View Full Version : lube
08-07-2009, 12:07 PM
I normally shoot lubed patched balls in my Springfield, what would be a good lube for firing mini balls?
08-07-2009, 12:51 PM
I use plain beeswax. After 1859 the English switched to pure beeswax for Enfield cartridges. The first two or three rounds go down real easy in a clean bore, by which point your barrel heats up and melts the beeswax as the ball is being rammed. Last week I fired 60 consecutive rounds from my Enfield without having the slightest difficulty ramming, and without wiping the bore once. My thoughts are that if I'm going to shoot a Civil War era rifle, I'm going to do it the same way it was done historically.
If you're shooting very tight fitting Minies, like the popular .575's, beeswax might not be sufficient. If you want to use the historically accurate lube, the "Reports of Experiments with Small Arms" of 1856, which established the Minie cartridge in American military use, specifies one part beeswax and three parts tallow. The Minies were dipped into the hot lube, and the base of the bullet carefully wiped clear of grease, so that it wouldn't contact the powder cylinder.
If you're just shooting for fun and aren't interested in doing exactly what the soldiers did historically, there are a million preferences and countless folks on this forum who all have their own particular loyalties to a certain brand of lube. Bore Butter is probably the most popular. Some just lube the cannelures of the Minie, others pack lube into the entire hollow base. Everyone swears by their own particular method.
My only suggestion is to avoid Crisco. When I first started live firing some other reenactors said "just use Crisco", and I used it for a time because it's a cheap alternative to more expensive brands of real muzzleloader lube. It was just a smelly, foul, awful runny dripping mess.
Actually, I lied. Another suggestion is to gauge and size all your Minie balls, whether you cast them yourself or order them. I learned too late that the supposedly ".575-caliber" Minies I was shooting were anywhere between .580 and .582, and got a bullet stuck so hard in my barrel that a gunsmith had to remove the breech plug and pound it out with a brass rod. It's an inconvenient way to have your barrel slugged!
My two cents, anyhow.
Craig L Barry
08-07-2009, 02:04 PM
Second that...beeswax is good, or a related product like bore butter.
Beeswax, but if you've got ducats to spend, SPG.
08-08-2009, 12:02 PM
Ditto on SPG. The authentic recipe for beeswax/tallow is the least expensive. You can get the same result substituting Crisco for tallow since the beeswax makes Crisco (or tallow) 'stiff' so it doesn't melt or run. With softer lube (like SPG), on a hot day you can place a tupperware like container holding the lubed bullets into an ice cooler with your lunch and drinks and take out the bullets several at a time, keeping the lube firm until ready to fire. So it doesn't look excessively farb, I use a soft, zip up cooler that just fits into a hardtack box, providing additional insulation, turning the box into a small refrigerator for all my perishables.
08-08-2009, 05:51 PM
One should at least try the original tallow/beeswax at least to experience what they used.
08-08-2009, 06:46 PM
Genuine tallow is fun to make and use, just a little labor intensive. The amount of labor can be cut down substantially by having the butcher roughly grind the beef fat instead of cutting it up into little bits yourself before rendering it.
08-08-2009, 08:40 PM
Just don't smear it onto cartridges being issued to your Hindu sepoys.
08-08-2009, 10:29 PM
Another reason to sustitute Crisco for tallow...
08-09-2009, 12:39 PM
Google "Blue Heron Mercantile," click on "Misc", and you'll find a beeswax/tallow mixture for about a dollar an ounce. I'm still working on an eight-ounce tin I bought five years ago. I'm not shooting with it, but I am using it for a lot of things, from leather to bores to stocks to the surface of the tabletop we use for the commissary in some living histories and the surface of one of my desks at home. It is great stuff, produces a tough waxy finish without a lot of flash. I'm even using it for some of the metal fittings around the pool, to keep threads from getting rusty or otherwise corroding. It always amuses me to find a 21st century application for a 19th century device or product. :-) It's the Luddite coming out to play, I guess.
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