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Birdgun Quail, SASS #63663

1851 Navy cap/ball Revolver - Pietta vs Uberti (UPDATED w/photos)

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My wife is going to buy a 1851 Navy cap & ball Revolver for me as my Christmas gift.  She wants me to pick it out for myself.  It is to replace one I eventually threw out in the trash.

 

Pietta 1851 revolvers ($275) are less expensive than Uberti 1851 revolvers ($355).  Which would you recommend?

 

Background:

Back sometime in the early 1990's, I bought a Pietta 1851 Navy revolver and it was of such poor quality that it's action became inoperable.  It wouldn't even stay cocked.  I eventually broke the revolver apart and put it into separate trashes.  So I have trepidation on buying a Pietta.  But I believe I've heard that the Pietta of today is not the same quality as when I bought a Pietta almost 30 years ago.  My SASS pistols and rifle are Uberti firearms and they have served me most satisfactorily.  I have a nice display box, 36 caliber balls, powder, caps, wads, and powder flask, but no revolver.  I now am going to replace that Navy revolver.  It will not be used for SASS.  Recommendations please!!!

Edited by Birdgun Quail, SASS #63663

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Almost equal in quality now, just depends on luck of the draw.

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Have both but both needed work to be sass ready

good luck

gringo

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First a CAVEAT:  I don't care for Uberti.  In the past, Uberti have required more work to be acceptable for CAS service than have Pietta.  All of my main match revolvers are Pietta.

 

None of the current Percussion revolvers are CAS ready out of the box.  ALL will require some degree of work to be really user friendly.  Were I to recommend a particular Pietta 1851 it would be the Capt. Schaeffer replica.  Put a set of Slixshot nipples and a reduced main spring, shoot it with Remington # 10 caps and you'll have a really good start.  36 Caliber.

 

With Pietta, you can also get an 1851 pattern gun in .44 and in 44 I'd recommend one of the Marshal series guns.  All available from EMF

 

Neither of my recommendations fall into the "inexpensive" category

Edited by Colorado Coffinmaker
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I can't speak to the quality or lack thereof for Pietta C&B revolvers.  I have 4 1851 .36 caliber revolvers.  They were all built of Uberti parts.  The 1st I purchased in 1986, it was assembled by ASM, of leftover parts from the supply built by Uberti for the Colt 2nd Gen series.  I've only had one failure of this revolver, the hand spring.  I had Lee's Gunsmithing replace it with a Ruger plunger and coil spring.   It has been flawless in the years since, tho' it shows the wear and tear.  Still runs flawlessy.  The 2nd & 3rd 1851s I purchased were Colt's 2nd series...  And they immediately went to Lee for the same conversion.  Along with the ASM for "cap guards"... or known from the period as Manhattan conversions.  The 4th is a Colt Signature Series assembled and finished by Lou Emerato, head of Iver Johnson at the time.  It also went to Lee for the Ruger and Manhattan Conversion.  It and the ASM are my backup pistols.

 

I have guns I don't shoot... as much as I shoot others, so I prefer those that work.  and those built of Uberti parts I've found will work.  Even if it may require a bit of massaging to make them reliable.  I've found that work to be worth what you will pay.

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59993d38e5350_Pietta51navy44sAug2017.jpg.a71a1a428913545bd2e4f1fc3e68004f.jpg

 

I bought this pair of Pietta 51 Confederate Navy 44s at a Cabelas black Friday sale for $308 out the door.  The only work I've done to them was to lighten and polish the cam leg of the bolt and polish the cam. 

 

They have the factory cones and springs and are nearly 100% reliable of busting the caps and the caps falling off on rotation.  It's just my opinion that installing light hammer spring just promotes cap sucking and other problems.  I feel a stout spring keeps the hammer face aginst the cap when it fires off and the pressure promotes the cap blowing open.  

 

 

 

I've only shot them in two matches and done fine with them at my own pace.  This winter I want to get set up better at reloading them at the match. 

 

 

Last stage I shot with them a couple months back.  I was hitting the first target but it wasn't going down.  Every one else had the same problem with the first target set hard.

 

 

 

Edited by Warden Callaway
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If I had a choice, I'd go with Uberti.  I know each camp has their champions and then again, some don't care. Any of them can be made excellent competition guns.  As already mentioned they both need work but mostly in different areas. The Piettas action parts are basically '70s design (LOTS of massaging!!) made with modern technology (careful, you'll break um!!).  The Uberti's have the best parts and more correctly made ( less massaging) but they have the short arbor problem (which is fixed easy enough) compared to just adjusting (shortening) the Piettas arbor. 

  I personally would go with Uberti because of the more refined action parts. 

 

Mike

Edited by 45 Dragoon
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None of the Pietta's I own have need the arbor adjusted, but all of the Uberti's have. That my just be my luck? My Pietta's did need the bolt width narrowed to fit in the notch on the cylinder, I'm pretty sure Pietta has corrected that issue. Both makers gun's need some tuning, nipples and cap rakes or such. I shoot the brass frames as above and the Pietta Marshal's. In my opinion the Uberti's might be the better looking gun, but in need of more work than the Pietta's. 

 

My wife has Colt 2nd generation 1862 navies. They are by far the prettiest cap guns we own and a joy to shoot, however they needed a tremendous amount of work to function correctly. 

 

Tully

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My thought on the matter, if I were paying, it would be the Pietta. If somebody else is buying, then it would be Uberti's tuned by longhunter.

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Tully Mars, I understand what you're saying but my requirements call for a .0025" - .003" barrel/cyl clearance, not .005" + .

 

Mike

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Tully Mars, I understand what you're saying but my requirements call for a .0025" - .003" barrel/cyl clearance, not .005" + .

 

Mike

 

Mike,

The Colt style C&B's pistols I'm familiar don't have a cylinder bushing to allow a constant cylinder gap. The one's I'm familiar with the cylinder pretty much rides on the barrel leaving no gap when fired. 

Tully 

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My wife is going to buy a 1851 Navy cap & ball Revolver for me as my Christmas gift.  She wants me to pick it out for myself.  It is to replace one I eventually threw out in the trash.

 

Pietta 1851 revolvers ($275) are less expensive than Uberti 1851 revolvers ($355).  Which would you recommend?

 

Background:

Back sometime in the early 1990's, I bought a Pietta 1851 Navy revolver and it was of such poor quality that it's action became inoperable.  It wouldn't even stay cocked.  I eventually broke the revolver apart and put it into separate trashes.  So I have trepidation on buying a Pietta.  But I believe I've heard that the Pietta of today is not the same quality as when I bought a Pietta almost 30 years ago.  My SASS pistols and rifle are Uberti firearms and they have served me most satisfactorily.  I have a nice display box, 36 caliber balls, powder, caps, wads, and powder flask, but no revolver.  I now am going to replace that Navy revolver.  It will not be used for SASS.  Recommendations please!!!

I didn't fully read your full paragraph. The "will not be used for SASS" part is pretty important. In that case, I would recommend trying to find a 2nd gen Colt. If it's mostly going to be displayed, the Colt ones did a much nicer finish. The barrels on mine I swear you can shave with it. And the CCH, plus the grips look better than anything else that's been made to the best of my ability. Based on my experience, I wouldn't again buy a set of 2nd gen colt to shoot sass with, as I have had to dump more money into them to keep them running than I think I paid for them initially. But for mostly display purposes and occasional shooting, I think that is what you are looking for. I am pretty sure they can be had for around $600. The 3rd gens would be my second recommendation, as they look almost as nice (sometimes nicer) and are usually a bit less. Keep us posted on what you end up with.

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Tully Mars, you are correct sir!! That's why it's a "clearance" and not a "gap".  A bushing allows for a "gap" which is a "defined opening" whereas a "clearance" is a maximum opening. And, since an open top revolver actually "kisses" the barrel each time the action is cycled, it's "self cleaning" whîch allows for such a tight clearance! Pretty cool!!! The tight clearance gives you more efficiency which means better burn which means more velocity/energy!! Awesome!! Celebrate your open tops!!! 

   So, as far as the Piettas having a correct arbor,  they may for the "norm", but I don't do norm! I have to close them down to my tolerances.

 

Mike

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On those rare occasions when I use percussion revolvers in a match, my choice is Ruger Old Armies. They do something truly unusual. They work!!!   :-)  :)

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Most of it's been said but i'll throw my two cents in. From what i've seen in my purchases is they both need the same amount of work to be reliable and run smooth. So I choose to spend less money and buy pietta's. The way I figure it is if I'm gonna spend 3-4 hours of my time smoothing them out I may as well save the $50-$75 on the pistol itself. I've also experienced less failures with internals with piettas than I have with uberti's. Your miles may vary though. However what really bothers me about your post is the fact that you threw out a gun. They are extremely easy to repair and the internal parts are relatively inexpensive. Before you ever throw away another please post it in here. odds are someone will be happy to help you get it running again or take it off your hands. I keep a full set of internals and a spare hammer on hand for all of mine. In the event of a failure during a match I can generally have it up and running again before it's my time to shoot the next stage. 

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Never had a issue with my Pietta 51"s 

Send ether brand to Mike @goonsgugoonsgunworks.com and you will get back Cap Guns that will last a lifetime  !

Just sayin .

Rooster 

Edited by Rooster Ron Wayne
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Get an Uberti and tune it yourself using using Pettifogers tune up guide.  

 

Fingers (Show Me MO smoke) McGee

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Even ROAs need to be cleaned on occasion. :D

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With you on that Mud, my Old Army never fails me, works flawlessly,  but another guy here just told me they are illegal for SASS.

 

Back in day, you could buy two, or three Piettas for the price of an Uberti, unless you were buying used.  I would get a couple Piettas and work them over,  get the timing and the bolt stop set for perfect lock-up, and go plinking.    Cut my teeth using Piettas to master fan firing from the hip... learned to use a thicker glove  to fan with ......:)

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First, thanks to all for your comments and recommendations.  I decided to order the Uberti principally because there are no roll stamped markings on the side of the barrel.

 

Yesterday (12/09/2019), I received my new Uberti 1851 Navy .36 caliber revolver from Dixie Gun Works for the price of $295.00 plus $16.95 shipping. 

I also received yesterday six Slix-Shot nipples ($36.00 + shipping) from Badman Bullets.

 

After opening the box and removing the revolver from the plastic wrapper, I wiped the gun down to remove the storage preservative.

I checked the revolver over visually and saw nothing of concern.

I cocked the hammer back and immediately noticed the action was very rough with a momentary binding/hang up at about 2/3 cock.  Also, noticed a scratch on the right side of the hammer. 

First, with a fine file I remove a burr on the frame causing the hammer scratch.  Smoothed with emery board.

Then I completely disassembled the revolver and inspected all parts and screws.

Noted a burr on the side of the bolt and removed that burr with file and emery board.

Found the problem that was causing the hang up.  The hand was being pushed against and around the arbor.  I could see factory file marks on both side of the hand.  After some judicious filing and numerous checks, I finally got the hand to move without binding.

I wiped down all parts and screws, added lube and gun grease as appropriate, then reassemble the revolver.

The action now works fine.  Timing is excellent and there is no binding.

Replaced the factory nipples with Slix-Shot nipples.

Placed my new Navy revolver in a presentation case that the old thrown away Pietta had once occupied.

 

Photos of my new Uberti 1851 Navy 36 now with Slix-Shot nipples

Qimtu8.jpg

 

5NIbVi.jpg

 

5J5qvP.jpg

 

jBCEtw.jpg

 

BWtTaq.jpg

 

2kN3hC.jpg

 

t9JoGn.jpg

 

Now I'm looking forward in the next few days of taking my new Ubert 1851 Navy 36 to the range.

 

Thanks again pards for the comments, advice, and recommendations!!

 

Birdgun

Edited by Birdgun Quail, SASS #63663
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With you on that Mud, my Old Army never fails me, works flawlessly,  but another guy here just told me they are illegal for SASS.

They are legal, but the sights determine the categories they are legal in. Fixed sights are legal in ALL categories, while adjustable sights are legal in all age-based categories, plus B-Western. Adjustable sights are not legal in Frontiersman, Frontier Cartridge Duelist, Frontier Cartridge Gunfighter, Duelist, Gunfighter, Classic Cowboy, or Plainsman side matches.

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They are legal, but the sights determine the categories they are legal in. Fixed sights are legal in ALL categories, while adjustable sights are legal in all age-based categories, plus B-Western. Adjustable sights are not legal in Frontiersman, Frontier Cartridge Duelist, Frontier Cartridge Gunfighter, Duelist, Gunfighter, Classic Cowboy, or Plainsman side matches.

Sure, they're legal... but they kinda have that stigma the Henry Big Boy has... sorta...  While they're legal, they're like the BB, in that both are uglier than an old Soviet bloc female weight-lifter, they'll also provide a fair amount of trouble free service... but unlike the BB, have a remarkably trouble free competitive advantage.... are ya really that much of a "gamer" (all negative connotations apply), that you have to use a, like the BB, a modern non-copy of something that never was? 

 

Yep, I'll tease ya unmercifully, even while you're shooting, but I'll still congratulate you on a fine win!  Regardless whether you shoot the monstrosity of a ROA or not... but, maybe more enthusiastically if not... :P

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Birdgun Quail,

 

Very nice revolver. I very much like the wood, much better than the standard quarter-sawn lumber that they usually come with. The case is nice, also.

 

Congrats!

 

Regards,

 

Jim

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Sure, they're legal... but they kinda have that stigma the Henry Big Boy has... sorta...  While they're legal, they're like the BB, in that both are uglier than an old Soviet bloc female weight-lifter, they'll also provide a fair amount of trouble free service... but unlike the BB, have a remarkably trouble free competitive advantage.... are ya really that much of a "gamer" (all negative connotations apply), that you have to use a, like the BB, a modern non-copy of something that never was? 

 

Yep, I'll tease ya unmercifully, even while you're shooting, but I'll still congratulate you on a fine win!  Regardless whether you shoot the monstrosity of a ROA or not... but, maybe more enthusiastically if not... :P

I agree with you, but then again, ever Ruger should fall in that "modern non-copy of something that never was"

 

First, thanks to all for your comments and recommendations.  I decided to order the Uberti principally because there are no roll stamped markings on the side of the barrel.

 

Yesterday (12/09/2019), I received my new Uberti 1851 Navy .36 caliber revolver from Dixie Gun Works for the price of $295.00 plus $16.95 shipping. 

I also received yesterday six Slix-Shot nipples ($36.00 + shipping) from Badman Bullets.

 

After opening the box and removing the revolver from the plastic wrapper, I wiped the gun down to remove the storage preservative.

I checked the revolver over visually and saw nothing of concern.

I cocked the hammer back and immediately noticed the action was very rough with a momentary binding/hang up at about 2/3 cock.  Also, noticed a scratch on the right side of the hammer. 

First, with a fine file I remove a burr on the frame causing the hammer scratch.  Smoothed with emery board.

Then I completely disassembled the revolver and inspected all parts and screws.

Noted a burr on the side of the bolt and removed that burr with file and emery board.

Found the problem that was causing the hang up.  The hand was being pushed against and around the arbor.  I could see factory file marks on both side of the hand.  After some judicious filing and numerous checks, I finally got the hand to move without binding.

I wiped down all parts and screws, added lube and gun grease as appropriate, then reassemble the revolver.

The action now works fine.  Timing is excellent and there is no binding.

Replaced the factory nipples with Slix-Shot nipples.

Placed my new Navy revolver in a presentation case that the old thrown away Pietta had once occupied.

 

Photos of my new Uberti 1851 Navy 36 now with Slix-Shot nipples

Qimtu8.jpg

 

5NIbVi.jpg

 

5J5qvP.jpg

 

jBCEtw.jpg

 

BWtTaq.jpg

 

2kN3hC.jpg

 

t9JoGn.jpg

 

Now I'm looking forward in the next few days of taking my new Ubert 1851 Navy 36 to the range.

 

Thanks again pards for the comments, advice, and recommendations!!

 

Birdgun

I like it. That is a really nice setup. Well done

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Almost equal in quality now, just depends on luck of the draw.

 

 

I agree. Years ago, say late 80's through the 90's about the only place to find the Pietta CB's was from the big box stores, Bass pro/Cabela's. Those retailers bought in volume from Pietta at a discounted price. So, to make a profit Pietta didn't spend a lot of time on these guns and some ended up pretty rough. 

   But, now days as they grew in the market their quality has greatly improved.  As for CB's they are as good if not better than your average Uberti.  Then if you look at the SAA's like the EMF Great Western II compared to the Uberti I much prefer the Pietta. the best is the Great Western II`s from EMF. When EMF decided to import these, Will Hansen, EMF`s manager at the time sent one to me for a look-see. He told me take it apart, shoot it, whatever I wanted to do. These guns are 2nd gen configured, even the thread pitch is the same. They even have recoil plate firing pin bushings and pressed in hardened bolt cams like the originals but EMF did have them change the weakest link in the colt action, the leaf type hand spring. They changed to the Ruger style coil spring and plunger. 

   Unlike the current Uberti with the wonky retracting firing pin the EMF Pietta is still available in tradition SAA form

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I agree. Years ago, say late 80's through the 90's about the only place to find the Pietta CB's was from the big box stores, Bass pro/Cabela's. Those retailers bought in volume from Pietta at a discounted price. So, to make a profit Pietta didn't spend a lot of time on these guns and some ended up pretty rough. 

   But, now days as they grew in the market their quality has greatly improved.  As for CB's they are as good if not better than your average Uberti.  Then if you look at the SAA's like the EMF Great Western II compared to the Uberti I much prefer the Pietta. the best is the Great Western II`s from EMF. When EMF decided to import these, Will Hansen, EMF`s manager at the time sent one to me for a look-see. He told me take it apart, shoot it, whatever I wanted to do. These guns are 2nd gen configured, even the thread pitch is the same. They even have recoil plate firing pin bushings and pressed in hardened bolt cams like the originals but EMF did have them change the weakest link in the colt action, the leaf type hand spring. They changed to the Ruger style coil spring and plunger. 

   Unlike the current Uberti with the wonky retracting firing pin the EMF Pietta is still available in tradition SAA form

 

I just wish they'd offer the 38WCF and 44WCF across the line.   Polished stainless in 38WCF ans 44WCF would be the bee's knees! 

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First, thanks to all for your comments and recommendations.  I decided to order the Uberti principally because there are no roll stamped markings on the side of the barrel.

 

Yesterday (12/09/2019), I received my new Uberti 1851 Navy .36 caliber revolver from Dixie Gun Works for the price of $295.00 plus $16.95 shipping. 

I also received yesterday six Slix-Shot nipples ($36.00 + shipping) from Badman Bullets.

 

After opening the box and removing the revolver from the plastic wrapper, I wiped the gun down to remove the storage preservative.

I checked the revolver over visually and saw nothing of concern.

I cocked the hammer back and immediately noticed the action was very rough with a momentary binding/hang up at about 2/3 cock.  Also, noticed a scratch on the right side of the hammer. 

First, with a fine file I remove a burr on the frame causing the hammer scratch.  Smoothed with emery board.

Then I completely disassembled the revolver and inspected all parts and screws.

Noted a burr on the side of the bolt and removed that burr with file and emery board.

Found the problem that was causing the hang up.  The hand was being pushed against and around the arbor.  I could see factory file marks on both side of the hand.  After some judicious filing and numerous checks, I finally got the hand to move without binding.

I wiped down all parts and screws, added lube and gun grease as appropriate, then reassemble the revolver.

The action now works fine.  Timing is excellent and there is no binding.

Replaced the factory nipples with Slix-Shot nipples.

Placed my new Navy revolver in a presentation case that the old thrown away Pietta had once occupied.

 

 

Now I'm looking forward in the next few days of taking my new Ubert 1851 Navy 36 to the range.

 

Thanks again pards for the comments, advice, and recommendations!!

 

Birdgun

 

Birdgun,

 

This is my newest Pietta acquisition. Part of a special run of J.H. Dance .36 revolvers made in 1996, commissioned by Tony Gajewski. This one is S/N C00013 of 47 guns marked the same: DANCE FIREARMS CO. - ANGLETON TEXAS . I just took delivery of it an hour ago so this is the only photo I have so far. $300 plus $25 shipping.

 

Pietta-Dance-36-C00013-Cased-001.jpg

 

Info on these guns:

 

https://www.cascity.com/forumhall/index.php/topic,32403.0/nowap.html

 

Regards,

 

Jim

 

 

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