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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I met a friend online who does some re-enactment shooting. She wanted to use a Schofield, but says that her husband will not allow her to do that because he has heard that Schofields are prone to chain-fire accidents and are therefore not safe.

After asking more questions, because I own two Schofields (an original and a Uberti) and shoot them both, I discovered that the risk of chain fire was being linked to the idea that you have to use black powder in a Schofield (not true, of course -- even with an original 1876 Schofield, one could use cowboy action loads).

My question is: has anyone heard of chain fires occurring in a Schofield cartridge revolver? Or in any cartridge revolver shooting black powder loads? If so, under what circumstances? I'm not going to try to correct my friend's husband if he is mistaken, but I'd like to know, for safety and general information. I did find an article which indicates that chain fires are primarily a problem with cap and ball revolvers. Preventing chain firing

Thanks for any replies.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Yeah I don't see how ANY cartridge revolver would be subject to that, under ordinary use. :confused:

"I heard" can usually be substituted as "I have an opinion with absolutely no basis whatsoever."
 

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I do believe that in a fire the Individual Cartridges would 'cook off' at different times as they individually reached the auto Ignition temperature since the Mass of the gun and cylinder would delay heating of some cartridges.
Best Regards,
Chev. William
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks

Thanks to all of you. That's what I figured. I wish I could help my friend, but she would be offended if I tried to correct her husband, and he would be even more so. I suppose he would prefer to be safe rather than being knowledgeable.

I took my 140-year-old Schofield out shooting today. Used FFg BP for 36 rounds, then switched to Pyrodex when I ran out of the BP I brought with me. It was still shooting, moving freely, and hitting the target after 50 rounds, while my Uberti Schofield Hideout was doing nothing of the kind, even though half the rounds I fired through it were smokeless. I did apply Breakfree to it and it was able to stagger through 36 rounds, 18 of which were BP.

The Pietta Millennium 1873 SAA stopped working altogether (would not lock in at full cock) after about 12 rounds, 6 of which were BP, even after getting some lubrication. It's going back to the gunsmith.
 

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I bet a Detailed Close Inspection and Measureemts of Both of Your Schofield revolvers would show you why the 140 year old one functions relaibly whiel the New build one doesn't.

Best Regards,
Chev. William
 

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I don't see the difference with any revolver whether it be a colt, S&W, Schofield or whatever. I have had a few chain fires with my cap and ball revolvers, but with a small amount of common sense, I've never experienced any of that in a cartridge weapon. I shoot them all the time in re-enactments and to my knowledge have never heard of anybody ever having one chain fire.
 

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...even with an original 1876 Schofield, one could use cowboy action loads).
Please do not do this and do not repeat this on the internet. The pressure peak for even the lightest smokeless loads is higher than the total pressure of original BP loads. The steels and heat treatment of guns from the black powder era was never intended to contain the peak pressure of smokeless powder. To do this is to essentially have a grenade in your hand. You may get away with it a few times but the more you try it the closer you come pulling the pin.

Repeat, DO NOT SHOOT COWBOY OR ANY SMOKELESS AMMUNITION IN ORIGINAL BLACK POWDER HANDGUNS.

Dave
 

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A chain fire in a cartridge revolver is something I've never heard of before.

Dave is right, I'd consider using smokeless powder in a blackpowder gun a bad practice unless the manufacturer states it is safe to do so.
 

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I am with everyone else and have never seen or heard of a chain fire in a cartridge gun. I could see how shooting crimped blank cartridges could do it but same thing never heard of it. I have one 36 cal. cap & ball revolver that has oversized cylinder etc. approximately .040. and if you use 36 cal. bullets etc. it has chain fired.

I would take your Schofield out when they are shooting and use it. Just don't say anything. I think the crimp on a cartridge seals the powder off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks to all for your replies. Thanks especially to MontyF and DaveT for comments about using light smokeless loads in an original black powder revolver. I have seen this practice recommended in several places, but I value my old Schofield and I will take your advice.

You are saying, I take it, that only black powder or recognized black powder substitutes should be used in it. I have plenty of both, and will stick with those.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I bet a Detailed Close Inspection and Measureemts of Both of Your Schofield revolvers would show you why the 140 year old one functions relaibly whiel the New build one doesn't.

Best Regards,
Chev. William
Yes, I've looked at the gas check rings on both; also at the same thing on a Pietta Colt clone. The original Schofield has a very robust gas ring. The Pietta has one, though a bit shorter. And the Uberti has next to nothing there. So that's how that is.

I'm more than a little distressed when I see ads on Dixie Gun Works saying that you can shoot black powder in an Uberti Schofield. Well, you can, but I don't think you'd like the result. Kind of irresponsible of them, don't you think?

And no, I didn't see those ads until after I bought my Uberti. I knew there would be trouble shooting black powder through it, though I wasn't aware of a lot of the detailed reasons for that.
 

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A cartridge revolver can chain fire with the wrong primers. Use a LR primer in a LP pocket and you get a slam fire. A shell out of battery is deadly.
Chain fires in a C&B is not from the front with lube and a tight ball, no way to get flame in. It is from the rear, past a loose cap or cracked cap. Maybe a missing cap. Usually does no harm, just a lead smear on the barrel wedge.
Now there is a fact with a few revolvers like an old Colt. Sharp firing pin punctured the primer, gas came back to cock the hammer but the trigger is still back so it doubles or triples, full auto. Not chain fire. Chain fire is another chamber going off out of battery. A nipple change can fix it, some have large holes. A cap should not contact the recoil plate.
 
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