clean it. Follow the manufactures instructions when doing this.

Common sense and manufacturer recommendations should always be heeded. Always store your weapon unloaded in a locked case. Children must always be supervised while using them. If you follow this guide you will be able to safely enjoy your black powder cap and ball revolver for a lifetime.  

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Posted on May 11, 2011