View Full Version : 1851 navy brass vs 1860 army steel

January 25, 2010, 08:07 PM
So I want to get into shooting black powder revolvers and Cabela's has a couple on sale that I'm interested in. Do I get the brass framed 1851 navy for $120 or do I spend the extra money and get the steel framed 1860 Army for $190

January 25, 2010, 08:26 PM
Steel 1860, you'll be glad you did.

January 25, 2010, 08:44 PM
One of each!

January 25, 2010, 08:51 PM
I'd suggest spending the extra money on the Army. I personally have the brass navy (in .44, which actually an Army, so I guess it's technically going to be called a Brass Framed 1851 Army... maybe?). It was actually a hand me down from my grandfather, so I didn't have much choice, but my next BP is either going to be the 1860 or an 1858.

The steel frame, especially in the open top design, is going to be a more durable gun and hold up to heavier loads longer than the brass frame will. It will also be more historically accurate, as the 1860 was a .44 Army revolver.

I used to prefer to looks of the 1851, but the looks of the 1860 are growing on me. I used to hate the weird "rounded, amorphous look," but now I've grown to appreciate the curves and lines of the 1860 Army.

The grip on the 1860 is slightly different from that of the 1851. I prefer the 1851 grip, myself, and it is actually more similar to what you'll find on an 1873 than the grips on the 1860. I've heard that the Pietta (the Brass Frame 1851 .44) grip isn't accurate, either. So, you might want to take that into account, too.

There's a lot to weigh out, but it really comes down to: what do you want?

January 26, 2010, 06:16 AM
If you want a .44, get the 1860 Army.

The 1851 Navy is a great gun, but to fully appreciate it, you need the .36 cal, as it was designed. Sam was a terrible businessman but a genius gun designer.

Beyond that, nobody can possibly predict what gun is best for you; a gun is very much like a woman - only you know what 'floats your boat'.

January 26, 2010, 09:58 AM
Just depends whether you want a .36 or .44. Brass framed .36's will hold up just fine.

(I refuse to even acknowledge a ".44 cal 1851")

January 26, 2010, 01:09 PM
Brass looks pretty and to have a complete collection of BP firearms you'd want some CSA style brassers but for your first BP firearm go for steel. I think you are going to want to top it off with GOEX from time to time without worrying about stretching the brass of that 1851. JMHO.

January 26, 2010, 04:43 PM
I wouldn't worry about the brass stretching. BP revolvers are cheap enough to replace if necessary.

January 26, 2010, 06:41 PM
thanks for the input guys, I think I'm going to go for the 1860 army

Fingers McGee
January 26, 2010, 07:54 PM
thanks for the input guys, I think I'm going to go for the 1860 army

You might as well get two while you're at it. Once you try one out, one isn't enough.


January 27, 2010, 12:38 PM
(I refuse to even acknowledge a ".44 cal 1851")
my, aren't we high and mighty....

In anycase, getting a pair isn't necessary, but if you do get a pair: you can start doing CAS all the faster. You'll just be short a rifle and shotgun.

January 27, 2010, 12:49 PM
I'm into authenticity, and a .44 cal 1851 Navy never existed.

January 27, 2010, 12:52 PM
nor did .357 1873s or .38special 1893s, but people find them perfectly acceptable at CAS matches.

Refusing to believe that a gun I own exists because it's not "authentic" to the source material is pretty harsh.

edit: also, I believe Pietta, the company that makes the Brass Framed 1851 .44 calls it something like "1851 Confederacy Navy .44" which doesn't work because a Navy is in .36 and an Army is .44. But... they're the company MAKING THEM so they can call them whatever they want.

Darkyle, make sure to let us know how it shoots and ask us if you have any questions regarding proper use and the likes.

January 27, 2010, 12:57 PM
Shoot what you like, but your argument cannot possibly convince me to use such guns in a match.

January 27, 2010, 01:01 PM
So, I have a question about authenticity then.... how was the caliber of the .36 Navy or the .44 Army measured originally? I was surprised to learn when I bought my .44 caliber "Navy" Pietta repro that Europe measures caliber from land to land in the barrel so it shoots a .451 to .454 ball. On the American continent, caliber is measured from groove to groove so a .44 caliber would shoot like a .441 to .444 ball?

So, what was the measurement of the original? For those interested in true authenticity, wouldn't that make a difference?

January 27, 2010, 01:21 PM
If I'm not mistaken, the caliber, .36, was the caliber of the barrel before it was rifled...?

Whatever that would have to do with me ever shooting a ".44 cal 1851 Navy".

January 27, 2010, 01:22 PM
(beaten to it!) Actually, I believe the .451-.454 in the .44's is accurate historically and the .36's fire .375-.38 or so and are accurate.

Edit, what NavyLT was asking was:
how accurate are modern reproductions, truly? Are the odd barrel sizes accurate, historically? If not, then you can't really nix any of the guns for firing an incorrect caliber.

I believe he was thinking that the .36 C&B was actually around .357 and the .44 was around .441 instead of the .375 and .454 that they in fact are.

Jbar, here's my issue here: you're essentially telling anyone that owns that certain gun that you don't respect their gun, thereby insinuating that we made a bad choice and that you don't respect those of us that actually own the Pietta in .44. Pretty rude to myself and countless others who own the gun.

Doc Hoy
January 27, 2010, 02:26 PM
Doesn't it bother you when you read of a revolver being referred to as a "gun"?!

(Navy Warrant)


January 27, 2010, 02:32 PM
HAHA! Well, I was on submarines when enlisted.

On BOATS, we didn't have GUNS, we had TORPEDOES!

Doc Hoy
January 27, 2010, 02:41 PM
Chuckle + 1

January 27, 2010, 03:18 PM
It's all good - us surface Navy guys know that you call it a ship when it can carry a boat :D

(Navy E6)

Oh yeah...get the steel-framed .44. It's a hoot - and although I have never personally seen a brass-framed revolver wear out, the price difference isn't so much that it isn't worth the extra for the steel.

Let's see...isn't...isn't...two negatives equals a positive, so...yeah, I think that's what I mean. I think...

January 27, 2010, 07:34 PM
I'm with Jbar on this one.

Fingers McGee
January 27, 2010, 07:42 PM
I trend to agree with Jbar two :cool:. Uh-Oh........... does that mean I have to get rid of my .44 caliber, 5 inch octagonal barreled, navy gripped, engraved Army revolvers :eek:. Mayhaps I should rethink this :rolleyes:


Doc Hoy
January 28, 2010, 06:30 AM
What's in a name?

January 28, 2010, 08:36 AM
Several letters and maybe a punctuation mark or two.

January 28, 2010, 09:46 AM
Ya'll shoot whatcha want, but I'll keep on using .375" round balls in my 1851 G&G copies.
I'm into authenticity, yes, but original G&G's are ten grand or more a pop, so I'll have to stick with original styled repros. :(

Darkyle6, for my money, it would be the steel framed 1860.

January 28, 2010, 02:59 PM
Yes Fingers. You must divest yourself of the offending guns. Send them to me and I will destroy them for you.

Naw, I'd just put army grips on them.

Fingers McGee
January 29, 2010, 12:24 AM
Yes Fingers. You must divest yourself of the offending guns. Send them to me and I will destroy them for you.

Naw, I'd just put army grips on them.

Destroy them ?! :eek: I don't think so..................... I'll just let them hide out in my gun room - granting them asylum as it were :D .

Had a new arrival today. A 1973 vintage Uberti Leech and Rigdon that locks up tight as a drum without any rattles; has a very smooth action, and a very pleasing 30 year old patina. Plan is to send it to deadguy for defarbing and marking as a C H Rigdon CSA Augusta revolver as soon as I can find someone to put 6 more bolt stop cuts in the cylinder.

February 2, 2010, 05:33 PM
I don't think that there were any Navy colts being made by italians back in
'51 either.

February 2, 2010, 06:15 PM
I don't think that there were any Navy colts being made by italians back in '51 either.

Not to mention that the reproductions are only a reasonable facsimile of the original. Not only are the metals not identical but often times the dimensions and the features not exact. The finish, the fit, the rifling, barrel length, etc...I could go on and on. While it is unlikely I would own a .44 caliber "Navy" for similar reasons somewhat along the lines stated by the minority I differ in the sense that I respect those firearms and those who chose to own them. I think I'd be somewhat hypocritical if I snubbed my nose at those firearms and then pretend that my "reproductions" were accurate to what was manufactured by Colt or Remington back in the day. BTW, I'm a confirmed ROA lover too.

To each his own folks. Why look down on any of the reproductions when your reproduction is unlikely exact to the original. Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades as they say.

February 3, 2010, 04:29 AM
Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades as they say.

Yeah but a 51 in .44 ain't even close.

February 3, 2010, 06:02 PM
OK . . . OK . . . I've been following this thread and have been quite amused by the replies . . . BUT . . . now I want to know strictly from all you NAVY vets . . . . and inquiring minds also want to know .. . . WHICH DO YOU PREFER . . . brass or steel submarines? Which will hold up longer? :D

Doc Hoy
February 3, 2010, 07:08 PM
Actually I would not prefer a submarine from either metal. That goes for aircraft carriers too. Chuckle!

February 3, 2010, 07:29 PM
Well, now, that all depends. Brass will hold up to seawater better than untreated steel. So, from preventing corrosion standpoint, I will take brass over steel. Now, if you want to spend your time doing corrosion treatment/prevention and you want strength, then I will take steel over brass.

I've spent time both on submarines and targets, Doc!

February 7, 2010, 03:02 PM
So I bought the 1860 army and I'm pretty happy with it, I took it out and was shooting it with 25 grains of triple seven, what is the hottest load that you guys would deem safe.

February 7, 2010, 03:16 PM
Holy Crap! Disregard! Danger, danger, danger!

I use Pyrodex! Never mind!

February 7, 2010, 05:29 PM
The Hodgdon website lists 25 grains of 777 FFFG as maximum in a steel-framed 1860 Army, for about 600 fps.
There's a good reason for this --- Hodgdon 777 is not designed to be a straight-across, volume-for-volume substitute for black powder. It's slightly more powerful and requires less for the same velocity and pressure as black powder generates.
On the label of a 777 can it lists 35 grains for use in a Ruger Old Army. The Ruger Old Army is the strongest cap and ball revolver ever made.
I have an Uberti Remington 1858 .44 that I loaded 40 grains of 777 into back in 2004. I rather foolishly assumed it was designed to be equivalent to black powder.
Wow! What a surprise! That gun bucked and kicked and roared. It was clearly a load more powerful than black powder could generate. Then I read the label ... silly me.
After that, I dropped down to 30 grains equivalent, using a 30 gr. measure.
Check out the Hodgdon website for guidance on using 777 powder, before you start stuffing chambers.
Remember, Hodgdoon makes the stuff, has the equipment to measure chamber pressures, and has the most experience with it. Outside of a ballistics lab, everything else is guesswork.

Doc Hoy
February 8, 2010, 07:16 AM
You mean "targets" as opposed to ships that sink as their first official act:D



February 8, 2010, 07:20 AM

It's kind of like falling out of an airplane. It's not the fall that kills anybody - it's just the sudden stop at the end.

You see, sinking is not the problem. The problem is some "boats" have the innate ability to arrest the sinking and return to the surface, and some "boats", well, just don't! :cool: