BP in plastic hulls? Hmm.. I would have to weigh that…
In truth, I do not know if BP would have a deleterious effect on the plastic. I have never attempted it and I think it would make an interesting experiment. I do not see why a body couldn’t use BP if they wanted, as BP probably doesn’t burn any hotter than smokeless, but since I do not know for sure I cannot say with any authority. I would have to ask the smokeless manufacturers and the BP manufacturers at what temperatures their powders burn and then compare. However, all things being equal, I do not see why the plastic would be harmed by carbon and salt.
BP does not burn in a conflagration, as does smokeless, which is kind of counter-intuitive when you think of the low pressures BP generates… burning BP creates salt and carbon, which brass does not care about. In the old days of mercuric primers, the mercury in the primer would degrade the brass over time, leeching out if you left them sit awhile. (There’s another thread on re-watting your own spent primers using non-mercuric compounds elsewhere here. I listed my source book that teaches how to do it – what you need and the correct safety protocols – but I won’t go into it simply because primers are explosive and I don’t want the blowback if something goes wrong. If someone wants to source the book and try their hand on their own, then go for it. If you can’t find the thread, shoot me a MSG and I will provide you with the info).
As to the 1860 Army, if I had to give a say one way or the other, I would say “no”. Here’s why:
BP cartridge guns, so long as you use non-mercuric primers and take care of your empties, are superior to the old muzzle stuffers. Reload times, for one. The spent primers from a cap-and-ball gun are largely destroyed upon firing, which means you cannot rewatt them. The .45 Colt round, even in BP configuration – 255g bullet over 40g of 3f powder – is a horse killer. It was the round from 1873 all the way until the .357 Magnum was developed in the 1930’s. And, in the strongest actions, the .45 Colt can be pushed beyond .44 Magnum velocities. It is the basis for the .45 Casull (which could be rightly called the .45 “Long” Colt, as it is literally a .45 Colt case that is a bit longer. The .45 Colt is mistakenly called the “long” Colt to differentiate between it and the .45 Schofield, which can be fired in a .45 Colt revolver the same way a .38 Special can be fired in a .357 Magnum revolver). However, this does not mean go out and buy a Colt SAA and hotrod some cartridges… all you will do is blow yourself up.
See, cases are really not that hard to make. All you really need, if you’re hard-pressed, is a lathe, some brass stock, a micrometer and a spec sheet. You can spin your own brass, if you want to. Granted, it won’t be as strong as a drawn case, but it will work… and that’s what we’re after. Cases can also be fabbed from other cases.
If you’ve never tried to reload a cap and ball revolver, it is an experience. I have a Colt’s 3rd Model Dragoon and it takes seemingly forever to reload a cylinder… and often, the spent caps will fall off in the middle of a shooting string and jam the cylinder… not good. Which explains why cavalrymen during the Civil War would ride into battle carrying as many revolvers as they could hang on themselves and their horse… up to 8 revolvers. Shoot one dry, grab another…
If you just flat-out love the 1860 Army, I think Cimarron offers the 1860 with a Thuer conversion that lets it run on BP cartridges… but if it were me, I would choose either a Colt SAA or one of the reproduction Schofields (weaker action, but way faster on the reload time… think 3:10 to Yuma).
ANyways, I gots ta go. Have to pick up a Husky weed trimmer before the repair guy closes at 2… bbl.
The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1