Changing cylinders


August 12, 2006, 08:38 PM
We've probably all seen westerns like Pale Rider in which someone reloads a revolver by swapping out an empty cylinder for a full one. My question, though, is whether that's historically accurate. Was it practical to carry a full cylinder for quick reloads in the old west? Is that something that would basically be universally true for all revolvers or would it be limited to a few specific models?

I appreciate any responses on this topic.

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August 12, 2006, 08:49 PM
the old b/p guns they did.

August 12, 2006, 09:15 PM
I too would suspect this only to apply to old cap and ball. Whether an historic fact I am not sure but certainly it would be the fastest way to achieve a reload.

Modern centerfire SA revo's I doubt would benefit, as the rounds would be loose in chambers and like as not fall out easily. It certainly could be done tho.

August 12, 2006, 09:20 PM
The Remington is unique in that when you lower the loading lever, you can just pull the pin out and drop out the cylinder, quick and effective. Colt's required knocking out a pin and removing the barrel. Before the Smith and Wesson patent on metalic cartridge revolvers ran out in 1873, there were lots of cartridge converted Remingtons and Colts. They remained popular for quite a while after the '73 Colt came out because they worked and new 1873 Colts were quite expensive. Eastwoods gun, of course, was a cartridge conversion and he, of course, was firing hollywood blanks.

You can buy cartridge conversion cylinders for BP revolvers, Midway sells 'em. They run around $220, so I won't be buying four or five anytime soon. A Remmie with a couple of BP cylinders would be kinda cool to own, I reckon. Not sure why, but I think it'd be cool. I guess you could use it at a cowboy shoot or something, would strike up a few conversations. :D

Also, I have read that cavalry soldiers in the civil war would ride into combat with multiple loaded cylinders and Remington '58s. That was the definition of fire power back in those days. I think I'd rather have four or five walkers strapped to the horse, too. Actually, I would NOT have wanted to be anywhere near a civil war battlefield, chicken I guess. :D

Old Fuff
August 12, 2006, 10:07 PM
From a historical point of view we know that some cased cap & ball revolvers, (Colt, Remington, etc.) came with an extra cylinder. Then to, I have examined a fair number of Colt revolvers that had mismatched serial numbers on the cylinder and nothing else, suggesting that some swapping had occurred.

However contemporary accounts seldom mention a practice of cylinder swapping, and it would seem that fast reloads were more often accomplished by carrying 2 or more complete revolvers.

Hollywood wouldn't know historical fact if they even tripped over it. :banghead:

Edited to correct typo.

August 12, 2006, 10:35 PM
It would be an excellent idea not to drop a loaded and capped cylinder onto rocky ground!:what:

August 12, 2006, 11:30 PM
There used to be a rather weird gentleman at the indoor range I shoot at that took the cylinder out of his Super Blackhawk each time to reload it. Said it was faster for him. Different strokes???:confused:

August 12, 2006, 11:51 PM
Thanks for the replies everyone. It kind of seems like, as a general rule, this was probably not a very practical solution to reloading revolvers.

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