Thread: Conversions
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Old March 28, 1999, 03:53 PM   #2
James K
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Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 19,852
One much overlooked aspect of "Old West" gunnery was the use of both cap & ball guns and conversions well into the 90's.

(Remember in Shane, where the one character says he is going to strap on his old Navy and tackle Jack Palance?) In a lot of areas, powder and caps were easier to come by than modern cartridges, and use of percussion guns went on for a long time.

Conversions were also common, most of them by local gunsmiths. You can see these at a lot of gun shows, even in the East. I saw a 51 Navy a few weeks ago which was converted by using the front end and ratchet of one cylinder as the front, and the front of another with the center drilled out as the rear. The two pieces were pinned together, and there was a distinct line at the juncture, but it probably worked.

We also tend to forget that not all Western types carried SAAs. The Colt was expensive, selling for about 16 or 17 dollars (multiply by 40 for current money). Lots of folk carried those "awful" suicide specials, or cheap SA or DA .32s and .38s and didn't feel helpless. They also carried a miscellany of Remingtons (all kinds), Merwin-Hulberts, S&Ws, single shots and derringers of all kinds, etc., etc. Later, lots of people went in for auto loaders, including Lugers, Mauser C96s, early Colts, etc.

The problem is that in those days people seem to have had thinner skins, as even a .22 was considered nasty; with today's thick hides, a .454 apparently won't cut it if we believe the stuff in the handgun threads.
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