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Old February 21, 2018, 09:01 PM   #1
DLMiller
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.44 cal Colt Army to .45; Does it Really Work?

I've been shooting a .36 Colt Navy with a conversion cylinder that brings it up to .38 for about a year now. I've never had any problems with it.

So I purchased two .44s; one Colt Navy mutant and an 1860 Colt Army.

When I insert the .38 rounds into the muzzle of my .36 caliber Colt Navy barrel, the lead disappears. So, it's a slightly loose fit. It shoots fine, but the bullets sometimes tumble. But that's not what I'm worried about.

Here's my problem. When I compare my .45 lead cowboy ammo to the muzzles of my .44s, they are too big- about a 16th of an inch of lead still shows.

My caliper shows the muzzle is .439 on both guns from groove to groove. Can I fire .45 black powder lead rounds through a .439 muzzle- or am I putting my fingers at risk?
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Old February 21, 2018, 09:08 PM   #2
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What make are the 44's? If brass frame do not shoot 45's out of them.

I have a Pietta Colt 1860 Army and my conversion cylinder works fine. But you have to use the shorter 45 Colt cowboy loads.
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Old February 21, 2018, 09:22 PM   #3
B.L.E.
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My 1860 Army has a groove to groove diameter of more than .457. I know it's more than .457 because if I drive a .457 round ball into the barrel and then try to look though the barrel, there's seven points of daylight showing past the ball.
Are you sure you are not miking from land to land instead of groove to groove.

In the muzzle loading days, a rifle's "caliber" was the diameter of the barrel while it was still a smoothbore, before the rifling grooves were cut. That's why the cap and ball revolvers were called .44's and not .45's.
Ruger uses the exact same barrel that they use for their .45 Colt revolvers for their ".44" caliber Ruger Old Army revolvers.
The bullets are supposed to be a swage fit in the barrel, otherwise rifling doesn't engrave in the bullet and you have excessive blow by.
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Old February 21, 2018, 09:25 PM   #4
DLMiller
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They are brand new steel frame Piettas. My feeling is because they shoot unjacketed lead, that it will literally squeeze through and be fine. I have black powder cowboy ammo that fits in the cylinder. But I have to convince the owners of my local firing range because they have never seen this before. It's kind of a pain really.
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Old February 21, 2018, 09:27 PM   #5
DLMiller
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B.L.E. View Post
My 1860 Army has a groove to groove diameter of more than .457. I know it's more than .457 because if I drive a .457 round ball into the barrel and then try to look though the barrel, there's seven points of daylight showing past the ball.
Are you sure you are not miking from land to land instead of groove to groove.

In the muzzle loading days, a rifle's "caliber" was the diameter of the barrel while it was still a smoothbore, before the rifling grooves were cut. That's why the cap and ball revolvers were called .44's and not .45's.
Ruger uses the exact same barrel that they use for their .45 Colt revolvers for their ".44" caliber Ruger Old Army revolvers.
The bullets are supposed to be a swage fit in the barrel, otherwise rifling doesn't engrave in the bullet and you have excessive blow by.
No, I'm not sure about my measurement at all. I find the caliper hard to use, and it's a cheap caliper I got off ebay.
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Old February 21, 2018, 09:30 PM   #6
zipspyder
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It will be fine, Just make sure to only use lead bullets. My Pietta is only a few months old and I've shot Winchester 255 gr cowboy loads out of it just fine.
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Old February 21, 2018, 09:38 PM   #7
B.L.E.
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It's a real pain to try to measure a 7 groove barrel's groove diameter. Even numbered grooves are at least opposite to each other. I suppose you could get out the old trigonometry book and look up the formula for the chord of a circle.
I was going to see what my Smith and Wesson .44 magnum measured, but it has a 5 groove barrel, but it shoots .433 roundballs nicely even though a .44 magnum normally has a .429 groove diameter.

Any lead bullet that fits in the cylinder's chamber throats should go through the barrel safely.
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Old February 21, 2018, 11:07 PM   #8
rodwhaincamo
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An easy way to measure your bore is to drive an oversized lead ball through it and mic that.

My Pietta (2013) has a 6 groove/land bore.





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Old February 22, 2018, 12:19 AM   #9
Hawg
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What B.L.E. said. If these guns were sold using modern method measurements they would be sold as .45's.
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Old February 22, 2018, 01:12 AM   #10
swathdiver
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A 19th century Colt .44 cap and ball and 20th century .45 ACP are the same. Both have .440 lands and over .450 grooves. 20th century marketing!

The .36 and .38 Special are not the same, the latter being smaller, generally .357 or .358 lands.
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Old February 22, 2018, 06:49 AM   #11
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Yes, the old .36 cap and ball revolver is really a .38 and the modern .38 special is really a .36. How did that happen?
Well, when they started converting .36 cap and ball revolvers to cartridges, the cartridges had heeled bullets loaded in them so the bullets were a true .38 caliber. The only modern use of heeled bullets is in the .22 short, long, and long rifle rimfire rounds.
Then, because heeled bullets had the bearing surfaces outside the cartridge, they were susceptible to picking up dirt in the exposed bullet lube, they started using smaller bullets that were seated inside the case, in order to do that, the bullet had to be a little smaller. To deal with the accuracy compromised by the undersized bullet, they loaded hollow base bullets that were supposed to expand to fit the bore like Minié ball used in Civil war muskets.
Later, they made revolvers with barrels sized to fit the smaller inside the case bullets, but they kept the .38 nominal caliber even though they were really .357's until Elmer Keith created a new high powered version of the .38 special and renamed it the .357 Magnum going back to the true bore size in the name, and that's why .357 magnum revolvers will shoot .38 special and .357 magnum ammo interchangably. The .38 special is really a .357 special.
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Old February 22, 2018, 11:36 AM   #12
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Not sure I get the question, but any .44 caliber Pietta/Uberti that shoots .45 Colt through a conversion cylinder is going to work. The .44 caliber designation is a misnomer, it's a measure of the bore diameter, not the groove diameter.

The groove diameter is .45, what it is to the third decimal Idk, but you'd have to slug your bore to find out.

I've never slugged my 1858, but it shoots .45 Colt very, very accurately. As others have said, lead bullets only, the frames on these reproductions aren't strong like the Ruger Old Army and can't do jacketed bullets.
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Old February 22, 2018, 12:09 PM   #13
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Thanks for all the advice everyone. I'm sure you're right. I'll slug my barrels though, so I can show it to the guys at the range.
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Old February 22, 2018, 01:03 PM   #14
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Along with slugging your bore you might want to add how they used to measure the bore differently back then.
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Old February 24, 2018, 10:40 AM   #15
Driftwood Johnson
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Howdy

I have been shooting 45 Colt Black Powder ammo through conversion cylinders in '44' caliber C&B revolvers for years.

1. A caliper, particularly a cheap one is the wrong tool for measuring rifling groove diameter. The inside measuring points usually have a flat on them, which introduces an error. Even with expensive calipers. Inexpensive calipers will only make it worse.

2. As was stated, it is difficult to measure rifling, even when slugging the barrel, when there are an odd number of grooves. About the best you can do with a slug from a barrel with an odd number of grooves is measure from land to groove on the slug, then use the extension portion of the caliber to measure the height of the land on the slug, and add that to the groove to land diameter. A difficult task at best.

Standard groove diameter for 45 Colt today is .451. When I first started fooling around with conversion cylinders I slugged the barrel of my old EuroArms Remmie. It turns out the groove diameter was about .449. A little bit tight for 45 Colt, but with soft lead bullets it created no problems.









When Colt 44 caliber C&B revolvers were first modified to shoot cartridges, the 44 Colt cartridge was developed. The 44 Colt round was sized to fit the 44 caliber chambers. Of course, the rear end of the cylinders where the nipples were located was cut away. A heeled bullet of about .451 was used because that fit the rifling grooves of the C&B revolvers.

Here is a photo of some old cartridges. Left to right they are 44-40, 44 Henry Rimfire, 44 S&W American, 44 Russian, 44 Colt, 44 Special, and 45 Colt.






This is a Richards Conversion of the 1860 Army Colt, with a few of the 44 Colt cartridges developed for it.


Last edited by Driftwood Johnson; February 24, 2018 at 10:49 AM.
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Old February 25, 2018, 04:58 PM   #16
DLMiller
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Success!

I just got back from the range with my .45 Colt Army cartridge conversion. It fired beautifully despite all of my misgivings. Your guy's advice gave me the confidence I needed to take it to the range. Thanks a bunch!

Happy trails!
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Old February 25, 2018, 06:18 PM   #17
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Was it hard to convince the range officer(s)?
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Old February 25, 2018, 07:38 PM   #18
DLMiller
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No. I explained my research and the things senor members of this forum said and they waved me in.
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Old February 25, 2018, 08:44 PM   #19
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Nice!
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