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Old February 14, 2008, 02:20 PM   #1
Slaeghunder
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Questions about Cartridge Conversions

I have a question. I know a little about modern rifles and handguns but didly squat about black powder and cowboy stuff.

Anyway, I bought a Pietta 1851 Colt Navy revolver, steel frame, .36 caliber.
As I understand it, there are drop-in cylinders that will convert this to fire cartriges.

The thing is this - all these cylinders say they're for the Pietta 1851 Colt Navy in .36 caliber, say that they convert it to .38 Long Colt.

Do I need a new barrel? How does a .38 caliber bullet fit down a .36 caliber barrel? Most of the places I have found that describe these conversions say the bullet is actually small for the bore and to use hollow points because they open up in the barrel and take up the slack.

I've got people telling me this can't possibly be right, but I've scoured the net and found no cylinder that is chambered for .32, which everyone keeps telling me is the right round.

I don't want to drop $200 bucks on the wrong thing.

Whats the story on this?
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Old February 14, 2008, 03:31 PM   #2
sundance44s
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Your right ...the others are wrong ..the 36 does convert to a 38 cal..and the 38 will bounce off the walls in the barrel ..if you don`t shoot the heeled bullets that were suggested to you . I `ve heard alot of folks haveing the barrel relined to 357 to make it tighter so they could shoot 38 `s better .
There is some that convert to a 32 cal and thats the 31 cal cap and ballers like the remington pocket pistol.
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Old February 14, 2008, 03:58 PM   #3
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.36 does convert to .38 but you want hollow based bullets not hollow points or heeled bullets.
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Old February 14, 2008, 04:07 PM   #4
Slaeghunder
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Yes, I found on the internet a place where you can buy a cylinder with a "lined" barrel in a kit and it'll shoot conventional .38 ammo. That ran about $300, and I figure since all the cylinders are $200 and a box of 50 hollow heeled rounds in .38 long colt looks to be about $50 a pop (Ouch) that might be the smart way to go. Standard .38 can be gotten cheap.
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Old February 14, 2008, 04:11 PM   #5
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I feel like a dumb little kid all over again with all this stuff. I used to think I knew a little bit about guns but I never heard of "hollow based" bullets or "heeled" bullets or any of that until I started looking into the cowboy guns. And all these weird calibers! It's like guns from another planet.
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Old February 14, 2008, 04:26 PM   #6
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It's like guns from another planet.
Nah, just guns from the past. Nobody that I know of makes heeled bullets anymore, except .22's. That's the way they all started out. With a heeled bullet the bullet is the same size as the outside diameter of the case with the heel part roll crimped inside the case. Just like a .22. Which in a .36 conversion would be just about right. So you need the hollow based bullet to fill out the difference between bullet size and bore size. Hollow based bullets got their start just before the Civil War in muzzleloading rifles. They were invented by Captain Claude-Etienne Minie of France. Hence the name Minie Ball.
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Old February 14, 2008, 06:07 PM   #7
RJM
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Ahh, just shoot the cap and ball as a cap and ball and buy a Uberti cartridge conversion revolver if you want to shoot .38 specials out of it. That's what I did and I don't have to worry about heeled bullets, hollow base bullets or anything else, well except for using too high of pressures. I spent the same money and have two guns instead of one with a cylinder. But if you got to have the drop in cylinder, make sure you dont use the wrong bullets.
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Old February 14, 2008, 06:49 PM   #8
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This is a test
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Old February 14, 2008, 06:55 PM   #9
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Slaeghunder -

You are aware the proper size round ball for a .36 cal bp revolver is .375" in diameter, correct? And some .36 cal bp revolvers need .380" round balls to seal properly and shoot accurately.

And the .38 Long Colt bullet is 0.361" in diameter, I believe.
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Old February 14, 2008, 06:57 PM   #10
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This is a test.
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Old February 14, 2008, 07:27 PM   #11
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And the .38 Long Colt bullet is 0.361" in diameter, I believe.
0.363 actually.
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Old February 14, 2008, 08:43 PM   #12
Slaeghunder
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Like I said earlier, I know squat about black powder. Nor do I know anyone who knows squat, which puts me off of messing around with it.

They tried to sell me the conversion revolver (45 long colt I think) but I didn't want it, because I wanted a Colt 1851 Navy. I like the looks of it, and it has historical, sentimental value to me because I'm a Missourian and they were popular with the Guerrillas. Josey Wales, man!

I just want to shoot cartridges because, like I said, I know squat about black powder.
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Old February 14, 2008, 09:08 PM   #13
Hawg
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and they were popular with the Guerrillas. Josey Wales, man!
Ummm, Josey Wales main guns were .44 Walkers.
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Old February 14, 2008, 09:12 PM   #14
RJM
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[QUOTE][They tried to sell me the conversion revolver (45 long colt I think) but I didn't want it, because I wanted a Colt 1851 Navy. I like the looks of it, and it has historical, sentimental value to me because I'm a Missourian and they were popular with the Guerrillas. Josey Wales, man! /QUOTE]

I understand your affinity for the 1851, I really like it and think it points excellently. Uberti does make a cartridge conversion of the 1851, check here:http://www.uberti.com/firearms/armyConversion.tpl

I bought the 1851 navy conversion instead of doing the cylinder conversion mostly because the Uberti comes with a loading gate. I always thought it would be a pain in the butt to pull the wedge take off the barrel and cylinder and reload the cylinder again. But of course you can get conversion cylinders for your 1851 with a loading gate too, but you have to do some work to get it installed.

BTW, The Outlaw Josey Wales is one of my favorite westerns, just a kick butt movie.
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Old February 14, 2008, 09:13 PM   #15
RJM
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Ummm, Josey Wales main guns were .44 Walkers.
Lets not forget the 1860 always tucked into his belt.
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Old February 15, 2008, 03:33 AM   #16
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Lets not forget the 1860 always tucked into his belt.
I said MAIN guns. He also had a .31 in a shoulder holster.
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Old February 15, 2008, 10:29 AM   #17
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Are you goina pull them pistols or whistle dixie;

Sod Buster Tried To Pull On Willson.
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Old February 15, 2008, 02:30 PM   #18
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Sorry about that, I got Josey Wales mixed up with the Man with No Name - also some of my favorite movies.

However, according to a lot of different sources ("Age of the Gunfighter" is the only one I can think of off the top of my head) the 1851 Navy WAS extremely popular with the Missouri Guerrillas. Of course, other models were also popular - they commonly carried up to eight pistols between their person and their saddlebags, I doubt they were so picky they only carried one model.
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Old February 16, 2008, 10:11 AM   #19
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I said MAIN guns. He also had a .31 in a shoulder holster.
Yeah that too. There was an article in Guns of the old West that outlined the guns that Josey Wales used in the movie. Funny thing was that the guns mysteriously changed from cap and ball to cartridge conversions throughout the movie. Also, according to the article, the gun he pulled from his burned out farmhouse was an 1860 Richards-Mason conversion which kind of screws up the timeline of the movie. Even with the guns changing, the movie ruled in my opinion.

I think Wild Bill Hickock carried 1851s during his time in Missouri. At least it is reported that he shot a fellow dead with one shot from an 1851 at 75 yards in Springfield.


"Dying aint much of a living, Boy." - one of my favorite quotes of Mr. Wales.
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Old February 16, 2008, 10:41 AM   #20
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I think Wild Bill Hickock carried 1851s during his time in Missouri. At least it is reported that he shot a fellow dead with one shot from an 1851 at 75 yards in Springfield.
Hickok was a legend in his own time, some say of his own making but the fact is he did kill Dave Tutt with one of his fancy engraved, ivory gripped 51 Navies. He was given a pair of cartridge conversions but as far as I know never carried them. He preferred the C&B. One of them resides at the Autry Museum http://www.autry-museum.org/
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Old February 16, 2008, 01:38 PM   #21
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Yeah I did read that Wild Bill favored the 1851 Cold Navy.

He was an interesting character, even if he did fight on the wrong side (in Missouri, anyway).
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Old February 16, 2008, 05:24 PM   #22
Slaeghunder
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Hey - if I do the .38 long colt conversion to my 1851, I have to use the hollow base bullets. These are pretty pricey (A dollar a shell!?) - can you use the spent brass and reload em, or are they no good after you shoot em? Can you buy the brass to reload your own any cheaper?

I'd like to shoot the cowboy round but with the price of it, relining the barrel to shoot standard .38s seems to be more.. uh, economically sound - unless I can do my own reloads.

I want to take my time and weigh the pros and cons before I lay my money down on anything.
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Old February 16, 2008, 05:39 PM   #23
Hawg
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You can reload them but it woud be cheaper just buy new brass and start reloading from scratch.
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Old February 16, 2008, 08:34 PM   #24
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Ahh, just shoot the cap and ball as a cap and ball and buy a Uberti cartridge conversion revolver if you want to shoot .38 specials out of it.
Couldn't agree more! If you want a percussion style pistol that shoots cartridges, buy an 1851 cartridge conversion. You also get the much easier to find .38Spl chambering. I'd buy another gun LOOOOONG before I sank a bunch of money into a Pietta percussion pistol that still won't be historically accurate or as easy to manipulate. I firmly believe that the factory cartridge conversions (by Uberti) are much better built guns than the Pietta percussion pistols. Cimarron would be my first choice.


Quote:
They tried to sell me the conversion revolver (45 long colt I think) but I didn't want it, because I wanted a Colt 1851 Navy.
Not sure what you mean by that as they do produce 1851 Navy cartridge conversions that are entirely historically accurate. Much more so than the Kirst and similar drop-in cartridge cylinders. Far easier to manipulate without need for removing the cylinder to reload. Simply open the gate and eject empties.
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Old February 16, 2008, 08:35 PM   #25
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Yeah, but I want a couple of those boxes the cowboy stuff comes in.
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