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good first BP revolver?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by ndh87, Sep 7, 2006.

  1. ndh87

    ndh87 Well-Known Member

    Im interested in getting into BP shooting, and i would like to get the 1851 Confederate Navy, .44 Caliber Revolver from Cabelas. i was just wondering what kind of quality i could expect from something like this, and if anyone else has any recomendations. thanks
  2. DougB

    DougB Well-Known Member

    I recently bought a Pietta 1860 Army revolver (the same brand Cabelas carries, though I didn't get mine from them). I originally planned to get an 1851 Navy, but the place I got mine from only had them in .44 caliber - which I learned is not authentic for that model. I also read that the 1860 is a somewhat superior design - possibly the best design of the Colt percussion revolvers. In any case, I'm very pleased with my Pietta revolver. I suspect the quality of the 1851 would be the same.

    I think these represent a great value - I think a modern cartridge revolver of this quality would cost at least $150 more than these cap and ball revolvers. I debated about paying a little more (about $25-$30) to get the Uberti version (Uberti has a long-standing reputation for quality), but I can't find anything to complain about with my Pietta. I'm certainly no expert (this is my first cap and ball revolver, though I've had a black powder rifle for years, and I have a pretty good collection of modern handguns). I've read that Pietta has significantly upgraded their equipment and quality control in the past few years, and I'm certainly satisfied with mine. This is one of those rare guns that I'm enjoying even more than I expected to - I need to put it away so I won't wear all the finish off just from handling it. I think more cap and ball revolvers are in my future - probably a Remington clone in stainless next , then a Dragoon, and probably an 1851 Navy in .36 caliber.

    From what I've read and seen, the 1858 Remington design is probably the strongest, easiest to clean, and easiest to shoot accurately. It is probably a good revolver to start with if shooting is your main interst. That said, I just liked the look of the Colt clones, and I don't regret my decision at all.

  3. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Well-Known Member

    Keep in mind that if you get one with a brass frame it will not last as long as a steel framed revolver. Brass is a softer metal, and shooting it will loosen it over time. The Confederacy used brass in many of their Colt copies and others, because they were short on steel, and brass was available.
    They typically copied the Colt 1851 Navy in .36 caliber. They did not, however, copy the engraved cylinder, it was plain. Also, Any 1851s in .44 are not authentic repros; the 1851 Navy was made only in .36.
    The Dance Brothers in Texas did make a Colt "like" revolver in .44, but it did not have a rebated cylinder, and it lacked recoil shields.
    Piettas are good, as a prior poster said, they've revised much of their equipment. Also, they seem to be doing a better job on their color case hardening recently, and while Uberti's are quality guns, their color case hardening has not been particularly lustrous or remarkable -- even rather poor on some examples I've seen.
    Whatever you choose enjoy!
  4. ewb45acp

    ewb45acp Well-Known Member

    If you plan on doing a lot of shooting with it you may want to rethink your choice. I don't have a Cabela's book in front of me, but the pistols labeled "confederate model" usually have brass frames. (This is period correct, as the rebs produced brass framed revolvers due to limited supplies of steel). However, brass framed guns are not nearly as durable as their steel counterparts. The frame will stretch over time and use.

    I personally like the Colt open topped designs, but '58 Remington's are about as good as any BP revolver could ever be. I believe Cabela's main supplier of BP revolvers is Pietta. I have 3 Piettas. 1851 navy (my favorite), 1860 army, 1862 police. They are all well made pistols, and have given me good service. Uberti (owned by Berretta) is considered to be making the best quality reproduction pistols.
  5. ndh87

    ndh87 Well-Known Member

    How long can a brass frame revolver stand up before it begins to deform? Say i shoot maybe 50 to 100 rounds a month.
  6. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Well-Known Member

    Cost/benefit analysis.

    If it's your first BP revolver, go for it. The frame will stretch, but by then you'll either be hooked and get a steel frame to keep shooting or you'll throw it in a drawer and forget about it.

    Before you decide on a particular revolver from Cabelas (not that they're bad), try looking at options from Dixie Gun Works, The Log Cabin Shop and Track of the Wolf, all online. Google Traditions, too. I think they make some steel frames that come in kits (completed revo with "stuff" to get you going) for under $200.
  7. Chawbaccer

    Chawbaccer Well-Known Member

    I can't tell you how many shots but I can warn you, dont load it like a magnum, maybe half or even less on the powder charge. My first revolver back in the 70's was a Euroarms with a brass frame, after one shooting session the frame was already indented by the cylinder. By the end of the first month, the frame was cracked where the cylinder pin screws in.
  8. Smokin_Gun

    Smokin_Gun Well-Known Member

    ndh87 a brass frame Rev in .36 can last you a long time if not shooting excessive powder charged loads. I got a friend that has 3000 rounds thru one I beleive he said.
    But get yourself a steel frame one for the sake of worry. Built alot better strength wise. The 1858 is what I recommend also...cabelas Piettas are $179.99. 1851 Navy Pietta I think is $164.99, 1860 Army $184.99.
    If you gotta have Confederate/ Brass framed a Spiller and Burr .36 cal is a good choice, or a Dance & Brothers .44 (steel)Dixie Gun Works has um.

    (Get the 1858 New Army Remington .44)
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2006
  9. GW

    GW Well-Known Member

    +1 on the 1858 New Army
    It is usually one of the least expensive BP pistols and a lot of fun to shoot
    I think its a great first BP revolver
    And if you don't like it you aren't out that much
    Good luck with whatever you choose
  10. Snowdog

    Snowdog Well-Known Member

    My first C&B revolver was a steel-framed Pietta 1858 Remington from Cabela's. At the same time, a buddy bought Cabela's "buffalo" model '58 with brass frame and 12" barrel (for what reason, I haven't a clue). After the second time out and a few boxes of Hornady .454 round balls between us, his lost timing and would shave/spit lead in a most horrendous manner.
    We were both using loads of approximately 30gr-35gr of Pyrodex pistol.

    That was years and around 1,000 roundballs ago, mine is still tight as a drum... his is a wall hanger.

    I found a .454 roundball over FFFG Pyrodex will tear into a block of playdough in such a way that you'd swear it was hit with a modern JHP. The "wound channel" in my test were nearly identical in size as what I encountered when testing 230gr .45acp Golden Sabers and a bit more pronounce (visibly,anyway) than the "damage" caused by a much higher velocity 115gr +P+ 9mm Gold Dot from a G19.
    Quite impressive for such a primitive weapon/load.


    Despite plenty of upset play dough, ball offered deep penetration.

    Impression of denim that covered the play dough blocks visible in the flattened recovered Hornady roundball

    A test of 115gr Georgia arms Gold Dot/Glock 19 against identical Playdough block for "wound" comparison, shallower penetration
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2006
  11. Cincinnati Slim

    Cincinnati Slim Well-Known Member

    Go for it pardner !


    I got a steel frame 1860 Army and a 1858 Remmie from Cabela's and am very happy with both of 'em. If I was you I'd stay away from the brass framed guns. It's not much more expensive to get the steel frame and it'll last much longer. Plus you can always get a conversion cylinder and shoot cartridge loads with the same gun!

    I think most folks agree that the ideal first Cap and Ball revolver is a stainless steel Remmie clone. Uberti and Pietta ave both improved their quality in the past few years.:)

    I like the Pietta version like Cabela's sells because the grip is a little bigger and there is more room behind the triggerguard. I got some big long fingers and the grip on the Uberti 1858 Remmies is a little cramped for me.

    Do youself a favor when you order the revolver. The stock nipples are often inconsistent in size or length and the flash holes are a little too big. Get ya some Treso or Thunder Ridge Muzzleloading hardened stainless nipples. Should be about twenty bucks for a set of six. They fit the common Remington #11 caps perfectly and I get 100% reliable ignition using Black, Pyrodex or Tripple Seven!

    Get yer order in pardner ! You'll have youself a new noisy, dirty throughly enjoyable hobby !


    Cincinnati Slim
  12. J.T. Gerrity

    J.T. Gerrity Well-Known Member

    I'd say go ahead and get the brass framed pistol if it's a first gun and you prefer a Colt and are concerned about finances. When I bought mine over ten years ago, I was poor as a church mouse and didn't have a lot of money to blow on something like this; but I had the "bug", and the brass-framed .44 Navy Colt was only $75 at Cabela's (prices have gone up since then, unfortunately). I had a great time learning how to use it, and eventually saved up enough to get the steel-framed 1860 Army ($115 at that time). Both guns served me well for years, keeping the interest high while keeping the cash output low and, while I didn't really keep count, I'm sure I put well over a thousand rounds thru that brass framed Navy with no problems. I have since prospered to the point that I now have four Colt Blackpowder second- and third-generation pistols (glorified Ubertis) that I use pretty much to the exclusion of the old Piettas - only because the Colt B.P. are of superior fit and finish, not because of any real problems with the cheaper guns.

    The trick with the brass framed .44 pistol is to never load it with more than 20 grains of powder. Learn how to make your own paper cartridges as demonstrated in the sticky above, and use filler above the powder to make up the difference in volume so that the ball rests just below the top of the chamber - 10 to 15 grs of filler to 20 grs of powder, if I remember right, and depending on the type of filler you use (I like to use instant grits.. my southern-born wife is horrified by this). This not only reduces the pressure on the frame, but will help you learn how to use the gun due to the milder recoil. And don't worry... 20 grs will still make a pretty loud noise with lots of that great smelling black powder smoke! :D
  13. mike101

    mike101 Well-Known Member

    Good First BP Revolver

    Not long ago, I purchased a Cimarron '58 Remington in stainless steel. This is probably the most expensive BP revolver Uberti makes (Cimarrons are "dressed up" Ubertis). I was very disappointed in the quality. There were very noticable pits in the frame from casting, where the metal didn't completely fill the mold. Also, I damn near had to use two thumbs to cock the hammer. I paid $375 for the gun. I found the quality unacceptable, and returned it. ANY Italian gun you buy is a crapshoot.
    They are also prone to broken lock parts, like cylinder bolts. Very annoying.

    Given the rising cost of the Italian knock-offs, I would get myself a Ruger Old Army, if I were you. They are considered THE BEST BP revolvers ever made, by virtually everyone, and the strongest. The best prices can be found on gunsamerica.com. They are basically a Ruger Blackhawk converted to fire BP, and they look a lot like a Remington. If you want a BP revolver that is trouble free (parts that don't break) this is your gun.

    Also, if you decide BP isn't for you, you can resell it on GA.Com, and probably get what you paid for it.
  14. drdirk

    drdirk Well-Known Member

    +1 on the Ruger Old Army. If money is tight, get a used one. Better quality than the Italian replicas! I have two of them and love them. Have a conversion cylinder as well that I shoot indoors when I can't shoot Black Powder.
  15. Gaucho Gringo

    Gaucho Gringo Well-Known Member

    I bought a .44 Remington recently, made by Pietta from my local Sportsmans Warehouse. Cost was $189.00 and it is a nice looking revolver. Fit and finish are good and hammer pull is good out of box. I can easily pull the hammer back while pulling the gun out of the holster and trigger pull is nice. The only small problem is a sharp edge on one side of the trigger, but this is easily fixed with a small file. I have yet to shoot it but so far I am happy with it. If it shoots as good as it looks them I am a happy camper.

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