The cap and ball loading method is one of the first and earliest methods of loading a revolver. Samuel Colt created the first revolver in 1836 which relied on loose powder and ball, although this meant that the gun would be slow to load, usually requiring around four minutes, the method was practical and dependable. Many other gun companies such as Remington have also created cap and ball revolvers during the 1850s. During the American civil war which lasted from 1861 to 1865 the majority of the revolvers were cap and ball with the exception of Smith and Wesson revolvers which fired self contained metallic cartridges.During the war paper cartridges for percussion cap and ball revolvers were made. The paper cartridges made loading faster and were simply inserted in the cylinder and then capped. Although paper cartridges made percussion revolvers more efficient they were still cumbersome when compared to cartridge revolvers.
When the war ended cap and ball revolvers still remained popular, even when Colt and Smith and Wesson introduced superior cartridge firing revolvers the old cap and ball revolvers still remained popular and many were converted to fire metallic cartridges but soon in the 1870s and 1880s as more convenient cartridge revolvers were introduced they lost their popularity. However one former Union soldier known as Bill Cody kept his Remington cap and ball revolver well into the 1900s. When he parted with his old revolver he stated that it never failed him.
- The revolver is placed to half cock to free the cylinder for rotation.
- A limited amount of black powder is then poured into each of the chambers.
- A felt wad should be placed on the chamber.
- The ball is then seated on the chamber.
- Using a loading lever to push the ball into the chamber, this is then repeated with the remaining chambers.
- The nipples on each of the chambers are then capped with a capper.
- Though not common, a misfire could happen when the revolver is fired (setting off the other charges, resulting in chain-firing), so the chambers should be sealed with lube or beeswax. This will prevent the malfunction by sealing off the powder charge in each chamber.
1. The revolver is placed to half cock to free the cylinder for rotation.
2. A Paper cartridge is seated into a chamber.
3. Using a loading lever, push paper cartridge down into the chamber.
4. The nipples are then capped by a capper and revolver is now ready to fire.