View Full Version : Clt 1860 Pet Peave

Doc Hoy
August 13, 2010, 03:25 PM
I know that some of you will tell me to stop the whining but here goes.

I began accumulating black powder revolvers a while ago by building kits. Only kits.That included two kits of 1860 Colts. In those kits the parts were finished to a rough extent and the function of the kit builder was largely to put the final finish on the metal.

Most notably on the barrel of these two kits the toolmarks were very evident and what was also evident was two lines at the intersection of two planes on each side of the barrel. At the factory, part of the process was to machine a flat surface on both sides of the barrel which was a good bit like machining the sides of an 1851. But since the 1860 has surfaces which are either rounded as the rounded top of the barrel or a rather complex concave as is the area just in front of the wedge and down towards the lug, the junction of the flat on the side of the barrel and the round areas had a line in the rough.

Part of the task of the kit builder was to take out the lines so that the finished pistol had the gradual and graceful contours that make the 1860 one of the most attractive pistols ever conceived. It was easy to do with file and sandpaper and the contours are so natural that you did not have to be a genius to know what was right and what was wrong. I am including a photo of an original Colt so it will be clear what I am talking about.


Photo Acquired from an auction on Gunbroker.com (www.gunbroker.com)

Doc Hoy
August 13, 2010, 03:32 PM
In some of the replica revolvers manufactured some years ago, there seems to have been little attention paid to finishing out these lines.

I am well aware of the numerous posts discussing the shortcomings of some of the Italian replicas and perhaps this diatribe is just one more. But the fact that my comments have no value has never inhibited me from making them.


Photo acquired from an auction on gunbroker.com (www.gunbroker.com)

Here is a photo from a sale on Gunbroker of what I think is a Pietta import of unknown vintage. In this pistol the line I am talking about is quite evident. It is easily visible extending from just under the lower right edge of the wedge to just where the barrel becomes completely round. My mind's eye tells me this line should not be there. In the pistols I built I made sure to take it out.

Doc Hoy
August 13, 2010, 03:37 PM
I have two Signature Series Colts with round barrels, an 1860 and an 1861 and both of those pistol have contours that are finished more closely to the originals. (You would expect nothing less.)

This photo is not one of mine but of another auction on GB. It isn't a great photo to show what I am refering to but if you look close you can tell that it seems there was extra care taken in the finishing of the barrel.


Photo acquired from an auction on Gunbroker.com (www.gunbroker.com)

The Colts I own and the Colts I have handled are finished IMO to the same standards as their cartridge revolvers.

I have a Begian Centaure 1960 NMA and the contours on that barrel are very nice.

Doc Hoy
August 13, 2010, 03:43 PM
Here is a photo of an Uberti and IMO the contouring could have been just a little more thorough.


Photo acquired from an auction on gunbroker.com (www.gunbroker.com)

The second photo is another pistol that was presented as an Uberti and again of unknown vintage.


Photo acquired from an auction on gunbroker.com (www.gunbroker.com)

In this photo the flatness of the side of the barrel is very evident. My quarrel is not with the flat surface but with what I consider to be an overly abrupt transition from the flat to the top of the barrel and to the concaved surface adjoining the lug.

Doc Hoy
August 13, 2010, 03:50 PM

Photo acquired from an auction on gunbroker.com (www.gunbroker.com)

This is another pistol on which the line is apparent.

I know that you get what you pay for. But I can remember that the contouring of the barrel was one of the more satisfying aspects of the building of these pistols because it a) was so easy and b) made such a big difference in the appearance of the pistol. It could not possible add fifty cents to the cost of manufacturing the pistol.

I think I am probably over focusing on this diminutive aspect of the look of the 1860, and I think that might be because of my experiences in building the two that I owned those years ago.

In the past three years I have not handled a new Pietta or Traditions or Uberti pistol that I would not own at least from a finish standpoint. They are not Colts but they are okay.

But I will tell you that I think we came through a period of replica importing during which the buyer was roughly treated to some pistols which were blued before they were ready. We still see examples of pistols in which the tool marks have not even been smooth out. I look at these things when I am considering a previously owned pistol

August 15, 2010, 09:11 AM
I just spiffed up a Centaure in which the frame and the barrel were obviously blued before much finishing was done. The frame still had grind lines deep and actually what loked like "broach" lines deep in the metal. A real hassel to get rid of that and stiull have the parts join nicely.
The barrel had the "flat" bad. I contoured to what I feel is the real deal. The line at the top of the flat needs rounded over and blended into the round. The line at the bottom needs to be there but blended into the round at the front of the surface. as it disappears. I round the "line" at the bottom but leave that "contour separator" there. That bottom line isn't to be too well defined but still there.
The old Colts antiques have that worn down and rounded too much since they are so old.
That may be how you are explaining it. Maybe a little different.
Anyway......you're right Doc about the "unfinished" look of that danged flat on the sides of the 1860 Army Colt barrels.
Actual Uberti and "Colts" HAVE IT RIGHT. Pietta is too flat and not contoured or rounded in enough. That stamping on the barrel makes for an exaggerated ugly when combined with the unfinished flats. Too bad for an otherwise fine pistol...the Pietta. I hate those freakin stampings on the sides of the barrels. All too often they move metal down and into "humps" protruding into an otherwise fine barrel. Barrels? Barrels on the cap&ballers? Don't get me started.:mad:

August 16, 2010, 02:17 AM
Although I casually noticed them, I never really looked at the styling differences in a negative way. A modern Colt just isn't meant to be an exact clone of an orginal but rather an improved, modernized version.
I understand that some may not consider the styling to be improved, and I would tend to agree up to a point. But considering all of the other vast improvements that have been made to the reproductions with respect to their mechanical and metalurgical strengths, and their precision made tolerances despite being mass produced, I really believe that it's a fair trade off.
All of the improvements serve to balance and cancel out the lack of styling if one perceives any at all.
Many folks say the same thing about modern black powder, that they're just not as good or don't have the same ingredients & characteristics of the golden age powders. But just look at the development of substitute powders and how they increase our variety. Plus there's all of the foreign powders that no one gets to see or are considered to be too expensive.
The same can be said about primers and today's are much better quality.
So whether anyone feels modern reproduction Colts have given up some styling points or not, it should be recognized just how much we have gained over the time of the old Colts, with the new powders, caps, molds, the larger size of the grips, etc....
The guns are stronger and more accurate, and they're not meant to be originals. And maybe in some ways they're still in the process of being refined.
If Colt were still in the cap & ball making business today, who knows whether they would have similarly changed their own pattern at all?
Just like with cars, there are the classic designs and they are no more. The new designs are destined to become tomorrow's classics. So it's all relative which styling anyone likes best. How the gun holds, shoots and functions is just as important as how a gun looks, and vice versa to some. All of the variables and characteristics are in balance. And maybe someday in the future they'll be made to be more sleek looking again. But until then all we can do thanks to Doc Hoy is to take note of it and live with it, and/or collect, shoot and admire the originals.

Doc Hoy
August 16, 2010, 02:49 AM

It is a real surprise that you had to do so much work on that Centaure. Mine is sweet. I was under the impression that Centaures were well above average on many marks of quality including fit and finish. I have only seen photos of any but mine (Never handled one other than mine) But that is a surprise.


I guess I see it as negative only to the extent that I view the line to which I was refering as a corner that was cut during the finishing process. It is entirely possible that if Pietta has three guys finishing barrels on a given day, one of them may take more off than the other two.

After I wrote the post, I checked out all of my 1860s and if I don't count the Colts I would say that the line is too visible (for my taste) in all of them. But it really is a "taste" thing. IMHO the Colts are perfect. The line is not obvious and on the other hand the finishers did not take off too much. I believe the original Colt in the first photo was too low...too much taken off. Perhaps this is owing to wear but I don't think so. It is not a point on the pistol which would be much subject to wear and other areas which would be subject to wear, (Trigger guard, backstrap and even the wooden grips) appear not to be worn in such a way as a sixteenth of an inch of metal is missing.

You are dead right about the other qualities of modern replicas. I do agree, at least I hope, that they are being refined even now.

August 17, 2010, 09:11 AM
Doc Hoy, I think I do remember your Centaure. I believe I tuned and fit it for you. Set the barrel back and a bunch of stuff? I don't remember all I did. It may not be the same Centaure you speak of that I remember tuning and fixing fer ya. Anyway there are some crappy Centaures out there that never should have found their way out the door. Poor finishes and all. Actually poor shaping to the outside of the frames ect.ect. The one I mentioned with the bad frame was an exceptionally bad example of the Centaure quality where the steel is the best I've worked with in cap&ballers(meaning hardened and all)
The Centaures do have too much flat on the sides of the barrels and are not exactly like the originals in that aspect.
Articap said something about the reproductions not meant to be exact clones but I disagree on that note. The repros are meant to be exactly that.....clones of the originals. Different metals and all and production methods ect.ect.ect.
I don't believe the metal of the reproduction cap&ballers is better than he originals. Maybe only in rare cases like in the higher end guns like the Pietta Shooters or the Hege Rodgers and Spencer or the Pedersoli cap&baller target grades "maybe". I'm not an expert either.
The repos have soft cylinders that deform from the bolts hitting them ect.ect. The originals don't seem to have that problem.The cylinder notches seem to stay well formed on the originals. Anyway just because steel is modern doesn't mean it's better. It can mean just the opposite. It can mean it's softer,hardened less and cheaply made alloy easily machined without wearing tooling as much as proper harder steel would. Cost cutter steel is a modern invention. The iron and steel used in the original Colts I think was pretty good seeing how long they stand up to use and abuse. The Walker iron cylinders are exempt from that statement of course. The Silver spring steel that the Colt factory got from Sheffield England to improve things when the Dragoons came out (so they didn't blow cylindrs like the Walkers did) I believe is the best steel ever used in Colt cap&ballers at least for the cylinders.
I wonder if the barrels of the Colts were made from an iron more than a steel. Iron being hard...like engine blocks ect. ect.
Anyway the soft steel in the cylinders of the repos cap&ballers(the Centaures are exempt from that) are a pet pieve of mine. Soft barrels too actually. Well actually soft everything even hammers and triggers and screws ect.ect.ect
I can't see the reasoning behind someone saying the modern repos have better metal in them than originals just because they are modern and modern has the ability or know how to be better. Modern has the ability to make steel softer for machining purposes and cost cutting and all that too. Name of the game...make money. I believe all the steel in the cap&ballers is inferior to originals. Just my opinion of course and who gives a rats --------about my opinion right?:D
The same factories churn out cartridge guns with different better steel. The type of steel they should use in the cap&ballers. Cap&ballers just get a bad rap like they aren't serious guns or something. Maybe because the pressures are so much lower in the cap&ballers.
I'd like to see,at least, harder cylinders on the cap&ballers. Cylinders that the bolts don't deform.
I believe it's entirely possible that all the metal in the originals was harder than the repos of today(the Centaures exempt). That "leadloy" alloy that is actually steel with lead in it so it machines easier with less wear on the tooling is out there in large amounts and I believe that is what keeps the cost of the cap&ballers down. Cheapie steel.
I'm not an expert metalurgist. Expert opinionator would be a better label.:eek:

Doc Hoy
August 17, 2010, 09:21 AM
I thought I had lost you.

Yes....You did. It is serial number 952. And the blasted thing is so sweet I don't shoot it much any more. Too nice.

I see you finally got the dogs to leave your computer alone.

August 17, 2010, 04:47 PM
this my San-Marco .44 ,bad reputation ,don't know why , :confused:


there is no better steel than in this day and age, also better quality of powder ,no problem with 50 grains of bl.pwdr in an uberti Walker ,or more ,

steel from the original colt's is much softer than the one used to make replicas
the spanish replicas are the worst, the san marco fired at least 1500 rounds no deformation on this cylinder

Doc Hoy
August 17, 2010, 05:04 PM
I have that pistol but in brass. Fit and finish is fine. The line on my barrel looks exactly like yours.

I am also among those who think that ASM pistols are under-rated. I have this brass 1860 and two 1858 Remintons and Pietta has nothing on them. Also owned an 1863 Remington which I rebuilt.

Pleased with all of them.

August 17, 2010, 08:42 PM
there was a time the san marco had an ugly finish, and poor off quality,but that is only due to bad directormanagment ,here is an other one my uberti 45 ,look at the bevel on the cylinder ,I dont know anymore howmany rounds I fired with this gun ,but I am using it for almost 17 years now,sometimes fired with black powder ammo, great gun

I owned a second generation colt in 36 cal ,but the triggerguard was so small it was not much fun to shoot and sold it off a year ago

August 18, 2010, 02:07 AM
the spanish replicas are the worst

I hope that you're not referring to the Spanish made Santa Barbara Remington. Those are suppose to be among the most sought after BP revolvers in Europe. Just ask Smokin_Gun about their quality.

Anyway the soft steel in the cylinders of the repos cap&ballers(the Centaures are exempt from that) are a pet pieve of mine. Soft barrels too actually. Well actually soft everything even hammers and triggers and screws ect.ect.ect
I can't see the reasoning behind someone saying the modern repos have better metal in them than originals just because they are modern and modern has the ability or know how to be better. Modern has the ability to make steel softer for machining purposes and cost cutting and all that too. Name of the game...make money. I believe all the steel in the cap&ballers is inferior to originals.

I don't know anything about steel or cutting steel.
Maybe we'll all find out in 100 years or after 10,000 shots if the repro's are made any better or not, whichever comes first. :)

August 18, 2010, 06:21 PM
no I mean the nameless fakes ,made in the seventies in Italy and Spain,mostly tourist souvenirs , but live guns!!
I know a thing or two about steel ,been an ironworker for 32years now and build ships,
Nothing made off steel has the same composition as the steel made 200or 100 years ago,bridges, cars ,ships,tools ..and guns , composition of steel is different now,in those days a lot of cast Iron was used on things that should have been made out of pure steel or a better alloy, metallurgical know -how has improved over the years, off course the old quality guns are made out off good steel, but I loaded a kentucky pedersoli once with90 grains off BL.PDR and I don't think you should try that with an original one;;;;using the same modern powder in both guns

Doc Hoy
August 19, 2010, 04:41 AM
Where do you build ships?

I am in Hampton Roads, VA. Lotta shipbuilding here. Are we close?

August 19, 2010, 12:03 PM
Doc Hoy, you're not being a whiner and your point is well taken. We've seen so many replicas with the "line" that we take it for granted. Now that you've pointed the difference, I'll be more discriminating.…in those days a lot of cast Iron was used on things that should have been made out of pure steel or a better alloy…I'm afraid you lost me with than one. What's "pure steel"? Do you mean "all steel" -- it that that things were made of a combination of iron and steel components where an "all steel" construction would have been a better choice, or what?

August 19, 2010, 07:07 PM
Doc Hoi my fellow ironworker ,I am situated in Hoboken my friend ,no not jersey ,but a bitt more to the east ,lets say 5000 miles ,I live in the muppet country ,Belgium ,used to work at ANTWERP SHIPP REPAIR and now situated at "MARINE &CONSTRUCTION co " antwerp port, my job ,ironworks on the big vessels and building small ships to catch fish,heavy back breaking work :( but I just love it ,when you see a ship in the water made by yourself:):):)

August 19, 2010, 07:16 PM
hey Zippy, in 1879 in Scotland a bridge fell inthe river tay ,75 died thanks to the wrong use off steel,sorry for using the wrong words here, by pure I meant "quality" steel,200 years ago some guns still used bronze barrels
some guys swear to the originals ,but I think that is more nostalgic use off a gun ,I fired a martini -henry and swedish rolling block for manny years ,originals,,but at some time the bullit room had expanded and every time the casing was extracted there was a bulb on it,look at the san marco the pounds off led fired thru the barrel must be gigantic,I use it for 17 years every week or almost ,never cleaned with solvents but always used water and soap,and more important I allways use 40 grains off powder
I am sorry for the english since I live over the pond and it is not my language
to speak or write

Doc Hoy
August 20, 2010, 06:35 AM
Thanks for the response.

I would venture to say you have visited the battlefield at Waterloo. That period has special interest to me.

It gives me pride that you would have an admiration for pistols which are characteristically American (I do acknowledge the continental versions.)

August 20, 2010, 08:24 AM
Articap said, in part: "If Colt were still in the cap & ball making business today, who knows whether they would have similarly changed their own pattern at all?"

Well, they were in the 1970s. Colt reintroduced several of their famous C&B revolvers. There has always been controversy over those new made oldies. Some say they were made from original patterns here in the U.S. Others say they were made in Italy or Spain. I dunno.
I had a gun shop at that time and ordered and sold several. One, a Navy, I kept for myself I sold recently.
They were well made and had slight differences built in deliberately to distinguish them from originals.

August 20, 2010, 08:32 AM
The main gist of this thread is quality.
The Spanish and Italian factories will build to any level of quality, or lack thereof, a buyer wants. Some very fine revolvers have come from all the well-known factories.
OTOH, you can get 'stuff' quickly, and shoddily, shoved through the assembly line. In the heyday growth years of muzzle loading enthusiasm (apx. 1970-1985) there were importers who bought the rough finished items and slickered them up for resale here.
I recall, when I had my shop, I was offered import deals. (keep in mind, this was about 1975) One, I recall, was an offer for a gross of Remington Armys in .44 cal, brass frame. The price, including shipping and import fees, broken down gave me a price of $4.00 each. You read that right, only FOUR DOLLARS per revolver. Consider how much manufacturing TLC could go into a gun for that. Probably was only about $1.00 each when they left the factory.
These were heavily imported (not by me) and resold at retail for prices ranging from $49.95 to over $150.00.

Doc Hoy
August 20, 2010, 09:43 AM
When I started in the mid Seventies, I owned only the pistols and rifles I build from kits except for one 1851 Colt Navy pattern with a 12 inch barrel. The marketer called it a "Ballister." Purchase of that revolver was a big mistake.

Back to the point, I never knew who manufactured the kits I bought. Some time ago I remembered EMF as an importer but I can not swear to it. I bought exclusively through Shotgun News. I assumed that all kits in the price range to which I restricted myself were made by essentially the same folks and essentially to the same standards. When I got the kits, my observation confirmed my belief in every case.

I remember that an 1851 Navy in .44 brass was 49.95 and the same pistol in steel (They actually called it stainless steel but I think that was a stretch.) was 54.95. The 1858 Remingtons were a little higher and the 1860 colts were just a little higher yet.

A friend bought an 1858 steel frame which he had the frame, cylinder, and barrel, nickel plated. Other parts were either case hardened or brass. It was a sweet looking pistol when he got it together.

My question is...Do you recall who was active in making these kits at that time?

August 20, 2010, 09:22 PM
Hi doc,off course I have great intrest in the napoleonic wars ,visit waterloo once or twice a year ,just to dream away when I stand high on the lions statue
the sight over the batlefield is just stunning,every year they relive the batlle with actors and cannons fired, ,I also visited solferino in Italy where there is a church that is filled up to the sealing with the victims off the battlefield at austerlitz,the skulls bear wounds you can't immagine,if I go to waterloo again and you want an image of something let me know,

I believe the second generation bl,bwpr guns where actually colt made

and the most elegant an beautifull gun ever designed is in my opinion the
round barrel navy colt

Doc Hoy
August 21, 2010, 04:35 AM

Supposedly a pistol which exceeds the quality of second and third gen Colts and is truer to the original design than the modern Colt marketted pistols.

I don't have an opinion except to say that the one I have, SN952, is of very good quality.