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Old July 4, 2005, 12:30 AM   #1
38splfan
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Brass Frame Life Expectancy?

I have heard lots of stories about the weakness of brass framed revolvers. Everything from melting to shooting apart or just shooting out of time.

I need some real answers, from guys who've been there, done that. (t-shirt not required )

Will a brass frame really be torn up by shooting?
For the sake of argument we'll say shooting the max in the pistol's manual. I think for my Traditions 1858 Rem Army it's 36 grains, but will have to double check.

Any thoughts out there?
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Old July 4, 2005, 01:53 AM   #2
mtnboomer
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Since brass/gunmetal is softer than steel it stands to reason that it could fail under certain conditions. But it's not likely if you stick to reasonable loads. Hotrodding a one of these revolvers is stupid in the first place; and dangerous in the second place - steel or brass! I believe most of the stories you've heard are true because there will always be someone from the shallow end of the gene pool out there pulling one of those "hold-my-beer-and-watch-this" stunts. Keep your loads around the middle of the power range, or below, and you'll be shooting your pistol for many years.
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Old July 4, 2005, 02:07 AM   #3
38splfan
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loads.

Most of my loads will be target loads, say 20 grains or so. Usually real BP and not the substitutes. And lead round ball only. No bullets or "ball-ets".

Even for heavy shooting I have NEVER and will NEVER exceed the maximum recommendation by the manufacturer.

I only post because my 1858 Remington (brass frame) is nearing the 6 year mark. I have not gone over 30 grains in it, and it is fairing fine now.

I am considering a new brass frame '51 Navy to go along with it, maybe to use them as a brace of occasional CAS guns.

Thanks for the help.
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Old July 5, 2005, 12:53 PM   #4
arcticap
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I have recently been reading a lot about chain fires, what could potentially cause them and what resulted after the fact by many posters writing about their experiences. Whether anyone could insure the prevention of such an occurrence appears doubtful since there are likely many different causes during the firing & ignition sequence that could be contributory. But the relevant question that remains is whether or not if a total chain fire reaction occurred, would a brass framed revolver be able to handle the stress undamaged or unaffected? Just how much of an added margin of strength is built into the brass frame is a huge question mark when compared to a steel one, but it shouldn't take a rocket scientist to conclude that a steel framed revolver probably leaves plenty more of a margin of surplus strength to survive the unplanned chain fire unscathed.

Last edited by arcticap; July 6, 2005 at 05:47 PM.
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Old July 6, 2005, 06:55 AM   #5
Hal
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Quote:
But the relevant question that remains is whether or not if a total chain fire reaction occurred, would a brass framed revolver be able to handle the stress undamaged or unaffected?
Mine survived it fine with no damage that I could see.
- Reproduction 1862 .36 cal Colt pocket revolver.

I loaned it to a friend, and he had a chain fire with it. What he did with it AFTER having the chain fire was a different matter altogether. He tossed it uncleaned back into the box and returned it to me 6 mo later. Needless to say it was a mess of (useless for shooting) rust.

It's been my experience with 2 Colt reproductions that the brass frame is plenty strong enough for normal black powder loads. The springs and guts of both of mine went long before there was any noticable wear on the frames.
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Old July 9, 2005, 09:17 PM   #6
Ozzieman
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I have been shooting BP pistols since 1972

My first gun I still have and still shoot,
Once every couple of years I do a complete tair down and clean. That means all the screws come out and your left with a lot of peices.
I shoot at least 200 rounds through the oldest a year and have for over 8 years which is how long I have been shooting cowboy action, and I do it with Ball and cap BP.
There is a grove in the pin the cylinder rotates on from the gass pressure from the opening between the barrel and cylinder and the locking detents on the cylinder are about 30% ground away from firing. The frame is all brass.
The gun is still tight and fires very well for a cheep Itialan gun, and I would take no ammount of money for it.
In all the Ball and cap revolvers that I have, (I now have 8) and all the shooting I have done, I have only had one double fire, and it was caused by my being in a hurry, Scared the crap out of me, more the flash than anything, but it did no harm to me or the gun. I missed filling a cylinder with grease.
Wont do that again.
IF your talking about more than one cylinder going off (2 total) thats one thing.
If your talking about all 6, no gun would hold togther after that no matter what it was made of. If some num nut is writing that black powder guns have a tendency of going off on all 6 cylinders at once.
Believe me they are anti gun people and holding to the lies they always do.
If you treat PB guns with respece and are correct in the loading and greasing of the gun there no more dangerious than alluminum wheel, or plastic guns.
And a heck of a lot more fun to shoot.
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Old July 14, 2005, 03:29 PM   #7
Mark whiz
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I've been shooting my brass 1858 (Pietta) for over 3 years now(probably about 250 rd per year) and there has been ZERO issues with it. I usually load the max 30gr BP load with ball or 180gr conicals on ocassion too.
I fully expect this gun to last as long as me; and I'm hoping to get another 35 - 40yrs out of this old body.
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Old July 16, 2005, 12:12 AM   #8
DPris
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In 1973 while stationed at an Air Force base in South Dakota, I took my 1969 brass-framed .36 Navy replica out several times in the Black Hills. Got a buddy interested in them, he bought a brass-framed .44 and we shot together a bit that summer. Less than 500 rounds through his, the arbor pulled loose from the frame, the gun was junk.
He didn't use hot loads & didn't mistreat it.
The problem with brass frames is not a safety issue, it's a stretching and arbor anchor issue. If the frame stretches too far, it can affect ignition. If the arbor pulls loose at the rear and strips out the softer brass, it's not repairable.
I retired my .36 a long time ago, but I'll never let go of it. It was my first handgun, it's still intact, and even though I don't plan to shoot it again, I do want to keep it functional.
I wouldn't buy a brass frame again, I didn't know any better at the time, for a few dollars more you can get steel and run less of a risk. I don't see the sense in gambling.
I did have a chainfire once, three chambers. It was exciting. Didn't hurt the gun, but repeating it a lot certainly could add some stretch.
Just my experiences & opinion.
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Old July 27, 2005, 02:09 PM   #9
artsmom
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While shopping for an 1853 Enfield repro, I stumbled onto a site whose owner/operator refused to sell brass framed Civil War revolvers, stating that the frames would deform and stretch after only a few cylinders have been filled and shot.

I have a hard time believing that myself, especially with .36 round balls, but maybe the pressure is more than I imagine.
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Old July 27, 2005, 03:58 PM   #10
Frenchwrench
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I've had my 36 cal High Standard brass frame since 1979, shoot it less then I used to but still run 40/75 shots thru it a year. No sign of wear or stretching.
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Old July 27, 2005, 06:16 PM   #11
mec
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We have one brass frame faux navy in .44 and another one made years ago by Uberti. The Uberti is stretched out to the point that end shake is excessive for ignition. The ASM is tight but non of the chambers align with the barrel.

One poster said that he had bent the frame of his brass Remington copy putting too much pressure on the loading lever. Looking at the small amount of metal at the bottom front of the frame window, it is easy to see how this could happen.
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Old August 3, 2005, 03:06 PM   #12
38splfan
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Ball starter.

Quote:
One poster said that he had bent the frame of his brass Remington copy putting too much pressure on the loading lever
I prefer to take the cylinder out to load it. I have a wooden ball starter for a .45 caliber rifle that works well as a "ramrod". I remove the cylinder, load it on the bench, and replace it. I don't cap it until after it has been replaced in the gun though. I get kinda nervous about that. (shaky hands, ya know? )
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Old August 11, 2005, 02:17 PM   #13
mec
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We currently have two brass framed revolvers. One is an old Uberti that has stretched out and will no longer shoot. The other is an Armi San Marco that is tight but has at least three different diameters at the front of the chambers.
Bates got a brass framed navy back in the mid-60s, shot it quite a lot and killed jackrabbits with it. When it stretched, he screwed the arbor in half a turn. Did this twice before the thing could no longer be fixed.

Uberti no longer lists any brass framed revolvers.
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