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Old November 25, 2008, 05:53 PM   #1
hejlman
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Converting a Black powder pistol to Cartridge

Is it possible to make a black powder pistol into a cartridge firing weapon? I have a 44 Cal. black powder Navy Colt, can it be made to use catridges? I have always wondered this and have found nothing to support it.
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Old November 25, 2008, 06:09 PM   #2
Webleymkv
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So long as it's a reproduction (not an original 100+ year old revolver) in good condition, yes you can. You are, however, limited to fairly light loadings. BTW, if your revolver is a .44 Caliber Colt reproduction, then it's a 1860 Army rather than a 1851 or 1861 Navy as they were .36 caliber.

http://www.kirstkonverter.com/index.html

EDIT: Apparently, there are reproduction 1851 Navys in .44 Caliber.
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Old November 25, 2008, 07:54 PM   #3
RickB
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That would be a replica of anything!
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Old November 25, 2008, 11:30 PM   #4
360 jp
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There is a converter that has a loading gate out there. Get that one, it's worth the extra money IMO. The other one is not as fast to load it, but it works fine otherwise.
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Old November 26, 2008, 08:14 AM   #5
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Make sure you know who made it; Pietta, Uberti, ASM, et. c. and buy accordingly. I have a Pietta 1851 in .44 cal, and use an R&D cylinder for an 1860.
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Old November 26, 2008, 08:21 AM   #6
Don P
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Converting to center fire

Depends on the model year repop heres what I have. The cylinder slips out on this model.
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Old November 26, 2008, 10:35 AM   #7
w_houle
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Two reasons to reload .45 Colt:
1) .45 Colt is expensive to shoot.
2) Conversion cylinders don't like .45 Colt in SAAMI spec OAL of 1.6" They usually like them in 1.58" for Pietta, and IIRC 1.56" for Uberti.
Or you could shoot .45 Schofield, but would also suggest reloading that too for the cost.
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Old November 26, 2008, 05:40 PM   #8
hejlman
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That is awesome! I was almost kidding but serious at the same time. So how much is the cost of the rework, can I do it myself? Yes it is a Reproduction Navy colt made by navy arms Co. Ridgefield NJ, I built it myself from a kit that my parents purchased for me as a child. It is in good condition. So it will still shoot .44 cal pistol rounds, I have a brother in law that reloads so cost will be a minor problem. I appreciate all the response. I will be looking into modifying my old blunderbust!!! Too cool.

Last edited by hejlman; November 26, 2008 at 05:48 PM.
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Old November 26, 2008, 06:38 PM   #9
Teuthis
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Don't do it! That is never really safe. You have no idea of the metal strength, since the weapon was not made to fire smokeless powder. It isn't worth the risk!
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Old November 26, 2008, 06:52 PM   #10
w_houle
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oh, forgot to ask: What kind of metal is the frame made out of? If it is brass, then you cannot convert it to fire cartriges.
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Old November 27, 2008, 12:10 AM   #11
GNLaFrance
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R&D Gun Shop
Kirst Cartridge Konverter
Cimarron Firearms Co.
"Metallic Cartridge Conversions: The History of the Guns & Modern Reproductions" Book by Dennis Adler
Links to Black Powder Revolvers (and more history of the cartridge and cartridge conversions)
1851 Navy Cartridge Conversion Manual
Old Western Scrounger
Black Hills Ammunition
For discussion and support: CAS City (look for the Darksider's Den, NCOWS, SCORRS and STORM sub-forums)

In brief: You can buy a black powder cap and ball revolver already converted to fire cartridges, buy a cartridge conversion cylinder to install in your black powder cap and ball revolver (or have it installed for you), or manufacture a cartridge revolver from a black powder cap and ball revolver.

Thou shalt not:
Fire full-power nitro (smokeless) powder cartridges in a converted revolver,
Convert a brass-framed revolver to fire cartridges, or
Ship a converted revolver to someone who does not hold a Class I FFL.

Lots of things to consider. If, for example, you install a .38 Long Colt or .38 S&W Special cartridge conversion cylinder in a Pietta copy of the 1851 Navy Colt, you will want to have the barrel lined to .357 inch or use hollow-based bullets, because the .38 caliber bullets are actually .357 inch and the bore of a ".36 caliber" Navy Colt is .375 inch. You can shoot bullets that are .018 smaller than the bore, but velocity and accuracy will suffer.

This problem doesn't exist in the ".44 caliber" black powder cap and ball revolvers because they have a .452 inch bore, which happens to be the right size for .45 Long Colt cartridges. The .44-40 (aka .44 WCF) is .427 inch, and the .44 Colt is .432 inch, so they also need barrel lining or hollow based bullets. The hollow base expands and grips the rifling so the bullet will spin as it goes through the bore.

What you do and get depends on how mechanically savvy you are, how historically accurate you want to be, and of course how much money you want to or can afford to spend.

Go see that bunch of goobers on the CAS City site. Tell them "Frenchie" sent you, ask any questions you have, pay attention to the answers, and don't let them talk you into buying anything that sounds too good to be true or that involves investing in gambling, drinking, or loose women
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Last edited by GNLaFrance; November 27, 2008 at 12:26 AM.
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Old December 5, 2008, 03:24 AM   #12
hejlman
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Thanks folks, I realized that my Revolver had the brass body and was unable to be fitted with the needed attachments. So I guess I will be keepin the old blonderbust and enjoying the other weapons I have for speed.
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Old September 10, 2012, 10:31 AM   #13
Michael h
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Michael h

All.... I'm looking for a gun smith to do along cylinder conversion on a Uberti 1861 navy. I keep hitting dead ends all the well known (to me at least) Bob Milllington. Kenny Howell. John Grenn and others are either untraceable dead or retiring.

Thanks. Michael h
Eh3m_5@hotmail.com
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Old September 10, 2012, 08:00 PM   #14
Aguila Blanca
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Here you go: http://kirstkonverter.com/default.asp

And ... http://kirstkonverter.com/shopdispla...1861+Konverter

Note that they offer installation as an option.
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Old September 10, 2012, 09:29 PM   #15
Shotgun693
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You mean the brass grip/lower frame? You can replace that fairly easily. I shoot Cowboy Action and see some of of the converted guns in use. The ones fired with smokeless powder shoot loose rather quickly. Those fired with black powder seem to do just fine.
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Old September 10, 2012, 09:38 PM   #16
spaniel
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"I shoot Cowboy Action and see some of of the converted guns in use. The ones fired with smokeless powder shoot loose rather quickly. Those fired with black powder seem to do just fine."

The "cowboy" load I shoot in my R&D converted steel frame 1858 Remington has significantly less recoil than max BP loads in the same gun. I'm not worried about it shooting loose. Once you start reloading, it's completely up to you if you want to beat your gun into scrap or work up an accurate load that makes it last virtually forever.

The powder type doesn't mean anything. The pressure and velocity you push does.
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Old September 11, 2012, 09:03 AM   #17
Rifleman1776
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There is really no point in doing it at all. I know it is a current fad but the cost of conversion is close to the same as buying a new gun. And, there are safety concerns. Personally, I wouldn't do it.
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Old September 11, 2012, 09:11 AM   #18
Bob Wright
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As a matter of interest, Uberti makes a number of "conversions" including some made from the outset as cartridge revolvers. These are steel framed guns and can be used with mild smokeless ammunition. However, they are made on the old Colt style design, with the barrel held by the wedge and of open top construction, with the exception of Remington copies. These are not of the strongest construction, not the fault of Uberti but of Colt, and certainly shoot loose with heavy usage.

But they make one handsome revolver!

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Old September 11, 2012, 10:24 AM   #19
Aguila Blanca
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I have read conflicting reports regarding whether or not the brass-framed BP revolvers "shoot loose," and reports both ways include both as cap-and-ball shooters and as conversions to metallic cartridges. I have seen and shot a Uberti cartridge conversion (the R&D type, not the Kirst) in an 1858 Remington replica, but those have a solid top strap, not an open top frame.

I'm up in the air as to whether I would convert ANY replica of a Colt open top to fire cartridges.
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Old September 11, 2012, 11:22 AM   #20
Strafer Gott
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They do make really handsome revolvers with the convenience of a cartridge gun, but I would limit it to a .36 Navy, and shoot BP cartridges, not smokeless.
I've seen one 44/45 (a Remmy) destroyed by smokeless powder, and have no desire to experience it.
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Old September 11, 2012, 06:20 PM   #21
James K
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One thing to consider about converting Colt type revolvers. The rearward thrust of a percussion revolver is through the cylinder, which means it is at the thick part of the frame. In other words, there is no thrust at the top of the boss; the cylinder recoils rather than the cartridge.

But when the gun is converted to cartridge, the backward thrust point changes. The pressure is now exerted at the top of the frame boss, so with the longer lever arm, it has more tendency to bend the back of the frame. That is the problem Colt ran into with their own 1872 model and why they went to a top strap for the 1873.

Jim
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