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1860 Richards Transition Question

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103:
I am in the process of saving up for an Uberti 1860 Richards Transition Type 2. The forum has already helped me with a question I had about the trigger guard, and I greatly appreciate that! I was perusing a discussion of a verified martial 1860 conversion on the Colt Forum, and one thing I noticed was that the gun in that discussion had the rear sight on the conversion ring. Considering how few of these were sold to the Army, I figure (AKA: WAG) if a verified sample of 1 has the rear sight on the ring, then probably all of the guns sold to the Army did.

Part of why I want this gun is for living history events where we lay out guns and gear for visitors to see, so my goal is to make this Uberti close enough (hence why I now have a brass 1860 trigger guard in my parts box waiting for the rest of the gun). So my questions are thus:

1. Would all of the martial Richards Transition 1860s have had the rear sight on the conversion ring, or would some of them have used the hammer notch?

2. Is there a vendor/smith who sells a ring with rear sight that would work in the Uberti?

I appreciate the insight. This forum is full of great information.

Link to discussion on Colt Forum: https://www.coltforum.com/forums/colt-percussion-revolvers/370151-us-richards.html

Coal Creek Griff:
A good reference work for conversions is R. Bruce McDowell's A Study of Colt Conversions and Other Percussion Revolvers.  The books are kind of costly, but I was able to find a PDF version here: https://epdf.pub/a-study-of-colt-conversions-and-other-percussion-revolvers.html

Hopefully that helps in your research.

CC Griff

Coffinmaker:
Hi 103,

Basically, No, No and No.  I think that may be enough No's.

The first Richards conversions had the rear sight on the Conversion Ring.  The Transition Type 2 was a much later gun.  The type 2 did not have the rear sight on the conversion ring.  The Army had lots and lots of 1860s.  What would have been returned to Colt for conversion would be primarily speculation.  There "could" have been both Type 1 and Type 2 conversions done, depending on when the guns were sent to Colt.

There is no vendor or Smith that makes or markets a conversion ring with an integral rear sight.  The only current gated conversion available is from Kirst Konverter, without a rear sight.

The Uberti Type 2 is oversized to permit inclusion of the .45 Colt and .45 Schofield cartridges.  Colt never converted 1860s to chamber 45 Colt.  Colt guns were only converted to chamber .44 Colt.  The only conversion your likely to find (other than an original) dimensionally "close enough" would be an 1860 conversion done with a Kirst Konverter on either a Pietta or Uberti.

I would be very surprised to find where a TYPE 2 conversion would have been done to the batch of guns the Army sent back to Colt for conversion.  Lots and lots of speculation there along with lots and lots of Arm Chair Experts.  Good Luck in your Pursuit.

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Crow Choker:
103: I'm not sure where you are on your knowledge of Colt Conversions before Colt came out with the Open Top, which wasn't a conversion, but a new model. Don't take offense, but everyone had to learn sometime. If you are already well informed, someone who reads this may find it new. First off if possible read Bruce McDowells book on Colts open top style revolvers, their heritage and history. It's not a easy to find book, someone you know may have a copy you could borrow. Also Dennis Adler wrote two excellent books on Colts. 1) Colt Single Action and 2) Metallic Cartridge Conversions, both give history, production, and a lot of info on the various Colt conversions, both can be found online. Several older books by Charles Haven and James Serven are chuck-full of Colt model history and info. 12-15 years ago until I read up on them, I knew squat about them other than they existed. I'm by no means an expert, others may jump in and either correct me and/or add additional info.

You basically had three Colt conversions using the Army percussion revolver.

 (1-The Richards, (Colt engineer Charles Richards) had the rear sight on the conversion ring, a rebounding firing pin within the frame, and a ground off hammer with a flat appearance, and a ejector system that used the existing lug holes for attachment.

2) The Richards II, which was a refinement of the original (or Richards I as some call it) in that the rebounding firing pin in the frame was eliminated and the hammer was outfitted with a pinned firing pin. The conversion ring was refined. The rear sight was taken off of the conversion ring and a notched hammer as in the original 1860 Army was reintroduced as the rear sight, also the original ejector system was retained. Another Colt engineer, Richard Mason helped with this change

3) The Richards/Mason. These conversions used all of the changes of the Richards II, but Mason designed a new cartridge ejector that eliminated the use of the old rammer lug hole and the ejector was screwed to the barrel. A lot of 1851 and 1861 Navy frames were also used in the Richard/Mason revolver model. In the first two conversion models, Colt used existing 1860 percussion revolvers and parts to produce them. The Richards/Mason did also, but a lot of the parts were newly made. After these three models, Colt then came out with a newly produced model, not converted from percussion revolvers, 'The Open Top', which resembled the Richards/Mason in a lot of ways, but was produced from all new forged frame, cylinders, and parts. The Open Top had a non-stepped frame and non-rebated cylinder, it had a pinned firing pin on the hammer, and the rear sight was forged onto the rear of the barrel. I've left a lot of 'holes' here and there in the run of these revolvers, but gave the basics of them.

In answer to your questions, all of the Martial Richards (Richards I), would have had the face of the original hammer ground off flat to resemble in a lot of ways what can be found on original Ruger single actions before the transfer bar models. There was the rebounding type firing pin in the frame to strike the primer.

The answer to your question about anyone selling a conversion ring with the original Richards rear sight on it, haven't heard of any. Fox Creek Kid who used to post a lot on this forum had someone make him a Richards I style revolver onetime, but it cost some dollars to do to convert. You change over to that, then you'd need to convert the hammer to a flat face to strike the rebounding firing spring. The Richards I conversion ring was a bit bulkier also vs the Richards II if I recall right. Hoof Hearted who posts once in a while is a working gunsmith who has done a lot of conversion work, even fabricating his own Colt Thuer copies. I'm not sure if you could remove the conversion ring on a Richards II that you advise you're going to buy and replace it with a Richards I unless a lot of fabrication was done. 45 Dragoon who posts on this forum does a lot of tuning and special applications to open Colt style revolvers, but I've never read where he does the type of 'conversion' of a Richards II back to a Richards I. Coffinmaker who posts on CAS says he's a retired gunsmith, but he seems to be doing a lot of things all of the time, but says he's not looking for business. There's some 'plugs' for you guys.

From all of the books I've read on why Colt went to the Richards II from the 'I', it was for dollars. The Richards I was expensive even during those times to convert, so that's why they dropped the original Richards which saved them dollars. From what I've read, Uberti probably will never offer a copy of the 'I' due to the fact they can make the 'II' so much cheaper and feel that there wouldn't be enough demand to cover costs. I'm just happy they produce the Richards II, which is my favorite of the four I have, a RM and two Open Tops, plus the Richards II. If it were me, for the cost of converting a already conversion replica back to it's parent model, I'd leave it as is due to the cost involved. During your presentations to visitors at living history events I'd just lay out the Richards II you intend to buy and explain how Colt converted the percussion guns to cartridge if that's what you want to do and tell them ya got Junior instead of PaPa and possibly mention the RM and Open Top. Ya could advise how the Open Top was the forerunner of the famous Colt Model  of 1873 that probably most have seen in a multitude of westerns. I bet the majority of them have no idea and a lot of them wouldn't give 2 cents what one you have for display. Well if you and all who read this are still awake after reading all of this (I never get windy), hope it helps and informs. Like I advised earlier, I left a lot of smaller detail out and 'an expert' may need to correct me. "Good night Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are"! Crow Choker

Note: Added Jan 09---Yer right Abilene--The Richards II retained the notch in the hammer for the rear sight as in the original 1860 Army (as did the Richards/Mason models). Musta been thinking Open Top which had the rear sight on the rear of the barrel as you penned. Don't know why I penned it that way, I've sighted down that Richards II enough times since getting it back in 2008 and also my Richards/Mason. I corrected it above in the post. Thanks for the correction, Yer a Gentleman and a Scholar.   :) CC        (If yer reading this thread for the first time, this note was added after Abilene posted below this posting)

Abilene:
Crowchoker, slight correction: The Type II has the rear sight on the hammer nose, not the rear of the barrel (I guess you had Opentop in mind).

103: Other than spending a lot of money and a very long time waiting, you are not going to come up with an exactly authentic looking Richards conversion (Type I, with the sight on the conversion ring).  I see two options for you that will be close:

1. Find an Armi San Marcos (ASM) Richards conversion, a .44.  Imported by Navy Arms, Cimarron, others, a little over 20 years ago.  They pop up now and then.  Neat looking guns.  But lots of quality problems.  Some okay.  Most not.  If you aren't shooting it, that is a plus.  Many had nickled gripframes, as many originals were silverplated.  The only real visual difference is that the originals had a stepped frame and rebated cylinder, like the .44 percussion guns they were converted from.  The ASM conversion all have a straight cylinder and frame (Navy).  99% of people who see the gun will not notice that. 

2.  Get a Cimarron Type II, which is accurate for that model.  It is slightly bigger than orignal as Coffinmaker mentioned though visually nobody would know.  Compared to the Richards I that you are wanting, it is missing the sight on the rear ring.  99% of people who see the gun will not notice that.

Or, get the conversion cylinder and ejector for a '60 percussion gun, which will also be missing the sight on the conversion ring.

Oh yeah, or buy an original.  You could get one in fair shape for a few thousand.

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