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Cimarron Richard-Mason 'conversion' worth it?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Heir Kommt Die Sonne, Feb 13, 2019.

  1. Heir Kommt Die Sonne

    Heir Kommt Die Sonne Member

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    Really feel the urge to get a new revolver this year,
    Been thinking about my current collection and I've wanted to get a 45 LC caliber one but it doesnt feel right that I'd have 3 cartridge revolvers of all different calibers. So I think getting a .38 to match with my Ruger Vaquero would be ideal.
    The model I for sure want is a Richard-Mason.
    I am a huge fan of the Colt percussion revolver design, especially the 1851. It would go excellent with my other '51s.
    [​IMG]
    The only downside is that it's 38 Special, only. My Ruger Vaquero is .357 Magnum, which of course you can fire 38 special through. However it just feels restricting that I cant fire the same cases that I usually fire in my Ruger Vaquero. I've looked into a way to convert the cylinder to fit the 357 mag cases (since I reload it's just a simple matter of making special weaker loads to fire in the Cimarron, then marking the hotter loads 'Ruger ONLY' ). But of course the problem of the projectiles jutting too far causing restriction of the cylinder turning is another issue.

    I understand the open-frame design limits the revolvers integrity to handle the hotter 357 Mag pressures, so thats why you never see any Open-frame revolver on the market that is chambered for 357 Mag but I still almost wish Cimarron would make this revolver for .357 Magnum. I think it would be really useful.

    This just boils down to the question, is the Richard-Mason chambered for just .38 Special really worth it? She's a pretty gal revolver, but is of course is limited to plinking purposes. Or collection of small game.
    If another ammo shortage happens again, I want to be able to use my same pool of 38/357 Mag cases for both guns and not have to restrict one collection of cases for the other.
     
  2. Risky buisness

    Risky buisness Member

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    Just on the way the 1860 army handles for me, yea its worth it. I dont ever see anyone ever making an open top in 357, way too much liaibility involved. Its going to be one of those judgment calls, if you like the revolver, and can live with the downside of " only " 38 special, get it, or since you mention you have other calibers maybe find the conversion in one of the others you load for.
     
  3. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    That doesn't bother me at all.
    If I get a new gun in a caliber I don't have, that means I get to buy brass and bullet molds. I get to cast bullets for a new gun. That's as fun to me as shooting.

    But, everyone is different. I know many folks like to streamline things and keep few calibers. That's cool too.

    I like the cartridge conversions a lot. I wouldn't mind owning an Army or a Navy.
     
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  4. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    I have one, it's a lot of fun. Almost no recoil with all that weight, and good accuracy, largely attributable to such a long sight radius.

    I have a bunch of revolvers chambered in weak old rounds, still enjoy them. little top breaks in .32 S&W or .38 S&W are fun! If I want to run .357 mag, I grab my 686 or 586.
     
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  5. 375supermag

    375supermag Member

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    Hi...
    I have one of those open top Cimarron 1851 Richards- Mason conversions and it is great fun to shoot.
    It has been languishing in the back of the gun room for several years...no particular reason, just haven't taken it to the range for some reason.
    Guess I will have to take it out when the weather warms up and run a few hundred rounds through it.
     
  6. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    It is true that open top revolvers are not as strong as revolvers with a top strap. That is why when the Colt Single Action Army came out in 1873 it had a newly designed frame with a top strap and the barrel threaded into the frame.

    Open top revolvers can loosen up over time. This original Richards Conversion has a barrel/cylinder gap of about .012 when the wedge is snugged up into the arbor. What happens is the steel down below the arbor gets sprung over time, so the gap tends to open up.

    Richards%20Conversion%20with%2044%20Colt%20Cartridges_zpsri8k0jva.jpg




    This open top Merwin Hulbert's barrel/cylinder gap is about .014 for the same reason.

    Pocket%20Army%20open%20Top%2003_zpsxtkn5gjd.jpg




    However I suspect the main reason that a modern reproduction Mason Richards revolver built on the 1851 size frame is not available chambered for 357 Magnum is the cylinder is simply not strong enough. Just an assumption on my part, not having personally examined one. There may also be an issue with the cylinder being long enough to house 357 Magnum length cartridges.

    With the Uberti top Break revolvers such as the Russian model and the Schofield model, Uberti made the conscious decision to lengthen the cylinder from the original 1 7/16" length to be able to accommodate 45 Colt and 44-40 cartridges, which are too long for the original 1 7/16" long cylinders. In order to do so without lengthening the frame slightly the gas collet at the front of the cylinder was shortened, causing the revolvers to not be able to digest Black Powder cartridges very well without binding.

    I suggest if you want the Richards Mason, buy some dies for 38 Special, buy some brass, and add the cartridge to the list of cartridges you reload.

    P.S. Buy a set of dies and keep them set for 38 Special. Leave the ones you use for 357 Mag alone, so you won't have to be changing settings all the time. That's what I do with 45 Schofield and 45 Colt. Just like 38 Special and 357 Mag, both cartridges can be loaded with the same dies. I keep one set of dies set up for 45 Colt, and another set of dies set up for 45 Schofield. Same with 44 Special and 44 Russian.

    45%20Colt%2045%20Schofield%2044%20Special%2044%20Russian%20Dies%2001_zpsulcuhic1.jpg
     
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  7. Crunchy Frog

    Crunchy Frog Member

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    Before I started shooting cowboy action I had never heard of an “open top” cartridge revolver. They are a cool histor lesson.

    A friend of mine has a pair of R-Ms on the 1860 frame in .38 Special. Pretty nifty. Another friend has a pair in .45 Colt on the 1851 frame with slightly shorter barrels.

    I would not try to make it something that it’s not. Appreciate it for what it is.
     
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  8. BobWright

    BobWright Member

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    This is not a conversion, in fact it is not really historically accurate, but is Cimarron's rendition of what could have been:

    100_9988_zpsns1tqqix.jpg

    This is an open top .38 Special from Cimarron. It is a blast to shoot, surprising heavy for such a small gun. this because of the barrel design.

    I loaded very mild .38 Specials and the gun was very much fun to shoot, and I did real good work with it at ten yards so long as my target was as big as 8" in diameter and I shot rapidly by point shooting. Other than that accuracy was awful, due to the impossible sights. Shooting at 1" and 2" diameter targets was embarrassing, to say the least!

    But the gun was just so blamed cute!

    Bob Wright

    P.S. Only revolver I've had in recent times that the barrel can be cleaned from the breech end.
     
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  9. 45 Dragoon

    45 Dragoon Member

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    Nice looking open top Bob! I have one in the shop in 45C. Outside walls are scary thin!! I've owned one in 44spl and it was a good, accurate shooter. I'm with ya on the sights . . . .
    It may settle down a little if you address the arbor issue (they're short too). Keep a tight wedge.

    Mike
     
  10. BobWright

    BobWright Member

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    This little revolver seemed accurate enough ~ I just couldn't shoot it well!

    Bob Wright
     
  11. Heir Kommt Die Sonne

    Heir Kommt Die Sonne Member

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    I appreciate all the suggestions.
    When did they start making repros of the Richard-Mason conversions? .375Supermag mentioned having one for a few years, I thought they were something that only came to be in this decade.
    .375Supermag would you mind sharing some pictures of your Richard-Mason?
    And yes, I agree, get that out soon and put at least 500 rounds through it. A gun must have at least 500 rounds put through it to be considered "your gun"
     
  12. shafter

    shafter Member

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    It wouldn't bother me at all that it's 38 Special only. That's what I shoot through my 357's anyways almost all the time.
     
  13. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    If you have a 'thing' for these guns like I do, it's definitely worth it!

    IMG_9506b.jpg
     
  14. BobWright

    BobWright Member

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    Aw, gee whiz, Craig. There you go again ~ 'bout the time I get over the hankerin', you go and post photos of your beauties!

    Bob Wright
     
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  15. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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  16. Heir Kommt Die Sonne

    Heir Kommt Die Sonne Member

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    Thanks for the tip MachIVshooter. However the Remy design isn't much my thing, the 1851 is more classy in my opinion. But the 1875 Remington isn't too bad.
    CraigC, nice revolvers. Ya you're right, I do have a 'thing' for single action revolvers. Never had anything as 'classy' yet as the one in your photo (the engraving) but there's something to be appreciable about the old Colts.
     
  17. robhof

    robhof Member

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    Same here, I've acquired over a dozen molds and reload for 8 calibers currently, raining or snowing is casting and loading time, sunny and somewhat warm is shooting time!!
     
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  18. Curator

    Curator Member

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    I Have both an 1851 and 1861 Richards and Mason-Richards Cimarron revolvers in .38 Special. They are nice revolvers and are fun to shoot. They are a little more difficult to shoot than a modern single action revolver mainly due to ejection issues and the small sights. The ejector rods/mechanisms are clearly an "after-thought" even if historically correct. They are slow and somewhat difficult to use. I only shoot "target" type wadcutter loads in mine and they both shoot fairly accurately.
     
  19. 45 Dragoon

    45 Dragoon Member

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    I just finished a '51 RM (.38 spl). This one has a slightly less than 3 lb. hammer draw, a 2.5 lb. trigger pull and a .003" barrel/ cyl clearance. The trigger and bolt springs are coil-torsion with the hand spring being a coil and pushrod setup. With a bolt block and an action stop (et al), its bullet proof and "as fast as you want to go"!! Definitely a " fun gun"!!

    Curator, I know what you mean about the ejector setup. I fixed that for my customer by tapering the ejector rod end so that it would feed easily into the chamber. I had cleared this with the customer and he was very happy.
    I'll post some pics.

    Mike

    The last pic. is the SS spacer for the arbor length correction. You can't have a dedicated/repeatable barrel/cylinder clearance without an arbor that dead ends into the barrel and held in place under tension.
    Shooting an open top with a loose wedge is what wrecks the barrel/cylinder fit and is probably what happened to DJ's Richards conversion.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019
  20. Risky buisness

    Risky buisness Member

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    Thats interesting what you did with that open top, definanatly a blend of old and new thought process. At this rate a Richards/ Mason or similar conversion may be my next revolver, after it visits you for a while.
     
  21. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    I don't do much Cowboy Action Shooting anymore but I still want the same gun. I have 1860 R-M 44 Colt with 8" barrel & Remington C&B with 8" barrel but no period reproductions of smaller lighter weight "belt" guns. The Open Top with 5 1/2" barrel looks like a hoot to shoot and just have fun with on the range. Actually there isn't much the 38 Special can not handle. I know of one person that carries one when doing his daily chores on his range.

    p.s. Heir Kommt Die Sonne,

    You probably know this but when the case mouths on your magnum cases split you can repurpose the case by trimming it to 38 Special length.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019
  22. 45 Dragoon

    45 Dragoon Member

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    Thanks Risky business. It's what I call my "Outlaw Mule" service. It truly makes the open top a tough, reliable shooter and as moden as the finest S.A.s built today. It also turns the Remington into quite the beast!!

    Mike
     
  23. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    Tapering the ejector is a great idea and one I've considered. I don't think people realize how quirky they are until they operate one. The ejector is one of the biggest reasons why I think the 1871-1872 Open Top is the most practical of these guns.
     
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  24. 45 Dragoon

    45 Dragoon Member

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    CraigC, I agree, unloading one of these things can be an exercise in how to lose one's religion!! Lol!!

    Mike
     
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  25. Jesse Heywood

    Jesse Heywood Member

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    When you take into consideration that the original was in the anemic 44 Colt in black powder, even the 38 spl is a stretch.
     
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