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Discussion Starter #1
For somewhat nostalgic reasons and to have some fun, I'm interested in one of the 1851 Colt Navy conversions. I understand the steel frame is better to buy - I really want to have some fun plinking and do not want to clean the blackpowder version. Just plan on having a neat, streamlined medium-frame plinker!

Newer colts can be found at decent prices but I understand they're assembled by Colt but parts made by Uberti. This makes me wonder why I shouldn't just buy a Uberti anyway. Lots of opinion on who makes the best replica - Uberti, Cimmaron, Taylor, Pietta, etc. However, I plan to shoot it not just admire it.

Leaning toward a Richards-Mason conversion type, but I'm uneducated in this regard.

Additionally, I had planned on a 38Spl but what do you think????

Any and all comments welcome as this is somewhat out of my knowledge range.

Thanks in advance for your experience!!!
 

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IMHO, a late production Uberti is a better made sixgun than the old 2nd and 3rd generation Colt blackpowder guns. The Colt will just have real case colors but the newer Uberti's are quite nice. Historically speaking, the Richards-Mason conversion was the only one applied to the Navy. I would strongly recommend the books by Dennis Adler on this subject.

ANY percussion gun you convert will have the wrong bore size for standard .38Spl loads. They're sized for a .375" ball. So you'll have to either use heeled bullets or have the barrel relined. The conversions are really best done by a pro. The cylinder must be fit and timed. The ejector as well. If you want a gate, you'll also have to cut a channel for a loading port. Done properly, it is not cheap or easy.

I would heartily recommend buying a factory Uberti 1851 Richards-Mason conversion for this reason alone. It's ready to go with the proper sized bore for .38 cartridges.

 

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Additionally, I had planned on a 38Spl but what do you think???? !
I think it's a great idea.

My experience is limited to Cimmaron, but the conversion is a really cool gun that always trolls up a conversation at the range. I load Trail Boss and Hornady 140gr Cowboy bullets, and that's pretty mild stuff. Accuracy is actually very good even out to 50yds shooting at clay birds on the backstop berm.
 

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Like others have said there are two ways to go. Buy the gun already with the conversion if you never want to shoot BP or buy a BP version & get a cartridge cylinder. Buying the conversion model is plug & play. However, if you get a BP gun & want to use a cartridge cylinder as an option get the Uberti "London" model with the all steel frame. Then get the Howell Old West conversion cylinder (no fitting or timing required), but DO NOT use this conversion cylinder on a brass framed gun. The Howell cylinder has to be removed to reload, as it's not a full conversion with the side loading gate, but you will have the option to shoot BP & Ball or cartridges. The bore is different, as others have noted, on the BP gun, but if you get the conversion for the 38 Colt cartridge & not the 38 Spl, you can shoot 38 Short Colt ammo in it accurately. I found that Remington Short Colt Ammo bullets are soft enough that they will obturate in the barrel to engage the rifling and give me very good accuracy. Long Colt rounds do not stabilize. Just food for thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thanks for the comments. I'm definitely interested in a factory conversion as I won't be shooting black powder. Sounds like the Uberti is the way to go. Are Taylor, Cimmaron, etc. just importers or do they modify the guns they purchase?
 

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I once had an 1871 Open Top in 38 Special. This was not a conversion, it was designed for a cartridge, the 44 Henry. Made by Uberti, it was the most fun sixgun I ever had. Rear sight is on the barrel and was right on at 100 yards with a standard speed 38 Special 158 gr lead. 1860 Army grip with a long barrel.

It looks like a muzzleloader, the 1860 Army. Also had one in 44 Special with a 5.5 inch barrel and the 1851 grip frame.

Taylor, Cimmaron and others are importers but sometimes have special models made just for them.
 

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If your heart is not completely set on using the .38 Spl, you might consider the 1851 Navy in .44 cal. I have the Pietta snub nosed version as sold by Dixie Gun Works. I am very pleased with its function and accuracy.. Conversion cylinders are available from both Howell and Taylor. These allow use of 45 Colt cartridges. I have one and it functions perfrectly.
pete
 
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