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Thread: Am I the only one who's ROA isn't reliable?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Am I the only one who's ROA isn't reliable?

    I sure feel like it when searching the web. Lots of accuracy tips, lots of gunsmithing, not a single hint of a less than reliable old army.

    I bought mine a few months ago in fantastic condition, it even came with the original box with wrench. The first thing I did before even shooting it was to buy new nipples from Track of the wolf. I have TOTW nipples on all my guns, they work great. I have only tried CCI #11 mag caps, and they work great in every other gun I have. The problem is my gun will not set off caps reliably. By that, I mean half of the time it will not set them off. At first I thought it was a problem seating the caps. I tried different cappers, and really leaned on the hammer to try and seat them. This did not help. I have tried both sets of nipples with no difference at all. I tried first polishing the nipples. Then while in a drill, I turned the nipples down with a file until the caps practically fell on. They are being fully seated, I guarantee it. Still no improvement, if anything it is now worse. My hammer spring seems plenty strong, but I'm considering trying to locate an extra power one anyway.

    Today I called Ruger, and they are sending me out a set of their own nipples to try for free. They say if these don't work, it is a cap problem. They recommend #10 Remington caps. I will try those caps just to see how they work.

    So has anyone else ever had reliability problems with their old army? What was the fix?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Maven's Avatar
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    Arrow

    msm, I had the same cap ignition problem that you have. To wit, it usually took 2 strikes to fire the caps with either the factory nipples or the Uncle Mike's I replaced them with. The Uncle Mike's were no better than the originals. Because the gun was so unreliable, I rarely took it to the range. And you know 2 strikes to fire the gun doesn't exactly make for the most accurate shooting.(LOL) Not long ago I read several glowing endorsements of Slix Shot nipples and, having nothing to lose, purchased a set. Let me tell you, the difference is amazing: The ROA is now as reliable as my CF cartridge revolvers and is as accurate as my BH or SBH.

    One other thing: I'd been using Speer swaged .457" RB's with a felt grease wad underneath, but couldn't get the accuracy I wanted even with the Slix Shot nipples. I then tried home cast .457" RB's from a Lee Precision mould and all was right with the world.

    Hope this helps!

  3. #3
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    I am making a post here, mostly just to follow this thread.

    I guess I consider myself lucky, my ROA with original factory nipples, fires reliably with Remington #10 caps.
    I've also used some DIY caps (successfully/reliably) made with MannyCA's cap maker.

    Also, I used the Lee 457 RB mold with success.
    I tried the Lee Conical mold (with healed base) designed for ROA, and I did NOT have success with that. I also tried loading some GB lee 45 cal collar Button boolits...they were a pain to load and I am sure they got deformed during loading, anyway they were NOT accurate at all.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    When any percussion gun doesn't fire caps the first thing I look for is an off-square hammer blow. Next time look at the caps. Are they dented on one edge but not the other. If so, that is the problem.

    I've never seen this happen with a Ruger Old Army, but I've seen it plenty of times with cap lock rifles. There are thee ways it occurs.

    1. The hammer got bent in a fall or safe rash. The solution is to slightly bend the hammer so that it strikes square.

    2. The owner replaced the nipple with one that is either longer or shorter than it should be. The solution here is obvious.

    3. The owner wants to switch from rifle caps to musket caps, or vice versa. Here the solution is the same as in #1.

    However, since it is happening with your ROA, the correct nipples that Ruger sent you will probably fix it.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    From an old Colt Industries pamphlet (nipples are nipples):
    "Percussion caps are now made in sizes from nine to thirteen. Ten and eleven are the best numbers for the small and medium-sized arms, and twelve for the larger sizes, although, as different-sized nipples are sometimes met in specimens of the same model, no hard and fast rule can be given. It is better to have caps slightly too large than too small, as large caps can be pinched together at the bottom enough so they will stay on the nipples, but small ones must be driven down on the nipple by the blow of the hammer, and this process frequently cushions the blow to the extent of producing a misfire."

    Also, did you strip the gun down to see if there's a spent cap jamming the spring?

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Sorry, curious and have to ask. On a released hammer sitting up behind a clean (no cap) nipple, have you confirmed hard set, just touching, almost touching?

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Mine are both absolute tackdrivers and very reliable!

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    With hammer down on nipple hammer should pinch a 0.002" shim, but not contact nipple when shim is removed. If hammer face or nipples show peening either hammer or nipples are incorrect. Common problem is not adequately cleaning nipple seats and failing to bottom nipples in sockets, so that they stand proud due to fouling.
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  9. #9
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    I also had some problems with CCI #11 Caps. I got new TOTW nipples, layed in a bunch of Remington #10 caps and have had no problems since. I have both the LEE and RCBS .457 RB molds, both cast a great roundball. Outpost75 brings forth some problem possibilities as well, inadequate cleaning of nipples/seats.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by megasupermagnum View Post
    I sure feel like it when searching the web. Lots of accuracy tips, lots of gunsmithing, not a single hint of a less than reliable old army.

    I bought mine a few months ago in fantastic condition, it even came with the original box with wrench. The first thing I did before even shooting it was to buy new nipples from Track of the wolf. I have TOTW nipples on all my guns, they work great. I have only tried CCI #11 mag caps, and they work great in every other gun I have. The problem is my gun will not set off caps reliably. By that, I mean half of the time it will not set them off. At first I thought it was a problem seating the caps. I tried different cappers, and really leaned on the hammer to try and seat them. This did not help. I have tried both sets of nipples with no difference at all. I tried first polishing the nipples. Then while in a drill, I turned the nipples down with a file until the caps practically fell on. They are being fully seated, I guarantee it. Still no improvement, if anything it is now worse. My hammer spring seems plenty strong, but I'm considering trying to locate an extra power one anyway.

    Today I called Ruger, and they are sending me out a set of their own nipples to try for free. They say if these don't work, it is a cap problem. They recommend #10 Remington caps. I will try those caps just to see how they work.

    So has anyone else ever had reliability problems with their old army? What was the fix?
    I, too, have those nipples on mine. They stated them being designed for CCI #11. And the Magnum version all too often needed a second strike so I emailed them. They’re designed for the standard non magnum CCI #11’s which aren’t easy to find. I found Rem #10’s work like a charm! I’ve only found the others online in a ten pack. I don’t want that many if I’m not happy so I just use the Rem.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy

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    I had the same problem with one of my ROA's. I had bought 2 of them brand new at the same time when they were still making them.
    One of them wouldn't fire caps all the time. Tried Tesco nipples, still no go. This went in for years. I bought Super Blackhawk, changed out the mainspring to a lighter one. So I had this factory mainspring assembly sitting around collecting dust .
    I tried it in my ROA, it fixed it. It had a weak mainspring in it from the factory.

    Sent from my Pixel 4 XL using Tapatalk

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outpost75 View Post
    With hammer down on nipple hammer should pinch a 0.002" shim, but not contact nipple when shim is removed. If hammer face or nipples show peening either hammer or nipples are incorrect. Common problem is not adequately cleaning nipple seats and failing to bottom nipples in sockets, so that they stand proud due to fouling.
    You may be on to something here. Not only is my hammer not touching the nipple, there is a sizable gap .010" or .020". I see no way to measure it. I guess ill see if I can get those slix shot nipples, and see if they are taller. On the caps that do not go off, the dent looks even and centered, but not very deep. Sometimes a second strike will set it off.

    Mine is plenty accurate with a ball from my Lee mold. No problem there... If it goes off.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I've got an idea. Tomorrow I'll try it with the nipples turned out half a turn, or whatever it takes to have the hammer touch the nipples. If that fixes it, then short nipples are my problem.

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy
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    Hi, ls it possible that your cylinder is sliding forward such that the hammer blow is damped? Keep nd of like end shake in a revolver cylinder. Just a thought.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Luber View Post
    Hi, ls it possible that your cylinder is sliding forward such that the hammer blow is damped? Keep nd of like end shake in a revolver cylinder. Just a thought.
    Nope, cylinder has minimal end shake.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    ROAs can be dry fired, which means that the hammer should not touch the nipples.

  17. #17
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    I got a good Stainless ROA in the seventies and did not shoot it enough to think I should keep it. Cartridge handguns were so very satisfying. Regret! Double regret on the low price I gave it away for!

    A few years ago a used blue ROA (pre-warning also) came up for sale. The price was more than fair and I got it.
    It has original nipples per the first owner. He never shot it much either...
    One can not be removed. He striped the flats off with the Ruger wrench.

    CC#11 caps are loose and even pinched sometimes fall off.
    Number 10's are a nice tight fit but at least two out of every cylinder full fail to fire on the first hit. Yup- likely not seating all the way - not hard contact.
    I think this thread confirms that for me.

    The CCI #11, when they stay on, fire first time, every time.

    I was thinking I need to build some kind of crimper to keep the #11 from falling off.
    Chill Wills

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Just pinch the base of the 11s between your fingers, making them somewhat oval. No machinery needed. Mine is the same, 10s work when I make sure to really seat them with a capper, 11s need a bit of pinch.
    Note Outpost’s post, hammers could hold a .002 shim between nipple and hammer face, no contact. .010 is 5 times too much clearance.
    “You don’t practice until you get it right. You practice until you can’t get it wrong.” Jason Elam, All-Pro kicker, Denver Broncos

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chill Wills View Post
    I got a good Stainless ROA in the seventies and did not shoot it enough to think I should keep it. Cartridge handguns were so very satisfying. Regret! Double regret on the low price I gave it away for!

    A few years ago a used blue ROA (pre-warning also) came up for sale. The price was more than fair and I got it.
    It has original nipples per the first owner. He never shot it much either...
    One can not be removed. He striped the flats off with the Ruger wrench.

    CC#11 caps are loose and even pinched sometimes fall off.
    Number 10's are a nice tight fit but at least two out of every cylinder full fail to fire on the first hit. Yup- likely not seating all the way - not hard contact.
    I think this thread confirms that for me.

    The CCI #11, when they stay on, fire first time, every time.

    I was thinking I need to build some kind of crimper to keep the #11 from falling off.
    In my case, the TOTW nipples are made specifically for CCI caps (magnums are no different, just extra bang). CCI caps slip on nicely, and stay on. Outside of this particular revolver, I've never had a CCI cap fail. I originally thought as you do that my caps were not seating fully. That was not the case. If yours are tight, the nipples chuck nicely in a drill, then a quick filing followed by a stone or fine sandpaper can take a few .001" off. On my own, I kept going until the CCI caps fall off, as yours do. In my case, that did not help.

    I really hope that all I need is longer nipples. We will see tomorrow.

  20. #20
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    At the factory they used a set of automotive feeler gages which were ground and stoned to have a 0.1" wide by 0.2" long protruding tab.
    The ENEMY is listening.
    HE wants to know what YOU know.
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