Sights on open top Colt clones


March 3, 2003, 03:28 PM
I try to get involved in some BP shooting and could handle a Colt 1860 Army and a 1851 Navy. I like the appearance of this open top irons but the sights are very rudimentary.

What do you guys do? Just pointing it in the general direction and shoot :D ? Or do you tinker with the "rear sight" notch on the hammer?

What are the normal distances to shoot such coal-burners (no competition but informal fun-shooting) and what "accuracy" an be expected?

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Gerald McDonald
March 3, 2003, 04:10 PM
You have to use Kentucky windage for the fixed sight revolvers of the colt type. I have a friend who dovetailed a small fixed sight on top of the barrel just in front of the cylinder on dragoons and 1860's. He said that was done on many of the dragoons by early gunsmiths. Said he would do it to my 1851 but would need a different front sight staked or sweated on. Might be worth looking at unless you wish to shoot a Remington 1858.

Old Fuff
March 3, 2003, 08:18 PM
Many of the original users had a gunsmith dovetail the muzzle end of the barrel and install a brass or German silver front sight of the kind used on rifles of the day. the sight could be driven in the dovetail to adjust for windage, and filed down to adjust for elevation. Dixie Gun Works in Union City, TN. as well as others offer reproduction sights that are faithful to the kind they used. I usually set up my cap&ball revolvers to shoot point-of-aim/point-of-impact at 25 yards.

March 5, 2003, 12:09 PM
If you do your part, the old charcoal burners are pretty darn accurate.

I don't have one now, but I used a measured 28 Gr of P-Pyrodex in my 1858 Army Remington, with a Speer ball. Tried to apply the same seating pressure each time. Using small sandbags as a rest, I managed to put all 6 inside the 10 ring @25 yds...gun was probably more accurate than me.

I only managed that feat once, so excited about that group I think that technique sort of got lost.

March 5, 2003, 01:21 PM
Thanks, Sirs for you advice. I'll dive in it. I just can't decide yet what model, the 1860 Army or the 1851 Navy. I think Taylor's or Cabela's would be a good source (I'll try to get a Uberti).

Would a Lyman Plains-Rifle go with them stylewise?

Gerald McDonald
March 5, 2003, 06:34 PM
I imagine style wise an Enfield, Springfield or Sharps would fit the time frame better. Of course from what I understand everything was carried with everything up until the 1880's. I always wanted a 451 Enfield as I have heard with heavy miniballs they are very accurate and a great game getter.

Old Fuff
March 5, 2003, 08:37 PM
The various rifles mentioned would fit the time-frame. At one time Col. Colt wrote Sam Hawken of Hawken rifle fame to inquire about the viability of opening a revolver factory in St. Louis. Nothing came of it, but it’s interesting that Colt ask.

If you decide to cut a dovetail in the barrel for a new front sight be aware that this is easier to do on an octagon barrel that’s flat on top then a round barrel. That being the case I’d pick a Colt 1851 Navy or Remington “New Army” reproduction over the others. If you don’t intend to dovetail the barrel chose anything you like. Have fun.

March 9, 2003, 11:05 PM
I found that 1851s all hit about a foot high at 25 yards until you put a higher bead up front. On the on the other hand, with much more limited experience, I've found Armys ( blade front) that hit pretty much point of aim at that distance. Even with the crude sight set-up you can hit pretty well with them - like rabbit accuracy to 20 yards and center mass on the man targets back past 25 when shooting one handed.

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