Educational Zone #65 – Building a Black Powder Pistol

A while back, my friend Kikilee told me:

“Here’s the deal. I have a new in the box, 30 year old (warranty card dated 1978), .45 cal, Philadelphia Derringer kit. This is one of those CVA build it yourself jobs. It even comes with 100 .45 cal lead balls.

I will send this to you absolutely free, but, here is the catch, (you knew there was a catch) you must build it and after it is complete you have to take it out and touch this bad boy off! Fire for effect…

Of course the build and the range trip must be fully documented, in your usual manner, for our enjoyment (picture heavy). Are you up for it? If you are just IM me a mailing address and I will send it out.”

How could I pass up on a deal like that? So, I sent him the address and he sent me the kit.

Here it is.

Here it is.

It was just like the day it was shipped in 1978.

As a matter of fact, I bought one of these kits that was a Kentucky Pistol back around 1970 and built it then.

It would be fun to see if I could do a better job on this one.

I looked on their site and it appears that CVA no longer makes or sells these kits. That meant “no spare parts”.

Better not mess anything up. We did find some on Dixie Gun Works site, but they now list for over $140.00.

With Tman’s help, we unpacked it and looked it over.

The parts “kind of” fit into the inletting, but not quite.

It would take a little final fitting.

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To find out where it was rubbing, I smoked the parts with a candle and then pressed them into the stock.

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The resulting black marks are where it is rubbing and you simply remove a little wood in that area.

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Smoke and fit and remove a little wood. Smoke and fit and remove a little wood.

You get the idea.

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The barrel also needed a little tweaking to fit right.

The tang was also not bent enough, so we bent it to fit.

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As a final check, the hammer needed to line up properly with the nipple.

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One of the biggest problems was that the trigger guard was bent all wrong.

We tried to slowly bend it into the proper shape, but then it broke across the rear screw hole.

We did some research and found that this was a very common problem with these kits.

The brass trigger guards were very brittle.

I got my friend Vern to braze it back together for us and we spent quite a while reshaping it to fit.

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We worked on it with a Drimmel Tool.

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I filed on it with a big file.

It finally looked like it should, and Tman polished it up for final assembly.

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One of the hardest parts of the project was to drill a hole through the front tang and stock for the front pin.

You only get one chance to mess this one up.

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After a lot of measuring, we finally got it done.

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I made the pilot holes in the stock for the brass plates that go around the front pin.

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It was then time to start the finishing work.

I cold blued the barrel and screw heads.

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Meanwhile, Tman did his usual magic on the stain for the stock.

He then would take it to his house and put on the poly finish.

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Here are all the parts after we were through with them.

Here are all the parts after we were through with them.

We had to do a little final fitting on the front brass plates.

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And here's the finished pistol, ready to shoot.

And here’s the finished pistol, ready to shoot.

Conclusions:

I think it turned out nice.

To be perfectly honest, it was a lot more difficult to do well than it might appear. The poorly fitting of all the parts required a lot of hand-fitting. This would not be a project for a inexperienced craftsman. It could be very frustrating.

In Part Two, we will take it to the range and see how it shoots.

“Terch ‘er off!”.