1851 colt .36 ball size


September 11, 2012, 08:33 AM
I just ordered a Pietta 1851 navy in .36 caliber. Will .375 balls fit tight or will I need .380

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Jim, West PA
September 11, 2012, 09:06 AM
WELCOME to the forum motor.
I can't exactly answer your question but i do recall being told here when i bot my first .36 that most likely i would need a .380 mold.
I had allready bot a .375 but haven't cast or tried any yet.
A Navy that i recently bot came with a box of factory FIE's and they are .375's.
I should add tho that this box is very old.

September 11, 2012, 10:52 AM
I had a choice and I went with the 380. They are a little harder to load but the 380 presents more bullet surface area to the cylinder to help prevent bullet creep and more surface area to the rifling which can't hurt accuracy

September 11, 2012, 11:06 AM
The instruction manual for Pietta says .375 is the correct size, but .380 will work, just be a little harder to stuff down the cylinder.

September 11, 2012, 02:22 PM
I just picked up a Uberti 1851 Navy .36 and have used both the .375 and .380 round balls. I my opinion the .380 is a better fit.

September 11, 2012, 03:27 PM
The only way I'd try to cram .380"s in my ASM '51 is if I were loading the cylinder off the frame. The under-barrel loading ram is only going to put up with just so much of that extra stress before it takes a bend.
.375" in a .36 caliber is what has always been suggested in my recollection.
Even if you are casting your own, I don't think that you could expect enough shrinkage to occur to reduce the stress on your ram arm. And that shrinkage I mentioned lots of times comes about due to alloying, which means a harder ball in most circumstances.
As I mentioned above, .36 caliber dead soft (pure) lead .375" balls is what I've always heard mention as the projectile of choice for the C&B revolvers.

Fingers McGee
September 11, 2012, 03:28 PM
.375s will fit tight in a Pietta .36. .380s work too; but, will be harder to load.

.375s will sometimes roll out of the chamber on a Uberti .36 (and at the most inopportune time - like during a SASS match - don't ask me how I know) Ubertis prefer .380s.

September 11, 2012, 05:48 PM
Fingers is right. The firearm brand matters. .375 will work best in Pietta .36's (you can use soft lead .380's but they'll be harder to load), while .380's are really necessary in Uberti .36's.

September 11, 2012, 07:31 PM
LOL--Mr. Fingers experienced the same thing I did with my Uberti .36 Navy.:) I couldn't believe that the Hornady .375's were actually falling out but they did. I cast my own soft lead .380's and they do fit tighter but they don't come out. Bottom line is that the gun manufacturer makes a difference.

Fingers McGee
September 11, 2012, 07:48 PM
In addition, 2nd Gen & Sig Series Colt's require .380s, and Armi San Paolo/Euroarms .36s will work with .375s as will Armi San Marcos.

September 13, 2012, 01:34 PM
I would try them both and find out which caliber your specific revolver likes.

September 14, 2012, 03:45 PM
4/0 buckshot mikes about .380-.382 and seats nicely in my Uberti London 1851s.

And yes you can buy it in bulk, when it is in stock:


(the picture is for 00, the link is to 0000)

September 17, 2012, 02:22 AM
I use .380" balls in all my .36 caliber revovlers, whether Uberti or Pietta. Simplifies things to carry one size of ball in my loading box.
Seating the .380" ball doesn't require much more pressure than the .375 inch. If you bend a seating lever doing so, you're either applying far too much pressure after the ball is well seated, or you've purchased a revolver that is junk.
In the early 1970s, when I first began shooting cap and ball revolvers, Spanish-made cap and balls were noted for having abysmally poor quality and made of pot metal, with little or no heat treatment.
Back then, it was no unheard of to see a revolver with a bent loading lever. By the 1980s, Spain stopped producing cap and ball revolvers and quality of cap and ball revolvers made elsewhere increased.
Today, if you bend a loading lever on a recently made gun, you're either abusing it or have found a fluke that was not heat-treated.

September 17, 2012, 09:32 AM
thanks for the input. i just bought .375 balls because it was available. i will try .380 if i can find it locally.

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