Brass Frames


October 21, 2008, 01:24 PM
I wanted to start a separate thread here on brass framed revolvers,rather than latch on to someone else's thread.I started shooting black powder revolvers back in the seventies,and my first handgun ever was a ''Reb Sheriff'' .36 brass framed revolver,by Navy Arms.since then,I have had ,conservatively,thirty black powder handguns,most of which I sold off eventually,to buy cowboy guns in cartridge for SASS.I still have a few,my Spiller and Burr,Remington both .36's ,both brass framed, and my Rogers and Spencer,a steel frame .44.
All this was stated not to brag [ok,maybe a little] about my collecting and shooting over the years,but to establish for you the experience from which I derive my opinions.
Over the years I've had both brass framed guns and steel,and over all,in the past the steel framed pistolas have been higher quality than the brass framed ones.This is NOT the case nowadays.Pietta for instance puts every bit as much care into their brass framed guns as the steel framed ones,and in fact the parts are interchangable.I have a beautifull ingraved .36 Remmie made in the early seventies that I'm pretty sure was never intended to fire much if at all.The interior was so rough,it wouldn't even always function.Well,I do a lot of my own gunsmithing,so we soon fixed THAT.
While I had the brass framed revolver apart,I noticed that the parts were almost cartoonish caricatures of themselves.Edges were rough,and fit was iffy at best.Usually I use jewelers files and stones for fitting,but in this case,out came the Dremel Tool [a true sign of desperation] and I STILL didn't get out all the machine marks ,as the pieces had been [remarkably] heat treated,but with the use of the felt bob,and rouge,AND the afore mentioned files and stones,I now have a reliable, functioning piece...
But,I digress.What I really wanted to talk about was frame stretch.Back when I started out,there really was not much info on BP shooting out there,and I couldn't just pop online,and Google it.We learned by trial [often dangerous] and error [often hilarious].The first time I shot that little six shooter,I didn't know enough to put lube over the balls,and Wonder Wads hadn't been invented.I also had no powder measure,and no clue as to the proper charge.I was also ,keep in mind,about fourteen years old [teradactiles were circling overhead all through this] and not overly experienced.I simply filled each chamber to the brim,and started seating balls.Even cranking down with all my might,I couldn't get the balls quite far enough down to revolve the cylinder.No problem,every fourteen year old boy back in those days carried a jack knife,[I think they were issued] and I had one.I merely carved off the top quarter of each soft lead ball,and VIOLA! Problem solved!
The only caps I had didn't really fit,but I was able to pinch each one until it wouldn't fall off.
Finally,I was ready to shoot!I squinted at the target,eared back the hammer,and gently squeezed the trigger...and there was a tremendous explosion!A noise like thunder,flames from the front of the gun like sheet lightening,and then all was silence.
I looked at my gun to see what had happened,and I was only holding the grip and frame.The barrel was between the toes of my cowboy boots,and the wedge had taken off for parts unknown.
I went home,cleaned and reassembled the revolver,and went to Santa Rosa to Wright's Gunshop with my dad.We bought a new wedge,some lube,and on mr. Wright's suggestion,a replica Civil War self measuring pistol flask.I continued to overload [though never again by so much I had to ''trim'' my lead balls] and abuse that poor little gun for four years,before I left for the Navy.It finally did stretch, but only after four years of ignorant abuse.My best friend bought one,and converted it to .38 S&W cartridge [not knowing ,as we do now, that it couldn't be done to a brass framed gun]useing a conversion ring and cylinder from the back of a gun magazine,long before either of us had ever heard of Kirst conversions,or R&D Conversion Cylinders.He never stretched his brass framed revolver,useing factory Remington round nose lead rounds.In fact,he gave it to me when I got out of the Navy,four years later.
The point is yes,brass frames WILL stretch,but only after much abuse.On the other hand I bought a .357 magnum Dakota [one of the old ones,not the newer model of the same name] back in the eighty's and stretched it so much useing factory .357 ammo,that in less than two years it had gone out of time,because the cylinder would travel so far forward that the hand would no longer engag,and the lock up of the cylinder stop/bolt,could no longer be counted on.That was a steel framed,cartridge revolver.
Am I saying that you can overload your revolver,and get away with it?No,of course not.I was young,and dumb,[and lucky to be alive] and the information on how to load and use your revolver properly is nowadays readily available,so there's no excuse not to use it.No,what I AM saying is,if you want to buy an inexpensive brass framed revolver to see if you want to get into black powder shooting,go for it. Don't be afraid.Just do your research,follow the manufacturer's recommendations,and be safe,and HAVE FUN!

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October 21, 2008, 07:45 PM
Sounds good to me. And I've only been at this a little over 35 years.

October 21, 2008, 07:54 PM
It looks like we started shooting black powder at about the same time.I recently turned fifty ,and I've been shooting black powder since I was about fourteen....

October 22, 2008, 12:44 AM
My first "real gun" was a steel framed Replica Arms (Uberti) steel framed 1861 Navy I got in 1968. What I remember reading was "You can't get enough powder and lead into the chambers to blow it up." Your history brought back memories of fishing out the small blade on the Swiss Army knife to carve away lead so I could turn the cylinder. I soon learned you could take a long chambered ball and knock out the wedge, pull the barrel, rotate the long balled chamber toward the top, fully cock the gun, replace the barrel & wedge, cap and shoot it out. Voila! No more whittling.

I have one brass framed 44 "navy" (Pietta) that required me to replace the front sight with a taller#10 (I think) inverted brass screw shaped to a post and BENDING the barrel to make it shoot to POA. It was a "deal" too good to pass up. It gives you migraines to look down the barrel but the action is the smoothest gun in my 15+ C&B harem and it shoots dead on now. It is my back up gun in case of breakage. However, I never exceed 20 grains of powder in it. So far, tight as a drum after several hundred rounds through it.

October 22, 2008, 01:03 AM
It's amazing how many of us who got into Black powder ''back in the day'' became our own gunsmiths...

October 22, 2008, 05:07 AM
You ain't kidding, I'm 39 & started shooting my Grandfathers "well actually his Grandfathers" 1851 Colt Navy in 1977 & by the time I had enough money saved up he bought me my Steel Framed Pietta 1860 Army in '82.

We tuned & tweaked that '60 to where it could run as smooth as the Old Colt & hit what we were aiming at 25 yards, those were great times & I had learned a lot from my greatest teacher.

Today I still have my Pietta '60 as well as few others & there isn't any I haven't done my share of smithing to make them better including a brass framed piece from time to time.

October 22, 2008, 11:55 AM
Necessity's a mother,isn't it?

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