What can you all tell me about this gun? Would it be any good to purchase one for maybe historical purposes and some occasional fun shooting black powder? I'm assuming in .36 cal. you wouldn't use it for black powder hunting, yes?
Second, let me say that I really have no idea how to load a cap-and-ball black powder revovler. Could someone maybe give me a step-by-step on this?
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July 9, 2004, 07:07 PM
Owning and shooting percussion revolvers.
Which version are you considering? I trust it is one of the modern manufacture replica or reproduction pieces. The originals are quite expensive, and most are too valuable to shoot much, if any.
The "modern" cap 'n ball revolvers vary widely in quality. Do yourself a favor - - If you contemplate shooting yours more than a few cylindersful, pay the extra money and get one of those with a steel frame. The brass frame guns were okay for back up or last ditch self defense in the old days, but would loosen up fairly rapidly is shot much.
Some pretty clear instructions on loading the Navy revolver are to be found at several sites on the 'net. Try:
A nice site mainly concerned with 1851 Navy Model replica, with instructions:
A good site listing several different model percussion revolvers:
Best of luck to you.
July 9, 2004, 07:46 PM
I'm thinking of getting one of the reproduction models from Cabela's, but I like the looks of the ones on the site you listed. Thanks.
July 9, 2004, 07:56 PM
I think the only use of brass frames in the old days was in certain Confederate copies, and they used brass only because they were short of iron or steel. Griswold and Gunnison was the main brand, made in Georgia.
Southern troops who could capture a real Colt much preferred it.
July 9, 2004, 10:19 PM
Lots of off-brand revolvers were made up all over the Confederacy during the War for the Preservation of Southern Freedoms. (:p)
Griswold and Gunnison, Leech & Rigdon, Rigdon, Ansley, Spiller & Burr, Augusta Machine Works, Columbus Firearms Manufacturing Company, JH Dance & Bros, Tucker and Sherrard, Clark and Sherrard, Kerr and Cofer, Schneider & Glassick, LE Tucker & Sons, Sisterdale.
Did I miss any?
Our own Texas was active in building these revolvers, too: Dance Brothers and Park made a copy of the Navy, first at Old Columbia and later at Anderson. Clark & Sherrod did very limited production at Lancaster. I think there were some made in Granbury, too.
July 10, 2004, 12:30 AM
ASM-Armi San Marcos manufactured clnes are poor QC-avoid them. Pietta made some with not so perfect fit and finish also. Ubertis are usually functional. www.dixiegunworks.com is where I get my BP firearms. The Taylor's Ubertis are pretty good and they back their products. Taylor's has conversion to cartridge cylinders too. You can hunt small game with a Navy in 36. There is the 1862 Navy and a 44 Navy model too.
July 10, 2004, 02:01 AM
Bought a rough but functioning original in a gunshop just off the Michigan State University campus in 1965 with some textbook money--$35, nonresident, and no stinking wait, either. Took it back to the dorm with me and that was that. Even used it as a prop in a speech class without seeking permission and no objections from anyone. Sort of tells you what road we've travelled down since then...
I still have it, and now it's worth substantially more; a damn sight more than the books were when I sold them back at the end of the year!
July 10, 2004, 11:12 AM
Encore! Dienekes. So what was your speech? :)
July 10, 2004, 06:43 PM
I've heard about the 1858 model too. Does it have any benefit over the 1851, or is it just style choices?
July 10, 2004, 08:31 PM
Part of the preferance of Remington 58 is the sight picture is better since you use the groove in the top strap instead of the notch in the hammer for the Colts.The Colts have a better "feel" for some folks.I have one of each,a Colt Navy in 44 and a Remington 58 also in 44.Both made by Pietta and like them both.Hope to get a Colt Army model next as I liked the balance of that model.
July 10, 2004, 08:42 PM
I like the Uberti's. Have a '51 and '61 Navy - finish and fit are great. As far as hunting is concerned they do make a pretty good rabbit gun. Will improve your stalking skills :D and with a round ball will not tear up much meat - just makes a nice .36 caliber hole right through the little bunny (this always gets a chuckle when I tell it to my hunter ed classes).
July 10, 2004, 08:58 PM
There is a lot of reason to recommend a 51 navy as a first and possibly only black powder shooter. For one thing, there are so many of them that you can find spare parts fairly easily. Spare parts sources are needed as flat springs and some action parts have a way of breaking and replacment is just part of the game. For another, Navy's are the flagship of the colt c&b era and have a lot of interesting history associated with them.
Navy's, like most bp revolvers shoot pretty high as factory sighted. Some people put on a taller front sight or you can just live with the hold-under.
At the present time, the Uberti revolvers are showing extremely nice- almost unpresidentedly nice quality. They may have even gotten past the Italian industry penchant for using crapulous pot metal for internal lockwork. I would certainly recommend a Uberti over anything from the defunctoid Armi San Marco or Pietta. I don't know how long it will last but right now there are a couple of real responsible importers handling them. Cimmaron Arms keeps parts for the full line of colt and remington type reproductions they import and I have not found them to be out of anything yet. People are saying good things about the customer support at Taylors. Dixie gun works will frequently get a revolver out to you the day after you place your order. They do handle some of the lower quality Italian reproductions, so you should be sure what you are ordering is a Uberti.
Conventional shooters who get into Black powder are kind of in the same boat as the archeoligist scraping around Mount Horeb and kicking up a stone tablet with an extra ten commandments that nobody knew about. There are additional safety considerations and a good bit of extra maintenance involved but it can be worth it.
July 11, 2004, 01:47 AM
Being a newbie as I am, is the .36 cal. an ok choice? I wouldn't be using it a whole lot - just occasionally at the range, and I'd try my hand at hunting small game with it, and if I get a chance, I'll use it for some cowboy action shooting - and I figure it'll be cheaper to feed. I'm planning on getting a .45LC single action for hunting anything bigger and for trecking through the woods and such.
Edited: By the way, who makes the BP revolvers from Cabela's? I didn't see anyone listed. Right now, they seem to have the best price on what I want.
July 11, 2004, 02:01 AM
the .36 kicks almost not at all. The .44s rise a bit but also are extra mild. somebody compared the recoil of a .36 to a .22 rimfire and, although it makes a bit more noise, the comparison is not a bad one. you probably save a bit on powder and the balls may be a little cheaper that the .44s. There is plenty of power for small game and the accuracy is good too.
I use a 21 grain/volume flask spout and get over 1000 fps with either pyrodex p or fffg and a .375 ball. This surprising given the low recoil and mild report ( with hearing protection) It resembles the paper performance of a premium .380 jacketed hollow point load. Published loads with pretty close to the same components seem to vary quite a bit with people claiming velocities from the 800 fps range up to what I've gotten.
60 feet-offhand/one handed.
This is not the most accurate Navy out there. I finished up a revolver that came from a batch rejected by some domestic distributor. It was in the white and had no front bead. The chambers do not line up particularly well. There are no marks, proof or otherwise on the revolver but is configured like a Pietta. Even so, it is accurate enough to be enjoyable.
July 11, 2004, 03:26 PM
I meant that it is better to get the steel mian frame, or receiver, if you're to shoot the revolver much. This includes the type shown in mecs last post - - The brass trigger guard and grip frame is just fine - - Probably a majority of Colt's and Remington cap 'n ball revolvers used brass grip frames.
As to caliber - -
For strictly range use, and for small game up to rabbit size, the .36 is just fine. If you're casting your own projectiles, the Navy caliber (.36) are noticibly cheaper than the Army size (.44) balls or bullets.
If I were to use a percussion revolver for home defense (Don't laugh. There are a few in service for the purpose - -) I'd surely want the .44. Same if I was going to try to take game for the table - - Just remember, the power of any of these revolvers are nowhere near that of modern magnums, unless, perhaps, you count the full size Walker replicas, with full power loads. A lot of 19th century carbines were less powerful than the Walker revolver!
July 11, 2004, 07:07 PM
The M1858 is something of a misnomer; that date refers to Remington and Beals patents. The gun usually thought of is a repro of the New Model Army introduced in 1863. The Union forces used almost as many of these as they did the Colt M1860 equivalent, and some M1861 versions, also. You can tell the later Remington by its lower hammer spur.
Because Remington used a one-piece frame, they didn't use brass grip straps as did Colt. The Remington frame is simply stronger and requires less frequent tighteming of screws. The trigger guards are usually brass.
The Colt will fire more shots before gumming up with BP residue, and Coltts usually feel better in the hand.
If you will locate a copy of Keith's, "Sixguns"", you can read about a Civil War vet who told Keith about shooting a pig with a .36 Navy. Keith himself had a '51 Navy as a kid and found it very effective on small game. Bill Hickock (sp?) was famed for his gunfighting with a .36 Navy.
After the Civil War, the Army retained and converted to cartridge use, only Remington and Colt makes. The hodgepodge of brands acquired during the war were otherwise phased out.
Originally, there were no true Colt .44's in Navy style; those were conjured up by modern salesmen.
July 11, 2004, 07:28 PM
back in the 60s or early 70s, I had a CVA 1858 which , while not up the the standards of this years Uberti, was a fateful copy of the original. We had a brass trigger guard that was all that was left of a rotted away original and it would fit the cva perfectly.
the 51 Navy got named by colt collectors who didn't know what they were talking about but established expert credentials by talking louder and insisting that they knew everything. The Navy actually came out in 1850 and was usually called something like the Belt Pistol of Navy Caliber.
Interestingly enough, trying to figure out the original performance of the navy is pretty hard. Keith recommended loading everything bigger than .31 with ffg. I have no idea what the original powder was but everybody now recommends ffffg.
July 12, 2004, 12:02 AM
I *think* it was something to do with the Civil War, naturally enough...
I did not fire it much, but did have some unique experiences with that "pistol". My initial attempts at firing used very light charges with COW filler. What with the undercharge and considerable cylinder gap, we had considerable difficulty spotting the strikes. As it developed all six balls had stacked up in the barrel. No damage. Knocked them out and used full charges thereafter.
As I recall I used vaseline for lubricant. Not being viscous enough for the job it failed to seal, and eventually I got a chain fire. I believe that three or four chambers went off including the one at 12 o'clock. The 6 o'clock one did not. Again, no damage.
A few years after that I was firing it and the entire base pin, cylinder, and barrel assembly went off the front. 120 years of rust and corrosion had rusted the threads sufficiently to where it couldn't hold anymore. Serious damage.
Eventually a talented gunsmith friend of mine who specialized in black powder guns was able to rebuild it to where it would function. However by that time I had acquired a few brains and it has been retired from active service.
Had a 2nd gen. Colt 1851 in the 70s which I shot a great deal; eventually let it go as we could not keep the sear engagement surfaces from wearing under constant use.
I was fortunate enough to own a very nice 1860 Army back when; some original blue/casehardening, and mechanically perfect--very little use, well cared for, and excellent bore. Also very educational; the quality of the originals far exceeds ANY replica I have seen. There is just NO comparison. This applies to all of the repros I have ever seen right up through the Shiloh Sharps.
That said I sprung for a Uberti 61 Navy last year because I was lonesome for a .36 Navy. Not badly made, considering, and a good shooter.
It's pretty boring compared to that old Civil War vet, though...
July 12, 2004, 01:13 AM
Well, I did it. I went and ordered my first blackpowder cap-and-ball revolver. I got one from Cabela's that came with a starter kit. Here (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jhtml?id=0006189212587a&navAction=push&navCount=2&indexId=cat20817&podId=0006189&catalogCode=XD&parentId=cat20817&parentType=index&rid=&_DARGS=%2Fcabelas%2Fen%2Fcommon%2Fcatalog%2Fitem-link.jhtml_A&_DAV=MainCatcat20712&hasJS=true) it is. It's got .357 balls, so I'll try those out first. I'll buy some .380 down the road and compare accuracy. Guess now all I need is some CCI #11 caps (right, guys?) and some fffg blackpowder (3 f's, right?), but I'm open to suggestions concerning powder types. Should be here sometime this week. I'm looking forward to shooting it.
Alright, tell me if I done good, fella's. I know she ain't top of the line, but I thought it'd be a good starter. I can take constructive criticism pretty well, so let me have it. haha :)
Edited to add: should I bother getting more cylinders for this revolver? Quick cylinder swaps don't seem to quick, unless I'm missing something.
July 12, 2004, 04:51 PM
FSCJedi: just shop around for FFFg powder or Pyrodex P. In my area, I have to pay $13.00 for Pyrodex, the cheapest FFFg I can get is over $20.00. Besides that, Pyrodex gives you 30 % more shots (you measure it like the real black, but it is not as dense as black with the same or a little more power).
Get a package (I know it's expensive) of Ox-Yoke Wonder-Wads, just to try out if you are more comfortable with over the ball grease or a wad between powder and ball.
For my Unberti 1851 Navy the CCI caps # 11 are too large, the # 10 are too small, RWS 1075 just make it right, but talk about prices... When I find it I'll try out some Remington caps or just change/alter the nipples.
Welcome to the dark side!
July 12, 2004, 06:10 PM
The 1851 design is a good one for a beginner. It's very forgiving. Should you forget to load powder and ram a ball down, you can remove the barrel assembly and the cylinder.
Remove the nipple from the offending chamber and trickle in some powder. Replace the nipple and cap it.
Then, with the barrel assembly still removed, fire the ball out of the cylinder. You'll just get a POP! With the Remington, you must fire through the barrel, which with very small loads can cause the ball to stick in the bore and then it's on to solving another problem!
The 1851 Navy is exceptionally well-balanced. Even the trick and exhibition shooters of today will tell you that as far as balance goes, it can't be beat. The later Colt Single Action Army is most-often used because of the convenience of cartridges, but if all you need to fire are six shots or less, the Navy will make a dandy gun to shoot blanks.
Be very careful with blanks, though. The wadding you ram down on top of the powder can injure someone at close range. The flame can too.
The 1861 Navy was an improvement over the 1851. It's streamlined and has more room between the rammer and cylinder to accommodate conical bullets, should you wish to use them.
For best accuracy, the Colt system demands that the wedge is in tight. Use a nylon or rubber-faced hammer to tap it in, while rotating the cylinder. When the cylinder begins to drag, stop! Then turn it over and tap the wedge OUT very lightly until the cylinder moves freely again.
This is the Colt's "sweet spot."
I like to soak my felt wads, either store-bought or punched from old Cowboy hats with a 3/8-inch punch, in a lubricant mix of paraffin, beeswax and mutton tallow.
Search this site under my name, "Gatofeo" for detailed instructions on making this lubricant and preparing the wads.
In my Colt 2nd generation 1851 Navy I regularly shoot 22 to 24 grains of Goex FFFG. This is a full load but I get my best accuracy from it. Sacrificing the felt wad, I can get up to 27 grains of FFFG in its chambers, leaving just enough room to seat a lead ball. Then I put Crisco or CVA Grease Patch over the ball. That 27 grains is a whoop-and-holler load!
I don't use 27 grains much, though. No point, if all I'm going to do is plug paper targets and tin cans.
As for caps, you will have to determine that yourself. Nipple sizes vary among makers, and even change with the maker as time goes by.
I suggest you buy a tin each of No. 10 and No. 11, then see which fits best. I always pinch my caps together into an elliptical shape, to cling to the nipple. Keeps them from falling off during handling, or blowing off from recoil.
The caps that don't quite fit may be used to clear the chamber, before you load it the first time. After firing a cylinderful of regular loads with ball, it's rarely necessary to fire caps on it again to keep the nipple vent clear. Blowback through the vent and against the cap usually keeps the vent clean.
The Colt design shoots high. Always has, even the originals. Some shoot just a little high at 25 yards and some shoot a LOT. To compensate, you can add a taller front sight and, if necessary, make the notch in the hammer nose a little deeper. But go slow on t his, and don't do it until you've found an accurate load.
So, you're in for some experimentation with loads, powder, caps, ball size, lubricants and lubrcation methods and so on to find that accurate load.
I suggest you start with 20 grains, a greased felt wad, a bit of corn meal on top of that wad to take up space and a .380-inch ball. I've had good accuacy luck with this combo in my other .36s (In my 1862 Pocket Police repro this is a maximum load and I don't need the corn meal).
In my .36 Remington it's a very mild load; the Remington can take up to 30 grains of FFFG. It's a rip-snorter! :evil:
Welcome to cap and ball revolver shooting! You're hooked! And may God have mercy on your crazed soul! It's a sickness ... we should all be wearing little, powder-gray ribbons in remembrance :D
July 13, 2004, 03:52 AM
I didn't see anyone answer this part. Does anyone know who makes the Cabela's model I ordered?
Also, something that occured to me. It's called the "Navy" model, and it shoots high at close ranges. I figure these must be for a reason. My reason is this: if it was designed for the Navy, then the sailors could use it to fire from one ship deck to another, hence the shooting high at close distances (you wanted to be able to shoot accurately at longer ranges). This make sense to anyone else? Am I completely off here, or did I extrapolate this correctly?
Is a "display" case worth purchasing for my revolver? Maybe for storge? They seem a little pricey (well, from Cabela's, at least). Anyone know where I can get one cheaper?
July 13, 2004, 08:24 AM
It was probably made by the Pietta Company in Gardonne,Italy. It may be called a "Navy" because Colt had a scene depicting the naval battle of Campeche rolled onto the cylinder. He had sold his first really good order of revolving pistols and rifles to the Republic of Texas Navy and he had a way of commemorating things like this. Pretty soon, although most of the revolvers ended up on dry land, the .36s became associated with Navy while the .44s reminded people of the Army(since the first really big order of 44s went to the US Mounted Rifles).
They all shoot high. The general reason given is that they were sighted to hit on at 75 yards. Then and now,people put on taller front sights so they will hit close at reasonable ranges. The real reason they shoot high may be that it's easier to put a little bead on the gun than to mount a righteous sight on it.
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