Cimarron Revolvers


December 4, 2010, 03:58 AM
I'm looking at buying an old time Cimarron revolver. Does anyone know the difference between the 1860 Richards-Mason conversion and the 1872 open top? They look almost like the same gun but the open top can handle 45 Long Colt loads, so to me, that suggests a stronger frame. I have an 1860 reproduction Pietta black powder Colt and love it. Thought I'd get a gun that looks like it that shoots cartridges. Any help on deciding between these two guns would be appreciated.

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December 4, 2010, 09:49 AM
The 1860 is a bonified cartridge conversion. It will have the same S-lug barrel as the Open Top but it is a percussion gun converted to fire cartridges. It will have a conversion ring and the rear sight is a notch in the hammer. The 1872-1872 "Open Top" model is actually a replica of Colt's first dedicated cartridge revolver. It is not a conversion but was designed strictly as a cartridge gun so there is no conversion ring, a revised loading gate design as well as a different hammer. It is a refinement of the 1860. The rear sight is at the rear of the barrel so the sight radius will be shorter. It is my favorite of the three. It was designed for the Army but was rejected in favor of a .45 caliber, solid frame. William Mason went to the drawing board and the Single Action Army was the result. Thus the Open Top had a very short but also very meaningful life.

IMHO, the 1860 Type I and Type II (like Cimarron's Transition model) are the most elegant in that they utilize the percussion barrel. Which to me is more attractive. The Open Top is the most refined and probably better as a using gun. I have one of each and actually use the Open Top quite often. Both are chambered in the period-correct .44Colt but all three models are available in .45Colt. None should be considered stronger than another. All should be used with mild loads at or below SAAMI standard pressures.

If you want to learn more about cartridge conversions, Dennis Adler has some excellent books. His Colt books always have a generous section on them but his dedicated "Metallic Cartridge Conversions" is a must-have. Lots of history and full color pictures.

1871-1872 Open Top:

1860 Type II:

December 4, 2010, 10:54 AM
At least you have better pictures than the website. I can see the differences between the guns better. So you like the open top as a shooter better? I do plan to shoot this gun. I was thinking 44 Special with Trail Boss as I load for 44 mag and have a lot of bullets to chose from. It's that or 38 Special as I load for that also. I do like the look of these guns.

Old Fuff
December 4, 2010, 11:12 AM
I see that the original Colt model 1872 revolver - serial No. 1 - is going to be auctioned today. Ah... no... I won't be bidding. :eek:

Sort of interesting that it has a Navy, not Army set of backstraps, trigger guard, and stocks.

On shooting the reproduction models, remember the barrel is held on with nothing but a wedge (key) going through a slot in the cylinder pin. This is a very weak style of construction that was O.K. with black powder that has a relatively long and low pressure curve. However is in not something you want to use hot-dog smokeless loads in. Be very careful.

December 4, 2010, 11:19 AM
I won't use hot loads, that's for sure. That's why I mentioned Trail Boss powder if I went with the 44 Special. I do like the look of the Transition models the best. But I do want a shooter.

Old Fuff
December 4, 2010, 12:18 PM
Trail Boss is a good powder for the purpose, but If I was in your shoes I would use specific .44 Colt or .44 Russian, rather then .44 Special loading data - and I would consider sticking to black powder, as at least one well known authority in the field does. If the cylinder basepin cracks at the front corners of the slot you'll find the barrel downrange somewhere.

I have considered one of the Colt C&B>Cartridge conversion replicas, but it's most likely to be chambered in .38 Special or .38 Colt, and an 1851 Navy is the most likely contender.

December 4, 2010, 12:28 PM
I like the Open Top a little better as a shooter. After a little stoning and a spring swap the action is very slick and the trigger is light and crisp. It hits to point of aim with a 240gr SWC over 4.0gr Titegroup. The ejector also works much better than the 1860. Don't know if it's typical of the Richards-Mason but my Transition model shoots well above point of aim, like the percussion guns do.

Personally, I think concerns about strength are exaggerated. These guns are made of modern materials with steels far superior not only to the originals but also better than the modern percussion replicas. They are fully proofed for standard pressure factory loads. They tend to stand up well to the rigors of cowboy action shooting.

Jesse Heywood
December 4, 2010, 07:09 PM
Here is an 1860 Richards conversion that is in the hands of a family member. Dad said he was 6 when he took it rabbit hunting. He didn't hit any rabbits. The gun was called a Texas Navy model due to the scroll work on the barrel. Caliber is 44 Colt. Gun is in 98% condition. Last time it was fired was in the 30's. When grandpa died the gun went into storage. I only wish it was stored in my safe.

December 4, 2010, 09:57 PM
Both are "open tops" in the sense that they have no topstraps, and for that reason neither is particularly strong, not as strong as a solid-top frame.
Mild .38s would be a better bet for longevity, and certainly don't push either type very hard pressure-wise.

December 5, 2010, 02:54 AM
I will be buying a 1871-1872 Open Top in the near future. The only question is from who?

December 5, 2010, 03:52 AM
If they actually have them in stock, Buffalo Arms has them. Funny thing is, a pawn shop up the road from me is is listed as an Uberti dealer on the Uberti web site. Probably after the first of the year I need to drive up there. He's the one that ordered my Swiss K-31.

December 5, 2010, 06:00 AM
Here is a photo of the Richards conversion I own and use. This is an older one built by ASM and rebuilt by me. Chambered for the 44 Colt and still so chambered. (If I get an 1873 or 1966 lever rifle, I may rework one or the other so both use the same cartridge.)

While these are available in a variety of cartridges, I tend to prefer the original design. As for the 45 long Colt chambering, on one of these models the shooters that play the CAS sport have reported a problem with the forcing cone cracking. Colts originally cut them for 44 and opening them up to 45 removes a lot more metal. Yes they are all proofed before sale but some of the 45s have developed problems. As you are a handloader, you might consider the 44 Colt. You will be able to use the same sizing dies as your 44 Magnum/Special and if you shorten the seating and crimp dies, they will be usable in all three also.

December 5, 2010, 10:58 AM
For those that load for them, do you find the barrels to be true? As in .357 for the 38 and .429 for the 44? I have a Rossi lever gun that hates .429 plated bullets. I use .431 lead or .429 jacketed with it. Barrel is a little large on it. The .357 Rossi is spot on. And what's the big difference between the Uberti and Cimarron models?

December 6, 2010, 07:21 AM
I use a 431 bullet in mine, as that is what drops from the mold. I have used 430 and 429 but see no improvement in accuracy. In the 44 Colt I use a 200 grain RNFP bullet. My 357 and 38 Specials are routinly fed .360 cast bullets and have never given me problems. I match the diameter to the throat of the cylinder and am good to go. If I have to, I ream the cylinders to equal the groove diameter of the bore.

December 6, 2010, 11:48 AM
I may be wrong but I think the 44 Colt uses the same bullet as the 44 Special. I so plan to buy softer “cowboy action” type bullets for this gun as the 44 bullets I have now are extremely hard. And I will get flat points as I see an 1873 lever in my future also. How tight are the wedges in these guns? That Pietta was a pain to get apart the first time. I need to get brass punches. That steel one was hard on it the first time I took it apart.

December 16, 2010, 11:15 PM
I hope you see this, because I was happy and surprised to see your photo of your ASM 1860 Conversion. About a month ago I traded for the exact same thing at a gun show. I was quite thrilled but have been searching for ammo info as I am not set up for re-loading yet. I did find 5 boxes of Black Hills .44 Colt ammo for this revolver. So far, I'm reluctant to shoot the BH factory stuff until I get some feedback as to safety. I think if it is safe, and I shoot up this batch, I'll probably need to re-load for the lightest load I can find that will produce decent results.

I'm thrilled with this revolver and already want an 1872 Open Top.

I'd love to hear your comments and what you did when you, "rebuilt," your 1860. Lastly, how do you feel about the ASM quality??? (Mine is also an older production piece, but in mint condition)

Dennis in E WA state

December 16, 2010, 11:29 PM
Great shooters, bad sellers!
I've been sitting on mine for awhile :banghead:

December 17, 2010, 08:32 PM
I have an Open Top in 38 Special. Very slick and accurate. Going to fit up a 44 Special cylinder and barrel so I can shoot both rounds.

December 25, 2010, 11:27 PM
Help---uberty 1871/72(new) shot a fuew times. The action freezes up. Had to remove barrel/cylinder. Does not freeze when dry fired, however, freezes with just fireing a primed 44 colt case. That happen to anyone else? Whats the fix? Thank you.

Jesse Heywood
December 26, 2010, 02:04 AM
Are you using factory ammo or reloads? If reloads, check the primer seating. It needs to be just below the case head.

December 26, 2010, 10:22 AM
When you fire a case that only has a live primer the primers tend to backout of the cases and lock up the cylinder.

January 4, 2011, 02:18 PM
I hate to dredge this back up, but I'm pretty certain I'm going with the late model open top in 45 Colt. I'm agonizing over the caliber, but the Colt round seems to be pretty popular in other guns I may buy in the future. Now then, for reduced loads, is the .452, 200gn “Cowboy” bullet from Missouri Bullet Company a good bullet for this gun? It has a brinell of 12. Gotta order bullets, brass and dies to move to this caliber. Just trying to find a good soft shooting bullet.

January 5, 2011, 07:44 AM
Good for you! I would stay away from the 45 calibers but the choice is yours. As for a "soft shooting" load, check out what they are loading for the cowboy games. They have come up with some loads that have little or no recoil. Not my cup of tea but they seem to like them. They use bullets that weigh a little more than a round ball, some use bullets near 160 grains. Either way, handloading and casting is the best way to get a good load.

Lots of forums are dedicated to reloading or coboy shooting so try a search and see what shakes loose.

January 5, 2011, 02:26 PM
That's my real problem. The more research I do, the more leery I am of these guns. Way to many reports of improper fitting and sights that are way off. And spending money to fix them. But most complaints are of of guns made before 2009. Still researching after finding these complaints. I'm stumbling on to several reports of bad luck with the 45 Colt. Even at low power loads.

January 5, 2011, 07:45 PM
Must always bear in mind that folks come to the internet just to complain. It is the world's complaint department. While most remain silent about what is good, what works and what they have no trouble with. `Tis human nature, apparently.

January 6, 2011, 09:02 AM
I know. But I stumbled on to some CASS forums and the ones that actually work on these guns don't recommend the 45. From what I've studied, the sights on these guns are hit and miss from the factory.

January 6, 2011, 05:06 PM
Yep, the open tops were never intended for the 45 long Colt cartridge. The originals were chambered for the 44 Colt and that cartridge was designed to be the largetst that would fit in the cylinder. The 45s are a bit too big and the forcing cone cracks easily. The sights are a problem only in that the origianls were sighted to hit at about 75 yards. For closer ranges, if you are shooting at vertical targets (human silhouettes) and aim at the belt buckle you will hit in the torso somewhere. If you are shooting at horizontal or round targets, you might need to install a taller front sight. If you can file a dovetail, this is not a big job.

I like my Richards conversion and am happy with the 44 Colt. If you want a 45, you might consider getting a Model P or some other revolver that was origanally cut for that chamber.

January 7, 2011, 10:03 AM
Well, the 45 Colt idea is shot. I kinda settled on on that one as I see a few other guns in that caliber that I might acquire. I'll go with the 44 Special. I have read where people file the rear notch a tad deeper if their guns shoot too high. Not sure how to correct if the gun shoots way left or right.

January 7, 2011, 12:13 PM
For what it's worth, my Open Top shoots to the sights, while the 1860 Transition Model appears to be zeroed like the old percussion guns.

It's interesting that they would have issues with the forcing cone in the .45's, because the .44 percussion guns are actually .45's. Maybe the S-lug barrel is thinner in that area than the percussion barrels.

January 7, 2011, 05:14 PM
The original 44 Colts also used a 45 caliber bullet. Heeled and it was/is a pain to reload.

The new Ubertis use a larger diameter cylinder to hold the 45 long Colt cartridges. I believe they also beefed up the from but I might be misremembering that. They did not alter the geometry of the barrel and lug so the forcing cone is the weak spot. Quite a few threads regarding this on the cowboy sites and it was a problem to Colts factory in the 1870s. That is why they introduced the 44 Colt cartridge.

Jesse Heywood
January 7, 2011, 05:59 PM
Not sure how to correct if the gun shoots way left or right.

One way is to turn the barrel, which is beyond the ability of most.

January 7, 2011, 09:37 PM
Jesse Heywood Quote:
Not sure how to correct if the gun shoots way left or right.

One way is to turn the barrel, which is beyond the ability of most.

Jesse, this works for barrels that are screwed into the frame, sometimes. The open top and the conversions are all built witha barrel held to the frame by a wedge and can not be turned.

The 1860 is the top revolver and the Richards conversion is the bottom one.

January 7, 2011, 11:16 PM
That is why they introduced the 44 Colt cartridge.
They introduced the .44Colt cartridge because it was the largest case they could use in the cylinder but still fit a large enough heeled bullet to obturate the .45cal bore. There was not enough room for the inside lubed .45Colt. Essentially, they still used the same barrel that would've been used for the .45Colt, had there been enough room in the cylinder.

I'm not all doubting the issues folks are having, I just find it interesting that the issue is with the forcing cone, which would be identical in dimensions to the .44 percussion guns. Which utilized .454" roundball.

January 8, 2011, 12:16 AM
I was in the same dilemma as you tkcomer. I have several SAAs and a Ruger Vaquero all in .45LC so I thought of getting a 72 open top in the same caliber. A visit to the Cowboy Action Shooting Society's site led me to the sub-forum that deals with the "open top" revolvers.,56.0.html The information there convinced me to buy a .44spcl

January 8, 2011, 03:31 AM
That's the site I found that warned of the problems with the 45 Colt.

January 8, 2011, 06:32 AM
You cant turn the barrel to set the windage on the Open Top 1872. What you can do is have a dovetailed front sight installed. Then you can set the windage and elevation for the load you want to use. My Open Top in 38 Special 7 and 1/2" shoots a standard 158 gr load right on at 100 yards. Its about 2 inches high at 50 ft.

For just fun shooting I think the 38 Special is the way to go as the ammo cost is a little less.

When you get the revolver, check the barrel for fit. Might need some work. I think the fit makes a difference with the sights and the point of impact.

Also The 1872 needs a firing pin. The stock ones are sometimes too soft and will mushroom. They will stick in the primer. The Smith Shop has them.

The original Open Top was made for the 44 Henry in rimfire and centerfire. The centerfire was probably a conversion. Ive seen photos of a hammer modified to fire either cartridge. They were Colt's first revolver made specifically for a cartridge and the first combo pistol and rifle with the Henry and 1866 Winchester.

These are neat old style guns and a hoot to shoot. Im probably going to get another so I have a pair.

January 8, 2011, 06:49 AM
CraigC ...They introduced the .44Colt cartridge because it was the largest case they could use in the cylinder but still fit a large enough heeled bullet to obturate the .45cal bore. There was not enough room for the inside lubed .45Colt. Essentially, they still used the same barrel that would've been used for the .45Colt, had there been enough room in the cylinder...

Yes and no. The reason the 44 Colt was developed was the rim size would fit the geometry of the cylinder. It was the largest cartridge Colt could fit in the 1860 cylinder and even then, they had problems.,35765.0.html

January 8, 2011, 10:05 AM
The original Open Top was made for the 44 Henry in rimfire and centerfire.
Not true. The .44 Henry had a rim that was too large to fit the 1860 and Open Top. Almost as large as the .38-40 and .44-40. Which is why the .44Colt was developed in both centerfire and rimfire versions. It is also longer than the Henry rimfire.

The reason the 44 Colt was developed was the rim size would fit the geometry of the cylinder. It was the largest cartridge Colt could fit in the 1860 cylinder...
I'm pretty sure that's what I said. The issue being that the .44 percussion model 1860 was no bigger than it needed to be. Very, very little room to adapt it to cartridge use. So a compromise cartridge was utilized, the .44Colt. Using the biggest heeled bullet possible with the smallest case possible.

January 8, 2011, 02:30 PM
I meant the original 1872 Open Top Colt. It was only made for the 44 Henry. About 7,000 were made. The Army frame with its rebate was smaller and Colt made it larger for the 1872 with a new frame.

January 8, 2011, 05:44 PM
Ironhead, I can dig it! I want one in .38 too.

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