Black Powder Pistol Buyer’s Guide | Eveything You Need To Know

Civil War style 1860 cap and ball black powder revolver | Black Powder Pistol Buyer's Guide | Eveything You Need To Know | featured

Are you considering getting a black powder pistol? Read up on vintage guns first. The process of buying, shooting, and maintaining old-school weapons and modern handguns is a bit different.

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What Shooters Need to Know Before Getting a Black Powder Pistol

What is a Black Powder Pistol

Model of the old vintage gun on wooden background | powder rifles

Black powder pistols are iconic old-school firearms popularized during the mid-1800s. These are handguns wherein you have to manually load the powder, bullet, and cap into its large muzzle. Most people associate these pistols with the Wild West because of the classic, wide-mouth muzzle design.

Unfortunately, black powder pistols are outdated. Modern firearms and handguns far surpass old-school pistols when it comes to functionality, versatility, and practicality. The only advantage these pistols have over newer options is they’re cheap and easy to acquire.

Top Reasons to Own a Black Powder Pistol

Taking all the aforementioned factors into consideration, why would anyone use these vintage handguns? The top reasons include the following:


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1. Learning the Basics of Firearms and Shooting

1847 cowboy pistol with room for your type | pistols revolvers

Black powder pistols are in no way easy to use. They’re difficult to aim, time-consuming to load, and heavy to carry around—which is why they’re excellent training tools. Once you learn to wield vintage pistols, there won’t be a handgun too complex or difficult to handle.

2. Entering Black Powder Pistol Shooting Contests

A Calico Gunfighter draws a pistol in the streets | powder gun

If you’re looking for something different, try black powder pistol shooting. There are different shooting categories to choose from, but hosts often divide these competitions into 25- and 50-meter events.

Although, the actual guidelines may vary depending on the actual competition hosts. For a more detailed guide on how to enter these contests, reach out to your local black powder pistol shooting clubs and groups.

3. Vintage Gun Collection

Antique American Civil War era rifle and pistols | navy revolver

Black powder pistols are a must-have for any vintage gun collector. They are an important weapon that helped shape the gun industry into what it is today.

In fact, they changed the way people fought wars. Muzzle-loading weapons were first mass-produced during the American Civil War in the 1860s as a primary weapon for the U.S. Army.

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Plus, what makes them unique is they’re usable even in a modern setting. Yes, they take quite some time to learn, but once you master the weapon, you’ll find them quite more versatile than other antique guns.

4. History Appreciation

James Henry Harris | civil war

The black powder pistol is an iconic piece of American gun history. There’s something thrilling about loading a revolver with powder, bullets, and caps yourself then seeing ash-black smoke rise from the muzzle after every shot. It’s a must-have for every history buff turned gun enthusiast.

5. Restrictions Due to Federal Firearms Disabilities

18th Century English Tower heavy dragoon flintlock pistol | black powder

Black powder pistol laws are less limiting. In fact, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Guns, and Explosives (ATF) does not consider these as firearms, but rather, as antiques. Under the correct circumstances, even those subject to federal firearms disabilities can legally purchase and use black powder rifles and pistols.

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Most Important Tips When Shooting With Black Powder Pistols

Black powder pistols are challenging to use, but there are some tips and tricks newbie shooters can follow to make the process simpler and easier, these include:

1. Cleaning the Barrel

Close-up of an old Kubur pistol | powder revolver

You probably know just how messy muzzleloaders can get if you’ve ever shot one in real life. You’re shooting a weapon that you literally shoved gunpowder in through the barrel. Of course, it will be messy.

The black smoke after every shot looks cool, but leaving this puff of powder alone can compromise a shooter’s ability to aim properly. In the worst case, the hardened tar can lead to long-term, irreparable damages.

With that in mind, bring a clean rag with you whenever you’re out shooting rounds, and don’t forego post-shot cleaning. Ideally, wipe the muzzle clean after one or two shots.

2. Learn to Load the Muzzle Properly

Close up on hand of unknown man loading Old black powder Percussion Army Revolver | 1851 navy revolver

Loading the muzzle of a black powder handgun is time-consuming and tedious, but it’s not difficult. You’ll get the hang of it after a couple of rounds.

First, take the empty cylinder round, put on the percussion cap, then discharge the excess oil and gunpowder away from your body. Make sure they don’t contaminate the cap as well.

Next, pour the powder into the cylinder rounds. Refer to the instructions manual of the gunpowder you’re using for specific loading directions.

Afterward, load the ball into the cylinder, then press down the loading lever found under the barrel. Note that some models might require shooters to remove the barrel to access the lever.

Once the balls are secure and positioned tightly into each cylinder, seal the openings with a layer of lube. The lube guides the bullets down the barrel and out of the muzzle for better accuracy and reduced chances of fouling.

After loading all the cylinders, recap the nipples, take your aim, then pull the trigger.

3. Only Use Black Powder

Gun powder and fuze to ammo | for sale

One of the worst mistakes any newbie can commit is using gunpowder varieties on their black powder pistols. As the name suggests, this handgun was made for black powder. Loading the cartridges with any other type of gunpowder (e.g., smokeless powder) would put the shooter at risk and lead to irreversible unit damages.

Check out this video by The Maineiacguy where they demonstrate step by step how to load and fire a black powder pistol:

Now, for the big question: should you get a black powder pistol? If you have an appreciation for classic, antique firearms, we strongly encourage looking into these muzzle-loading pistols. They’re inexpensive, accessible, and most importantly, fun to use.

However, note that black powder pistols are neither efficient nor functional. It takes some time to load the powder and bullets, the large frame makes it unsuited for concealed carry applications, and the gunpowder makes quite a mess. This vintage pistol is a great piece to own, but don’t rely on them for hunting or home defense purposes.

Would you consider adding a black powder pistol to your arsenal? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

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One Response to :
Black Powder Pistol Buyer’s Guide | Eveything You Need To Know

  1. Dennis Withrow says:

    If these are considered “antiques”, is there a “requirement” for getting a “background check”? Also, are these “effective” for personal protection?

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