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Black Powder Revolver Conversion Questions


Deadeye Joe

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Hello Everyone!

 

I'm a newbie building up my Cowboy Arsenal, and am very intrigued by the history of cap and ball revolvers as well as the convenience of cartridges, and would like to incorporate them into my kit. I have quite a few questions on the matter in the hopes of starting out as smoothly as possible.

 

My first few questions are about legality, would I be able to use low power smokeless cartridges in a non-frontier category? This is mainly because I don't want to clean BP out of my rifle and shotgun if I don't have to. Also, would I be able to use black powder in a non-frontier category?

 

My next question is about the revolvers themselves. I am interested in three models in particular, the 1851 Navy, the 1858 New Army, and the 1860 Army. I can get conversion cylinders for all of them in .45LC, but the 1858 can also be .38SPL and the 1851 .38LC. Since my rifle is .38SPL I would ideally want the pistols to be in the same cartridge, however I don't necessarily want to have two 1858s and based on my research I am not exactly chomping at the bit to try shooting .38SPL out of something chambered for .38LC. With this in mind, is there any optimal combination of pistols and chamberings, such as both .45LC, one .38SPL one .45LC, etc. 

 

My final question is about holstering, I am wondering if there is anything to keep in mind running these pistols as opposed to the popular Colt SA.

 

Thank you all, and I am very excited to get started with Cowboy Action Shooting!

 

 

 

 

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Answer to your 1st question= yes as long as you are using a conversion cylinder,  I would not recommend using smokeless powder when using the cap and ball cylinder 

#2- for reloading it is easier to use 1 caliber,  less changing of the dies and powder measure, I often shoot  different calibers during matches. 38 special for pistol and 45 colt rifle. I sometimes use my 45 pistols and use Schofield ammo, or run 38 LC in my open tops. Mostly black powder but during summer smokeless. 

Last question- run what you want as long as you are safe and having fun.

Welcome 

Rafe 

Edited by Rafe Conager SASS #56958
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Are you asking about actually converting C&B revolvers using conversion cylinder or buying the factory "conversion" revolvers that were never C&B revolvers.  The reason I ask is converting 36cal C&B revolvers to 38 special take more steps due to the difference in bore diameter.  It can be done, it just takes more work.  44cal C&B to 45 Colt is much easier due to them having the same bore diameter.  If you already have a 38 special rifle I would lean to 38 special pistols and I would eyeball the 1851 style as they were originally of similar caliber.  The Man with No Name would be top of my list:

https://www.budsgunshop.com/product_info.php/products_id/123808/cimarron+ca9081+man+with+no+name+7.5+38spc

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Also, you can use 45 Cowboy Special ammo in the 45 ACP conversion cylinder.  I do this in my Old Army's.

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Howdy Deadeye,

 

For what it's worth, If you are considering .38 Spec like in your rifle, definitely get the factory produced conversion pistols. Converting a C&B .36 cal. percussion revolver to cartridge either requires shooting .38 Colt (I think that is more complex to reload) or fussing with hollow base wadcutter bullets in .38 S&W which expand to fill the larger bore (or pay to have the barrel lined for .38 in which case factory produced conversions make sense.) 

 

Either of the above ways will require separate ammo for rifle and sixgun. I shoot a Rem. conversion in .45 and it shoots very well and is easy to reload by just taking out the cylinder. Colt pattern conversions are more complicated needing the barrel to be removed (unless there is a loading port cut into the frame.)

 

Advise as valuable as the price you paid for it,

 

Rev. Chase

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Conversion guns are a lot of fun.

 

I've got a Walker, Dragoon, and an 1860 all in .45 Colt.  (The Dragoon as a real Colt, albeit a 2nd Gen one.)

I also have a couple of 58 Remingtons in the same caliber.

I don't have any Colt types in 38, but I do have two replica 58 Remingtons and one real Remington factory conversion.   The reproductions can handle .38 Special, but I run .38 Long Colts in all of these.  I use a 150 grain, .358" Round Nose Hollow Base bullet from Buffalo Arms.   This bullet can be used in .38 Short, Long, Special and S&W with no problems.   It fits in the smaller bores and expands great for the bigger ones.

Note that the 58 seems to have timing problems.   ALL of my 58's suffered from this to one extent or another.  Didn't matter if they were made by Pietta, Uberti or Remington, making me thing it's a design flaw.   It's fixable, but you will have to deal with it.

I also have a real Colt 1860 that's been converted to .32 S&W.   That's a lot of fun to shoot.

So, which is a better option for conversion?

Colt Type Pros...  Less likely to need major work done for functionality.  

Colt Type Cons...  Unless you cut the frame for a loading gate/channel, you have to take the barrel off for reloading/unloading.  This can be a hassle.

 

Remington Pros....  The cylinder drops in and out in seconds with no need to take the gun apart or modify the gun in anyway, unless you want to.  An inherently "stronger" design.

Remington Cons...  The aforementioned timing issues.

 

Also, I have found that the Colts fit my hands better than the Remingtons, but that's just me.

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The Colts and Remingtons feel totally different, you would be wise to try a couple of each if you can find somebody else shooting them. Also, different barrel lengths feel and balance differently. The Colts have an advantage there because you can swap barrels. I bought a pair of the "Man With No Name" guns in .38 just for fun. They felt and handled so great that I haven't shot my Vaqueros since.

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20 minutes ago, Rattlesnake Slim said:

The Colts and Remingtons feel totally different, you would be wise to try a couple of each if you can find somebody else shooting them. Also, different barrel lengths feel and balance differently. The Colts have an advantage there because you can swap barrels. I bought a pair of the "Man With No Name" guns in .38 just for fun. They felt and handled so great that I haven't shot my Vaqueros since.

 

+1

attend a match or two and ask about revolvers you like--9 chances out of 10 the pard will let you hold it and fire a few rounds.  We're friendly like that

 

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I shoot .36 caliber cap & ball sixguns, (Colt 1851s) and one of a few rifles in 45 Colt (1873s or 1860 Henry).  A 12 gauge side-by-side completes my armament.  I see no good reason to shoot those sissified suppository pistols.  (Except during the summer months when the range frowns on BP).  Well set-up cap guns can be as reliable as cartridge guns;  and they're legal in ALL categories.  As is BP as a propellent in even cartridge pistols.

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I'm going to post here just to follow this thread.  I wouldn't mind trying a pair of conversion revolvers myself.


I'll even answer one of your questions: black powder is legal propellant in all categories!

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11 hours ago, Deadeye Joe said:

Hello Everyone!

 

I'm a newbie building up my Cowboy Arsenal, and am very intrigued by the history of cap and ball revolvers as well as the convenience of cartridges, and would like to incorporate them into my kit. I have quite a few questions on the matter in the hopes of starting out as smoothly as possible.

 

My first few questions are about legality, would I be able to use low power smokeless cartridges in a non-frontier category? This is mainly because I don't want to clean BP out of my rifle and shotgun if I don't have to. Also, would I be able to use black powder in a non-frontier category?

 

My next question is about the revolvers themselves. I am interested in three models in particular, the 1851 Navy, the 1858 New Army, and the 1860 Army. I can get conversion cylinders for all of them in .45LC, but the 1858 can also be .38SPL and the 1851 .38LC. Since my rifle is .38SPL I would ideally want the pistols to be in the same cartridge, however I don't necessarily want to have two 1858s and based on my research I am not exactly chomping at the bit to try shooting .38SPL out of something chambered for .38LC. With this in mind, is there any optimal combination of pistols and chamberings, such as both .45LC, one .38SPL one .45LC, etc. 

 

My final question is about holstering, I am wondering if there is anything to keep in mind running these pistols as opposed to the popular Colt SA.

 

Thank you all, and I am very excited to get started with Cowboy Action Shooting!

 

 

 

 

 

Unless you are using a conversion cylinder,  do not put smokeless powder into your percussion cap gun. (It won't blow up, it just won't shoot unless you use duplex loading. The caps are not strong enough to set off the smokeless. Again I DO NOT recommend you use smokeless, but if you do, there's a 99% chance it will not shoot as you think)

 

 

 

 

 

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24 minutes ago, Dacotua said:

Unless you are using a conversion cylinder,  do not put smokeless powder into your percussion cap gun. (It won't blow up, it just won't shoot unless you use duplex loading. The caps are not strong enough to set off the smokeless. Again I DO NOT recommend you use smokeless, but if you do, theres a 99% chance it will not shoot like you think

 

Any combination of smokeless and blackpowder (so called duplex loads) is specifically prohibited in ANY category. (e.g., Blackhorn 209).

SHB p.27

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8 hours ago, H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619 said:

...

Note that the 58 seems to have timing problems.   ALL of my 58's suffered from this to one extent or another.  Didn't matter if they were made by Pietta, Uberti or Remington, making me thing it's a design flaw.   It's fixable, but you will have to deal with it.

...

Remington Cons...  The aforementioned timing issues.

...

 

FWIW...I've been shooting "58's" of various configurations and manufacture for 35+ years...never experienced ANY "timing issues".

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If you want to shoot open top pistols in 38 special, I would choose:

 

Richard-Mason conversions

 

1875 Outlaws

 

1871/72 Colt Clones

 

The barrels on all three will be the right diameter for 38 Special ( .357. vice .375 )

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5 hours ago, Warden Callaway said:

Not mentioned is the Ruger Old Army with conversion cylinders.  I have a pair but have not shot them yet.

 

1652524319_RugerOldArmyDec2020.thumb.jpg.e869d5dd2e854dbde13d6e0f9bfe84ef.jpg

Very nice, here are a couple of pairs of mine.

IMG_4053.jpeg

IMG_2920.jpeg

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I have shoot many a match with a pair of Uberti 36 cal 1861 navy’s. They love GOEX with round balls or conical. I have a pair of Howel conversion cylinders chambered for 38 Colt/38 special that drop right in ether revolver and function perfectly without any fitting required. The cylinders have .375 throats and allow the Areas Gone healed Colt bullet in a short Colt case to function. Better still is a 38 special case with a 148 grain hallow base wadcutter. Many hours of entertainment sitting on the patio shooting cans, paper and steel burning 2.4 grains of Red Dot with each pop of the 1861. Deadly accurate and I don’t have to clean the guns right away. Throw the percussion cylinders back in and their ready for Frontiersman. 

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11 hours ago, Yul Lose said:

Very nice, here are a couple of pairs of mine.

IMG_4053.jpeg

IMG_2920.jpeg

  Very nice 

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