Avenging Angels


March 21, 2012, 11:16 PM
I was asked to cut a couple of revolvers down for a guy recently. He sent me a Pietta 1851 .36 cal Navy Colt replica and a Cimarron 1860 .44 cal Army revolver for conversions. I just finished the 1851 which is pictured below. I am currently working on the 1860. He wanted the finish distressed as well. It doesn't look like 150 year old distress but I think it does look like a gun that was used back in the day and then cut down. The kind of wear the gun might have had back in the 1860s. What do you think?

Here's the before pic:


And after. I also rounded the sharp edges on the butt:



If you enjoyed reading about "Avenging Angels" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
March 22, 2012, 12:22 AM
that looks great.

March 22, 2012, 06:19 PM
Great Work! Wasn't the Avenging Angels the bodyguards of the head of the Mormon church? Just checking my memory.

March 22, 2012, 10:35 PM
I don't think they were bodyguards exactly. I believe they were Mormons relieved of their pledge of non violence to allow them to protect any Mormon or group of Mormons who were threatened. I vaguely remember that at one point some of their number commited the same types of attacks on others that they were supposed to protect their church members from.

March 22, 2012, 10:36 PM
Porter Rockwell being the most famous, I believe

March 23, 2012, 08:05 AM
Porter Rockwell grew up just down the road from Joseph Smith and was a bit younger than he. He was an early convert and was a bodyguard to Joseph Smith. He rowed THe Prophet back across the river when the Prophet decided to turn himself in for the arrest that lead to his death.

Rockwell was later a body guard for Brigham Young and served as a lawman of sorts before the US Army occupied Salt Lake City and the area and brought it into the nation.

Once Deseret became Utah Rockwell was appointed a US Deputy Marshal.

I do not beleive any of the body guards were implicated in the Mountain Meadows Incident. WHether any had been Dannites before the trek who knows. Joseph Smith broke up the Dannites as they were acting without his authority.

Atleast one of the body guards of Brigham Young did appeqarently step off into the deep end without his water wings. "Wild Bill" was a rustler and some think murderer that was basically shunned by the other old bodyguards. In his bitterness he wrote a book shall we say critical of the church leaders. He is likely the cause of much of the anti Mormon fellings in the late 1800's.

Do keep in mind that the Church members were subject to an extermination order from the Governor of Missouri that basically gave folks the right to hunt Church members like vermin. As a result the bodyguards had to be something of a rough group.

At any rate Porter was widely known to carry several cut down pistols and spare cylinders. I have often wondered if the work was done by the father of John Moses Browning who was a convert that had made the trek and set up shop in Ogden

WHether the Bodyguards did extract vengence or not, tales of it likely reduced the amount of anti Mormon violence in the west


March 23, 2012, 09:07 AM

Thanks for the history. I'm going to have to do some more reading on this. It's interesting stuff.

March 23, 2012, 11:03 AM
My sources, which are a bit vague because I lost interest in the research, say that Colt did the modifications on a short run of 1860s for the group. The pistols themselves were also known as Avenging Angels.

March 23, 2012, 12:40 PM
That's pretty interesting as well. To bad there's no way for the factory to authenticate this with a letter.

March 23, 2012, 08:23 PM
I imagine that most "Avenging Avenging" snubbies were hacksaw-and-file jobs. No sense going nuts about a perfect muzzle crown on a belly gun.

March 23, 2012, 10:13 PM
The frame is a natural cut-off point but I wonder if there were Avenging Angles with some sort of barrel left on them?
They say a 4" barrel is no harder to hide than a 2 2/3" is...
With some barrel, you'd also gain some FPS and power.

March 24, 2012, 12:48 AM
I don't know if it's a matter of hiding the piece, but rather how quickly one can get it into action.

March 24, 2012, 12:55 AM
Johnnycremains, would it proper to ask what you charged to make the Avenging Angle?

March 24, 2012, 04:16 AM

March 24, 2012, 01:32 PM
Pancho, since I had never done this type of work for anyone else before I had no idea what to charge so I told him "how does $150 sound for doing both revolvers"
I'm pretty sure that was a good deal since I've got quite a bit of time into them (I'm still not finished with the 1860). But he also sent along 3 boxes of vintage .41 Long Colt ammo because he knows I have a .41 so it turned out to be a very good deal for me.
If I was to do a single revolver for another customer I think I would have to charge around $85

March 24, 2012, 08:18 PM
Looking at these, makes me wonder who I can get to round butt this.


March 25, 2012, 07:13 AM
jeepnik, order the parts and do it yourself. VTI among others have what is needed.

March 25, 2012, 09:35 AM

Could you post a link to any companies that have these round butt kits?
I assume these will screw right on to an 1860 correct?
Thats the only thing I don't care for in an 1860 snub nose. That ridiculously long grip. The one I'm working on right now I'm going to round off as much as I can but in the future I'd like to have a source for a birds head.
Thank you!

March 25, 2012, 11:06 AM
+1 on any links

Old Fuff
March 25, 2012, 11:26 AM
Go to:


Be sure to order parts made by the same manufacturer that made the revolver because parts made by different ones don't always interchange.

Usually the round-butt/birdshead backstraps match up to the 1851 Navy size trigger guard, and not the longer 1860 Army.

Also look under 1873 Single Action to find various "rounded" backstraps, trigger guards and stocks. Be aware they don't always come cheap.

It is wise to call and explain what your project is before buying parts. You will find that both companies mentioned above have a lot of expertise.

March 25, 2012, 02:42 PM
Lentuck posted about how he constructed the similar birdshead grip below:



March 25, 2012, 06:27 PM
Mine was made with an Uberti VTI Thunderer grip and grip frame, and a Pietta ''1862 Police'' factory made snubby. Actually it's not a ''Police Model'' at all, but rather an 1861 Navy. The police was a five shot built on a '49 Pocket Model frame, whereas the '61 Navy was built on a six shot .36 Navy frame.

March 25, 2012, 07:48 PM
I built one... Use it as my boot pistol when I'm reenacting. There's always one person who didn't get the hint that everyone receiving the charge is out of powder and that they should retreat or "die".... So.... Thus the boot gun. Perfect for a Partisan. :-)

March 26, 2012, 07:09 AM
Got the 1860 done. The barrel is even shorter on this one at 1 1/2". I used a silver dime for the front sight and peened and silver soldered it in. Here's before and after:




And both together:


Malachi Leviticus Blue
March 26, 2012, 06:12 PM
Nice, I've thought about doing something similar. For what it's worth, I personally like the looks of your first one much more than the second. Thanks for sharing.

March 26, 2012, 11:44 PM
Here's some final shots I took outside today. The guns are on their way to their owner this week:




March 27, 2012, 01:18 AM
What, no one has a Remmie snub? those Colts do look plenty sweet, though.

San Francisquito Bill
April 1, 2012, 10:07 PM
Those are absolutely beautiful! Really, really good job. I love the "working" but not quite antique look. I think I'm going to start saving some money...Maybe there will be a Remington (and another 1860) to add to this thread!

April 4, 2012, 04:30 AM
I've got a Remmie snubbie.
Took an Uberti Millenium 44cal. 1858 remmie,
1. cut the barrel to 3inches, (Scary Hacksaw moment:eek:)
2.added a Kirst spring loaded cylinder pin catch,
3.Replaced the front sight,
4.recrowned the barrel
5.Added an R&D 45colt cylinder

came out nice!!!:D

Been thinking of rounding off the back of the grip to give it a bulldog look.

Recoil is mild, and its very fun to shoot.

April 4, 2012, 04:31 AM
I am liking the pair of Colt Avenging Angles. Excellent work!!

I personally would have one with the navy grips for a more compact look.

April 5, 2012, 02:44 AM
the finish is excellent, very subtle!

April 7, 2012, 10:32 PM
Regarding Norman Rockwell.
An interesting squib I read at one time claims that the Heavy, wool great-coat he wore could stop a 36 round ball.

April 8, 2012, 02:06 AM
Absolutely beautiful work! I want one!

April 9, 2012, 11:51 AM
I have this one coming, I have wanted a snubby for a long time!


April 9, 2012, 09:17 PM
They were quick killing guns and I can see where a short as possible barrel is best.
Some nice work pictured there!

April 21, 2012, 11:06 AM
A few more pics from the owner.


Old Fuff
April 21, 2012, 12:03 PM
One thing that hasn't been mentioned...

If you are working with a Colt platform you can make a snubby for less money if you already have a gun. Simply buy a barrel made by the same manufacturer and cut it down. Some fitting may be required, but in the end you'll have both configurations for less money.

Incidentally, during the 19th century the Colt Company did make some 2-barrel sets on special order, so the idea isn't new. :cool:

April 21, 2012, 12:56 PM
A fine representation of secret service civil war era hardware,James west And artimus gorden style, I like it.......:D

Old Fuff
April 21, 2012, 01:33 PM
I forgot to mention... :uhoh:

In the cap & ball mode, you can also switch to the long barrel, load empty cylinders, switch back to the snubby barrel, and keep playing. ;)

April 21, 2012, 03:07 PM
Old Fuff said
Incidentally, during the 19th century the Colt Company did make some 2-barrel sets on special order, so the idea isn't new.

I can only imagine what the cost of an original 2 barrel set by Colt would be now. Can't
say I have ever seen an original Colt snubby barrel for a precussion revolver.

May 31, 2012, 08:51 PM
I made this out of a couple of guns,


May 31, 2012, 10:10 PM
Now that is nice. So what all was it made from?


May 31, 2012, 11:06 PM
That IS nice. I like those checkered bird's head grips.
What's the cutout on the bottom of the recoil shield for?
I'm thinking about getting a BH grip and extra barrel for my Pietta 51 navy.
I also would like to make one from a Pietta "62 police".

I think an Uberti 62 pocket popo would look sweet with BH grip and a 2.5-3 inch barrel.

Hmm, pocket Remington NA .44? I may need to buy another one from Cabelas and chop and BH it.

IIRC, I have a Pietta 60 army/.44 51 navy frame and cylinder I could use to build one.

How 'bout an Avenging Howdah or an Avenging Lemat?
Maybe a Walker's Angel or a Ruger Old Angel.

June 1, 2012, 07:36 AM

That recoil shield cut out, along with the forth screw, is for the attachment of a shoulder stock when using the full size grip frame with a notch on the bottom.

If you enjoyed reading about "Avenging Angels" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!