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Old December 31, 2010, 10:42 PM   #1
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1851 Navy or Dragoon for first BP revolver?

I've thought now and then about getting into black powder revolvers, and seeing True Grit recently put that bee back in my bonnet. It's my understanding that the Dragoon is more for advanced users than the 1851 Navy, but on the other hand, when I do something, I do it very carefully and thoroughly, and don't mind a challenge. Is there any strong reason not to go for the Dragoon? Other than that, I think I'd be happy to have either. I doubt I'll get to shoot it much, but it's something I wouldn't mind adding to my "things I have and know how to use" list.

I'm looking at Uberti revolvers, specifically the 1851 Navy London and the 3rd Model Dragoon, those particular choices (compared to other Navys and Dragoons) based pretty much on looks.

Finally, although I have plenty of rounds downrange on autos, I'm a pretty inexperienced revolver shooter. With standard .357 loads out of a 686 as a baseline, where do these .36 and .44 guns fall recoil-wise, with typical target loads?

Thanks for any info!
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Old December 31, 2010, 11:09 PM   #2
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Dragoon vs 1851 Navy - the biggest difference is size (the gun, and what it shoots). One is not more advanced than the other. As far as recoil of a .44 - it reminds me of the muscle cars of the 70s, with more of a powerful push than the nasty snap of the .357. The recoil of the .36 is like a .22.
A Colt Paterson is more complicated than the Colts that followed, and probably not a good 1st BP revolver, but any of the others are fine. If you want a full framed gun with a topstrap, check out the Remingtons in .36 or .44, and the Ruger Old Army.
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Old December 31, 2010, 11:13 PM   #3
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Thanks pohill, exactly the sort of info I was looking for, much appreciated.
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Old December 31, 2010, 11:54 PM   #4
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I have Colt clones both Army & Navy as well as Remington clones Army and Navy. If I had to pick one it would probably be the Colt Army but not by much. Any of these would make a good choice. The Dragoons and Walkers are a bit bulky for my taste. That's not to say they aren't good weapons, they are. I just prefer the size, weight and balance of the weapons I mentioned. I would suggest that before you buy, handle any weapon you are considering. Good luck and have way too much fun.

For what it's worth, the Pietta Armies I have seen lately have issues with the barrels not being indexed properly. Not an easy fix. The Uberties on the other hand seem to be on the money, (this applies to the Remington clones) plus the Uberties have a dovetail front sight, a definite plus for windage adjustment.
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Old January 1, 2011, 10:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
These guns are like Lays potato chips - you cannot have just one.
Several bags in different flavors!
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Old January 1, 2011, 11:13 AM   #6
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I am a Colt guy at heart,

But I do acknowledge that Remington may be a better place to start because of the fact that they are a little more user friendly. I started on Colts (In fact I did not have a Remington until about my sixth or seventh pistol) and for you (OP) since you say you are careful and scrupulous about your shooting you could start on either of the Colts you mentioned without problems.
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Old January 1, 2011, 01:10 PM   #7
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Thanks folks, very helpful insights. I have looked at some of the Remingtons and they do appear to be a little more straightforward, especially for a beginner, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the mean looks of the Colt revolvers, especially the earlier ones, have a lot to do with it.
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Old January 2, 2011, 01:27 AM   #8
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The colt army 44 will give you almost as much punch as the Dragoon without the surplus weight. OR, get a colt Navy in 44cal and get the look of the navy with the punch of the Army. There never was a "real" 44 cal navy but I love them. The 36cal navy is a bit under powered (ballistically like a 380 Auto) whereas the Colt 44s are about like a 38 Special. The dragoon would be like a +P 38 Spl but a very bulky gun. I have one (plus two Walkers, several Remingtons, and some 44 "navies". Love 'em all.
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Old January 2, 2011, 09:37 PM   #9
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Welcome! I only shoot .36 caliber (and 38 spl. in modern cartridge guns) so my experience is limited pretty much to those. I'm a big '51 Colt Navy fan . . . I have had a number of different '51 Navies over the years - Pietta, ASM, etc. but this past year, I "downsized" some and then bought a Uberti '51 Navy. There has always been the debate of Pietta versus Uberti, etc. and I never paid much attention to it - if I liked it, I bought it. I liked my Pietta Navies but I have to tell you that I absolutely love the Uberti '51 Navy that I bought - I bought it "used" but it had never been fired. Personally, I love the balance of the '51 Navy and the Uberti I have is mechanically, the smoothest action I've ever had. Whatever you buy, you may need to tune a little. After getting the Uberti Navy, it was like "why did I wait so long?". I also have a ASM '61 Navy and one of the Pietta Remington .36 Navies that I did some horse trading for at Cabellas. It all boils down to what you personally prefer. I really like the Remington Navy as well and it, too, has one of the smoothest actions out of the box that I've seen in a long time. Someday,. I'll probably "graduarte" to the .44s and a Dragoon looks like it would be fun. But, for everyday shooting, plinking, target practice and the killing of empty pop cans, my first choice would probaboy be my Uberti '51 Navy and the next would be the Remy - but again, it's personal choice. Any of the models can have their little "quirks" - in the end, it's about learning what they are and adapting to them. Best of luck to you!
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Old January 2, 2011, 10:20 PM   #10
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These replies have all been very helpful. For the moment I'm leaning towards a .36 Navy, since power is not an issue, although getting both someday is not out of the question. One of the many things I like about firearms generally is that they all have numerous mechanical and functional features (or peculiarities) to learn, and it looks like BP revolvers are no different from the automatics with which I'm much more familiar. Thanks again!
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