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Questions About Current Percussion Replica Revolvers

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Crooked River Bob:
Howdy, Gentlemen (and the rest of you varmints)

I would consider myself reasonably knowledgeable about muzzleloading firearms in general, but reproduction percussion revolvers are in a class of their own.  I have some experience with those and I own a Colt Blackpowder 2nd Generation 1851 Navy.  I have a number of references, including Adler's book on Colt blackpowder revolvers, and my dad had some original revolvers (although not a dragoon) which we shot when I was a kid.  So, I think I have a handle on the historical background.

Anyway, I'm thinking of getting a Second Model Dragoon revolver.  I'm not a collector.  I take good care of my guns, but if a firearm comes to live at my house, it should expect to work for a living.  It seems that Uberti has cornered the market on the Dragoons.  I don't think anybody else is making them at this time.  The Uberti Second Model Dragoons are widely available... Taylor's and Cimarron have them, and Dixie has them on sale right now at a very attractive price.  However, I'm seeing mixed reviews, which suggests the quality control may be inconsistent. 

I have also located two Colt Blackpowder Second Generation (not Signature Series) Second Model Dragoons, unfired, both at prices I would consider very reasonable, although it is certainly more than Dixie is asking for their Uberti.  I would pay the difference for a better revolver.  So, given the choice of a new Uberti from Dixie, Cimarron, or Taylor's, or an unfired Second Generation Colt Blackpowder version of the same revolver (I've seen mixed reviews of these, also), which do we believe would be a better choice for a shooter?

Second question, which is somewhat unrelated:  Taylor's Firearms lists an impressive array of 1858 Remington revolvers (I know, the teminology may not be exactly correct, but that's what they are calling them).  These range in price from $314.00 to $555.00, depending mostly on material and finish.  They show one near the lower end of the price spectrum with a "casted" steel frame, while most of the others in steel have forged frames.  What are the advantages/disadvantages of cast versus forged frames, in terms of precision, durability, and overall quality?  Also, it appears Pietta is making 1858 Remingtons and I'm interested in hearing how they compare to Uberti versions of this same revolver.

So, just to recap, here are three (hopefully) straightforward questions:

1.  Given the choice of a new Uberti replica of a Colt Second Model Dragoon revolver or an unfired Colt Blackpowder Second Generation version of the same firearm, which would be a better choice for a shooter?

2.  What are the advantages/disadvantages of a cast versus a forged frame on an 1858 Remington replica, from a shooter's standpoint?

3.  Given the choice of a new Uberti 1858 Remington revolver or a Pietta version of the same firearm, which would be a better choice for a shooter?


All knowledgeable responses which address any or all of the three questions will be appreciated and considered.

Much obliged,

Crooked River Bob

 

Coffinmaker:

You've asked multiple questions.  However, there is a single explanation for all.  Well, not really.  There are actually several applicable points.  Colt Second Generation percussion guns were made up from a pile of Uberti parts.  Not Colt parts.  Uberti parts.  So those guns have all the same problems associated with Uberti guns.  They will need work.

While any of the current crop of percussion guns will work right out of the box (maybe), none of them will work well.  They will all need work.

Remington reproductions as well.  They will need work too.

I don't collect.  Ergo, I see no reason to pay any more for a Second Generation Colt example than a New Uberti from Cimarron.  ALL of the Colt 2d Gen BP guns I have worked on were pretty to look at, but trash on the insides.

I find Pietta guns easier to set up.

I have never noticed a "Cast" vs "Forged" frame in advertising.  I'll have to look.  I'm not a true Metallurgist.  I don't know that one is better/worse that the other.  I do know Ruger frames are ALL cast.  Nobody seems to mind.

OK,  I don't like Remington.  At all.  A Remington barks my fingers something fierce.  So I can't recommend a Remington at all.  YMMV

Cliff Fendley:
Actually in my limited experience I've found the Colt ones to be the worse of all and current production about as good out of the box as they have ever been.

It's as if the Colt 2nd gen ones were just going to be collected and looked at and never meant to fire. I've seen some with the timing and arbor fit so bad they probably were not even that safe to shoot.

Crooked River Bob:
Thank you, Coffinmaker and Cliff Fendley.  I did indeed ask multiple questions, and you responded to all of them, which I appreciate. 

I was aware of the Uberti/Colt Blackpowder connection, and the use of Uberti parts, but I thought the Colt Blackpowder guns might have been assembled from those parts with more care.  Evidently not.  I have not shot my Colt Blackpowder 1851 Navy much, but my limited experience with it suggested it could benefit from some gunsmithing to improve the action and timing.

Taylor's offers a service they call "Taylor Tuning" for their "suppository" revolvers (breechloaders, for the uninitiated).  I contacted them and asked if their gunsmith would go over and optimize their percussion revolvers, but the answer was "We do not offer tuning services on the blackpowder guns mostly because if you lighten them up they will not be able to set off some of the very hard caps that are on the market today."   Well, there is a lot more to tuning a revolver than lightening the springs, but I let it go.

So, it sounds as if the Uberti Dragoon may be the way to go, and leave the Colt Blackpowder Dragoon to be a "cabinet queen" for collectors.  Too bad Pietta doesn't make these!

Regarding the Remingtons:  I had a pair of Uberti 1858 Remingtons purchased new maybe 14-16 years ago, but never got around to shooting them.  They could have used some work.  The actions were a little rough in both, one had a slight timing issue, and cylinders were very difficult to remove and replace.  In any event, my son took a shine to them and I ended up turning them over to him.  Not sure if he still has them.  My dad had an original Remington which we shot occasionally when I was a kid.  It was a gem.  I don't have it, but I believe it's still in the family.

I believe Ruger championed the use of precision castings in firearms manufacture, and I have no prejudice against cast frames.  I was just curious as to why makers and sellers would utilize or specify one or the other.  You can take a gander at this, if you're interested: Taylor's 1858 Remington Page.  The piece with the "casted" frame, made by Uberti, is in the third row, middle column on the first page, with a price tag of $347.00.  The last gun on the second page, also a Uberti, is described as having a forged frame and is priced at $398.00.  Evidently, Uberti values their forged frames higher than the cast ones, but I don't know if there is any practical difference.  The revolver shown on the first page, third column, top row, is made by Pietta and costs $314.00.  They don't specify whether the Pietta revolver has a cast or forged frame.  All three of these guns appear virtually identical to me.  The only difference I can find is the Pietta has a fixed blade front sight, and the Ubertis have dovetailed front sights.

In any event, I appreciate your comments, and will look forward to further discussion.

Best regards,

Crooked River Bob

Professor Marvel:
Greetings My Good Bob -

As Coffin and Cliff pointed out, the Italian BP revolvers all need some work "out of the box". They have gottne better in recent years, but
everything at least needs a "fluff and buff" and Uberti Colts all need the arbor adjustment plus more.

the following are just my opinions.
1) personally, if at all possible,  I prefer to physically handle any Dragoon rather buy sight unseen via mailorder.
    if that's not possible, then it seems the choices are "cheapest available" (like cabelas) vs somepolace like Taylors or Cimmaron
    or EMF that might offer "hand selected" at a premium.

2) once you have it in hand, play with it a tish, then send right off to Mike at Goon Works for a proper tune up and arbor corrections.
   I trust his work over "something" done at Taylors.

3) cast vs forged:  Whilst Ruger et al have achieved marvleous wonderment with modern cast steel technologies,  I don't think the
Italian C&B revolvers are anything close. when folks port a C&B revolver fort a loadiong gate, they often find casting voids.
It is important to remember the  Italians are building to a price point - they even use common red brass instead of a slightly more expensive
and much stronger "gunmetal bronze" .

So , knowing this, and what I know about mass production forgings, given the choice of 1858 Rem  Italian C&B pistols  I might  prefer a forged frame. However, that is merely a preference on my part, and I actually prefer Piettas over Ubertis.

Uberti "used to be" better at fit and finish , but Pietta has converted to CNC a while back and I don't see much difference.
Ubertis are smaller, more correc to the original, Piettas are larger, and fit my hand better.
Ubertis cost more, Piettas cost less.
UIbertis seem to need more tinkering , Piettas not so much.

If you want "the best" 1858 and cost is less relevant, you might consider some Santa Barbara Remingtons (no longer made)  , or the costly "Shooters Models".

hope this helps
prof marvel

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