View Full Version : 1851 navy conversion cylinder

July 27, 2010, 10:26 AM
Hello All,

I was made aware that to convert a .36 cal colt navy to shoot cartridges I would need to sleeve the barrel or shoot very specific ammo. Is this also true with the pietta .44 cal navy? I am making a run to cabelas this weekend and hoping to come home with 2 '51 navies. If I can convert them to shoot cartridge without sleeving the barrel I might get one in .36 and one in .44 and convert the .44. Also, how much actual smithwork is needed to convert the 44 cal in order to not have to take off barrel to reload?


July 27, 2010, 10:41 AM
The concept sounds like fun.
I have never heard of the sleeving necessity.
The folks at Cabela's will be able to advise you on what is needed to do what you are asking about.
I would suggest you do not get one of the El Cheapo repro Navies. That is only asking for trouble.
Sounds like you are willing to drop some bucks on this venture. Get the best they have to offer.
As for changing cylinders without pulling off the front end, if you want it to remain a Colt Navy, that is what will be necessary.

Fingers McGee
July 27, 2010, 11:15 AM
.44 cal C&Bs have nominal bore diameters of .452, same as bullet diameter of .45 Colt. Sleeving or special bullets are not required. .36 cal C&Bs, on the other hand, have nominal bore diameters of .375 while 38 Spcl uses .357 diameter bullets. In the case of .36 conversions, either sleeving the barrel to .357 or using hollow base bullets that will 'plump up' to fill the .375 bore is necessary for any kind of accuracy. If you plan on using the revolver for both cartridge and C&B shooting; the easiest, hassle free way to do it is with a .44.

Secondarily, reloading a conversion cylinder for a Colt style revolver involves removing the wedge and barrel to get the cylinder off, then reassembling. Reloading a Remington replica only involves pulling the base pin and removing the cylinder. Far less hassle with the Remmie.

If you are just looking for an 1851 styled cartridge revolver, I recommend a pair of Man With No Name conversions.

July 27, 2010, 12:25 PM

What would be the most historically accurate of the conversions? Remmie with swap out cylinders? Man with no name conversion without ejector? Factory converted? I'm just wondering being a student of history. It would seem that if a person didnt want to send their navy to colt to do a factory conversion they would find a gunsmith who would do it for them and in this case there might be an ejector or might not. Is this correct?

Fingers McGee
July 27, 2010, 12:47 PM

There are a couple books written just to explain the different conversions. One that is still available is Metallic Cartridge Conversions by Dennis Adler. Another is A STUDY OF COLT CONVERSIONS by R. Bruce McDowell

The Man with No Name isn't historically correct. It's basically an opentop with a loading lever instead of the ejector. The R&D cylinder conversion for a Remmie is historically accurate; although the conversions made in the 1860s were in .46 rimfire instead of .45 colt. The Kirst gated conversions are based primarily on the Richards & Richards-Mason conversions for Colt's and the gated conversions for the Remmie. Gunsmith conversions were all over the place.

July 28, 2010, 04:49 AM
Here's a Pair of cartridge guns. The top one is an 1861 Colt Navy Pietta with a gated Kirst 38spl conversion cylinder it can be converted easily back to a C&B .36cal Rev. Gated means you must hog out the cap troth into a cartridge loading troth. The Kirst jus' drops in ... the Pietta has a .375 barrel Uberti has a .380. I use the Pietta and 158gr HBWC 38spl that work just fine very accurate, The other choice is heeled bullets ... the one I wouldn't do is sleeve it to .358" go by the gun ifin ya wanna shoot .357's in it.(just me)
I agree with Fingers and would tell ya go buy the .45Colt conversion...the R&D or Kirst have a drop in for Rems, Colts, Rogers&Spencers, and ROAs.
But I like mine and both a these shoot great.
The bottom one is a 1880-1881 Colt Pocket Factory Cartridge 38Colt with two patents 1871, and 1872...I use the same 158gr HBWC in it also with smokeless or BP in either.
But I must say I can't stay away from these Cap&Ball Revs
E.N. Santa Barbara 1858 NMA Rem