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  Greasing, and revolver chain fires.
« on: November 05, 2007, 21:30:46 PM » by MSS Forum Admin
It is customary when shooting a black powder revolver, to apply grease to the cylinder chambers after loading.

Wisdom has it that this is done to "seal" the chambers and prevent chainfire - a potentially catastrophic event whereby more than one cylinder is discharged simultaneously, and it needs no saying that at any one time, only one cylinder could possibly be aligned with the barrel.

However, the main purpose of the grease is lubrication - to prevent leading of the bore. Without the grease, it is almost certain that the barrel will lead up, perhaps even after the first shot. This causes accuracy problems as the ball's travel up the barrel will be anything but smooth, and consistency will be out of the window.

The value of grease as a "sealant" to prevent chainfire can only be minimal or non-existent. This, firstly because a properly seated ball will be a very tight fit in the cylinder, thus creating an excellent seal; secondly, many shooters use wads or filler to make up the necessary volume in the cylinder to ensure a tight, compressed load, which creates additional sealing and distance from the front of the cylinder and the powder charge.

Therefore grease or no grease, the chances of a chainfire in a properly loaded gun are infinitesimal.

Thankfully chainfires are a very rare occurrence, but there is a school of thought that think that the potential for trouble is more from the rear end rather than the front - ie primer/main charge flashover making it's way to the main charge of an adjacent cylinder.through an uncovered nipple, possibly via an eroded flash hole.

This scenario is far more plausible, when one considers just how easy it is for loose caps to recoil off their nipples, especially if they are of the wrong size or the nipple is eroded. One can well imagine a well worn out and poorly maintained gun may have undersized nipples, and accompanying oversized flash holes, due to corrosion and the effects of thousands of shots.
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