Cartridge Conversion


September 10, 2008, 06:40 PM
I have a Pietta 1851 steel framed .36 caliber black powder revolver. I enjoy shooting it immensely! I am considering buying a .38 caliber cartridge conversion cylinder for it so I can shoot it even more. My question for you - is it safe to shoot light .38 special wadcutters through a conversion cylinder? I have hundreds of lightly loaded target rounds that I would love to put to use through this gun, if possible. From what I have read, the cylinders recommend using CAS-type ammo. I doubt that the reloads I have are any hotter than those are. What say you, experts?

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Old Fuff
September 10, 2008, 08:41 PM
It's probably safe for the wrong reason. The barrel's bore dimensions can be all over the map, but they usually have a grove diamenter around .370" to .380", while the .38 Special has a .358" bullet diameter. The undersized bullet will likely mean lower pressures, but poorer accuracy.

Those open-top revolvers that are made as cartridge guns have the correct .358 bore size, and are not intended to be converted backwards into a cap & ball mode.

September 11, 2008, 08:58 AM
The 1858 Remington 44 Army ...makes a much better conversion to 45 LC...They`ll shoot straight . I`ve heard you would need to reline the bore to get a straight shooter out of a 36 cal to 38 conversion .
I`ve got several of the 44Remington conversions ...they shoot better than my Uberti Peace Maker 45 .

September 11, 2008, 09:25 AM
Thanks for the replies. I was wondering about the R & D bore re-lining service. I think I may just have that done to keep up the accuracy. Hopefully that would not increase the pressure to the point where I couldn't fire off my .38 special wadcutters.

Sundance, do you have the gated conversion cylinders on your .44's or do you have the drop-in's? I'm thinking of buying the gated cylinder for my 1851 for ease of reloading.

September 11, 2008, 09:36 AM
I`ve got the drop in conversions ...On a Colt open top I`d go with the gated conversion ... The drop in conversions on a 1858 Remington can be loaded and unloaded faster than a gated conversion ...and you can wipe off the cylinder pin while it`s out ...big plus .

Old Fuff
September 11, 2008, 10:11 AM
If you take into consideration the cost of the conversion cylinder assembly, plus gettin the barrel lined, you may find that it makes better sense to buy a second revolver.

If it is your intention to shoot cartridges exclusively I'd suggest that you sell the cap & ball revolver and use the proceeds to partly fund a cartridge open-top gun - which is proofed to use smokeless powder cartridges.

That said, your light - mid-range reloads shouldn't bother either gun, but keep in mind that if the base pin cracks at the front at the wedge slot the barrel may go down range. This is the principal weakness in the basic Colt design.

September 11, 2008, 01:44 PM
OLD FUFF:I am with get an aborsion ot of a used 38 smith and be happy.what I see $280 for the cylinder.and does that cyl. fit with out smithing?you should be able to pick up a mod 10 or M&P for the price of the cyl.:uhoh::rolleyes:

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