View Full Version : 1858 New Army for a newbie?

June 27, 2001, 07:32 AM
Since I need to buy a firearm on July 9th, I'm thinking about getting into black powder shooting with a cap and ball revolver. Specfically, I'm looking at a .44 1858 New Army with starter kit from Cabelas. Here is a link to the kit I am considering: http://www.cabelas.com/texis/scripts/store/+/CatalogDisplay/displayPOD/CabFALL1998/CabFALL1998AAAOAC/XA708F

Is this a good starter gun and kit for a black powder newbie? I'm mainly into black rifles, so this is going to serve primarily as a wall-hanger (I am already working on plans for a display plaque to hang the revolver on), but I do plan on shooting about three or four cylinders a month.

Also, what is a good source on the net for balls? I'm planning on buying caps and powder locally and ordering the balls over the net to avoid hazmat fees.


June 27, 2001, 07:59 AM
That looks like a great occasional shooter for the price. One thing to look for is that your black powder wheelguns that you intend to shoot have a topstrap, which this does. If they do not, they are known to eventually bend in the middle. If I didn't have my heart set on a couple of Ruger Old Armys, I'd really consider a couple of them. Also, if I am not mistaken, Cabelas should sell powder pellets for 44 cal black powder guns so you can just drop in a pellet instead of measuring raw powder. Let us know how it is if you get it. :)

June 27, 2001, 08:38 AM
The '58 Navy is a great gun to start with. I use one as my second revolver for CAS, and love the smoke and boom. The starter kit will get you well on your way.

One thing you may want to consider is getting some Wonder Wads. I found that I got best results from my gun when I load 25 grains of 3fg, one wonder wad and a .451 cal ball. Without the wad my groups really open up.

I've got a web site at www.angelfire.com/home/oldguns and this months featured article is about shooting cap-n-ball revolvers. You may want to bounce over and take a look at it.

One final thought on the '58 - Conversion kits, to convert CnB to a cartridge gun are available - If this is something you may want to consider doing down the road you need to get a steel framed gun. The brass frame is fine for cap-n-ball (I've been shooting mine for almost 15 years) but the brass can't hold up to the higher pressures of cartridges.

Hope this helps.

June 27, 2001, 09:56 AM

Can I fire modern .45LC cartridges, or only black powder loaded ones? Brownells is rather confusing on which cylinder I would need for an 1858 New Army, I assume that the same as an 1858 Remington?


June 27, 2001, 03:32 PM
I bought the Cabela's 1858 Remington about a year ago. They're made by Pietta. The action was very stiff as a result of poor machining tolerances. When dirty, the cylinder would not advance completely, and the hammer would fall in-between chambers, damaging the cylinder. Also, my particular weapon shoots about 4" left and 4" low at 25ft. The barrel was not threaded long enough, and consequently can not be screwed in far enough, so the front sight is rotated too far to the right. I use it as my gunsmithing practice weapon, as it is too annoying otherwise. I'd get one, but inspect it carefully and send it back if any of the preceding problems is present.

4V50 Gary
June 28, 2001, 02:11 AM
Sure, go ahead and buy the kit. I've already put together one Lyman Colt and had a great time doing it. It was mostly finishing work as it was preassembled and timed.

When I was at Friendship, IN earlier this month, I bought a CVA brass framed Remington. Now this one is a real kit and the not only must the parts be installed, it must be timed. That's probably not hard to do if you've played with guns for a while. The one advantage of brass frames/parts is that you don't have to blue 'em, just polish.

June 28, 2001, 09:06 AM
The Old Army is made by Ruger, and like the Ruger Single Actions - It is a modern day gun meant to look and feel like something from the 1800s. The '58 Army is a "replica" of the 1858 Remington Army Revolver. Most of these Replicas are imported from different manufacturers and the parts are not always interchangeable between the so called replicas.

I have not looked into converting but I the kits are different depending on the revolver and manufacturer. Contact Brownwell's or whoever you are planning on buying the kit from and tell them exactly what pistol you plan on converting-this includes model and manufacturer. They should be able to tell you exactly what kit to buy, and if you are still looking for a pistol, which pistols they have kits for.

I don't know about the actual calibers these kits convert to, but I believe the conversions for a .44 would be a 44 spl, 44 Russian, or maybe even the authentic 44/40, but this is information you can get from the kit supplier - there is good chance you will be able to choose between two or three calibers.

One final option go to www.cimarron-firearms.com Cimarron imports some open top (Colt style) conversions. These guns save you the hassle having a conversion kit added. Suggested Retail for these guns starts at around $450, but you most likely could go to your dealer and get it for less than that.

You asked about loading a 45LC. The old pistol cartridges were meant as black powder loads. If loading with black powder you fill the case, usually add some type of lubed wad, and your bullet. If shooting smokeless powder find a good loading manual that lists your caliber (most do now, becuase of the new Cowboy Action Shooters) and follow their recomendations. Typically the replicas need milder loads than the new Rugers and sometimes loading manuals will list different loads depending on for the gun. The conversions would require the milder loads.

Another comment was made about the action on a '58 Army getting dirty and not turning. Anytime you are shooting Black Powder in a revolver the more lube you use the better. BP foulings get on everything and everywhere. On my '58 I had the same problem util I started be much more generous with the lube on the clyinder pin and using a lubed wad in my load.

Well this turned out to be a long winded answer, sorry about that.

Good luck and let us know what route you decide to go, and how it turns out.

Cap n ball
June 28, 2001, 11:22 AM
The 1858 is a great firearm for beginners in black powder shooting. I started with a Pietta brass framed 44 and it was as the above member stated, rough and of dubious craftsmanship. I shot that gun over a thousand times and I know it's ideosyncrasies pretty well. I found that after firing it a few times it would foul up and the cylinder rotation would get sticky if there was any excess oil in the mechanism. I store it with a light coat of oil but when I'm going to shoot it I have to disassemble it and wipe all the oil I can off and before loading it I burn any oil out of the cylinder by firing a round of caps. When I first got it the machining was rough but after about six months of regular use and by lightly burnishing the parts with a used emery board after cleaning I eventually got the mechanism to function very smooth. The blade sight must be filed slightly to get the gun sighted. This is a very touchy thing and must be done gradually. Even the originals had to be filed in order to be accurate. With the Pietta I have gone through three cylinders and nipple sets and three triggers (they get brittle and the end that catches in the cocking notch wears down) The set screw in the grip also regulates the main spring and can be set for different sensitivities. The cylinder hand has a blade spring which will eventually get weak and may break. I had my gunsmith replace mine with a flattened piece of piano wire of lifetime durability. The Remington design is a very rugged and dependable one with few parts and is easily broken down for cleaning and maintenance. I haven't bought another Pietta but the Uberti and Pedersoli guns are very fine. Always break your revolver down and clean it completely. Get to know it and it won't give you any nasty surprizes.

BTW, Always use wads. They will prevent chainfires and give you better accuracy. The old-timy method of smearing fat or grease into the loading end of the cylinder is real messy and will cause much worse fouling as well as make the gun slippery and difficult to grip. I would also reccommend that you start to learn how to run ball with a double or tripple gang mold. I find it a relaxing thing to do on a dull day and it saves me alot of money.

4V50 Gary
June 28, 2001, 07:57 PM
Safety precautions to prevent chain fire include using wads, or a filling material (cornmeal or farina), or using oversized balls which, when swaged into the cylinder, leave a small ring, or even placing grease (Crisco) over the ball.

Elmer Keith (or at least I believed it was him) thought that chain fires weren't caused by "sparks" leaping from the firing cylinder into the other cylinders, but by loose percussion caps which slammed back upon recoil of the discharging cylinder, thereby igniting and causing the other cylinder to discharge. Be sure to pinch your caps to ensure that they're a tight fit.