Like many of you, I’d always heard the horror stories. How long can you leave black powder guns loaded? Not long, if you believe the anecdotes.
What better model to use than the gunmen of the old west? We think of the Colt Single Action Army as a gun that won the west, but that’s not quite right.
Most men who moved west carried the same gun they carried in the American Civil War. Percussion pistols they’d grown accustomed to in the crucible of combat.
These men lived and died by their guns. They couldn’t afford an unreliable shooting iron.
One old anecdote claims these men unloaded their guns at the end of every day. They would shoot their gun and reload it with fresh powder.
The argument was that they wouldn’t risk a squib load. This daily practice is why they were such darned good shots, too.
I’m Calling Bullshit
Most gunmen of the old west weren’t that good. When you read about the shots fired versus the hits made, most gunmen of the old west just plain suck.
A newbie shooter of the modern age with a 19th century gun could out shoot the old cowboy no sweat. The only thing the old frontiersman had over the modern shooter is testosterone and willpower.
Really, most of the gunslingers of the old west were just liquored up kids. Barely grown men, gambling and whoring it up, usually dying young. I doubt they’d take a break from gambling and whoring and drinking to shoot their gun every day.
Now, I’m not disputing the fact that SOME men did. And they were better than average. But saying that this was normal doesn’t pass the sniff test.
So, then, how long could these men leave their guns loaded and still have a reliable weapon?
My Black Powder Load Longevity Experiment
To find out how long I can leave black powder guns loaded, I left a black powder gun loaded. I loaded my Uberti reproduction Remington New Army Revolver on October 11th.
I carried it some, but I didn’t shoot it until I made the video below. The only thing I did to it during this time period was capping and uncapping it.
That’s a span of 4 months. Quite a bit longer than the 24 hour time period reported in these old stories.
What happened? Watch the video below for the answer.
How Long Can You Leave Black Powder Guns Loaded?
How long? Truthfully, I’m not sure.
But I can tell you one thing for sure. You don’t have to unload the damned thing at the end of every shooting day.
If you can, then by all means, get some target practice and replace that load with a fresh one. Only good can come from that.
Just don’t think you absolutely HAVE to. That’s just an old range tale.