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Old January 11, 2020, 03:44 PM   #1
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Pietta 1851 Navy "Type" Revolver Grip Assemblies

This thread is about Pietta 1851 Navy grip assemblies (I won't be addressing "bird's head" types as those are out of my realm/experience), and it is not my purpose to discuss the merits/demerits of each type.

Many of you know that I have an affliction called "parts-changer syndrome"; thus my reason for posting is for others similarly afflicted.

Conventional wisdom has it that there are two types: "tail" grips and "non-tail" grip ssembies. Up until last month I thought that was true, but I have found a third variation that fits between the two. For the sake of this discussion I will label them as the Large Tail, the Small Tail, and the Non-Tail.

Large Tail grip assemblies seem to have been manufactured from ~2001 (when Pietta went to CNC machining) through 2014. Non Tail grip assemblies were manufactured from 2015 to present day. During the past month I have procured a Pietta 1862 Dance .36 revolver (date code BH/1996 SN C00013) and a Pietta 1851 Navy .36 4-screw frame (date code AZ/1990 SN 18852). Both have what I will term the Small Tail grip assemblies, and this is why:

Top: 1851 Navy .36 2nd Model Squareback (CM/2014 SN 636005) Large Tail
Middle: 1862 Dance .36 (BH/1996 SN C00013) Small Tail
Bottom: Leech & Rigdon .36 (formerly an 1851 Navy) (CP/2016 SN 673674) Non Tail

I have taken measurements of all three backstrap butts, as follows:

A: Length of butt front to back
B: Length between back and attachment recess
C: Length of attachment recess
D: Length between front of screw and front

Large Tail:
A: 2-5/16"
B: 1/4"
C: 3/8"
D: 3/16"

Small Tail:
A: 2-1/4"
B: 1/8"
C: 3/8"
D: 3/16"

Non Tail:
A: 2-1/4"
B: 1/4"
C: 3/8"
D: 1/8"

There are also differences in the curvatures of both the backstraps and the trigger guards, as well as the wood. That is why individual parts are not interchangeable from type to type, but as a 3-piece assembly they will all fit any Pietta 1851/1860/1861 frame.

Top: Large Tail
Bottom: Small Tail

Top: Non Tail
Bottom: Small Tail

I do not have access to any Pietta 1851 Navy revolvers manufactured prior to 1990, and would be interested if anyone owning one could post their findings/measurements. I used a stand draftsman's scale and not a caliper.

I hope you are not bored to tears by now.


To be governed – is to be watched, inspected, directed, indoctrinated, numbered, estimated, regulated, commanded, controlled, law-driven, preached at, spied upon, censured, checked, valued, enrolled – by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so. - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
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Old January 12, 2020, 11:45 AM   #2
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The tail is why I swapped out the Navy grips anf frame on my Dance for the 1860 Army grips and frame. I traded a guy straight across: his Pietta army grips for my navy. I was then able to pair it up with my ASM 1860 Army with the same grip feel. There seems to be less variation in Army grips among the different makers. The grips feel the same but dont count on the screw placements to match if you go to a different manufacturer. Swap Pietta with Pietta, Uberti with uberti grips and frames.
With over 15 perCUSSIN' revolvers, I've been called the Imelda Marcos of cap & ball.
SASS#3302 (Life), SASS Regulator, NRA (Life), Dirty Gamey Bastards #129
Wolverton Mtn. Peacekeepers (WA), former Orygun Cowboy (Ranger, Posse from Hell)
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Old January 29, 2020, 10:22 AM   #3
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This is good info, I happen to like my 'duck tail' 2014ish Pietta 1851, love the Pietta 1860 Grips even more, did not know they didn't swap between manufacturers. Better to read it I say ...
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