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Old May 31, 2018, 10:29 PM   #1
5whiskey
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Used brass frame cap and ball or no?

Just that. I now have the BP revolver bug since seeing a couple in person. I am not willing to spend a bunch of money on this endeavor as a) I really want one just as much for display as to play with and b) I don't know if I'll really shoot BP that much. Something tells me I will enjoy it, and shoot a purchase at least semi-frequently. So, after looking I have found a local used Pietta 1851 Navy for about $150 with some extras (BP, some bullets, half can of caps, and a powder measure). It's a brass .44 model. I can buy that pistol new without the extras for $200 (as you know) from Cabelas. The extras aren't worth that much. I already have 3 pounds of Pyrodex, can get projectiles for almost nothing, and caps aren't super expensive (plus there aren't that many that come with it). So... I was thinking maybe if I could get this for $120 it might be a decent value.

Here comes my conundrum. I read that the brass frame pistols are subject to some frame stretch and issues if they've fired heavy loads frequently. This particular pistol in question has some obvious patina on the brass frame. I have not handled it in person, only seen a picture. The patina tells me this has been around at least a little while, and if it is fairly new it has likely been fired and not cleaned after. I'm also concerned about the types of loads put through it, and whether there might be some frame stretch.

So my question is this. Would patina on the brass frame turn you off? Even absent that would I be better off buying new given the unknowns of it's history (it's only $200 bucks new, after all)? Are there any tricks to checking this thing out if I decide to see it in person? Help please! This is outside of my expertise and I'm looking for good advice. It would be easier if I could drop $80 on the deal, definitely worth a roll of the dice there. I'm not even promised to get it down to $120 though. What would you do?
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Old May 31, 2018, 11:31 PM   #2
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For myself I’d not want to limit myself on what I could do. Even if all I would do is punch paper with as accurate of a load (seems typically 18-22 grns) I’d still want to be able to do what it’s capable of (35-40 grns and a ball). But then I also hunt and would punch paper with my typical accurate hunting load (33 grns of Olde E and a bullet).

Patina isn’t a bad thing on brass. Check end play (fore and aft movement on the cylinder). Also look at the recoil shield and see if there’s indentation from the back of the cylinder. This means heavier loads have been felrequeny used.

I’m not a fan of brass, especially not in a .44 but if lighter loads for paper punching are your thing there’s not much reason not to.
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Old June 1, 2018, 05:09 AM   #3
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5whiskey,

If I were you, I'd go look at Cabela's web page.
All Black Powder Revolvers are currently $50 off.

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Old June 1, 2018, 09:18 AM   #4
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I'm not a fan of brass either. I definitely wouldn't spend 150.00 on one. Like rod said look for an imprint of the cylinder ratchet on the recoil shield, also look for peening of the bolt notches which indicates a timing issue. Make sure it locks up tight on full cock and doesn't need a tiny bit of nudge to get it to lock up. That also is a timing issue. Look between the cylinder face and forcing cone. If there's more gap there than a credit card would fill then walk away from it.
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Old June 1, 2018, 10:56 AM   #5
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Here is an article on buying a brass-framed revolver:

http://4thla.weebly.com/should-you-b...-revolver.html

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Old June 1, 2018, 01:38 PM   #6
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Get a steel frame gun from the Cabela's sale. I like my 1860 Army revolvers.

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Old June 1, 2018, 05:15 PM   #7
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HA wouldn't you know it, I waited weeks for the 36cal 1851 to go on sale, ordered one last week when I got tired of waiting. Things coming in Fed Ex today and now it's 50 off. ain;t that how it goes.
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Old June 1, 2018, 06:27 PM   #8
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My first revolver ( 1967) was a brass framed EMF 1851 Colt Navy replica from Italy . A fair amount of shooting and the spindle the cylinder turned on became so loose in the frame it wasn't funny and this was a 36 cal.
I wouldn't buy a used one unless I could carefully inspect it.. Brass Navies are more for looking , the steel spindle is screwed into the frame, over time the steel threads wallow out in the soft brass....I would never buy another. adesign like the 1858 Remington with it's solid top frame might do better in brass. But the honest truth, save your money on the used brass frame and look for a steel framed gun...even used the steel frame guns will be a better deal.
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Old June 1, 2018, 06:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nodak1858
HA wouldn't you know it, I waited weeks for the 36cal 1851 to go on sale, ordered one last week when I got tired of waiting. Things coming in Fed Ex today and now it's 50 off. ain;t that how it goes.

I know exactly what you mean. I too have been waiting for the exact same gun to go on sale. Spent my gun money this month on another AR15 pistol upper.
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Old June 1, 2018, 07:45 PM   #10
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Thanks sledman, i went to cabelas today and saw the '51 on sale for 150 bucks. I had to pick it up.

I know brass frames can and will have issues. This is honestly a test run. If I take to C&B revolvers I'll probably buy either a '58 Remington or a walker later on for heavier shooting. This is just to try it out, see if it sticks, and to display. That's another reason I actually kind of wanted a brass frame. Brass is pretty. It looks nice. And Even if I end up doing a lot of BP revolver shooting i'll probably upgrade rather quickly to something that can handle real loads, and mostly leave this in the display box I make for it.
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Old June 2, 2018, 03:26 PM   #11
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I just ordered an 1851 Navy Pietta 36. I want 2 of them but will hold off till the next sale.
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Old June 2, 2018, 03:44 PM   #12
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Just ordered the 1851 Navy 36 also. Already have a brass framed 36, from the 1980's.
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Old June 3, 2018, 04:11 AM   #13
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Nice.

I need to buy some 36 cal round ball and re-review powder charges.
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Old June 3, 2018, 04:30 PM   #14
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Do what you want but I wouldn't buy a brass framed .44 even new, let alone used.

Wait for Cabelas to have a sale on steel framed Colts or Remys. You'll have a gun in top form that'll last for years for only a modest bit more.
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Old June 3, 2018, 09:13 PM   #15
maillemaker
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Quote:
HA wouldn't you know it, I waited weeks for the 36cal 1851 to go on sale, ordered one last week when I got tired of waiting. Things coming in Fed Ex today and now it's 50 off. ain;t that how it goes.
If you bought it with a credit card, check and see if your credit card has price protection insurance. This is where if you buy something and then find it cheaper they will cut you a check for the difference. There is a time limit and usually an annual benefit cap. But $50 is well under it.

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Old June 4, 2018, 05:07 PM   #16
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Don't shoot more than 20grains of FFFg BP or sub under a .454 round ball. If using 777 I would not exceed 15-17 grs. Use a filler of cornmeal, Cream of Wheat or a wads if the ball does not seat on the powder. As said before, check whether your new gun's cylinder is beginning to peen the thin raised recoil ring on the recoil shield. Do not use hard lead balls or you chance prying loose the cylinder pin from the frame while ramming it into the chamber or while shooting a hard ball down the barrel. Regardless of what happens to the gun, an excessive cylinder gap will be the result.
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Old June 8, 2018, 09:50 PM   #17
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Brass Frame C&B revolver

Buying the low end gun is no way to save money. The most stout long lived of the replicas appears to be Remington 1858's or similar. Also, buying a second hand had C&B revolver is chancy due to Bubba having done a "trigger job." As a suggestion go for a better grade of replica firearm with top strap.
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Old June 9, 2018, 01:15 AM   #18
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With bp pressures the Colt steel frame is plenty strong and long lived.
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Old June 9, 2018, 11:02 AM   #19
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I know that I'd never be content with just one design. It's why I have acquired quite a number of both the Remington and Colt replicas. They all have their place in history, and I'm always fascinated with history.
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Old June 9, 2018, 10:24 PM   #20
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What CYLA said. I've got a little bit of everything.
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Old June 9, 2018, 10:39 PM   #21
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Well cabelas well timed sale tempted me. Brought home a '51 Navy, brass frame. As I've already said the brass frame appeals to me for display. I took it out and put a few cylinders through it... Shot just fine. Will make a display case and bolster for it in the coming weeks. It suits me. I did decide that a used car and ball is not my speed. Especially a brass framed one. Although the primary purpose is display, I do want it functional and plan to shoot it at least occasionally.

And yes, I'm aware it's not 100% historically accurate. It is known that some brass navies were produced during the civil war, but my reading suggests they were likely never carried into battle. If they were, it was on a very limited scale.
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Old June 9, 2018, 11:57 PM   #22
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Quote:
And yes, I'm aware it's not 100% historically accurate. It is known that some brass navies were produced during the civil war, but my reading suggests they were likely never carried into battle. If they were, it was on a very limited scale.
Colt never made a brass frame navy and all navies were .36 caliber. The Confederacy made some bronze framed guns based on the Colt navy. The Schneider & Glassick was a direct clone in bronze but not many were made, probably less than 100. The Griswold & Gunnison was a bronze navy clone with a round barrel and very much used in the war with about 3,700 being made. All the bronze guns were also .36 caliber.
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Old June 10, 2018, 06:48 PM   #23
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Quote:
It is known that some brass navies were produced during the civil war, but my reading suggests they were likely never carried into battle. If they were, it was on a very limited scale.
If you read the article I posted above here:

http://4thla.weebly.com/should-you-b...-revolver.html

You will see that none of the current brass-framed reproductions, with the exception of the Spiller and Burr and Griswold and Gunnison, approximate any historical revolver.

Current-production brass "1851 navy" revolvers, in any caliber, and the "1858 Remington", have no historical counterpart.

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Old June 11, 2018, 04:00 PM   #24
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^^^ I did read that. Very well written and informative. The copies made in Tennessee is actually what I was referring to, and I remembered it from that article. And I know that no navies were made in .44. I get that historical accuracy is important to many... it is to me in many of my endeavors. I like numbers matching Mausers, K31s, and Enfields that haven't been raped by bubba's dremel. I am new to C&B revolvers though, and don't have much play money at the moment, so historicity took a backseat. And I honestly did want a brass model, powder puff loads and all. I don't know why... I just like the looks.
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Old June 13, 2018, 11:49 AM   #25
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You should say "No model 1851s were made in 44 caliber." Navy by definition is 36 caliber, so saying "No Navies were made in 44" is like saying "No 36 was made in 44".

I know this is a big, long-running debate, but even 30 years ago before all the miss-named reproductions started getting popular, practically everyone knew that "Naval Caliber" meant 36 and "Armies" were 44. That's why both Colt and Remington 36 caliber revolvers, and those 36 calibers from other manufacturers, were generally referred to as "Navies".
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