Cleaning enough to keep shooting?

Joined
May 25, 2018
Messages
156
Location
Fennville, MI USA
#1
When I shoot my 1853 Enfield I only shoot abut 6-7 times and stop because the bullets are getting a bit harder to push down the barrel, not excessive, but did not want to get to that point. I clean after every shooting quite thoroughly. But in Civil War times and others, how did they manage to get their barrels clean enough to keep on shooting without the risk of getting a Minnie' ball stuck from going all the way down?
 

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#2
What bullets-lube are you using?
What is your bore size?
What size/diameter "bullets" are you shooting?
What powder are you using?
What "Enfield" are you shooting?

Kevin Dally
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Messages
360
Location
Fairfax, VA, USA
#4
You may be experiencing no or more problems.

You may be experiencing a lubrication failure. You have to have lube that leaves the powder fouling in the barrel soft. Wonder Lube 1000 is not adequate for the purpose with Minie balls. SPG is available commercially and works, but there are better lubes available from the sutlers who deal with N-SSA shooters. Go to the N-SSA forum and search lubrication for a number of discussions on the matter. Personally, I prefer MCM. The Federal Army used four parts bees' wax to one part tallow. Don't use anything that uses petrolium products in it. They cause fouling in the bore.

The lubricant goes in the lubrication grooves of the bullet, not in the hollow base of the bullet. All putting it in the base does is muck up the powder charge.

Having said that, consider the following:

The bullet has to be properly sized: no more than .001 to .002 inches under bore diameter with the bore measured with machinist's plug gauges, not with a caliper. Any smaller, and the bullets will not scrape fouling adequately when they are fired.

You have to use enough powder to expand the bullet so that it will scrape the bore. Generally a minimum of 45 grains of Swiss FFFg or 50 grains of GOEX FFFg, and about 5 grains more of each if you are using FFg.

The bore has to be brushed and cleaned with water based cleaning solutions, dried and oiled. WD40 is a very poor preservative for use with black powder arms because it gums up the bore. The oil has to be cleaned out of the bore before you shoot the musket.

Assuming that the bore of your musket isn't pitted, a properly cleaned gun, using properly lubricated and sized bullets, with a proper powder charge should go over a hundred rounds before you experience any issues getting bullets down the bore. I have frequently shot more than that in practice, and I never brush or clean my musket and carbine until the end of the day during N-SSA matches.

Let the lube wars begin.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 
Last edited:
Joined
May 25, 2018
Messages
156
Location
Fennville, MI USA
#5
Yes, I know about the grease groves. I shot a Remington .44 back when I was in high school in Nebraska, 1971, and both my Cousin Rick and I had BP pistols we carried around and shot. I cast the .451 round balls for our pistols and even got a minnie ball mould for the pistols and we learned just to grease the grooves. We used wheel bearing grease back in those days.

Later on I built a 50 caliber Hawkins when I lived in Nebraska. That was around 1984ish. Shot round ball out of it with spit patch.

I've hand loaded for rifle and pistol since 1971 and when I had a .44 Super Blackhawk pistol I cast bullets for it and a friend of mine had a sizer lubricator for putting lube in the groove and sizing the bullet.

I lube up the Minnie' balls just before I shoot them and lay them on the table. Smear that lube in all the grooves very well.

Since I cast my bullets out of pure lead I don't have a sizer die for this rifle as I do not know the actual "exact" bore diameter, but the bullets fit smoothly down the bore.

I use 55 grains of Goex FFg real black powder. I'm not afraid of using more, but if you over charge you waste powder as it just gets blown out the end of the barrel. I haven't run these bullets on my chronograph yet, but might do that someday.

I've built 3 rifles from scratch (being 80% completed AR lowers) having to mill out the area of the fire control group, the .308 has a 1:11 twist barrel with 5R rifling and the 6.8 SPC II barrel is 1:11.25 twist also with 5R rifling (5 lands and groves). I have a multitude of pistols and other rifles and have been shooting since I was 7 back in 1960. I say this not to brag, but to give you all an idea of my diversity and background into what I know about firearms. I just didn't stumble across the idea to get a 1853 Pattern Enfield a few weeks ago and have no clue on it.

I just was not sure from multiple firing the actual number of shots I could expect before I run "afoul" of problems with loading the bullet. Back in the HS days I used Crisco for the lube rings and wheel bearing grease for the round balls at the end to prevent chain firing.

Using this Wonder Lube 1000 seems like the remaining "soot" is soft, not hard. Since I'm casting using LEE and Lyman molds (one is back at Lyman, a 460gr Old Style that actually made 510 gr bullets) I see that they fit, but don't have a resizer, and probably won't get a resizer.

I do have some other lube, seems a bit harder and comes in a little tin. Will know when I get back home what it is, exactly.
 
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May 25, 2018
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#6
20180602_221518923.jpg
Oh, and for cleaning I use HOT water and Dawn dish soap and lot of flushing. I take off the barrel, remove the nipple and use a swab to draw water into the barrel and push it back out again through the nipple area (no nipple in barrel at the time). Then swab some more with patches and dry and afterwards use Kroil with a patch to put a thin film on the inside of the bore and around the nipple area.
 

Booner

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
May 4, 2015
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Boonville, MO
#7
I believe Mr. Dixon has given you some good advise, and I see he is a member of the N-SS, so he knows of what he speaks.
This is by no means critical of what you are doing or of your firearm experience; but black powder is different than centerfire, (and both are different of .22lr!)

Make sure you clean that bore out of kroil! As I've said before, and Mr. Dxon has said, black powder dosent like modern petrolium-based products in the bore-they induce fouling. Perhaps, just before you shoot, you run a patch down the bore with alcohol or break cleaner on it to clean out the oil? Give it a little time to evaporate, then start shooting, or after you clean the bore, run a patch down with your lube on it to condition the bore?

And you said you have no intentions of getting a sizer (re-sizer), as the bullet has no problem going down the bore. What ever the size of the bullet being cast is what size I would get a sizer. Let's say the mold casts a 0.577 bulllet, get a sizer that size because I'd be willing to bet that that bullet out of the mould isn't exactly round, and the sizer will make it so. I'd also get a sizer 0.001 or 0.002 smaller than what your mould casts. Sizers are not very expensive, and with a wooden block and a hammer and dowel you've got a complete "sizer" system.

I'd be willing to bet that, "back in the day" the boys in the regiment were issued bullets that were undersized by 0.002 or 0.003 to solve some of the loading problems caused by bore fouling. They weren't involved in Target shooting.

Also there's this; I have seen on other forums where the powder of 150+ years ago was more moist than the powder we use today, thereby the fouling isn't as much as a problem as with a drier powder. I use 2f goex in my 45-70 sharps. I understand that Swiss powder is more moist than goex. It's something I'd like to try in order to reduce the fouling/leading problem I sometimes have. It would probably help if I reduce the powder charge and/or increase the tin percentage in cast bullets to 1 in 20.
 
Joined
May 25, 2018
Messages
156
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Fennville, MI USA
#8
Lee mold that is throws a 527 grain bullet is .577 at the base. The Lyman mold that is supposed to be 405 gr (throws a 394 (gr) is 0.579" at base. The Lyman 460 Old Style I "had" (sent back to Lyman per their request) threw a 500 grain bullet, and has a base diameter of 0.580. This was the one that when shooting seemed to be getting tighter after about 6-7 shots.

I use 55 gr FFg Goex black powder (found locally for $24.95/lb) and from targets shot at 100 yards appears to expand out the base quite sufficient, and the bullet does not tumble but hits the target square.

The 405 gr Lyman (actual 394.4 gr) shoots a might high compared to the heavier 500 grain bullets. Used the same measure amount... pic of the cut hole.

I could grease the bore when done cleaning with this Wonder Lube 1000 PLUS for post cleaning on the bore, rather than the Kroil. In fact, on the small bottle of this greasy stuff, it says to thoroughly lube bore and parts with it and to not use petroleum, or chemical products as theses may cause fouling and corrosion.

So it might be a good alternative to actual Kroil penetrating oil.

Years ago on the grooves I used to use Crisco.

What is the reason that petroleum products, such as molly based grease or wheel bearing grease would cause fouling with Black Powder?

I also have a new can of SPG lubricant I got in the mail the other day, "The King's Choice" it says on the back. :smile:

If my bullets are loose now going down the bore, a sizer will just make them looser or have no effect at all. I'ver never heard of.. "wooden block, mallet and hammer" approach. Although sizer dies not horribly expensive, the Lyman 1500 sizer is rather pricey.

20180612_114804141.jpg
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
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5,382
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Texas
#9
The big lesson I had to learn in shooting a repro ArmiSport Enfield was you cannot get accuracy out of a .575" bullet, out of a .581" bore! When I bought a Minnie ball mold that dropped them at .580", THEN I started getting great accuracy!

Kevin Dally
 
Joined
Mar 12, 2018
Messages
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Mobile, AL
#10
Nothing to do with the post, but had to comment on the avatar- I spent 10 yrs with NCIS before transferring to another agency. Great show, albeit a little too hollywood-ized for my taste. But assuming your last name is Gibbs, it's perfect!
 
Joined
Jul 17, 2015
Messages
109
Location
NC
#11
I also shoot NSSA. From what you're saying about the sizing of the minies, your bore is NOT .577 if you're able to get a minie that drops from the mold at .580 in the barrel.

Here's the straight scoop, take it or not. Nearly ALL of the repops have differing bore sizes and some differ depending on where in the bore you measure. Get a range of pin gauges, they're not expensive, or get a machinist to check the size of your bore. For best accuracy, this is the first step. Next, get minies that are sized .001-.002 under your bore size. To do that, best way is get a mold that drops a bullet at or just above your bore size, and then pass it through a sizing die to get an absolutely concentric bullet with a known consistent size. Just because Lyman or Lee says a mold is X doesn't make it so, only testing will yield the true size. Both of my Colt Contracts have .580 bores. I cast a Rapine Trashcan and Hogdon minie at .580. I size to .579. Point to using a sizer is to uniform the concentricity of the bullet because the mold that is perfectly round hasn't been made yet and to insure the size is just under bore. Key is to cast over bore size, squeeze in a sizer die to just under. Sizers run about $35 and you can use them in an arbor press with a dowel or get ones like I'm using that fit a standard 7/8x14 thread in a single stage reloading press.

Next, lube is critical to success. AVOID anything that is a petroleum derivative as it will aggravate the fouling issue. Lots of folks run a mix of crisco/beewax/olive oil with great success. I use a lube that is sold at our home range called Lens Lube on my Trashcans and both of the Colts will stack the trashcan bullets into one big hole at 50yds and I can shoot 20+shots before even beginning to feel some fouling crunchiness. The Hogdons however, don't shoot nearly as well with Lens as with plain crisco, go figure. Point here is you have to experiment. I've had success with MCM lube as well. It's available from Northeast Trader. His link is on the NSSA home page under Links/Sutlers.

Powder- not all black powder is equal. Just as during the War, powder is made in differing grades and I don't mean "f"s. In our modern arms, plain red can Goex is ok but there is much better available. Don't get caught up in price. Swiss is about the best going with Old Eynsford running a close second. Schutzen has a rep of burning quite dirty. You will see accuracy differences between types and "f"s and only experimenting and keeping records of the results will tell what your gun likes. As for caps, RWS only. CCI reenactor ones might ignite it, but are very inconsistent for accuracy purposes. Let's face it, reenactors are only shooting blanks. Charge levels, from what I've observed, with 3f, best accuracy is about 60% of service charge. Some guns like 2f v 3f, you have to experiment.

Lead- wheel weights a big NO NO. Use pure, dead soft lead. I get mine from a local salvage yard where contractors who remove it from operating rooms and xray labs dispose of it. Usually it's sold at spot price, like about $.91/lb.

So where does this leave us? Well, my 1st Gen Parker Hale 2 band- bullet 579 Hogdon pure lead (sized from 580), 43gr 3f Old Eynsford, crisco lube filling the large ring and just a smidge in the base, RWS caps. At 100yds will put 10 shots into about 3 inches. On my Colt Contract 2 band, same load, about 4 inches. My musketoon- Parker Hale with Whitacre match barrel- bullet 576 Hogdon pure lead, 42gr Old Eynsford, crisco lube filling large ring and smidge in the base, RWS caps. At 100yds will shoot about 4 inches.

All of the aforementioned guns will run 10+shot strings with no fouling issues or drop off of accuracy. Cleaning is with Windex patches followed by Ballistol patches followed by a conventional oil patch and of course, cleaning out the flash channel and nipple. Before shooting, I dry patch the bore to remove as much oil as possible and fire at least 3-4 caps before loading to insure a dry bore.

Just as you established your bona fides, here's mine. I have built multiple rifles, AKs, FALs, ARs, etc, was very active in 3gun, IDPA, IHMSA, NRA HP and dabbled in the current precision rifle fad. I've also been hand loading for about 40 years. Most of what I learned in all that stuff, pretty much didn't apply to black powder, it's an animal all unto itself. The only commonality is methodology of experimentation, control variables, record, adjust, repeat. And, shooting technique is critical to success. If you can shoot one of these critters offhand well, you'll be a rock star with an AR. All told, I wish I had started first in NSSA, it's been a great ride learning how to make these guns shoot well and it's a blast to compete in. No other format has been this much fun.
 
Joined
May 25, 2018
Messages
156
Location
Fennville, MI USA
#12
Lead- wheel weights a big NO NO. Use pure, dead soft lead. I get mine from a local salvage yard where contractors who remove it from operating rooms and xray labs dispose of it. Usually it's sold at spot price, like about $.91/lb.
Funny that you mention this as just today I stopped a a CLOSE recycling place about 6 miles from my home (after calling all around miles away) and bought 35 pounds of lead for $1.00 / pound 2 pieces of lead pipe and a big sheet of lead that has some paper backing on it in places, like you would see on drywall. Makes me think it was probably from X-Ray as was not that thick but bends quite easy. Yes, I am long aware of how important pure lead for BP is for best shooting. No wheelweight or other lead sources that might add hardening alloys like tin or antimony to the lead. I bought some lead from Roto Metals as was guaranteed to be 100% soft pure lead, but is a bit pricey.

I only have CCI re-inaction caps at the time and had to search long for them. RWS are not around here locally. I believe they are superior, though have not used them, just from all the info I have read in various forums. Will keep looking but will NOT even look at the local Dick's Sporting. long story. Shipping them is rather expensive as is shipping different black powders like Swiss, since it is an explosive. Found one source 45 miles away that carries it,the REAL stuff. Everyone else carries Pyrodex, etc . Michigan has a lot of black powder deer hunters and these guys use inline, special sabots, pellets, and who knows what to shoot deer. So you would think that there would be a LOT more choices for BP shooters.

We watch NCIS all the time it's on and even have all the episodes from seasons. Gibbs is not my last name, but Jenewein. I have several SIG Sauer pistols I shoot as well. Just liked the name and I have an Avatar that fits that name. :smile: The show has some real whoppers at times, especially when Ducky dug out a supposed .338 bullet from a .338 Lapua Magnum rifle from the skull of a Mexican drug dealer.... and it was only about 1/4- 1/2" long. That bullet would have entered, left the skull left the vehicle and be lodged somewhere in the dirt. But enjoy the show even though it does have it's boo boos.

The 510 grain bullet (that was supposed to be 460 gr) actually was a bit bigger near the base and seemed to shoot quite well. Sights suck on this rifle as I had to build up the front a bit just to get it where I cut the front sight as lean as possible and just at the 6 O'Clock position to get it near the bulls eye at 100 yards. I "can" get it worked over with a new lock on the side that says 1862 Tower as well as other changes that will make it more like my Great Grandfather Jacob Jennewein's 1862 Tower he had during his service during the war (from Wisconsin - Honey Creek) My Cousin Larry says he can't even hit a paper target at 50 feet with that old rifle, and wondering if it's because of the pitting (possible) in the bore, if he is shooting wheel weight Minnie's that don't grab the rifling tight and tumble coming out.

The target from the bullets of the mold I sent back to Lyman... probably should have kept it :frown:
 

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Jul 17, 2015
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NC
#13
Funny that you mention this as just today I stopped a a CLOSE recycling place about 6 miles from my home (after calling all around miles away) and bought 35 pounds of lead for $1.00 / pound 2 pieces of lead pipe and a big sheet of lead that has some paper backing on it in places, like you would see on drywall. Makes me think it was probably from X-Ray as was not that thick but bends quite easy.
Yup, that'd be xray room lead. Doesn't have to be terribly thick to block medical xrays, emitted radiation is orders of magnitude lower than a nuc reactor! Great stuff for minies. Not sure about the lead pipe.

The 510 grain bullet (that was supposed to be 460 gr) actually was a bit bigger near the base and seemed to shoot quite well. ............................... My Cousin Larry says he can't even hit a paper target at 50 feet with that old rifle, and wondering if it's because of the pitting (possible) in the bore, if he is shooting wheel weight Minnie's that don't grab the rifling tight and tumble coming out.

The target from the bullets of the mold I sent back to Lyman... probably should have kept it :frown:
That's why you need a sizing die. The minie will be X diameter all the way and be round as well. A very good investment! I have several for a couple guns I shoot in NSSA. The weight variation isn't unusual. A mold maker can say a mold is X dia and drops Y weight, but that's with his lead alloy at his furnace temps at his place using his pour method. There are a couple places we get molds from. Check our Links tab on our website and click on Sutlers. Moose makes good molds as does Tennessee. I have others from NOE and RCBS too. Rapine is no longer in business but others have been copying his molds and I have an original TrashCan that I use for my 1862s. Lee made a version of it that drops right at 577 for me. I size to 576 for the musketoon and it's a laser at 50yds. My NOE and Tennessee molds are really good quality stuff. The NOE is very close to stated size and drops 3 Smith bullets at a fill. My Tennessee is of equal quality is is a 2 cavity for my Sharps. But before buying another mold, I'd suggest you find out exactly what your bore size is.

Larry can't hit anything with the rifle probably for several reasons. Pitting isn't as big an issue as you'd think. That is more a factor in fouling building up. There are some guys in the NSSA shooting originals with pitted bores that are extremely accurate. I'd say it's more likely his minies are WW or some other hard alloy or they're completely the wrong size or lube is an issue. Or maybe Larry just can't shoot for shinola :D!

As far as buying supplies goes, I've been caught short on stuff but if you order from Powder Inc, you can combine the shipment of powder and caps to keep that hazmat fee down. There's really no replacement for the RWS or Schutzen caps. If you can make it to Ft Shennandoah for one of our shoots, Back Creek is at the exit gate to the Ft and sells a variety of powder and caps at a very reasonable price. It's pretty much a normal thing to make a stop on the way out to stock up.
 
Joined
May 25, 2018
Messages
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Fennville, MI USA
#14
There's really no replacement for the RWS or Schutzen caps.
So, besides RWS the Schutzen percussion caps are also very good? I have seen them on the web for a little less than the RWS. Darn hazmat fee is a deal breaker for me though. I want to try them to see how they do against the CCI caps I have.

I am not a re-enactor, nor a competitor. I bought the rifle to someday "turn" it into a working exact copy of Great Grandpa Jennewein's Enfield Tower 1862, and to shoot it just for some fun. I live on 10 acres in the country and shoot the SIG Sauer and S&W pistols, the home "made" rifles I have, and do some reloading for both the .308 and the 6.8 SPC II rifle. I have one other BP firearm, a Remington copy in .44 (actually .451) along with 2 extra cylinders for it. Haven't shot it since moving here to Michigan in 1999.

I shoot in a competition of one, me, at targets down range on my own back yard shooting range. Needing to shot 1 hole groups might be very nice, but not necessary for my shooting fun. Getting very soft lead that expands the base so it can seal and grip the 1:48" rifling of this rifle is important, and from the examinations of the targets I don't seem to be getting that problem. You can tell a lot about how the bullet if performing by the impression on the target and if you look above (and it looked better at the time I took the target down ) even my 405 grain bullets are expanding and gripping the sides of the barrel to seal and provide spin so that they don't wobble or tumble when they get there. It always stay sub sonic so there is no issue with the bullet that is supersonic destabilizing when it looses velocity and becomes sub sonic.
 
Joined
Jul 17, 2015
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NC
#15
Looking at your target pic, if that was at 50yds, you have work to do. If it's 100yds, not too bad, could improve a bit. If you're ok with that level, then you're there.

The reason I'm looking for Nth degree accuracy out to 100yds, it helps to mitigate some of the shooter wobble since we shoot offhand, that is standing up, holding the rifle on our own. Targets are about 8moa so at 50yds, they're at most 4in in diameter. Now couple the offhand position with the fact we are speed shooting against other teams and the clock and a gun that shoots 3in at best at 50yds is pretty marginal. In our individual match, accuracy coupled with skill is the winning combo.

Print of the bullet impact can tell if its yawing around it's axis but it really isn't a good indicator of accuracy, just that the bullet is stable on impact. I have a couple molds that drop great bullets that size perfectly that cut very nice round holes at 100yds. Only problem, those nice round holes are a group of about 15in. That could be due to several factors but playing with variables didn't show much improvement so those molds are now in a drawer against the day I have a gun that will shoot them well. There's been quite a bit of discussion about aerodynamics of our bullets, but sheer size and the pokey velocity >generally< makes transonic effects negligible. Transonic is far important with boat tail bullets whose length to caliber ratio is higher than 3. The simplistic gist of that discussion is the shockwave has more surface area to act on for say a 308 168gr SMK than a 58 cal minie at 480gr+. Think thin skinny arrow shaft v brick.
 
Joined
May 25, 2018
Messages
156
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Fennville, MI USA
#17
Nipples: Got in a new nipple today, Stainless Steel, from Track Of The Wolf. This is the right nipple for my Chiappa Enfield as it is 8 x 1.0 mm threads and pitch. Had to send back the other as it was wrong at 8 - 1.5mm. I am curious about all your opinions of the new nipple. The flash hole seem to be quite small compared to the original. I added a picture in comparison. It is substantially smaller in diameter than the original. Will this small of a hole cause issues with setting off the powder? I guess I would think a bit bigger or at least the same size as the original would be better.

One thing about such a small hole is less pressure can escape from it as the bullet travels down the barrel compared to a larger hole.

musket-nipple-orig-new.jpg
 
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May 25, 2018
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Fennville, MI USA
#18
Well, I got my own answer. I went out after supper and shot the musket with the new nipple and it's small hole. It shot like I had a flintlock..... shhhhBOOM . After 4 rounds I changed out to my original and the other 4 shots were like normal shooting, well as close as BP is. Very little delay with the original with larger hole. BIG delay with that new nipple. Just wanted to post back my finding, my opinion, FWIW. Tomorrow I get out the small drills and put it in my drill press and enlarge that tiny hole.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2008
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Fairfax, VA, USA
#19
Don't enlarge the small hole. That's the way its supposed to be. Your old nipple is WAY burnt out, and one reason you're having accuracy problems. Get good caps. Then it will go bang with the new nipple.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 
Joined
Jul 17, 2015
Messages
109
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NC
#20
^^^^What Don said. That's the way it's SUPPOSED to be. Shooting garbage caps is why you're having ignition issues with the right cone. My guns all have that small hole and I don't have ignition problems but I shoot RWS caps, not the CCI junk.
 


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