1851 navy to 1860 army conversion


June 19, 2007, 10:50 PM
Been trying to do this for the past little while.

So far I know that the barrel, cylinder, barrel wedge are defenitly interchangable. However, upon recieving my new backstrap for the 1860 army (I wanted a steel one) it is defenitly bigger than the older one. This also means that the grips and the trigger guard are different sizes as well...

I'll have to order those later.

Is there anything else that I'm going to need here? I ordered a screw set as well and the hammer screw does not fit properly. The screw is of a slightly larger diameter than the navy, and it doesn't fit into the hammer...

the original reason I did this was becuase I bought a navy in 44, wanting to keep somewhat true to the original colts, I decided to convert it to an army that was 44...

Your help would def be appreciated

Thanks guys.

btw, I have to keep the frame becuase its registered with the government, another reason for the conversion.

If you enjoyed reading about "1851 navy to 1860 army conversion" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Jamie C.
June 19, 2007, 11:22 PM
I was under the impression that a Navy grip frame and an Army grip frame would interchange too...
Are the new frame and your gun both made by the same manufacturer?

Also... "I have to keep the frame becuase its registered with the government"... ?

If you don't mind my asking, where do you live? The U.K.? Canada? If so, I'm guessing my comment on the other thread about ordering a Walker off the internet wasn't very helpful. Sorry. :o


June 20, 2007, 12:35 AM
Yea I live in canada. The frame, as far as I can tell, is fully interchangable. It "appears" though that some of the screws from the army, such as the hammer and the backstrap screws, do not fit properly.

Ordering any firearm that is classified as restricted or non-restricted is not possible becuase it has to be registered before ownership can be taken. The only thing that doesn't have to be registered are flintlock long arms lol. So I can order that no problem.

The rule system here is extensive, not nearly as extensive as the UK or australia, but enough for most americans to frown upon.

Enough of that jibba jabba though, just need some answers.

The gun is made by pietta, so far I have been looking and have found pietta parts.

I have:

-1860 barrel with loading lever
-1860 Cylinder (these parts appear to be interchangable as well)
-1860 Backstrap

I need
-1860 trigger guard
-1860 Back strap
-1860 wood grip
-1860 hammer and/or hammer screw (the screw that I was sent does not fit, and the original was lost)

Everything else, internals and trigger seem to work fine. I am not to sure about the mainspring though, becuase the trigger guard is of a different size I have a feeling that the spring I have will not fit the new trigger guard when I do get it.

Jamie C.
June 20, 2007, 01:05 AM
Alrighty then, have a look around here:
Taylor's & Co. - Pietta Parts (http://www.taylorsfirearms.com/products/detail-parts.tpl?manufacturer=Pietta&subcategory=1860%20Army%20Steel/1861%20Navy%20Steel&category=Parts)

Hope this helps.


Old Fuff
June 20, 2007, 01:28 AM
The backstrap and trigger guards are interchangeable between 1851 Navy, 1860 Army (and for that matter 1873 Single Actions) frames. However they are not the same size, as the 1860 backstrap and trigger guard is about 1/4" longer then that of the 1851 / 1873 size.

To complete your conversion you need an 1860 Army trigger guard to match the backstrap you have, and of course a set of 1860 sized grips. You might consider getting grip blanks so you can shape them to an exact fit with your backstrap and trigger guard.

You have the correct frame, cylinder and barrel assembly. The internal lockwork (hammer, trigger, cylinder bolt, hand, springs and screws are identical between an 1851 Navy and 1860 Army. The mainspring should work with the 1860 parts because it is mounted higher on the trigger guard.

June 20, 2007, 02:02 AM
Thanks for the confirmation. I think the last question I have is why the screw set that I ordered from dixie gun works, particularily the hammer screw, did not fit in my stock pietta hammer? It was too large, I just don't want to mess that up again.
What I've done, or plan to do this weekend, is order a hammer from dixie gun works and the screw, hoping that maybe my pietta is an awkward one and the ones they sell work with the screws they sell.

Thank you.

Old Fuff
June 20, 2007, 11:37 AM
Be sure to specify exactly what make and model you have. Include the serial number and the importer's name if it is marked on the gun. Over time changes were sometimes made, and they need this sort of information. You can also send them the old screw to help make a match, and yes - they will return it. Be aware that Dixie has the relatively inexpensive grip blanks I mentioned.

June 20, 2007, 05:21 PM
Old fluff you rock. Didn't know you cared for black powder, thought you were just a 1911 enthusiast.

I wish I could send them the original screw, but I can't becuase I lost it.. Not sure how that happened but it wasn't in the little bin that I put all the old screws in..

Point being, I'll get some photo's of what I have finished so far, looks pretty good IMO but won't post it until probably tomorrow night..

THanks for all the help, everyone.


Old Fuff
June 20, 2007, 08:57 PM
Old fluff you rock. Didn't know you cared for black powder,

The darn stuff is adictive, and I started early - as a teen shooting an ORIGINAL 1851 Navy, and later a 2nd. Model Dragoon. :what::what: I don't do that anymore... :uhoh:

Much later I converted an 1911 pistol into a single-shot caplock muzzleloader. Drove some folks at my shooting club up the wall. :evil:

Somewhere I have an unpublished manuscript on tuning and rebuilding replica cap & ball revolvers.

So be careful you don't get hooked. :neener::D

June 21, 2007, 03:26 AM
You are trying to put an 1860 cylinder on an 1851 frame? The 1860 used a rebated frame.

June 21, 2007, 06:02 AM
His frame is already rebated, his Navy was in .44.

June 21, 2007, 10:11 AM
To late old fluff I am defenitly hooked.

VERY interested to see this 1911 single shot you speak of! seriously, post a pic or something, or describe it in more detail.

What is a rebated frame by the way? When I put on the cylinder I had no problems at all btw, it functioned fine. Must be something that a 36 navy doesn't have?

Old Fuff
June 21, 2007, 10:52 AM
The 1851 Navy's circumference from front to back is the same, and the largest 6-shot chambers it can accommodate is .40 caliber (Colt made prototypes but never produced any). To make a .44 cylinder for the Army model they simply increased the cylinder's diameter at the front where the balls or bullets were seated, and made a step in the middle, leaving the back the same as the Navy model. These stepped cylinders are called "rebated cylinders," and a Navy-sized frame (which the 1860 Army model has) must be slightly modified so that the rebated cylinder will fit.

As you know, your revolver – an 1851 Navy pattern, but in .44 caliber – is something that the Italians thought up, not Sam Colt. The reason Colt didn’t produce a .44 Navy is because he wanted to incorporate other improvements, such as the creeping ball rammer and round barrel (easier to make) in his “new” Army model. And a year latter he did the same to the Navy when he introduced the 1861 Navy.

If you enjoyed reading about "1851 navy to 1860 army conversion" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!