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Best balanced black powder revolver

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by RWMC, Nov 12, 2020.

  1. RWMC

    RWMC Member

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    I am looking into buying the best balanced black powder revolver that is on the market now.

    I have narrowed my choice down to five models:

    1. 1860 Colt Army Type
    2. 1851 Colt Navy Type
    3. 1861 Colt Navy type
    4. 1862 Colt Police type w/ 6 1/2” barrel
    5. 1858 Remington type ( .36 or .44 )

    In your honest opinion, what would be ( to those of you who shoot black powder revolvers ) the best balanced cap and ball revolver currently being made? I would prefer input on the models listed above, but I am open to any other suggestions if you know of one I haven’t listed.

    Balance and weight both come into serious play when you are shooting in competition at 50 yards. The input of those of you who have shot competitively at this type of range will be much appreciated.
     
  2. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Can't judge. I only know the 1851 Navy, and it is great.
     
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  3. Captain*kirk

    Captain*kirk Member

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    Overall, the '51 Navy balances in the hand best for me, though I find the grip a tad small. The Army suits me better, but for eyes-closed pointing, the Navy winds up 'on target' more than any of the other BP guns I own (and there's a bunch of them in many different flavors). But that's only natural 'pointability'...if you are shooting competition, you might find a short barreled 'sheriff' version better balanced when drawing. Honestly, I think the best thing to do is ask some folks at a competition if you can handle their hardware and make your own choice rather than letting one of us tell you what works best for us. Examples; the Navy grip is too small to get a true solid grip for my hands. The Remmy models will knuckle-bust me if I don't use the 'pinky curl'. The Army suits my grip the best but that's just me.
     
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  4. Malachi Leviticus Blue

    Malachi Leviticus Blue Member

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    1851 Navy is the best balanced and natural to point and aim.
    Even if you get an evil .44 cal atrocity version it will point like it's been part of your anatomy your entire life.
     
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  5. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    Not sure, or don't know, if they make such a model, but my 6" 1860 revolver is the best balanced revolver I know of. The '51 is second, but the grip is a bit small for me. The 1860 grip is perfect. For me.
     
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  6. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    I am a believer in the above post....a 6 inch barrel on any open top gun is the perfect sweet spot...but the 5.5 inch barrels will work well too..but the 6 inch barrel makes a huge difference of not to short or too long and has amazing balance. No one makes a 6 inch barrel and only pietta makes their "sheriff" model in 5.5 inches. Although the 1851 sheriffs models are advertised as 5.5 they are actually 4.85-5.0 inches only. The 1860 and 1861 sheriffs measure at 5.5 though. I prefer the navy grip...so an 1861 navy sheriff is my perfecr balanced shooting gun when it comes to comfort and maneuverability. But the 1851 navy sheriff model in .44 cal is a very comfortable gun as well...it has a short close to 5 inch barrel.
     
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  7. skeeterfogger

    skeeterfogger Member

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    1858 Sheriff and Belt.
     
  8. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    I really like the '62 Police. It probably is the high water mark for percussion revolvers, and I believe that it handles more like a modern revolver than does any other. If the grip was a bit meatier I think it would be a an ideal gun.
     
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  9. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    It depends on how you define 'best balanced.'

    I tend to like long barreled revolvers. Others think they are muzzle heavy.

    For what it's worth, when the 1873 Single Action Army came out, they went back to the grip shape of the 1851 Navy, rather than the slightly longer 1860 Army grip.

    This is an original Colt Richards Conversion, built on the 1860 Army frame. The barrel is 8" long.

    pmwIqzDpj.jpg




    This is not a real Colt, it is a Pietta replica of the 1860 Army. The barrel is the standard length of 8". Notice how the grip flares out more at the bottom than the actual Colt grip pictured above.

    pohnCUEKj.jpg




    This is my 'evil .44 cal atrocity version' of the Colt Navy. Yeah, way back in 1968, when I bought it, I did not know the Navy was never made in 44 caliber. So sue me. Notice how the grip is shorter. Standard barrel length of the Colt Navy was 7 1/4". By the way, a non-evil .36 cal version with a steel frame will weigh considerably more than a 44, because the holes are bigger in the 44.

    po10HmLRj.jpg




    Notice how similar the 'evil .44 cal atrocity version' Colt Navy grip is to a Single Action Army grip. For what it's worth, I ALWAYS curl my pinky under the grip of a Single Action Army. Trying to cram my entire hand onto the grip leaves no space between the rear of the trigger guard and the knuckle of my middle finger, so the knuckle gets whacked in recoil every time. Curling my pinky under the grip frees up about 1/4" of space between the trigger guard and my knuckle, eliminating knuckle whack, even with heavy, 45 Colt Black Powder loads.

    posDjxy8j.jpg




    This is my old EuroArms 1858 Remington Army. 8" barrel was standard with this model too. As can be seen, there is less space between the grip and the trigger guard than with a Colt, so knuckle whacking is a distinct possibility with this model. This one happens to be wearing a 45 Colt conversion cylinder, but that does not alter the basic shape and weight of the gun.

    pmjkHCsvj.jpg




    Here is something you don't see every day. An original 1858 Remington converted to fire the 32-20 cartridge. That is the actual grip shape of the 1858 Remington. This barrel happens to be 8" long too, but it is probably a cut down rifle barrel.

    pnGkYXyCj.jpg




    Anyway, I tend to like long barrelled revolvers. Obviously not everybody does. Best Balanced is a matter of opinion.
     
  10. Jackrabbit1957

    Jackrabbit1957 Member

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    Ok, I haven't shot competition in ages with black powder revolvers so this is just my nickel of opinion. I feel the 1851 points well as does the 1860, however when I'm out chasing Jackrabbits either of my Ruger Old Armies feel the best for what I'm doing, somewhat of a rapid draw and target acquired quickly with possible follow up shots. The 1851 and 1860 just don't seem to have the oomph to do what the ROA does, plus I tend to shoot high right out of the holster with the smaller pistols.
     
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  11. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    DSC07205 (1).JPG
    Yep, had to make my own 6" barrel. I'm surprised the makers don't offer it, it's a very "perfect" length. The "sweet spot" as the Kid says. Now I don't think it's "better" than a long barrel, they just handle "differently". I like long barrels, and six inch barrels, I'm not real big on shorter than that. My "El Patron" has the 5.5", and it seems perfect for that gun. I had one of my modern .44 revolvers with a 7.5" barrel shortened to 6", (needed a re-blue, firing pin, thought I'd let a pro do it) and that was the best move I ever made on that gun. On the other hand, I would not/am not going to shorten the barrel on my 1851 Navy. The long barrel just seems right on that gun.

    If one went with the Remington, I think .36 is really nice in that gun. I have a Remington Navy, which holds more powder than a '51 Colt, so it has a pretty good punch when you want to load it up. Does not cap jam. Period. Even if you asked it to. Or begged. :) Not gonna happen.

    My first cap-n-ball revolver was one of them ".44 Navies", it was a kit gun called "the Sheriff's Model" or something like that. (but didn't have a short barrel) Or "The Yank"? As I recall it was quite reliable, and I don't remember it cap-jamming. I remember I liked it, but traded it off for something or another.
     
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  12. Brutuskend

    Brutuskend Member

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    I like the over all feel of my 1860's over my 51's or remigton 58's but I would like a shorter barrel over the standard army version.
     
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  13. Cowhide Cliff

    Cowhide Cliff Member

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  14. Malachi Leviticus Blue

    Malachi Leviticus Blue Member

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    I think Driftwood nailed it on the longer barrels, grips, and calibers.
     
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  15. JT-AR-MG42

    JT-AR-MG42 Member

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    My vote as well.

    JT
     
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  16. the Black Spot

    the Black Spot Member

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  17. whughett

    whughett Member

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    I own and shoot the Colts and both calibers of the Remington. I honestly could not answer that question as it applies to you. It would be purely subjective.
    Not on your list, again subjective, the Walker,the R&S and most certainly the ROA’s are right there.
     
  18. RWMC

    RWMC Member

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    Appreciate the pics that you posted along with your thoughts.
     
  19. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    Kwhi43 won more than a few national pistol championships at Friendship.
    When he was younger, he used a Ruger Old Army .45 that was rebarreled and had the cylinder reamed.
    Whether the gun was balanced or not was probably secondary, because he was able to muscle his shots to achieve championship results.

    He posted:

    Yes it's old. Made in 1972. I bought it for 78.00 wholesale new in the box from
    Hodgdon. I was working in a Tool & Die shop and the boys always were working
    on guns and could do anything. Well we put a 45-70 rifle barrel on it because of
    the twist which is one in 22. That combo had the pistol record at the time and
    still does, set in 1962. So I thought it should shoot. The groove dia. Is 465 so
    we bored out the chambers to .465. I use a .465-466 round ball. At the time I
    was young and strong and could take anything . Well the accuracy load was
    40 grs. of Hodgdon FFF. The powder was actually made in Scotland by Curtis &
    Harvey. It would shoot them all in the same hole at 25 yds. I feel bad about it
    now, but it caused many a pistol shooter to give up pistol shooting. They did not
    want to shoot against that gun. This was in the years from 1972-1976. Well in
    1976 things changed D-I-V-O-R-C-E. Lost all the guns including this one. I just
    gave up on shooting. Well in 1991 a old friend came to me and told me he knew
    where the Ruger was and said he could get it if I wanted it. It was several states
    away. I said how much, and was told 125.00 would get it . I said OK. A month
    later I had it once again. I talked it over with my new bride and we decided then
    and there to start shooting again. Won the pistol championship at the Nationals
    at Friendship the following year with it. I'm too old now to shoot it well but,
    there was a time . It's got heavy thru the years. One of my favorites.

    [​IMG]
    https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/the-old-old-army-ruger.741351/#post-9307809

    Some time later he began shooting a Remington 1858.
    He converted a .44 Remington to be able to be fired with .360 balls, it was fitted with a 9mm barrel and the chambers were sleeved.
    About this gun he posted:

    I have a 1858 also and the dia. of the chambers have been drilled out to the
    same size as the groove dia. of the barrel, which on my gun is .357 The front
    of the chambers are slightly champered as to swedge the ball and not cut
    a ring of lead. I use a .360 ball This is for compention at Friendship
    https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/lee-real-in-a-1858.401971/
    -------------
    Here is the front of my cylinder. This is 36 cal and is sleeved. The dia is .357
    and I use a .360 ball. It does not shave a ring of lead. The groove dia. of
    the barrel is .355
    https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...-cylinder-bores-bevel-or.520784/#post-6465901
    --------------
    This Pietta has been sleeved. The cyclinder was a 44 and it was sleeved to
    a 36.
    https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/cylinder-question.490963/#post-6096438
    -------------

    In a thread about sight picture he posted:

    The guy who won the NMLRA pistol Championship this year and has won it
    several times is Kim Best. He aims center hold. I would not want to tell Kim
    or my wife or any other National champion that they are doing it wrong. I let
    my daughter read this thread, she just looked at me and said, Dad,
    what's wrong with those people? I told her to be nice and polite. Wife and I both have
    our CCW permits, and we both carry. When your life might be on the line , I or
    her would not want to try to use a 6:00 aiming point. All three of us only know
    one way to shoot weather it's paper targets or otherwise . I know many hunters
    and I can say not a one of them aims 6:00 on a deer. I guess our family just
    hangs out with a different crowd. We have about a 100 members in our club.
    There might be some of them who aim 6:00 . I don't know. But the ones who
    place or win the matches they shoot, I do know aim center. I know because we
    have talked about it . Like I said, you all can aim anyway you want to. Whatever
    you like. Whatever works for you. I really did try the 6:00 hold about 25 years
    ago. I tried for about three months. I really wanted it to work because the sights
    look so good. I was trying to find different ways of doing things to improve my
    scores. There were times I would shoot six or seven 10's in a row and I would
    think,wow, I'm on to something here. Then comes a 8 or even a 7. At 25 yds
    that will kill you in a match. At 50 yds that would be a 5. Stick a fork in you
    because your done. What I was doing was trying to make it too perfect. I would
    rather have eight 10's and two 9's than eight 10's a 7 and a 8. There is a old
    saying , A good score is made by the absent of poor shots , not by a few good ones.
    You all have fun now. Post me your targets, especially your 50 yd ones .
    I'm going to go have some coffee now.
    ----------------

    This is what I see. I assume you all know how to sight in a pistol. You can't do
    it from a sandbag. When you stand up and shoot it with one hand the impact
    will be all different. You can't do it on a cloudy day and the next time you shoot
    the sun is shinning and you expect it to shoot to the POI. You can't do it in wind.
    You can't apply the ball of your finger to the trigger on one shot then use area
    a little farther back for the next shot. Your front sight can't be canted from shot
    to shot. You can't hold it lose on your shot, then a little tighter on the next.
    Impact will be different. You can't even shoot your match before noon, with the
    sun comming down over your right shoulder , then shoot another match that
    afternoon with the sun over your left shoulder and expect the POI to be the
    same. You all probably already know all of this tho. How to sight in a pistol
    is a whole other chapter in itself. Anyway here is what I see

    [​IMG]
    https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/uberti-58-sight-picture.740474/page-2
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2020
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  20. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    The accuracy of some of the .36's right out of the box can be phenomenal.
    But there's also something to appreciate about the Remingtons built for competition such as the Pedersoli and the Pietta Shooters Model.
    They're special guns with attention paid to the fine details needed for repeatable accuracy.
    Here's an in-depth look at the Pedersoli 1858 that shows successfully working up a load that can stay in the 10 ring.

     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2020
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  21. woodnbow
    • Contributing Member

    woodnbow Contributing Member

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    2AB8386C-E9CF-470D-B569-B3B02F66DA19.jpeg A3B9F5A0-2DF9-45C7-95FE-A31077D743D6.jpeg
    this little Navy is pretty nice but it’s small for my hand. The 5.5” Army models are perfect...
     
  22. RWMC

    RWMC Member

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    The R&S and the ROA are no longer being produced, but the Walker sure is.
     
  23. whughett

    whughett Member

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    Not be
     
  24. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy Again

    Years ago, (I bought my EuroArms Remmie in 1975) the imported Italian 1858 Remington Cap & Ball revolvers had very short front sights. They all did. I had to hold quite low on a target, at about six O'Clock to get my bullets into the bullseye. I'm not talking about shooting at a great distance, just typical pistol distance. The front sight was so short that if I held at the center of the bull, the shot would go high. As I recall, this was with a .454 ball and probably about 30 grains of powder. About 20 years ago or so I got interested in buying a 45 Colt conversion cylinder for my old Remington. But before I did, I sent away to Uberti and got a new front sight for it. The original sight was dovetailed in, but the new sight would not fit in the old dovetail, so I took it to a smith and he cut a new dovetail for the new front sight. I took the gun to the range and fired a couple of cylinders through it. Much better, with the same load the taller front sight brought the point of impact down a bit, so I could hold at the center of the bullseye. So then I went ahead and bought the conversion cylinder.

    I don't have a photo of the revolver with the original front sight, but here it is with its conversion cylinder and the taller front sight.

    pmjkHCsvj.jpg




    A couple of close ups of the taller front sight.

    pok1uzgkj.jpg


    pmWv8rwyj.jpg




    Anyway, look at the photos of 1858 Remingtons being imported from Italy today, and you will see they all have tall front sights like this.

    I'm not much for precision pistol shooting, in CAS I just hold on the center of the target and pull the trigger. If I hit anywhere on the steel, it counts as a hit. Probably with the old front sight I would have had to hold low, just like I have to do with a S&W Top Break, or the shot would probably have gone over the target. S&W Top Breaks all have short front sights and they all tend to shoot high because of it.

    Anyway, that's my take on where to hold when shooting a pistol. By the way, I actually like holding at six O'Clock with a cartridge revolver. I can see the sight picture better. With my eyesight dark sights tend to get a bit lost in the bullseye if I hold at the center.
     
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  25. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    If you mean to shoot 50 yards, get a Remington or Rogers&Spencer.
     
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