"Customizng" a revolver

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Jan 15, 2012

So my question is as follows:

Can one buy a .44 Magnum (like a Ruger Super Blackhawk) and have a custom .41 Mag cylinder and barrel put in? If so, how much would it cost? If that is prohibitively expensive, does anybody know what it costs to get a revolver refinished to something that isn't the bright blue advertised for the Smith & Wesson Model 57?

Thanks for the info
- ctsarr3

For the "Why do you want to know" crowd:

A few years back, I bought a used reloading set up. There were several die sets thrown in, including a few sets of .44 Mag, a couple of .357 Mag, a .30-06, and a .223. I only just realized (after, like, 4 years) that one of the die sets was for .41 Magnum.

Well, that seems as good excuse as any to start shopping around for a .41 Magnum. However, only one manufacturer has paid the appropriate bribe to be able to sell their .41 Mag in the People's Republic of California, and that is Smith & Wesson's model 57.

I am not against S&W, but I own 2 of their revolvers (686 Competitor and 460V) and a semi-auto (one of the 59 series) already and I want to mix it up a little. Hence the question about rechambering a revolver, which I can only imagine costs a lot.

Also, I am not really into the classic look of the 57; most of the beautiful blueing jobs I've seen are either on guns that never get used, or on guns that get used and end up rusting. I'd give up a pretty gun for a durable gun most any day. Also, considering most of my handguns are made out of some sort of plastic with the steel being either stainless or melonite finished, the blueing looks a little flashy by comparison. So that is why I am asking about refinishing a revolver.
If you actually want a 41 magnum, either get the S&W model 57 or start looking for a used revolver that you can PPT. If you can find a gunsmith to replace the barrel and cylinder, it would probably a very expensive project. A lot more than what the finished gun would be worth.

Or if you want to save some money, you can mail the die set to me and then I’ll be the one to have to find a 41 mag revolver and save you all that frustration.
Ruger makes the Blackhawk in .41 magnum. Same frame as the Super Blackhawk.
Can you not order a .41 Ruger Blackhawk?
Is the California single action revolver exemption still in place?

If not, David Clements will do a caliber conversion for $895 basic, $1250 "accurized", and Hamilton Bowen for $1295.

That is a lot to pay to just be able to use a set of second hand dies.
You're going to spend well over a thousand dollars just so you can use a $50 die set?

You'd be better off either finding a used .41Mag or making friends with the .44Mag. Or moving.

Blued guns don't rust unless they're neglected.

Melonite is not a finish.
Thanks All for your input.

I had no idea if a conversion was possible or economically feasible. I guess it isn't.

Truth is, I have thought about getting a .41 magnum off and on for a few years (it is supposed to be a reloaders cartridge, and I am now officially reloading). Having the dies just gives that push to get me looking. Having the dies is an EXCUSE to buy the gun. :D I haven't bought a gun in a while, and my best excuse to convince myself to buy a gun is always "but I don't have a gun in this caliber yet."

The exceptions to California's gun laws are a little slippery, and a change in who is in the Governor's Mansion can see an FFL loosing their license if these exceptions are judged to be too liberally applied (not for the exceptions, but the CaDOJ will find some technicality to get them snagged up). As such, a lot of gun shops don't like to avail themselves to these exceptions. If anybody talks to you about a stupid California law, remember that California has stupid laws so that they can be selectively enforced. But the next couple of years are looking to be uncertain, and leaving California is not only a possibility, but a distinct probability.

I have thought about a T/C pistol or a Ruger SA. Locally, they are a little tough to come by. I am also not a huge fan of single actions. I may just look around on the used market.

When I wrote "melonite" finish, I meant it was put through ferritic nitrocarurizing. Maybe the blued guns that were rusted that I've seen were bad blueing jobs or just poorly cared for. Though I do have a Winchest 94 that starts to get rust spots if you even say the word "damp" near it.

I can always get a T/C Encore Rifle. I have a rifle in .44 Mag (the aforementioned Win '94), and it kicks a little with full power loads. I can't think of anything that walks, crawls, or creeps within 200 miles needing anything more than a .41 Mag. I want one anyway, but mainly to start muzzleloading, and to shoot the .500 Magnum, which my feminine wrists probably can't handle.
If you want to spend the money, the best way to convert is to start with a smaller caliber, such as .357 Magnum and either rebore the cylinder or replace it with a new one, same for the barrel. It will cost you, to be sure, but you'll end up with exactly what you want.

I bought this Three Screw Blackhawk .357 Magnum for $200 years ago. Removed the transfer bar conversion kit, added steel grip frame and ejector rod housing, then and the gun rebored to .44 Special by Dave Clements, case hardened and refinished. By the time all work was done added about $1000 to purchase price.


Was it worth it? In my estimation, yes. Was my daily carry gun for a couple of years, and super accurate with just over 6,000 rounds fired since becoming a .44 Special.


Bob Wright

You say you're not a fan of the Single Action.

But the Single Action just begs for customizing, with all those parts held on by screws that are so easily removed and replaced. Look at what Elmer Keith did with Single actions!

And a .41 Magnum bullet really doesn't care what kind of revolver its launched from, though I'd expect it'd have more braggin' rights if from a custom Single Action.

Bob Wright
A S&W M28-2 could be converted to 41 Magnum. I believe Andy Horvath could do it. I know he has done several to 45 long Colt and 44 Special.

I second the motion for a contender pistol. Barring that, my next suggestion would be to create a howdah type pistol. 41 ought to stop a tiger.
With enough money and a big enough hammer you can accomplish anything.

But if I wanted a .41 Mag I would buy a .41 Mag, not make one.
J-Bar said:

But if I wanted a .41 Mag I would buy a .41 Mag, not make one.

Ah, but there's the rub!

There is no .41 Magnum set up exactly as one might want. The Ruger is only available as a New Model, unless an original Three Screw might be found used; and it comes/came with aluminum grip frame and ejector rod housing, and in barrel lengths of 4 5/8" and 6 1/2".

Now the .41 Magnum deserves an all steel revolver, and certainly a 7 1/2" barrel. Barrels for the .30 Carbine can be had in 7 1/2" lengths. And despite claims to the contrary, the .41 Magnum in its beefier loadings packs a pretty good wallop in the hand, so a Super Blackhawk helps. Maybe even a Bisley grip frame can be fitted. A Three Screw Model? New Model Bisley grip frames can easily be fitted Three Screw guns.

Bob Wright
Hi all;

Yeah... buying a .41 Magnum straight out is probably the best route at this time. However, the market is very limited on selection (hence my curiosity about customizing a revolver). I will probably end up with either the S&W Model 57 or a used Ruger if I take that road (there is a 7-1/2" barrel Redhawk on GunBroker, so they are out there somewhere).

My lack of enthusiasm for single-actions has to do with the fact that most of the handguns I have are semi-automatic or DA revolvers, and I am used to pulling the trigger without having to cock the hammer. Also, most single actions have the hog-leg style grip that don't have a stop for the web of the hand. That is a little cumbersome for me. I have shot a few SA revolvers (a Ruger Vaquero and one of the Uberti 73 models, and a couple more, the makes and models of which I forget). All the SA revolvers I have shot are fun, reliable, and accurate, but hardly what I'd use for defense or hunting. When I get one, it will probably be chambered in something a little more cowboyey, like .45 LC, .44-40, or .38-40 (if I can find one so chambered).

At this point, I know I can find a T/C Encore rifle, and get a .41 Mag barrel (the Encore is on my short list anyway, but mainly as a muzzleloader and .500 Mag rifle). Finding a pistol version in the Soviet Socialist Republic of California may be a tad difficult, but doable.

Perhaps I can put off getting a .41 Mag until I am ready to dabble in personally customizing firearms. Maybe when I am much older, and hopefully wiser, I can learn how to ream or sleeve chambers and barrels myself (even if I have to get the barrel sleeve rifled by somebody else). By then, I may have developed a better appreciation for the history and mechanical poetry of the Single Action.

Thanks again for all your comments. They have really put things in perspective.
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