View Full Version : Dilemma: .38 LC/1851 Navy or .45LC/Pietta 1851

February 16, 2011, 02:49 PM
I need a relatively light and reasonably powerful revolver for both carrying while on the road, self defense and for cosmetic use in an independant film(no live rounds needed of course:))

I am looking at getting a Pietta .36 Navy and the Kirst conversion for .38 Long Colt right now. The conversion looks really handsome and light enough for belt carry while doing physical work (trucking).

Now the .38 Long Colt, as far as I know, have been bashed more often than the phone in Russel Crowe's hotel room by both the military and hunters for as long as we knew. Lack of stopping power, lack of velocity, etc...

However, is it really the poor ballistics of the .38 cartridge or is it the shooter at fault here? Because during World War II, more than half of the Wehrmacht carried .32 pocket semiautomatics as sidearms into battle, and the .32ACP and .380 ACP sidearms were actually standard issue for Chinese KMT officers and police. More combatants were probably felled by the seemingly puny .32 in World War II than by other military sidearm chamberings like the 9mm or .45

The .38 LC is pretty powerful compared to the .32s that so many Wehrmacht officers and Shanghai police preferred.

Does anyone here shoot .38s through their 1851 Navies? Does anyone reload their own .38s? Also, how many grains of black powder (by volume), can a .38LC case hold, along with the .375 bullet?

Thanks all

February 16, 2011, 03:36 PM
Only German officers, NCOs, special troops (mortermen, machine gunners, etc) and police carried pistols, .32 or otherwise. As to more people were killed with .32 bullets than other pistol calibers, you should recheck your info. German submachineguns were chambered in 9mm. Standard issue sidearm in the German army was the 9mm P38. The .32 handguns were only issued to the police. Officers bought their own. Pistols were (are) rarely used in combat. If they are in handgun range, they're too close. Police work is different..........anyway...........

The .38 colt is less powerful than a .38 special, which also has a bad reputation. I wouldn't want a .32 acp or .38 colt for defence if givin a choice even though I own both.(Cimarron 1851 navy conversion/Walther PP) Both rounds are weak by most people's standards. In a conversion, you can only use loads with black powder pressures pushing lead projectiles. They'll kill you sure, but so will a .22lr. To each his own, but I would get a better gun for self defence, and then get a .38 colt. A .45 conversion would be much better IMHO. Even a .38 special is better because of the better range of bullets available and the extra power. Good luck with your decision.

February 16, 2011, 04:04 PM
Only German officers, NCOs, special troops (mortermen, machine gunners, etc) and police carried pistols, .32 or otherwise.

So the general wehrmacht soldier had only a rifle? Thats not my understanding...

February 16, 2011, 04:39 PM
You're misinformed. Just like the American, British, and Soviet armies, NCOs and above in rank and "special" troops (machinegunners, mortermen, radio operators etc...) were issued pistols. Look at photos of the time. An infantry RIFLEman was issued a rifle. Their job was to engage the enemy at a distance. Not much need for a pistol. I've read memiors written by WWII vets on both sides, where they mention never firing their sidearm in the entire war. That's not to say that a private couldn't pick up a handgun from the battlefield. But they were not issued to troops below an NCO. German and Soviet officers would confiscate "pick up" weapons from privates if they saw them. In European armies, pistols were seen as a status symbol not meant for enlisted men. The same goes for submachineguns. Even the U.S. M1 carbine.

February 16, 2011, 05:56 PM
no argument get the 45 LC,

February 16, 2011, 09:20 PM
Probably most people felled by the 30 & 32 cal pistols were civilians and POWs shot in the head next to the trench they were buried in.

February 16, 2011, 09:31 PM
Pretty much sums it up.

Bill Akins
February 16, 2011, 10:28 PM
Rachen, the 1851 .44 is just a teeny bit bigger and heavier than the 1851 .36.

But I like the knockdown power of the .44 much better and if you get a conversion cylinder for it, you can use .45 Colt cartridges and projectiles whereas if you get the .38 conversion for the .36, you have to use expanding hollow base projectiles and you don't get the knockdown power of the .44/.45.

So if it was me Rachen, there would be no question. Get the .44 revolver and the .45 conversion cylinder. I've had .36's in the past, but today all my BP revolvers are .44 because I like the knockdown power and also so I only have to use one caliber of ball (.454) for all my revolvers. Keeps things uncomplicated that way and I don't have to have a separate container for this size ball and that size ball.

Now I'll buy a .36 if it is a super good deal, but then I'll sell it to get another .44 to keep all my projectiles the same caliber and all my revolvers having good knockdown power. It's kind of like having an 1892 Winchester rifle in .45 Colt and an 1873 peacemaker in .45 Colt so they can use the same cartridges. When I used to have and shoot both .36's and .44's it was just too much complication and confusion in my possibles bag to have one set of lubed .36 wads and balls and one set of lubed .44 wads and balls. Now I just have one set of lubed .44 wads and balls for EVERYTHING. Much less complicated.


February 17, 2011, 01:06 AM
Taylor's and Midway sell the Howell/R&D .38 Special conversion cylinders for the Pietta 1858 .36 Navy model.



The .38 Special certainly is a powerful round worth considering since it wouldn't primarily be used for target shooting and the penetration of some 158 grain loads are awesome.



February 17, 2011, 12:00 PM
Thanks guys!

I am going to get the Pietta Model 1860 Army revolver from Cabelas.

With the Kirst cylinder, it really looks like a gun that would make Wild Bill Hickok proud.

It definitely looks like something that packs enough firepower for defense, yet light enough to carry unobstrusively on my belt when I am operating power equipment or behind the wheel on the road.