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Converting Ruger .357 to .38-40?


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Does anybody know if it's possible to convert a Ruger Vaquero .357 to 38-40?  I was thinking about toying around with Classic Cowboy or maybe "King Of Kaboom" in Blackpowder so I tried to find a pair of .38-40's - wow! I wasn't expecting to see those prices.  I have more than a couple of sets of .357's and I started thinking about a possible conversion.

 

Anybody know if it's been done?

 

Thanks,

 

Dang It Dan

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Don't forget 38-40 is a .40 caliber, Besides having the cylinder bored out or replaced you would also have to either rebore or replace the barrels, On original Vaquero's it's doable but going to be expensive on New Vaquero's I don't know if there's enough room for the case rims to fit.

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I've had a .357 DA revolver converted to .44 special before.   It was, back in 1978, just about the same cost as the new S&W Model 28 that I started with.   That conversion might just be cheaper because you can bore the existing cylinder!

 

Good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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on New Vaquero's I don't know if there's enough room for the case rims to fit.

 

If .45 Colt fits in a New Vaq cylinder geometry, then .38-40 or .44-40 will fit too.

 

GJ

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2 minutes ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

 

If .45 Colt fits in a New Vaq cylinder geometry, then .38-40 or .44-40 will fit too.

 

GJ

 

44WCF and 38WCF rim dimensions are significantly bigger than 45 Colt. 512 vs 525. Better to start with an old model. 

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My New Vaqueros will fit 45 Schofield rims which are the same size as the 44WCF, or at least it uses the same shell holder so they must be pretty close.  As others have said New Vaqueros can be made into 38-40s but it gets pretty expensive. 

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Because 38 WCF and 40 WCF have the same base and rim diameter the thread I found is germane to the discussion. 

 

Short answer is it may or may not work . This is because it all depends on how the tolerances stack up.

 

You can read all about in on this thread. 

 

 

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Ok, so just to be clear.....I have two Old Style Vaqueros that I am looking to convert.  I found a company that actually makes replacement cylinders and barrels so we are going to proceed.  I guess at some point I should actually talk to my gunsmith........;).

 

Thanks everyone for the help.  I'll update this post at some point in the future.

 

Dang It

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1 hour ago, Dang It Dan 13202 said:

Ok, so just to be clear.....I have two Old Style Vaqueros that I am looking to convert.  I found a company that actually makes replacement cylinders and barrels so we are going to proceed.  I guess at some point I should actually talk to my gunsmith........;).

 

Thanks everyone for the help.  I'll update this post at some point in the future.

 

Dang It

Id be interested in a link to the folks that make those cylinders and barrels. 

 

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4 hours ago, Dang It Dan 13202 said:

Does anybody know if it's possible to convert a Ruger Vaquero .357 to 38-40?  I was thinking about toying around with Classic Cowboy or maybe "King Of Kaboom" in Blackpowder so I tried to find a pair of .38-40's - wow! I wasn't expecting to see those prices.

 

Dang It Dan

Only 674 made with 4 5/8" barrels, and 753 with 5 1/2" barrels. There are two 5 1/2"ers on Gunbroker right now - a pre-owned one at $681.99 with less than a day left, and new-in-box one with a starting bid of $900 w/3 days left and no bids. A new New Vaquero is, what, $750 now? So $900 for a limited production, new old stock, Vaquero that isn't likely ever to be made again maybe isn't all that bad.

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I hope to see those pistols belching fire next year at D.D!

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I know U.S.F.A., once-upon-a-time, had a revolver with two cylinders...one in .41 Colt, and one in .38 WCF. 

I am not sure, but seems like Ruger, or someone, had a revolver with two cylinders, as well...one in 10mm, and the other in .38 WCF.

 

I don't know...would it be more feasible to try this conversion with a .41 mag Ruger...rather than a .357 magnum? I haven't checked the bullet dimensions on .41 mag, or .38 WCF, yet, so I am just speculating. 

 

 

 

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30 minutes ago, Waxahachie Kid #17017 L said:

I know U.S.F.A., once-upon-a-time, had a revolver with two cylinders...one in .41 Colt, and one in .38 WCF. 

I am not sure, but seems like Ruger, or someone, had a revolver with two cylinders, as well...one in 10mm, and the other in .38 WCF.

 

I don't know...would it be more feasible to try this conversion with a .41 mag Ruger...rather than a .357 magnum? I haven't checked the bullet dimensions on .41 mag, or .38 WCF, yet, so I am just speculating. 

 

 

 

In 1989, Buckeye Sports commissioned a run of Blackhawks in .38-40/10mm - 5000, I've read. They are definitely more common than the Vaqueros, so 5000, or thereabout, is very probably correct. More recently, I think Lipsey's also commissioned a run in stainless.

Edited by Three Foot Johnson
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5 hours ago, Three Foot Johnson said:

Only 674 made with 4 5/8" barrels, and 753 with 5 1/2" barrels. There are two 5 1/2"ers on Gunbroker right now - a pre-owned one at $681.99 with less than a day left, and new-in-box one with a starting bid of $900 w/3 days left and no bids. A new New Vaquero is, what, $750 now? So $900 for a limited production, new old stock, Vaquero that isn't likely ever to be made again maybe isn't all that bad.

On Gunbroker, I could only find 1 in .38WCF.  Starting bid $1500.00.  Time left to bid is just over a day.

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12 minutes ago, German Jim said:

On Gunbroker, I could only find 1 in .38WCF.  Starting bid $1500.00.  Time left to bid is just over a day.

In addition to that one (889561569), are 890624123 and 890833677 - the first one is erroneously listed as .38 spl and .40 S&W. As a precaution, I emailed them and confirmed it is .38-40/.40 S&W.

Edited by Three Foot Johnson
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3 minutes ago, Three Foot Johnson said:

In addition to that one (889561569), are 890624123 and 890833677

Wish I had some extra bucks :(

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It could easily be done in a New Vaquero. The rim size problem was solved by Kenny Howell, who, of course, made conversion cylinders for percussion guns. The .45 rims were too tight, so he put a miniscule angle on the chambers to make room, about 1/4 of one degree, which comes to a little under 0.007" in the length of the chamber, so opposing chambers at the breech end are a bit under fourteen thousandths farther apart than if they were bored parallel. Obviously, this should not be conducive to accuracy, but I haven't noticed any problem with my 1858's.

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Larry Crowe a gunsmith here in Missouri used to convert old model vaqueros to 38/40.  He has done several, but I'm not sure if he still does this.  I have not seen him in a long time.

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It does work on a new model Ruger Vaquero.  I had my pair converted by reaming out the 357 cylinder and a new octagon barrel in stalled.  I've been shooting them for several years now.  And like the Rugers they are, there have been no problems.

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The New Model Vaquero cylinders will accept .44-40 cartridges.  Years ago, 2011 I think, Lipseys had Ruger do a special run in .44 Spl.  I bought a pair of stainless with 4 5/8" barrels.  Through the Ruger repair facility here in Canada I acquired another pair of .44 Spl cylinders which they fit to the guns.  Then I had a gunsmith ream the cylinders for .44-40.  These have been my main match guns for the past 8 years. So to those who say the rim diameter of .44-40 cases make New Model Vaqueros chambered in .44-40 impossible, I have a pair that say otherwise.

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13 hours ago, Three Foot Johnson said:

Only 674 made with 4 5/8" barrels, and 753 with 5 1/2" barrels. There are two 5 1/2"ers on Gunbroker right now - a pre-owned one at $681.99 with less than a day left, and new-in-box one with a starting bid of $900 w/3 days left and no bids. A new New Vaquero is, what, $750 now? So $900 for a limited production, new old stock, Vaquero that isn't likely ever to be made again maybe isn't all that bad.

Yep. I bought a set of consecutive off GB a few years back. With the price of Vaqueros now, I paid MSRP for a for an average New Model. I remember the guys at the gun shop giving me a hard time about it when I picked them up. 

 

Now a set of 5.5 inchers with octagon barrels sounds pretty awesome too though! 

 

I understand the "want" of getting a set in this caliber. I had a search on GB for quite sometime. Best of luck to you Dan! Hope your project turns out great.

 

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So the company I am getting the cylinders and barrels from is called BRC in Sliver City NM.  They will come up in a search as rugercyl.com.  The cost of two cylinders and two barrels is $770.00.  Now, as far as fitting these up, I will use Dave Smith in Ruskin Florida.  Dave has built every competition gun I have used (exempt my Sporting Clays gun) for the past 30 years.  This should be an interesting project.  I'll keep you posted.

 

Thanks,

 

Dan

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2 hours ago, Dang It Dan 13202 said:

So the company I am getting the cylinders and barrels from is called BRC in Sliver City NM.  They will come up in a search as rugercyl.com.  The cost of two cylinders and two barrels is $770.00.  Now, as far as fitting these up, I will use Dave Smith in Ruskin Florida.  Dave has built every competition gun I have used (exempt my Sporting Clays gun) for the past 30 years.  This should be an interesting project.  I'll keep you posted.

 

Thanks,

 

Dan

I ran across them looking for 44-40 cylinders. I'll have to call them to ask if they fit the original 44 mag vaqueros and what the cylinder throats measure. These are unfluted. Anyone have any experience with their 44-40 cylinders?

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Dan,

it's no problem with OMV's. About '06-'08 , wanted a pair of 38-40's, found a pair of SS, OMV in 38-40/40S&W. They were ok but, I don't like "shiny" guns. So I didn't shoot them much. Ruger didn't make blue OMV's in 38-40. So, bought two blue OMV 357's, one new, one used at about $425-450.00 each, pulled the barrels , sent them one way, sent the cylinders another. In about three to four weeks ,I had a pair of "blue" OMV's in 38-40. I think it was about $375.00/gun, dividing up between cylinder and barrel. Down the line I acquired a couple of late 3rd gen. Colts in 38-40, shot them for a while . Then, thought I'd switch between them. Didn't work for me ,,,,,,,,, they're to different. Oh ,,,, everything is with B/P.

YMMV,

Isom

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1 hour ago, Smokin Gator SASS #29736 said:

I ran across them looking for 44-40 cylinders. I'll have to call them to ask if they fit the original 44 mag vaqueros and what the cylinder throats measure. These are unfluted. Anyone have any experience with their 44-40 cylinders?

Gator,

     Yes , my shooting partner has them for his OMV's. They work great!

                                   Jasper

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Howdy

 

Regarding 38-40 rims fitting in a New Vaquero, how about a reality check?

 

Here is a 45 caliber New Vaquero cylinder loaded with six 45 Schofield rounds.

 

According my loading manuals, 45 Schofield rim diameter is .520 (as opposed to 45 Colt which is .512 just so we understand what we are talking about)

 

The actual diameters of these Starline 45 Schofield rims are running a little bit undersized, as rim diameters often do, at .517 - .519. Six rounds fit in this cylinder very nicely. None of them are touching each other. Bear in mind, there is always a teeny bit of wiggle room. Chambers are always cut ever so slightly larger in diameter than the body of the brass. Say around .002 or so. Otherwise, the brass could not be inserted into or ejected from the cylinder.

 

pmptmgphj

 

 

 

 

Many years ago I had one of our cowboy gunsmiths cut the rim counterbores in a Cap & Ball conversion cylinder a little bit larger. The cylinder was chambered for 45 Colt, and the larger diameter rims of 45 Schofield would not fit into the existing counterbores. The Smith, who was a terrific expert, did some calculations before he cut any metal and he told me that it might not work. The spacing of the chambers was such that with the larger diameter rims of 45 Schofield, if he enlarged the counterbores, the rims would interfere with each other. He went ahead and cut the c-bores larger, and guess what? There was just enough slop in the fit between the chamber diameters and the bodies of the cartridges, that everything shifted slightly when six rounds were loaded, and despite the math originally telling us there would be interference, that tiny amount of slop allowed everything to work out just fine.

 

Here is the Remington Conversion cylinder with three 45 Colt rounds and three 45 Schofield rounds.  Yes, if you look very closely you can see the Schofield rims are touching each other. But because of the teeny bit of slop, everything worked out fine. I have fired Schofield ammo in this cylinder many times. Yes, this is one of the cylinders with the chambers cut with a tiny amount of angle, they are each slanted out at the rear less than 1 degree of angle.

 

pl7oaW1gj

 

 

 

 

Back to the New Vaquero cylinder, this time with six rounds of Starline 38-40 ammo. ( I could have just as well popped six rounds of 44-40 in, but I had a box of my 38-40 reloads handy. The black stripe tells me they are loaded with Black Powder.)

 

pnb7Fyzvj

 

 

 

 

Here is the SAMMI spec drawing for cartridge and chamber dimensions of the 38-40 Cartridge.  Rim diameter is called out as .525 +.000/-.010. So rims between .525 and .515 in diameter will be in spec.

 

pnCgN4hVj

 

 

 

 

The actual diameters of the Starline 38-40 brass in the cylinder are running between .518 and .519. Again, slightly smaller than the max, but completely in spec. I buy all my brass from Starline, and their stuff is dimensionally very consistent, lot to lot. I cannot speak for any other brands. Since the body of the 38-40 brass is a slight bit smaller in diameter than the Schofield brass, there is a bit more slop in how they sit in the chambers. Maybe around .005 or so. My suspicion is that reaming out a 357 Magnum New Vaquero cylinder for 38-40 would work because of the inherent slop between chambers and brass. By the way, just for the fun of it I popped some 44-40 brass into the cylinder too. No photo, but because 44-40 and 38-40 share all the major dimensions except the amount of taper and chamber mouth diameter, 44-40 brass sits just fine in this cylinder too.

 

Again, I'm going out on a limb a bit here, but I suspect that with reasonable manufacturing tolerances, a 357 Magnum New Vaquero cylinder reamed for 38-40 would work fine.

 

P.S. just measured the base diameter of 38-40 and 45 Schofield. The bases of the Schofield rounds, just above the rim,  are running about .013 larger in diameter than the 38-40 rounds. Have not done the entire tolerance stack up analysis, and am not going to. But with that .013 difference, 38-40 rounds in tight fitting chambers may actually be a problem in a New Vaquero cylinder.

Edited by Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283
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