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Difference between Colt Navy 1851 and 1861

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Mac Attack, Feb 3, 2008.

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  1. Mac Attack

    Mac Attack Member

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    What is the difference between the two and was one really an improvement over the other or just a new model with "new paint, leather seats and a new car smell?" :)
     
  2. Z71

    Z71 Member

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    The 1861 has a different barral/loading lever assembly. The rest is the same basic gun.

    The 1851 has a loading lever design that dated back to before the Walker Colt. An attached lever with a rammer hinged to it.

    The 1861 Navy used the new style "creeping lever" system, that debut with the 1860 Army .44 revolver. Actually I think the creeping lever may have been used on the older "Root" model Colt pistols, and the Colt long-guns too.

    The Creeping lever works on a rack and pinion system, sort of a gear system. Hard to describe, you need to see it to understand how it works, but it's simple. That loading lever requires a different barrel assembly over the old 1851 with it's octagon barrel.
     
  3. Mac Attack

    Mac Attack Member

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    So does one load easier than the other? Does the new barrel of the 1861 have any benefits over the barrel of the 1851? Which is heavier and does one point straighter than the other?
     
  4. Shawnee

    Shawnee member

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    Personally, I think the '61 is better balanced and thus points better.


    Local opinion may vary.


    :cool:
     
  5. mec

    mec Member

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2010
  6. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    The creeping bullet rammer gives you more leverage, and it's easier to push in bullets, but I never noticed a difference with round balls. Also the cut-out in the barrel under the base pin makes it slightly easier to load because there is more space to work with. Both barrels are 7 1/2 inches long, have the same bore, and point the same.
     
  7. JJBlanche

    JJBlanche Member

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    IE: Whatever one looks cooler to you ;)
     
  8. gus3836

    gus3836 Member

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    Wild Bill Hickock used the 51 navies that should say it all!. I have both and they both shoot great load easy and both are very pointable. Gus
     
  9. Pancho

    Pancho Member

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    Did you notice that Mec's 61 had a blade sight not the bead?
     
  10. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    My Colt 1861 has the blade. IIRC they all do.
     
  11. scotjute

    scotjute Member

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    The 1861 points just ever-so-slightly better than the 51.
    The 1861 blade front sight is more apt to hit on target than the 51 which will tend to shoot high.
     
  12. mykeal

    mykeal Member

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    Perhaps this will help illustrate the points above. You can easily see the difference in the loading lever design. Nobody's mentioned the triggers, yet, however. The difference is pronounced in these two guns, somewhat less in the pictures mec provided. My '61 also has the blade front sight.
    P2050030.jpg
     
  13. Macmac

    Macmac Member

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    I forget who was asking about guns made to take shoulder stocks. The 61' mykeal shows here is cut to take a shoulder stock.

    Note the slot in the grip frame rear wards, the extra screws on the frame, and the relief cuts on the cylinder shield.
     
  14. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    I believe the '51 will take a stock, but you have to replace the hammer screw . . . if memory serves.
     
  15. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    The differences between the 51 and 61 are the barrel shape and rammer.

    If cut for a shoulder stock, either could use one.

    Neither mykeals nor mecs 1851s are cut for the stock.

    Originally, Colt claimed improved metallurgy in promoting the 1861 over the 1851.

    Robert E. Lee was known to favor the 1851.

    George A. Custer was presented an engraved pair of 1861's.

    The 1861 was also produced with a full fluted cylinder for a short time.
     
  16. Mac Attack

    Mac Attack Member

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    I stopped by a local pawnshop/gun store today and was surprised that they had several cap and ball revolvers. I handled a 1860 Army in .44 with a fluted cylinder, a Colt Walker, a Uberti 1851 Navy and a 1861 Navy's both in .36. I really like the balance and feel of the 1861 models, but they only had them in .36 Cal and I was really looking for one in .44.

    The salesman was very knowledgeable and took the time to speak with me regarding BP revolvers. He has been shooting them for years and suggested that I start off with a inexpensive '61. So know i have to do it find a nice inexpensive quality '61. Any suggestions?
     
  17. Macmac

    Macmac Member

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    What were his prices?

    Why the preferance for .44? If hunting is on the list, then I understand.
     
  18. mykeal

    mykeal Member

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    Last edited: Feb 8, 2008
  19. Mac Attack

    Mac Attack Member

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    All were Uberti's. The '51 and '61's were $279. I think I could get it down to $250 out the door because they have been sitting on the shelves for a long time. The '60 Army with the fluted cylinder was I believe $325.

    The reason I want a .44 is because of what the BP essentials post suggests that there is a larger variety of bullets for a .44 than for a .36. Am I wrong? Also, the salesman mentioned that the Uberti's can be converted to accept centerfire rounds. That's pretty darn cool and a nice option but I primarily want a C&B revolver.

    Come to think of it I may be mistaken on the models. The shop had 4 C&B revolvers - a 1851, 1860 and 1861. I believe the '60 was set up to accept a stock but I don't recall if the '61 was set up to accept one?
     
  20. Mac Attack

    Mac Attack Member

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    Mykeal, the link you provided had a 1861 Colt Navy with an octagon barrel. The one's I handled were round.
     
  21. Pancho

    Pancho Member

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    Mykeal that site you offered is really nice and they offer guns I didn't know existed such as an octagon barrel Colt Police and the octagon barrel 61 Navy.
    The prices are really good. Do you know if they are current?
     
  22. Pancho

    Pancho Member

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    Mac Attack, I wouldn't let the lack of bullet options disturb you. I think the post you referred to was by Gatefeo and he wrote that .375 rb was available but if you wanted .380 you would have to cast them yourself. I bought the Lee mold for the .380 and shot both the .375 and the .380 and find only a slight difference. The .380 should present more bullet to the rifling but probably I'm not good to tell the advantage.
     
  23. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    The .380 round ball was often specified for original Colt 1851 and 61 Navies. Today that isn't much of an issue unless you ream your chambers to bring them up to match the bore, as in some replicas you have .380" bores and .372" diameter chambers. Bad news to say the least.
     
  24. Perk

    Perk Member

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    Mykeal – Pancho’s right. That site is like being led to a whole ‘nother candy store. Bless your eyes.
     
  25. Shawnee

    Shawnee member

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    FWIW...

    I've used both .375 and .380 RBs in an 1851 Navy and - with me shooting and using Pyrodex - there wasn't any detectable difference on the target.
    A charcoal-burner from Georgetown who has a lot more C&B guns than I'll ever have told me he's never seen any significant difference between the two either.

    Not saying Gatefeo is wrong but maybe any difference is really mostly a "gun-by-gun" situation.

    I do know the Navy I shot was pretty impressive for accuracy even with Yours Truly doing the shooting.

    :confused:
     
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