H Aston US Model 1842 .54 Cal Percussion Cap Single Shot Muzzleloading Pistol

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#1
The H Aston Model 1842 .54 Cal pistol was used by the US Army during the Mexican-American War of 1846 - 1848. However, it is my understanding that it remained in service through the first years of the Civil War (by both sides). I have a H Aston Model 1842 (manufactured in 1849) that I would like to try out at the shooting range. Does anyone know what type of real black powder is used (i.e. FFg or FFFg?) and what load in grains by volume is required (e.g. 25, 30, 35 grains by volume?).
 

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#3
Anyone out there that has shot with a US Aston Model 1842 .54 cal percussion cap pistol? Did you use FFg or FFFg black powder? Did you use 25, 30, 35, etc grain by volume load? Any assistance would be appreciated.
 

captaindrew

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#4
Can't help with your question, I've never shot any of those style pistols, but welcome to the forum from South Florida and the Reenactors Forum. I'm honestly surprised you haven't had any help with this yet, hang in there. I know there's lots of rifle shooters on here including myself. I would guess you could use either FF or FFF but probably lean toward FFF. Not sure how heavy a charge would be best, it's 60g for rifles.
 
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#5
You could probably eyeball it. For example, with the Colt .44 Army revolver Pietta repro I have I use 28 grains of 3FG . When I shot with the N-SSA and used my J P Murray Zoli repro carbine (.58 OS minie) I used 40 grains of 3 FG.
 

WJC

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#7
Welcome! Great question, that should be helpful to many of our members! Be sure to join in our many discussions! Enjoy.
 

DixieRifles

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#9
I would test out some rounds to see what suites you. You aren't going for knock-down power so I would use a light load and coarse grain. Then work up to a comfortable load. That is my philosophy for the boot pistol that I recently picked up.

I'm jealous---would like to try one of those pistols.
Happy & Safe Shooting.
 
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#10
You'll need a lubed patch to go with what ever size diameter round ball you plan to use. Thickness of patch and size of round ball should be figured out beforehand. You may wanna try getting in touch with some of the current N-SSA guys here on CWT. I looked up what model you have, neat-o!! I kinda thought that's what you have. Many of the higher up officers carried them in their saddle holsters during the Mexican war. Speaking of safe shooting, you otta have a gunsmith that knows black powder weapons take a good look at it to see if it's safe to shoot: condition of bore, the cone and if it's clear into the breech and if the cone itself is removable.

Someone here on CWT otta be able to pull up the original specs for loading and firing this. Sorry, but I don't know myself
 
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#11
As requested, photos attached. Yes it is a smooth bore pistol. I won't be needing a gunsmith. I traveled down into the bore using a digital boroscope. No corrosion, no pits, no cracks. The nipple cone is clean and removable. Pistol is also in very good shape on the outside. Half cock and full cock trigger mechanism works very well. The bore ID is 0.54". My readings indicate the use of a 0.535" ball with a 0.010" thick lubed patch is tight and therefore you need to work the ball all the way down with some effort. Others have suggested 0.530" ball with 0.010" lubed patch works much better. Hence I already purchased the lubed ball patchs and 0.530" round balls, as well as the #11 percussion caps (I already tested the #11 caps on the dry pistol several times and they go off quite well). So I am waiting to hear from members who have shot with it. It has not been clear through my readings whether FFg or FFFg is the best fit of black powder for the pistol, and what grain load by volume is needed for this .54 cal pistol. The advise above to start slowly and work my way up is sound. Perhaps both FFg & FFFg powders will work fine. However, I guess I am really keen on using what the pistol was originally designed for. I'd like to feel and experience what those US Army boys felt with their own bare hands. I am thrilled to have this opportunity on a pistol built 170 years ago!

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#12
The .010 lubed patch sounds perfect as does the .530 round ball. See if you can find that size made by Speer. Start off with a light load. If it takes a #11 cap as you say 2 FG may be ok but 3 FG will be fine. These pistols were last ditch defense weapons utilized before the widespread use of revolvers. I'm sure the original loading specs are out there somewhere...……...
 
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#13
I passed through Upperville VA yesterday (west of Middleburg). There's a nice antique gun shop there.This is off Route 50, the John S. Mosby Highway. They had two of your same .54 models for sale, both made in CT.... One was like in NRA Fine condition. Everything in there was way overpriced IMO however. IIRC he wanted like almost 2 K for the one in the best condition. I asked the owner if he knew the correct original powder load for it, and patch/ball size. He told me he had absolutely no idea. Looking at your pics and the two I saw in this gun shop, your lock plate and hammer assembly appears to have been refinished/highly polished.

I priced an original sawback Gew 98 Mauser bayonet and scabbard the owner had for sale in there (WW1 era). I thought $200 was a little too much. 100-150 tops IMO.
 
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#14
I passed through Upperville VA yesterday (west of Middleburg). There's a nice antique gun shop there.This is off Route 50, the John S. Mosby Highway. They had two of your same .54 models for sale, both made in CT.... One was like in NRA Fine condition. Everything in there was way overpriced IMO however. IIRC he wanted like almost 2 K for the one in the best condition. I asked the owner if he knew the correct original powder load for it, and patch/ball size. He told me he had absolutely no idea. Looking at your pics and the two I saw in this gun shop, your lock plate and hammer assembly appears to have been refinished/highly polished.

I priced an original sawback Gew 98 Mauser bayonet and scabbard the owner had for sale in there (WW1 era). I thought $200 was a little too much. 100-150 tops IMO.
Thanks for asking about the powder load. I keep digging through the internet to see if I can get more information. I continue to plan on testing both FFg and FFFg powders, both starting with a light load of 25grains by volume, and working my way up slowly to 35 grains if things seem right. I have not come across any literature suggesting any one going up to 40 grains (which I will NOT do). I am quite comfortable with the 0.530" ball plus 0.015" lubed patch. I have remarked with other readings that a 0.535" ball plus 0.015" lubed patch works, but was too tight for repetitive shooting. I will be patient trying out the gun until I feel there is not much more I can learn about powder loads through members suggestions or internet readings.
 

James N.

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#15
Hi, B Tom - Welcome to the forums from the host of the Stonewall Jackson Forum and another firearms enthusiast!
 
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