Ballistics by the inch

Lookin’ Sharp(s).

As anyone who has read much of this blog probably knows, I (and the other BBTI guys) like weird guns. Anything that is innovative, or unusual, or uses a transitional technology, is likely to catch my eye.

One of those I got to try this past weekend is a reproduction Sharps Pepperbox. It was designed by Christian Sharps (of Sharps Rifle fame) in the middle 1800s , and proved to be a popular little hide-away gun in early .22. .30, and .32 rimfire cartridges.

In the 1960s Uberti produced a little .22short reproduction with a brass frame and plastic grips. Here’s one recently listed on Gunbroker which has an excellent description of both the reproduction and the original: Uberti Sharps Pepperbox 4 Barrel Derringer.

And here are some pics of the one we shot this weekend:

As you can see, the barrel assembly just slides forward to allow access to the breech. You put the hammer at half cock, then depress the button latch at the front of the gun, and it slides forward. Then you can drop four rounds of .22short into the barrels:

The assembly then just slides back into position, and locks. When you draw the hammer back, the firing pin (mounted on the hammer) rotates one-quarter of the way around, to strike each cartridge in turn.

Though a modern .22short has a surprising amount of energy, out of such a short barrel you’re looking at a modest 40-50 ft-lbs of muzzle energy. Would I care to be shot by one, let alone 4? Nope. And even the original loads using black powder, which would probably generate no more than about half that M.E., such a little hide-away gun would likely give a person on the other end of the barrels pause, because the risk of disability or death from infection would be significant.

Shooting the pepperbox was easy, and had no perceived recoil. Hitting a target at more than about five or six feet was another matter. Most of us tried it at about 10′, and were lucky to get one or two rounds into a 8″ circle. You might be able to improve on that with practice, but still, this was a gun meant for up close use:

It really is a cool little design, and a fun range toy. Shoot one if you ever get the chance.

Jim Downey

July 26, 2022 Posted by | .22, Anecdotes, black powder, Discussion. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

That takes balls, Part 2: rebound!

Last week I posted about a little Liegi derringer that I finished and did a laser design on. Well, over the weekend I got together with the BBTI gang and, among other things, had a chance to shoot and chrono the little gun.

Here’s a short slo-mo vid of shooting the Liegi:

As expected, shooting the Liegi was simplicity itself: pour in some black powder (FFFg) until the small chamber was filled, set a .451 ball on top, screw down the barrel, then add a #11 cap and it was ready to go.

Because I wanted to chrono the gun, we were shooting it from where we had the chrono set-up, about 15 yards from the bullet trap:

The Labradar system works well, once you get the hang of using it.

There was a fair amount of variation in the multiple shots we chrono’d, ranging from about 380fps to 600+fps, but the average was about 500fps. That gives the 139gr lead ball about 80ft-pounds of muzzle energy — not a lot, but more than I would care to be shot with.

Well, more than I would care to be shot with directly, anyway. Because one of the shots I chronographed bounced off the surrounding wall of the bullet trap, and ricocheted right back and hit me in the leg. It didn’t hurt at all, just tapped me in the thigh. I picked the bullet up off the ground where it landed. Here it is next to another fresh ball:

Note that it is darkened from the combustion, and there’s a slight indentation where it was seated down on the powder chamber of the gun. Here’s a pic that better shows the flattened profile of the bullet:

And here’s what it looks like on the side that hit the building:

And yeah, that means that I missed hitting the opening of the bullet trap (covering door is about 3×6′). I would be embarrassed about that with most handguns at 15 yards, but certainly not with this thing, which was intended to be used at bad-breath distance.

Like I said: fun little project. Now I’ll add it into my collection of black powder guns for regular use.

Jim Downey

July 25, 2022 Posted by | Anecdotes, black powder, Data | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

That takes balls.

I recently picked up a little Pedersoli Liegi Derriger kit. One of the other BBTI guys has one of these things, and I’ve always considered it a cool little piece of firearms history. Cap & ball firearms technology came along in the early part of the 1800s, supplanting flintlocks and earlier ignition systems. The Liegi design was very popular as a basic pocket/boot/muff small handgun, because it was relatively easy to load and carry, and lethal at close range.

The interesting thing about the Liegi is the loading system: you unscrew the barrel, load the powder charge in the chamber, place a round bullet on top of the powder, then screw the barrel back into place. It’s simple and fairly foolproof, and doesn’t even require a powder measure — you just fill the chamber with black powder and it’s the correct amount. Once the gun is loaded and the barrel is in place, you draw the hammer to half-cock, place a cap on the nipple, and the gun is ready. Here’s a short video showing all the steps:

In addition to doing the minor prep work on the walnut stock of the gun, I wanted to add some laser engraving on the side panels. Because it amused me, I decided to use the same basic pattern as I had used for the grips of a very modern handgun, my Customized Timberwolf G21. Here’s a pic of the finished product, and on the next page are pics of the process and comparisons to other small handguns I have:

Pages: 1 2

July 17, 2022 Posted by | .22, .357 Magnum, .38 Special, black powder, Boberg Arms | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments