Open cylinder frame vs. closed cylinder frame?


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Bowhunter57
August 26, 2008, 07:35 PM
I'm refering to a Walker, 3rd model Dragoon, etc. (Colt styles) vs. '58 Remington, Ruger New Army, etc.

Are there any accuracy differences between these two frame styles?
If so, why?

I'd like to purchase a BP revolver to hunt small game varmints, but accuracy is my main concern. I've owned them in the past, but that was many years ago. I prefer the looks of the Uberti Walker and/or Dragoon, but accuracy comes first. :)

Your opinions and experiences are appreciated.
Thank you, Bowhunter57

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grimjaw
August 26, 2008, 07:55 PM
In my limited experience, it's easier to pick up the stock sights on the '58 Remington than the '51/60 model Colt. Other than that, I cannot comment.

jm

scrat
August 26, 2008, 08:01 PM
different things for different people. like saying i like coke, someone else saying i like pepsi. your not going to get an good answer. your getting bias opinions based on what people like.


For me i like colts and Walkers. Walker is the big bad boy of the neighborhood. I can shoot what ever i am aiming for on any of my colts or walkers. i can shoot steel targets all day long with them. After purchasing my first 1851. i practiced aiming it at home. At the range i was hitting what i pointed it at within the first 10 minutes and its been that way ever since. As far as the strength. You load per the recomended load for that caliber per firearm. When doing so i have never had any problems that were not normal wear and tear on the gun. Some people like guns with top strap. Some dont, some it dosent matter. I have shot steel targets at 100 yards with my 1851's, 1860 and WALKER. Does that mean they are the best. NO. that means im proficient at what i am doing.

black_powder_Rob
August 26, 2008, 10:14 PM
Good answer Scrat.;) Every body has diferent taste. I will go one further and say go to a store and try to handle all the models you mentioned, try to get a feel for them and then decid which one you want.

P.S. they are addicting so becarfull.

scrat
August 26, 2008, 10:20 PM
ya tell my wallet that. I Dont know why but im still thinking about getting another 1851. I dont know why i have 2. But that pietta i got a year ago. Shoots so darn good. I dont know if i just got lucky or what. Looks good too. I would love to gett and make a matching. I dont know wht my chances are of getting such an accurate shooter as the one i have.

http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q77/scratm3/4Apr-31.jpghttp://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q77/scratm3/4Apr-41.jpg

Smokin_Gun
August 26, 2008, 10:57 PM
I'm refering to a Walker, 3rd model Dragoon, etc. (Colt styles) vs. '58 Remington, Ruger New Army, etc.


Yeah there's differances Bowhunter57, both are pretty accurate if they have been put together right.
1 the Dragoon and Walkers weigh a couple pounds more, Rems and ROA's got that beat. 2 if you rear sight is on your hammer and your trigger wears from use agin' the sear/hammer what happens to the site? 3 every time you take the barrel off the arbor the hammer from the frame ya got a ask yur self, is it in the same posistion when assembled, if so how many times?
I would have ya get an 1858 Rem NMA with or without adj.sites...or and ROA with the same. But if you like Colts get one. I like um.

Anyway I like Colts and I got 1851 Colts and Brass or .36's a steel .44 for sale $100-$150. A couple 1860 Army .44 chrome plated with brass frames $175 ea.
1858 Buntline 12" bbl. Steel 1 ea and one brass $125.

Your choice I'll sell ya one a each 1858 Buntline Rem .44 brass frame $115 or steel $165 and a Pietta or ASM 1851 Navy brass frame in.36 or .44 $115 if ya buy it with a buntline.

Yup I like Colts but I like Rems better,

SG

PRM
August 26, 2008, 11:18 PM
different things for different people. like saying i like coke, someone else saying i like pepsi. your not going to get an good answer. your getting bias opinions based on what people like. Scrat


Yep,bout sums it up!!! I'm biased...

"Rather live next door to a man who owns a Colt as to have one of them others"


Go handle both, get the feel of them. Both are great shooters and will do what you want. You may start out with one and end up with one of each.

mykeal
August 26, 2008, 11:42 PM
Amazing how the question changes so quickly.

It's not Colt vs Remington. It's open frame vs closed top frame. And it's not just a matter of 'personal choice'. The design differences can be characterized in ways that are objective.

The question is often couched in terms of strength, with the closed frame considered stronger due to the lack of a top strap to 'hold it together'. This misses the role of the Colt's massive arbor, which is pinned at both ends and is fully effective in shear and bending. The Colt actually has a larger cross sectional area of steel than any of the three most popular closed frame designs, and is thus stronger given that the alloys are similar.

However, strength is not the question here. The dynamic response of the design is more important to accuracy than static strength. Unfortunately, dynamic response is not intuitively obvious; again, the large statically determinant arbor of the Colt is fully effective in acting as a participant in the mode shapes. Without testing the frames it's not clear that one is superior to the other.

It does come down to the sights in the end. The closed top designs have sights that are easier to use, although one can learn to use the Colt hammer notch design and be an excellent shooter. The standard Remington sights are clearly superior for most recreational shooters simply because they are easier to pick up in most situations, and the target sights are excellent in the hands of a trained marksman.

PRM
August 27, 2008, 12:00 AM
Colt (and their variants) primarily are the open frame. Just as Remington (and its variants) are the closed top frame. I would disagree on this one, that personal preference does come into play here. You accurately described the attributes of each gun (strengths/weaknesses, and sights). But in the end, how one likes the balance, feel and handling of a particular model are equally as critical. If the gun doesn't fit a person's hand or doesn't feel right - they probably won't stay with it. I have a friend who has large hands, he shoots a Remington and likes it. Other side of the coin is that he has shot my pocket models and wouldn't spend the money on one because they don't feel right to him. The bottom line and I think you would agree, is that any of these guns are accurate enough to hunt small game, with practice. Practice being the key ingredient to accuracy.

mtngunr
August 27, 2008, 12:54 AM
You would have to try hard to not find a Ruger OLD Army and load that wouldn't shoot 1"-1.25"/25yds...open-top revolvers shoot loose sooner, lacking the support to keep frame stretching minimized...brass-frame are the worst....Mike Cumpston's books on BP revolvers tell it like it is, and he gives honest appraisals of makes/models....

PS...yes, I read the above arbor modes post....the attachment of the arbor is the weak point, especially at the rear....not to mention wear/peening of the front wedge.

Smokin_Gun
August 27, 2008, 01:45 AM
You would have to try hard to not find a Ruger OLD Army and load that wouldn't shoot 1"-1.25"/25yds...open-top revolvers shoot loose sooner, lacking the support to keep frame stretching minimized...brass-frame are the worst....Mike Cumpston's books on BP revolvers tell it like it is, and he gives honest appraisals of makes/models....

PS...yes, I read the above arbor modes post....the attachment of the arbor is the weak point, especially at the rear....not to mention wear/peening of the front wedge


All I can add to this above is Remingtons truley shine:cool:
http://i34.tinypic.com/k9htgg.jpg

SG:D

PRM
August 27, 2008, 07:30 AM
You would have to try hard to not find a Ruger OLD Army and load that wouldn't shoot 1"-1.25"/25yds

You got to be talking about a machine rest or other support?

I'll take my hat off to anyone who shoots 1-1.25 inch groups with a handgun at 25 yards from a traditional stance. I'm sure those shooters are out there, and I will gladly buy that person a cup of java!!!

open-top revolvers shoot loose sooner

Got 4, 2nd Generation Colts that are getting close to 30 years old - They have been to the range regularly since I first bought them, and they are just as tight today as when I brought them home. Each of the grandkids will eventually get one. Guess they will have to deal with that issue.

Voodoochile
August 27, 2008, 07:47 AM
You would have to try hard to not find a Ruger OLD Army and load that wouldn't shoot 1"-1.25"/25yds
You got to be talking about a machine rest or other support?

I'll take my hat off to anyone who shoots 1-1.25 inch groups with a handgun at 25 yards from a traditional stance. I'm sure those shooters are out there, and I will gladly buy that person a cup of java!!!


open-top revolvers shoot loose sooner

Got 4, 2nd Generation Colts that are getting close to 30 years old - They have been to the range regularly since I first bought them, and they are just as tight today as when I brought them home. Each of the grandkids will eventually get one. Guess they will have to deal with that issue.

I agree 100% PRM in both the shooting ability & the Colt Arbor to Frame rigidness unless they are the Brass framed types that was subject to heavy loads.

I posted this on the Firingline so I'll paste it here as well:
C&B Revolvers with a top strap like the Remington 1858 design, Rogers Spencer design, & the Ruger Old Army designs tend to be more Newbie user friendly in terms of maintenence & accuracy "no moving rear sight" as opposed to the Open Top Colt designs but as far as accuracy goes in the right hands a Colt can be shot with equal accuracy to any other C&B revolver with the exception to the Ruger with adjustable rear sights being an advantage in terms of instead of tayloring a load to shoo it's best for the particular revolver you can adjust the sight to help align a pet load to hit the POA.

Many hre preferr the Remington 1858's because they are a part of history & ease of swapping loaded cylinders but if that isn't an issue for you & you want as much punch as you can muster then one of the Colt Dragoons or Walker will be a better suit because of their powder capacities are large enough for some real potent loads.

I like my 2 Remington copies & shoot them on a normal basis but I also shoot my Colt copies equaly as well & as frequent, My Brother has climed my almost 20 year old Uberti 3rd. Model Dragoon as his own :rolleyes: & he normally puts 35-40gr. FFFG Goex & a custom 230gr. conical through it & to me impressively can keep consistent groups of sub 3" at 25 yards with it & as far as strength goes so far it's still solid as a rock after at least 1000 rounds like that through it.

sundance44s
August 27, 2008, 07:48 AM
What SmokinGun said .......can any gun be accurate with the rear sight being mounted on a moveing part ?
I have both types ...I shoot the open tops for the fun of it .........I shoot the solid frames for the serious of it .1858 Remingtons ....does that sound bias ??? didn`t mean for it too.

mykeal
August 27, 2008, 08:07 AM
First of all, I completely agree with PRM that ergonomics matter a great deal; in fact, that's probably the most important factor (kind of makes the statement, "XXXXX is the most accurate gun" a bit meaningless, yes?).

However, within the context of the question ergonomics are a bit moot. There are many variations in balance and grip styles within each major design group, and so it's possible to find one of each that fits your hand/arm/eye parameters. It's within that context that I was speaking. The man was asking about open tops vs closed frame, not grip size or shape. I was trying to keep to his question, hence my opening statement.

As for Mike Cumpston's book, yes it does "tell it like it is"; you need to reread what he wrote. I thoroughly enjoy reading Percussion Pistols and Revolvers, History, Performance and Practical Use; I refer to it often and highly recommend it to anyone. Paraphrasing, he said that Remington adherents consider the closed top frame to be superior because of greater strength and a lesser tendency to become loose. See page 130. And that's very true; Remington adherents do have that belief, and I acknowledged that. But Mike didn't personally support or refute that claim.

My experience (also 30 years of regularly shooting both open top and closed frame revolvers) is that my open tops also show no signs of that happening. Again, any gun can be abused, and certainly loosening the arbor or peening the wedge slot would be characteristics of a Colt that had been so treated, but I consider abuse to be more a trait of the user than the gun design.

The question was whether the open tops are inherently less accurate than the closed frame guns. I concluded that they were because the frame provides a mount for better sights. I still believe that's correct.

Loyalist Dave
August 27, 2008, 08:36 AM
Part of the question needs to be (imho) how good is the quality of the repros that are being compared, and how durable the materials? If not, then folks might think an inexpensive, brass framed copy of a Colt is as good as a steel framed copy of a Remington 1858, and in at least one case I know the "closed frame" copy of the Remington is a better handgun both in accuracy and durability. I have an Armi San Marco copy of the Remington, and three Pietta brass framed .44 Colt copies. Both types were very very accurate right out of the box, shooting 18 grains of 3Fg, and .451 round ball. BUT..., the brass framed copies soon started to become a bit loose at the pins and the wedge, where they joined the frame, and at least one had a problem with the cylinder shaft moving in the brass frame, and this allowed for variations in sight alignment after each thorough cleaning, something the Remington copy did not create.

So you get what you pay for, and I'd recommend if comparing styles, that all steel copies be the only options for the new buyer. The brass guns work fine, and are great for historic reenactment of the Civil War, where blanks are used, but for folks firing ball, stay with steel.

FYI my copy of a Colt flat top in .45 Schofield had rear sights on the rear of the barrel just above the forcing cone, and it shot great!

BTW, just a question for the open top fans..., IF the open top style is so good, and the most powerful handgun in the BP era was the open topped Walker..., why did Colt switch to a closed top version for the Single Action Army? Was it a government requirement??

LD

sundance44s
August 27, 2008, 09:09 AM
Colt Company had a habbit of waiting on the patents to expire that were owned by other gunmakers ..Remington on the other hand .. bought into the rollin & White bore through cylinder design to convert their six guns to shoot the new fangled cartridge conversions at a price of 50 cents per pistol produced in 1868....This put Remington ahead of Colt in the race for the new cartridge fireing big bore revolvers ...Sam Colt died early in the hay days of the revolver race 1861 or 62 ..So I suppose it would have been his family running the company ...by 1873 the patents had expired and Colt Company introduced the 1873 closed top cartridge revolver and sold contracts to the Army ...in 1876 the civilian market was offered this new design ...Thus the Colt Peace Maker was born . I always thought it was a shame ole Sam Colt didn`t live to see the fame and glory his Peace Maker revolver ..became .

Loyalist Dave
August 27, 2008, 09:16 AM
Ah, OK I figured it was something like that..., as changing a design usually costs money, so why change what already works..., it was cheaper when they made the change, and the cartridges were powering up while the guns were going lighter. I wonder how long an open top style would hold up firing a .38-40?
thanks for the info :)

LD

sundance44s
August 27, 2008, 09:46 AM
I forgot to mention ..in 1871 the Rollin White Patent expired for the bored through cylinder design ...The Colt Company had produced so many of the open top Navy and Army guns ..they had a huge supply of parts for these gun ..So instead of doing a redesign on their revolvers they chose to use up the parts at hand ..and Colt came out with the 1871 Colt open top cartridge fireing revolvers ..still in the Navy and Army opentop platform ....The Army wanted a stronger design ..So Army contracts went to Remington and S&W for Cartridge fireing pistols ..Back in those day ..Army Contracts ment alot to the gunmakers ...so by 1873 Colt made the change to the Peacemaker design ..The Army was quick to take on the new Colt design .
Makes me wonder if Sam Colt would have draged his feet ...makeing the changes ..Sam Colt was a smart business man .

PRM
August 27, 2008, 12:02 PM
The question was whether the open tops are inherently less accurate than the closed frame guns. I concluded that they were because the frame provides a mount for better sights. I still believe that's correct. Mykeal

With those parameters - I totally agree. This thread has been kind of like talking cap locks and flint locks. One may be more advanced, but on a personal level, the older is more fun.

sharps59
August 27, 2008, 01:05 PM
I'm w sundance44
hammmer w/sight loosens up over time. the wedge and aligning pins also wear over time loose fram miss barrel alignment. W/ a x ring of 1 5/8" dia and a 10 ring of 3 1/4" dia. and a top shooter shooting a 99-3x. I think the solid frames have it.

StrawHat
August 27, 2008, 04:34 PM
All I can remember is when in competition, most of the winners were shooting Remingtons, both copies and originals. And unless the rule book specifically disallowed it, they usually had some sort of adjustable rear sight.

We also tricked them out a bit but not so they would not be recognized as an antique/replica.

I prefer Colts for the design and "cowboyness", Remingtons for punching holes close together.

Omnivore
August 27, 2008, 04:55 PM
I have both an open top and a top strap revolver. Having fired them both for a while I'd say that the way the gun feels to you, handles for you, is more important. An adjustable sight would be a nice feature, but neither of mine have it.

Couple other things; Some of my guns had rough, or "gritty" actions when new. They smooth out pretty quickly on their own, and you can always polish a surface or two and make them better or have a good smith do it, so when I say "feel and handing" I mean ergonimics-- grip, weight, and so on. Any problems with "loostening" of a steel-frame open top would have to be a result of improper fitting between the arbor, barrel, wedge and frame. If that's all the way it's supposed to be, you will not have any trouble with it.

Bowhunter57
August 27, 2008, 06:09 PM
Very interesting replies...all of them and informative too. :)

I kinda started asking this question on a Traditional Muzzleloading forum and have had some good replies there too. Oddly enough, mykeal and PRM have followed and/or posted in this forum too....and with more good information.

I have to agree with the "handling" of a particular revolver being a big part of the choice(s) that make a person continue to shoot or sell a revolver. I need to get to a gun shop and handle a few and see which one "talks" to me. I've shot both and like both, but also agree that adjustable sights can make a difference, for hunting purposes.
I used to own a ROA and a (unknown name/brand, but it was made in Italy) 1860 Army, both .44 caliber and loved them both. However, I seem to recall the Ruger shooting more accurately than the 1860....but that could've been where I spent my time too. It's been many years ago and I don't recall that much about the 1860. :banghead:

I've learned a lot from the postings here and will apply all that I have learned to my purchase of a BP revolver. Thanks, again!

Good hunting, Bowhunter57

Omnivore
August 27, 2008, 07:43 PM
The Colt sights are odd by modern standards, but once you get used to them they're fine. I had to replace my '51's front sight with a taller one and work the hammer notch to correct for windage, but after that it's been fine and dandy. Sometimes I blacken the brass front post with a Zippo for better accuity, depending on the lighting conditions.

Then there is the option of a single-shot pistol. With a larger bore and a strong barrel, of more than the Walker's nine inches, one could stoke it with some pretty effective hunting loads, I would think.

Funny though; in my neck of the woods we've been restricted from using any BP pistol for hunting. Go figure. Maybe I'll have to send the game departments a letter discussing the projectile weights and velocities of various BP and modern handguns. You may use a .40 S&W, but not a Walker, for example.

the-ghost
August 27, 2008, 08:38 PM
i think if we were shooting guns 150 years old it might matter due to metallurgy and machine capabilities as well as who produced it. however, in my experience with modern replicas it really don't matter much. ofcourse brass is brass...

pohill
August 27, 2008, 08:55 PM
Check out the date on this Colt patent (notice the topstrap):
http://i37.tinypic.com/119sefc.jpg

Who had the best ad...
Coke
http://i38.tinypic.com/2w1v9t4.jpg

Or Pepsi
http://i36.tinypic.com/rwksiq.jpg

black_powder_Rob
August 27, 2008, 10:18 PM
ok mykeal, as far as the rear sight goes if one were so inclined they could always get the stock for one of the colt designs and put a tang sight on it. Sorry just thinking outside of the box. All in good fun.

mykeal
August 27, 2008, 11:20 PM
OOOHHH. The mind boggles.:uhoh::eek::what::banghead:

scrat
August 27, 2008, 11:31 PM
ya but you know you love it. we havent argued about this in a while. maybe since GOC was around

StrawHat
August 28, 2008, 12:20 PM
Funny though; in my neck of the woods we've been restricted from using any BP pistol for hunting. Go figure.

Omnivore, Not sure what the climate is like, but a lot of blackpowder is off limits due to the thought it could start a fire.

Of course they just might not understand the power of a good black powder revolver.

AntiqueCollector
August 28, 2008, 12:41 PM
I think the open top design is superior for a cap and ball gun. Cap fragments are more easily knocked out, less prone to jamming. Just my experience/opinion. The Colt style guns are accurate when you're used to them, but, the Remington style sights are better for most shooters I suspect. Not as difficult to get used to since they're like any other gun pretty much.

LightningMan
August 28, 2008, 01:01 PM
I will add my 2 cents to this topic, which in my opinion it does more damage to an open top revolvers accuracy and to it's frame is over tightening the wedge by pushing it in past the spring catch. You end up changing the POA and bending that hardened arbor, to soften it. Just my opinion, yours my vary, LM.

Omnivore
August 28, 2008, 04:34 PM
Lightening; You're right, if and only if the gun is improperly dimensioned, as I stated i a previous post. The front of the arbor is supposed to bottom out, hard against the end of the blind hole in the barrel. Hence, overtightening or undertightening the wedge a little bit can only change the linear forces on the arbor.

That being said, there are a lot of improperly fit Colt repros out there. It is a relatively easy fix however.

You can test the fit by slipping the barrel as far as it will go over the arbor while rotated, so the frame pin/frame interface portion of the barrel is along side of the frame, rather than against it (remove the cylinder before doing this). The part of the barrel that normally butts against the frame should overlap the frame by only a few thousandths of an inch. You'll find on many Ubertis, for example, the barrel/frame interface will overlap the frame by far more than that-- a sixteenth or more. The arbor is too short, or the frame interface at the bottom of the barrel is too long. Installing the cylinder, pushing it all the way backward against the frame, while doing this test again, will tell you which. You should be able to bottom out the arbor and; a; have the correct cylinder gap and, b; have the barrel's frame interface no more than about ten thousandths overlapping the front of the frame.

This is where the confusion comes from, causing people to say that wedge tension is how you "adjust" for cylinder gap. That is true only if you have a misfit gun. In fact it should be impossible to alter cylinder gap (and POI along with it) by altering wedge tension until you get to the point where the wedge is going to fall out from being so loose.

Omnivore
August 28, 2008, 05:10 PM
Here's the article that gave me my epiphany regarding open top fitting:
http://www.theopenrange.net/articles/Tuning_the_Pietta_Part_One.pdf

Read it and heed it. That guy knows what he's doing. It's specifically regarding the Pietta '51, but the arbor fit concept applies to all open tops.
Here's part two FYI:
http://www.theopenrange.net/articles/Tuning_the_Pietta_Part_Two.pdf

It was posted here in another thread some time back, and I used it to vastly improve my Pietta, as well as get a much better understanding of it:
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=383797

Thank you, Pulp!

hooey
August 28, 2008, 05:31 PM
Omnivore, I can't get the link to open, comes up with a microsoft error message. Can I find it somewhere else? I'm interested.
Thanks

Omnivore
August 28, 2008, 05:45 PM
They're PDFs so you need Adobe Reader to display them. You can download Reader for free from Adobe's web site (highly recommended). Once you have Reader you just click on the link and it loads and displays. These particular PDFs are largish files because they contain a lot of photos, so a high-speed connection is a plus. With dial-up they'll take several minutes to load.

hooey
August 28, 2008, 05:54 PM
I downloaded the new Adobe reader and it came up just fine.
Thanks

Zedo
September 2, 2008, 02:02 AM
1858 Remington Army introduced several design features besides the top strap.

Single screw for the trigger and cylinder bolt.

One piece frame rather than the three pieces in the Colt frame. The barrel in the Colt design is yet another piece, along with the three piece frame. The barrel on the Rem. is attached to the frame -- making the design more rigid, fewer parts.

But mostly -- the cylinder in the Rem. can be removed without tools, which made it practical to load and carry a second cylinder in the field . . . Just short of the advent of metallic cartridge rounds.

1858 Rem. Army converts to a metallic round cylinder --

Buffalo Bill Cody used the 1858 Rem. but never converted to the metallic cartridge cylinder.

During the Civil War, largely because of these improved features, the Rem. would be traded for two or three Colts.

If you're new to BP and looking for a revolver -- avoid brass frames. Get a STEEL frame, and stainless is nice! My first was a 36 Cal. Colt Navy, brass frame . . .

Just got a stainless 1858 Rem, w/ second cylinder. Much improved gun, because of the advanced design concepts!

-----------------------

The Colt Walker -- moving along here -- was designed for General Walker for use off horse mounted calvary (if that's not redundant). Essentially, the walker was a "reapeating carbine rifle" with a short stock (no stock). It was the most powerful handgun on the market until the introduction of the .357 magnum by Smith & Wesson.

Design shortcoming in the Walker is that the load lever is not secured and tends to drop down out of position when firing.

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