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Scarlett

BP Revolver & 45 ACP Cylinder?

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Had someone want to buy some 45 ACP Ammo from me for his .44 BP Revolver from Midway with a 45ACP cylinder. I declined the sale because I didn’t want the liability for the gun - you don’t shoot smokeless in BP guns... some other red flags went up for my husband, Tommy...  

 

So, isn’t putting a 45 ACP Cylinder into a BP revolver turning a “non-gun” (as defined by law) into a Firearm (that he may or may not have been prohibited from owning).  The Midway catalog shows the cylinder for sale - ships to your home... didn’t see where it had to ship to FFL?!  

 

@John Barleycorn, SASS #76982 what am I missing? Why would someone want to pay $350-$400 for the “non-firearm” and then another $300 for a conversion cylinder if it wasn’t because you were federally BARRED from owning a legit firearm. 

 

Big hugs,

Scarlett

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Hi Scarlett,

Lots of people buy those cylinders.  Mostly 45 Colt Cylinders for the .44 percussion guns, but also .38 cylinders for the .36's, plus a few other ones like the 45ACP you mentioned.   Generally, folks already have a percussion gun and now they can fire cartridges (or go back and forth).   Sometimes people even buy both the gun and the conversion cylinder (and maybe ejector assembly) new just because they wanna do it themselves, even though a ready made conversion is even less.   When I said "lots of people" I am including lots of CAS shooters, so the guy's motivation shouldn't really be suspect.  As for BP vs. smokeless, I think the conversion cylinder makers say smokeless loads should be limited to BP pressures (i.e. Cowboy ammo), and I don't know if your 45ACP would fit that description or not.

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Well, I have some personal experience in this.

 

I always liked Civil War guns, and I bought a replica 1860 Army 44 cal.  A year later, I bought a 45 Colt conversion cylinder.  No registration required, shipped to my door. It shot great!  The main negative is that I had to take the barrel off the gun, remove the cylinder, punch out the brass with a stick, load the new cartridges, and replace the cylinder and barrel.  Then it shot great again.

 

The cost wasn't that much; less than $500 total.  It makes sense if most of what you shoot will be cap and ball, and you want the cartridges for more of a novelty.  In reality, I soon bought a couple 1873 Colt Clones and never used the conversion cylinder again. 

 

As for safety, they specifically say you should use low-power Cowboy loads, and never in a brass-framed revolver.  They can be smokeless, but should be under 700 fps 200 grain loads.  I don;t know if your 45 ACP ammo would be too stout for them or not.  I shot 200 grain bullets with black powder in Schofield cases.

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Some folks bought cap and ball guns then realized that there is a good reason they were abandoned in the lat 1800’s for cartridge guns. Shorting smokeless in s BP Gun is crazy, but he might not be barred, just stupid 

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Posted (edited)

It's also possible to have a cap and ball mailed to the buyer directly, with no need to go through FFL for age check, etc.   So it's not on federally searchable records.   I believe in several of our states there are no restrictions on the type of cap and ball revolver that can be bought, but there are severe restrictions in the type of modern revolver that can be sold.  An age check before selling handgun ammo to this particular buyer should certainly be carried out.

 

The .45 auto SAAMI pressure limit is more pressure than even some smokeless single action revolvers are designed to handle, let alone the low pressures that cap and ball revolvers are designed to.  YOUR ammo probably is very safe to use in a conversion, but not ammo loaded close to maximum pressures (like his next purchase from a gun shop might be).

 

So, certainly not a foolproof idea, but if done with care and the gun is transferred to the next owner with the proper instruction, not necessarily dangerous. 

 

(Now, legally, I would say this is a "loophole" that the Gun Control Act of 1968 did not concern itself with, probably because centerfire conversion cylinders were not common in 1968.)

 

Good luck, GJ

 

 

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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I GET it...  the language in the guys email - it didn’t appear that he knew what he was talking about and I just declined...

 

My husband read the email response first and he questioned whether English is a first language ... and then that brings up legal gun ownership... even if you do have to take the barrel off to empty and reload... 

 

The ammo that I sell is lead - 230 gr 718 FPS - and loaded professionally with product liability etc. however, it was unusual enough for me to question and decline.  

 

Big hugs y’all! 
 

Scarlett
 

 

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When that little voice in the back of your head tells you something is wrong. Best to listen to it.

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I'm a huge fan of conversion revolvers. I like cap guns and the next thing that came along in the time line was to have your cap guns converted into cartridge guns. I've done several and still run a pair of converted 58's at matches occasionally. As for why other people do it maybe they're the same as me and just love the nostalgia of it. or possibly, as mentioned, they bought cap guns and didnt enjoy it so rather than sell them they buy the cylinders to convert them. IMO the 45 acp conversion cylinders are great for someone that wants to run BP cartridges with reduced recoil. a 160 grain pill and 45 acp case full of 2F is a nice light recoil. Those of you scoffing at anyone that runs smokeless through them need to do a little homework. As long as you're keeping it under 1000 fps the pressures are at or below full house loads of the holy black and perfectly safe. The manufacturers even put the disclaimer on them to use reduced power rounds such as cowboy action ammo. The warning isnt really for the cylinders but more for the frame you're using them in. I've ran cartridge conversion cylinders in brass framed 58's even though the manufacturers say they are not intended for them. The kicker on that is to ONLY use black powder cartridges to prevent damage to the frame. But to each their own i suppose. 

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I got curious and went to the source, howellarms.com  and here is what they say:

 

Drop in Conversion Cylinder for the .44 Cal Pietta 1858 Remington Army. 5 Rounds, Blue.  Converts .44 caliber black powder revolver to shoot 45 ACP lead round. Use only cowboy ammunition that does not exceed 850 FPS; never use hot or jacketed ammunition. 5 Safety Stop notches located between chambers. This feature allows the hammer to be lowered between loaded chambers. 

 

The cylinder is of course plenty strong with modern steel and only 5 rounds, and the '58 percussion gun has a top strap, so it's a lot stronger than a Colt style, and they do not make a 45 acp cylinder for the 1860.  I'll bet the customer hunted around for  "cowboy ammunition" as described and found Scarlett.   
So we know the gun can take it but that doesn't discount any other qualms you may have had.

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8 hours ago, Scarlett said:

Had someone want to buy some 45 ACP Ammo from me for his .44 BP Revolver from Midway with a 45ACP cylinder. I declined the sale because I didn’t want the liability for the gun - you don’t shoot smokeless in BP guns... some other red flags went up for my husband, Tommy...  

 

So, isn’t putting a 45 ACP Cylinder into a BP revolver turning a “non-gun” (as defined by law) into a Firearm (that he may or may not have been prohibited from owning).  The Midway catalog shows the cylinder for sale - ships to your home... didn’t see where it had to ship to FFL?!  

 

@John Barleycorn, SASS #76982 what am I missing? Why would someone want to pay $350-$400 for the “non-firearm” and then another $300 for a conversion cylinder if it wasn’t because you were federally BARRED from owning a legit firearm. 

 

Big hugs,

Scarlett

 

I own a pair.  Here are some reasons that don't involve skirting federal laws. 

 

1.  They look cool.  We're cowboy shooters.  How many things did you buy because it was cool?  If you doubt the coooool factor, watch some more Clint Eastwood movies.  He carries a conversion revolver sometimes. 

2.  Price.  It's cheaper to buy the gun and a conversion cylinder than an actual firearm.  I paid $250 for my pair of Pietta Remingtons (used) and $500 for the pair of conversion cylinders (new).  You'd be hard pressed to find a pair of revolvers for $750 unless it was from a good pard. 

3.  Some pards don't live in free states and cowboy guns cannot make the roster.  So their options are to find used guns that were grandfathered, or go this route with a conversion gun in order to play our game.  Technically that one can be considered skirting a law but I personally don't blame them for doing it. 

 

However, you are correct that skirting federal law is one reason someone might do it.  I just don't think a felon would be worried about tiptoeing around the law like that. 

 

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11 hours ago, Scarlett said:

So, isn’t putting a 45 ACP Cylinder into a BP revolver turning a “non-gun” (as defined by law) into a Firearm (that he may or may not have been prohibited from owning).

 

From what I have understood over the years, it's when you cut into the frame so you can use a loading gate on a conversion cylinder, that it becomes a 'firearm' that requires FFL's and background checks, for both Federal and State purposes.

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The conversion cylinder is historically correct.  Many Colts and Remingtons, especially cased guns, were sold with a cap&ball cylinder and a .44 Henry rimfire cylinder, even after the SAA came out in 1873.  A shooter could load cartridges or conventional loads, depending on availability.  Made for a quick reload too.

Today's replicas are much stronger (better steel and machining) than the original guns made for bp only.  All current bp revolver manufacturers still warn against smokeless powder in bp cylinders.  

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13 hours ago, Scarlett said:

So, isn’t putting a 45 ACP Cylinder into a BP revolver turning a “non-gun” (as defined by law) into a Firearm (that he may or may not have been prohibited from owning).

How would that be any different than an 80% receiver? It is legal to make your own gun as long as it's not made to be sold.

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Loved to shoot my conversion revolvers.  I currently have one pair of the Piettas Colt 44/45 conversions without gates and plan to buy another pair of the cylinders for my pair of Pietta Colt .36s (also no gates desired)  and if I live long enuff I want a pair of the cylinders to fit my 1860 Uberti Avenging Angels.  I am sorry that my severely wounded brain can not call up the title for the Tom Selleck movie in which his wife converted a beautiful Colt 1860 Army model to 44(?) cartridge for him but I'll bet it sold more than a couple of conversion cylinders for the makers!  Much like Clint Eastwood, Tom Selleck often seemed to almost feature many of the firearms that he used in his movies and the industry followed his lead with new offerings of those models. 

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2 hours ago, Slowhand Bob, 24229 said:

...I am sorry that my severely wounded brain can not call up the title for the Tom Selleck movie in which his wife converted a beautiful Colt 1860 Army model to 44(?) cartridge for him but I'll bet it sold more than a couple of conversion cylinders for the makers!...

 

Last Stand at Saber River, 1997

 

Kirst actually has an engraved cylinder and extractor designed after that gun.  I think Tuolumne Lawman reviewed it in a Chronicle recently.

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7 minutes ago, Abilene, SASS # 27489 said:

 

Last Stand at Saber River, 1997

 

Kirst actually has an engraved cylinder and extractor designed after that gun.  I think Tuolumne Lawman reviewed it in a Chronicle recently.

Kenny Howell made the conversions for that movie, he also designed the conversion cylinders that we are discussing.

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My first cowboy revolvers we a pair of 1860's that I had first bought way back when Cabelas's was selling them for $99 each. I purchased a pair of 45 Colt conversion cylinders for them, and they did just fine. But like other said it was a pain to load and unloadat each stage so I eventually traded them in for a pair of Uberti's. Now my FFL where I traded them in, who is an avid cowboy action shooter, told me this. There is no legal problem buying and using a cartridge cylinder in black powder pistols for pesonal use. However with the cap & ball cylinder in them they are considered antiques and can be sold and shipped to anyone. With the conversion cylinders in them they are considered to be modern pistol and must be sold, registered, traded, and shipped as such. So when I traded them in I had to put the C & B cylinders in them with the conversion cylinders out and separet of the pistols, which he then traded in for me. Because of all the hassle involved in making it a modern pistol transaction he didn't want the conversion cylinders in the pistols for our transaction, or when he resold them.

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Scarlett; How is this guy any different than any or your other customers? You don't do nor are required to do a background check on them. Conversion cylinders are perfectly legal, even in California. I have an 1858 with a conversion and the additional ejector rod, makes for an interesting BP gun. Gotta remember, BP shooters like to think outside the box. I wouldn't shoot smokeless in it, though, even downloaded ammo. I have a Webley with a blown cylinder that I used the "proper" ammo in, according to the manufacturer (Fiocchi) that I will never forgive myself for.

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5 hours ago, Springfield Slim SASS #24733 said:

Scarlett; How is this guy any different than any or your other customers? You don't do nor are required to do a background check on them. Conversion cylinders are perfectly legal, even in California. I have an 1858 with a conversion and the additional ejector rod, makes for an interesting BP gun. Gotta remember, BP shooters like to think outside the box. I wouldn't shoot smokeless in it, though, even downloaded ammo. I have a Webley with a blown cylinder that I used the "proper" ammo in, according to the manufacturer (Fiocchi) that I will never forgive myself for.

The ONLY reason he is different is because of shooting smokeless in a BP revolver. Because I (and my husband) were unfamiliar with the 45 ACP Conversion cylinder... I was concerned that, even though my ammo is about 720 FPS, if there were an issue with the BP revolver (I did not know it was NEW until I had already declined the sale) or if he got hurt using my ammo, that it would be bad...first off for HIS safety and second for my liability.  The customer seemed very unsure of what he wanted/needed and was relying on my knowledge.  I was not confident that I had the knowledge he required/deserved and told him so.

 

My husband and I were discussing this and wondered about it - we knew about 45 Colt conversions - it was the 45 ACP that threw us for a loop.  So I asked the Wire crowd.  
 

I appreciate this forum and the WEALTH of knowledge found here! 
 

Great big hugs!

 

Scarlett

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I think you did the right thing in this case.  An unknown person inquiring about ammo for a gun you normally wouldn't associate with .45acp and that he wasn't even sure what he wanted/needed should bring up some red flags.  In this day where everyone is looking to sue someone I think your liability concerns are justified and warranted.

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22 hours ago, Scarlett said:

 

My husband read the email response first and he questioned whether English is a first language ...

I know many people in our area that make me question if English is their first language!!

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Scarlett

 

If something makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up . . . . PAY ATTENTION.   Some folks attempting to mucky the waters with hypothetical "What If"  "Where As"  "Whats the Difference" and being contrary are doing you no favors.  Your declining this sale in your circumstances was correct.  If there are those whom claim you should have done differently, let "them" pay your liability insurance and legal Retainers.

 

As an addendum:  The modern built Conversion Cylinders from Howell Old West and Kirst Konverter are well more than strong enough to withstand the modern cartridges they are designed for.  The modern made Percussion guns from Pietta and Uberti are also more than sufficient for any of the modern cartridges for which they are made.  The only CAVEAT:  Brass Frame guns may well shoot loose from anything other than Percussion loading.  

 

Let us also remember MURPHY.  Murphy lurks in every shrub and around every corner.  NOTHING . . . absolutely NOTHING is Idiot Proof.  There will certainly be an IDIOT to try to do something STUPID.  Stupid can be fatal.  Support your local DARWIN.

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