View Full Version : 1858 Remington Cylinder Conversion Question

August 19, 2010, 08:10 AM
Maybe someone can help me understand why there is a statement "For metal frame revolvers only" on these 45LC conversion cylinders. I understand that brass is softer than steel on the frame. What is confusing is 45LC cowboy loads are pretty low pressure low velocity loads. Why is it OK to shoot black powder and lead projectile in a brass frame cap and ball cylinder, but not a black powder, lead projectile enclosed in a brass casing out of the same revolver? Now I could understand it if the 45LC cartridge being used was a full power load, but I'm talking about strictly black powder low pressure loads that would be used in a cowboy shoot. Is it a CYA thing by the manufacturers in case someone would use high pressure loads in a brass frame revolver? I've never been able to find an explaination. Thanks!

August 19, 2010, 09:25 AM
It probably is a CYA thing. If you normally shoot 15 grains of FFFg out of your brasser then you'd probably shoot a 45 Colt cartridge with 15 grains of BP with a lot of filler on top. Seems like a big waste of time though. But that's more of political/philosophical point of view on my end concerning brassers and their softness. It has no bearing on your question.

August 19, 2010, 09:55 AM
Thanks Clem. I don't have a cylinder conversion for the 1858, but am simply trying to find a logical reason as to why they don't recommend them for brass frame revolvers if there is a reason.

August 19, 2010, 11:07 AM
The existence of a revolver whose, (end), design permits failures that may endanger the shooter is ill advised.

The piece can get into less understanding hands and eventually be tested with too much pressure. Even low pressure cartridges will stretch the frame and batter it strongly in a way it was never designed to endure.

My understanding is that a conversion cylinder will not work in a brass frame revolver without nearly an expert gunsmith conversion. The process of crafting the brass Remington on a production line diverges from steel frame construction and never considers tolerance for conversion cylinders.

I handled two new brass 44 NMA at cabelas on a recent visit, one was exceptional, the other was very good.

I understand a good one can shoot black powder very well.

August 19, 2010, 11:40 AM
Cajun...well now that makes sense as too the statement about the cylinders to be used in steel frame revolvers only looking at it from that angle. If the tolerance on the brass frame is not as precise as the steel frame, and the conversion cylinder won't fit brass frame revolvers, then the statement makes sense. Of course "will not fit brass frame revolvers" would clarify it a little better. No I'm not planning to put one in a brass frame revolver as I do take warnings very seriously. And yes mine shoots cap & ball very well. I'm simply trying to understand the reason the statement is given. Thanks for your input.

August 19, 2010, 05:51 PM
Now this may be a dumb question, but consider that I'm an electrical engineer, not a mechanical engineer. And I'm gripped with the torment of a summer cold.

So, with all that in mind, what about brass framed rifles? Replica Henrys and 1866s are shooting .44-40 and .45LC. What makes a revolver different? Is it just apples and oranges? Or just a healthy dose of CYA?

BTW, it's just a what-if as far as I'm concerned - I don't have any brass framed guns and I don't see any in my future.

August 20, 2010, 02:26 AM
I'm sure that the conversion cylinder would fit the brass frame guns, but they don't want to be responsible for not warning someone that their gun could be damaged by using it.
They figure that people will shoot some higher velocity ammo with it than the gun was designed to shoot. That's the same reason why most BP gun makers list low powder charges for their guns. They know that folks will end up over loading them and they want to limit liability, complaints and claims for damages.

August 20, 2010, 06:05 AM
As for the question of the conversion cylinder manufacturers warning about damaging brass frame revolvers, I think arcticap's post is right on the money.

With regard to the question about brass frame long guns: repeating rifle actions are designed for rifle cartridge loads. Translating the steel design into brass does result in less tolerance for repeated firing, but the cartridges being used are essentially pistol loads, so the damage is much less severe. I'm talking here about the ultimate design of the action, not the chambering. A rifle may be chambered for .44-40 or .45 Colt, but the action is designed for the heaviest load cartridge it's likely to ba chambered for. C&B revolver frames are designed for bp loads; it's much easier, and likely, to go to pistol cartridge loads that exceed the frame design's capability.

August 20, 2010, 09:02 AM
Thanks to all who supplied input to my question. All had very good points of view. In my opinion, and it's just my opinion, I believe it's a CYA thing due to some folks who would stretch the limits of 45LC ammo in the pistol. Most likely if you would put one of these conversion cylinders in a brass frame revolver, and kept the 45 LC loads in the cap & ball range of 30 grains of FFFg, it would probably function just fine. I don't have an 1858 brass Remington, but who know what may come along someday. Thanks again all!

August 20, 2010, 10:02 PM
Hardcase, it is something of apples and oranges.

The rifles lock a steel bolt into a steel barrel, the frame itself takes very little of the stresses.

For the pistol the steel cylinder is forced against a brass frame, eventually the steel is going to win and stretch or hammer the frame.

That said brass can take quite a bit of punishment.

I think the brass would hold up fine to the 45, but then again I'm not going to be the one sued if it doesn't;)

April 21, 2011, 08:42 PM
TEN X makes a 165 gr which shoots 565 fps. Ive shot em in a converter in a 1851 pietta colt with no recoil or problems with the frame or wedge or arbor for that matter less pressure than recomended bp load oh they are listed as .44 colt for some reason , mine says 165 .45 lc on the box check with ten x and see im sure its the same. thats 117 ft-lbs... A bp load would be 170 ft-lbs 140 gr at 750 fps.........................................................................
and as far as timing or fit I had no problems in the 51 in any way.. the 58 remmie has a much stronger frame and kirst has a .22 lr conversion which states "can be used in
brass frames "check the kirst site a .22 lr has about the same ft-lbs of energy or more...

Bishop Creek
April 21, 2011, 09:35 PM
I'm sure that the conversion cylinder would fit the brass frame guns, but they don't want to be responsible for not warning someone that their gun could be damaged by using it.
They figure that people will shoot some higher velocity ammo with it than the gun was designed to shoot. That's the same reason why most BP gun makers list low powder charges for their guns. They know that folks will end up over loading them and they want to limit liability, complaints and claims for damages.


That is pretty much what Jay Strite, co-owner and gunsmith at Kirst said on a post at another forum.

April 22, 2011, 08:17 PM
My R&D conversion cylinder will fit and function fine in my steel and brass framed 1858s. "Function" meaning the tolerances in the brass frame is exactly the same as the steel frame and all seems to work fine (cycle, lockup, etc). I haven't fired any rounds with it in the brass framed 1858, but I'm toying with the idea of loading some 45lc cases with about 22 grains fffg / filler / and crimped .451 round ball, just to check it out and watch for signs of a problem.

April 22, 2011, 08:33 PM
The first sign is the cylinder ratchet imprinting the recoil shield.


Bishop Creek
April 22, 2011, 10:31 PM
The brass frame models will stretch. My first cap and ball pistol was an Italian copy of an 1851 Colt Navy and I fired it nearly every weekend for almost a year and a half. By then the frame had stretched so much that the hammer would no longer strike the caps without my holding the cylinder in my left hand, pulling it back in the frame, so that the hammer would strike the nipples. The cylinder/barrel gap was enlarged so that it spit pieces of lead out of the sides when being fired. I have read that this same thing sometimes happened in the 1870s to iron framed Colt’s that had been fired a lot. Read Texas outlaw John Wesley Hardin’s autobiography, he mentions it.

Gator Weiss
April 26, 2011, 06:37 AM
When you reload a cartridge and you crimp the bullet in place, pressure climbs and or "spikes" on ignition until the crimp releases from the canelure. That very brief moment causes the pressure inside the case to "spike" radically, thus making any 15 or 20 grain powder load produce a higher pressure curve briefly in the process.

Another factor is bullet diameter and shape in the cartrige situation is radically different from a greased and seated round ball. Only the "equator" of the ball so to speak will actually contact chamber and barrel, thus making a smaller surface insofar as projectile compression in the forcing cone and actual contact surface of the projectile to the barrel. It takes less pressure to push a greased round ball out of a chamber, through a forcing cone and down a barrel, than it would to force a cylinder of lead out of a crimp, into a forcing cone and down a barrell. The job becomes even more difficult should you add a copper or brass jacket to the slug seated in the cartridge case. Internal pressures climb rapidly when there is more resistance to the forward motion of the projectile through the process of the weapon.

Another factor to consider is the ignition primer. Cartridge primers can be much hotter than BP caps, and this plays a factor on powder burn and pressure curves.

For these reasons, it is safer for the manufacturer of the replacement cylinder to state "steel frame" or something to that effect, from a liability standpoint.

In matters of pressure, you can make a simple 9mm parabellum cartridge spike dangerous pressures simply by pushing the bullet inward, over a factory load. It will actually spike dangerously enough to damage a firearm, even though powder capacity has not been increased.

Many things will affect pressures without increasing powder. Even ambiant temperature will have a factor on powder ignition and pressure curve.

May 2, 2011, 11:00 AM
I'm betting that a reduced powder charge will compensate for the slight crimp on a round ball in a brass case. I'm not that worried about a slight pressure spike because of a crimp and a primer (versus a cap) because the R&D cylinder is plenty tough enough to handle that. I just don't know how it will affect recoil and cause streching and cylinder peening of the brass frame. Only one way to find out.