Author Topic: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity  (Read 927 times)

Offline 9245

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Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« on: December 07, 2023, 04:09:59 PM »
I’m looking to (eventually) do a cartridge conversion on an 1858 Remington but want to be as historically accurate as possible.

Which calibers were original conversions available in?  (Including weird period gunsmith one offs you may have seen)  Were any ever done (HISTORICALLY) in .44-40?

Were ANY of those cartridges also used in rifles?

Basically I like the idea of using just one caliber for the revolver and the rifle, but I don’t particularly want to just use an 1873 like 99% of everyone else seems to and I’m trying to come up with a historical work around.

What I will likely do in the real world is just get a .45 Colt conversion, which I could argue hypothetically COULD have happened historically if a gunsmith independently figured out the angled chamber thing, but the .45 Colt was never historically used in long guns because of the balloon head case, so I would like to just use .45 Colt as a convenient modern “stand in” for some period cartridge that actually could have been used sometime in the 1880s.

Yes I’m probably over thinking this but that’s just how my head works.

As a side note, were I actually living in the 1880s I still would not have used an SAA, it was simply obsolete by the time it hit the market (how it became as popular as it did was marketing genius), my preference would have been for a S&W .44 DA, or maybe a .455 “Bulldog” DA, were I artificially limited to Single Actions then the S&W .44 “Russian” wins hands down, that or a Merwin & Hulbert.   Solid frame gate loaders suck when you could have a break action, or a break action DA.

As for my “character,” he already had and was familiar and comfortable with 1858s having used them during the War of Northern Aggression and spending some quality time with Frank James in Quantrills Raiders.  (To be read as I like cap and ball revolvers, already have a couple, like them, and don’t have the money to drop on a repro Schofield tight now, which is what I really want so I built a character around what I happen to have on hand)

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2023, 04:30:24 PM »
Historically correct 1858 conversions would have been .46 Remington Rimfire using a healed bullet, and the various .45 “Colt type” centerfire cartridges due to the Barrel land-and-groove diameters. A .451 diameter bullet is ideal.

.44-40 would not work well due to that.

It might be posssible to do an “any other” if a heel based bullet was used , in the style of the .46 remington , but a lack of commercial
Ammunition made “custom” cartridges far less desireable. One does not see many of the British or European guns for that very reason-
Oddball cartridges could not be readily obtained!

In fact, the Remingtons made in .46 Remington almost all came with a compatible cap-and-ball cylinder fitted to the pistol So the owner could fall back on shooting loose powder and ball if req’d. Then the wait for the Wells Fargo Wagon to deliver a few boxes of cartridges months later.
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Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2023, 09:08:50 PM »

 :) Well Heck  ;)

There is a far simpler solution.  A couple actually.  First up is to fit a cartridge stop to the Carrier Block of an 1860 Henry replicant in .45 Colt.  Then shoot Cowboy 45 Special cases, duplicating the look and feel of 44 Henry Flat.  Include with that, Either an 1860 Richards/Mason Conversion, also in .45 and shoot Same same Cowboy 45 special cases in the pistol as well.  Could also substitute the 1871/72 Open Top.

Next up would be an 1866 Winchester Replicant in 44 Special.  Source a special Carrier Block from The Smith Shop for short cartridges and shoot 44 Russian cartridges.  Then go with a .44 Special/Russian Schofield and shoot same same cartridges.  Also might source an 18971/72 Open Top in .44

Then we get into real cartridge conversions but that is a whole nother thread.

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #3 on: Today at 02:27:09 AM »

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2023, 09:23:56 PM »

 :) Forgot  ;)

Why on earth would you think the Colt SAA obsolete??  Robust, reliable, accurate!!  The double action guns of the day were notoriously fragile and prone to breakage.  Of course breaking at the worst possible moment (Remember Murphy).

The only guns in general availability that made the SAA obsolete were Mauser Broomhandle, the Luger and of course, the Colt 1911.  More so the 1911.

Offline Dave T

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2023, 01:30:32 PM »
DITTO to what Coffinmaker just said.

The Colt SAA didn't become so prolific and popular because it was obsolete. It was the most advanced version of the single action revolvers introduced by Colt with the Walker back in the late 1840s. People who had grown up or spend their adult lives shooting and handling '51 Navy Colts or '60 Army Colts were easily converted to the SAA when they became common enough and individuals could afford them.

Modern shooters are enthralled with the idea of fast reloads. Most folks who packed a hand gun in the 1870s, '80s, '90s, and into the 20th Century weren't worried about prolonged firefights with drug traffic teams, outlaw bikers, or the walking dead. Their gunfights were over in a few rounds and if that were unlikely they carried another revolver. Merwin & Hulberts, like S&W break tops unload quickly but the M&H is just as slow to load as the SAA. Try it some time as I did.

My $.02 worth,
Dave

Offline Cap'n Redneck

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2023, 09:20:30 PM »
The .45 S&W Schofield cartridge hasn't been mentioned yet...?

It is period correct, although like the .45 Colt it was never originally chambered in lever-action rifles.
It will (should) however chamber in most .45 Colt conversion cylinders and .45 Colt rifles without any modifications to the carrier block.  (In a Uberti 1860 Henry it will allow for a longer "gamer-stick" in the magazine-tube.)

With its reduced powder capacity it is better suited to CAS-level blackpowder and smokeless loads.

It can be reloaded in .45 Colt dies by grinding a little off of the bottom of the seating/crimping die.

In the case of the original post: You will have a ready supply of ammo for when you buy a Uberti Schofield.

Cases are (were) available from Starline and Hornady.
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Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2023, 09:15:13 AM »

 :) Cap'n Redneck  ;)

So true.  We who have previously addressed this question, have criminally overlooked the 45 Schofield.  How Callous to have done so.

You are entirely correct.  The 45 Schofield is a rather nifty Pistol Cartridge when Used in the Rifle.  I personally have two Henrys and two '73s in which I exclusively shoot the 45 Schofield.  One must only be careful of the OAL which restricts to bullets no shorter than a 200Gr RNFP.  There are also several 180GR projectiles with this length that run thru a Toggle link rifle like Grain thru a Goose   ;)

There was a time when the 45 Schofield would not chamber in Ruger Vaquero without modifying the Star Hub.  I don't know if that is still the case, but who wants to shoot one of those Ugly Things anyway  ::)

From a safety standpoint, the Schofield does in fact allow a somewhat longer "Safety Stick" on top of the cartridge stack to prevent a magazine detonation from a run away Follower.  I would as well, like to point out, the ultimate "Safety Stick" in the Henry Rifle is provided for with the Cowboy 45 Special you betcha  8)  One must, however, remember "Stick, Mark 1, A1 goes on top of the cartridge stack, not in front of it.  Don't enquire just how I acquired this knowledge  :P

Offline 9245

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2023, 11:58:37 PM »
But were .45 schofield rifles available historically?  Wouldn’tvthat have had the same balloon head case issue as the .45 colt?

Offline 9245

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2023, 12:23:20 AM »
DITTO to what Coffinmaker just said.

The Colt SAA didn't become so prolific and popular because it was obsolete. It was the most advanced version of the single action revolvers introduced by Colt with the Walker back in the late 1840s. People who had grown up or spend their adult lives shooting and handling '51 Navy Colts or '60 Army Colts were easily converted to the SAA when they became common enough and individuals could afford them.

Modern shooters are enthralled with the idea of fast reloads. Most folks who packed a hand gun in the 1870s, '80s, '90s, and into the 20th Century weren't worried about prolonged firefights with drug traffic teams, outlaw bikers, or the walking dead. Their gunfights were over in a few rounds and if that were unlikely they carried another revolver. Merwin & Hulberts, like S&W break tops unload quickly but the M&H is just as slow to load as the SAA. Try it some time as I did.

My $.02 worth,
Dave

Because reloads are important.  You could make the same argument today that most gunfights are over in just a few rounds (FBI data says 3), but very few people today carry revolvers, yet even with 15-20 round magazines people still usually have 1-2 spare magazines, why? because reloads are important.  Could the fight be over in 3 rounds?  Sure, in fact it probably will, but what if it’s not?  Guns are also expensive and so were they back then, maybe even more so, many people did not carry 2, and most didn’t.  So say it is 1883 and you have just emptied your 1873 yet the fight is not over yet, now what do you do?  Well, probably die because you are not reloading that in a fight.

Yes the Merwin and Hulbert was a gate loader but that really wasn’t an issue.  Speed loaders, while technically available for the schofields/number 3s were not common or even well known, in fact I think they were mostly experimental so most people still loaded them one round at a time, so they were really not appreciably easier to load than gate loaders.  The difference was in unloading? The top breaks and Merwin and Hulberts unloaded all the empties at once, but 1873s and similar designs could only unload one at a time.  Which means that while the Merwin and Hulberts were gate loaders they actually reloaded the same as top breaks, but with the advantage of not automatically ejecting unspent rounds, so a tactical reload was more feasible

The fact is a person with an 1873 was at a disadvantage to a person with a top break or aa Merwin and Hulbert, you can argue that that wasn’t really an issue, but it was still a disadvantage.  Further, an 1873 had no actual advantage over a cartridge conversion, heck it wasn’t even that much better than a cap and ball if you think about it.  So I say again that it was already obsolete but had excellent marketing.  Was it a nice revolver?  Yes, but it was still obsolete.

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2023, 09:20:45 AM »

 :) 9245  ;)

Historically speaking, No.  There wern't any 45 Schofield rifles.  Butt, historically, Who Cares??  The Ballon Head case of the 45 Colt wasn't the problem, the tiny little case rim was the problem.

It's kind obvious you have never been faced with an actual.  You keep missing one very important point.  Gunfights happen at THREE to SIX FEET.  There have been those instances (documented) where as many as 30 - 40 rounds are fired and no-one hits anything but the shrubs or the siding.

Historically, during the period we discuss, only the BAD GUYS carried multiple guns and for the most part, they didn't buy them.  When the adrenaline is pumped up and you're scared stiff, your ability to reload anything of the period is questionable.  Stopping in the middle of a fight to reload was suicide.

You are of course, entitled to your Opinion.  You can Soap Box it any way you like.  But historically, the vast majority of 19th century gunfights didn't happen in the street at 10 paces (hollyweird) or from behind the Horse Trough (Hollyweird again), it took place at 3 feet inna Saloon.  Or, at/in an ally with a Shot Gun.  If anything over 6 feet was involved, it was with rifles (Lincoln County Wars). 

Offline 9245

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2023, 05:25:36 PM »
:) 9245  ;)

Historically speaking, No.  There wern't any 45 Schofield rifles.  Butt, historically, Who Cares??  The Ballon Head case of the 45 Colt wasn't the problem, the tiny little case rim was the problem.

It's kind obvious you have never been faced with an actual.  You keep missing one very important point.  Gunfights happen at THREE to SIX FEET.  There have been those instances (documented) where as many as 30 - 40 rounds are fired and no-one hits anything but the shrubs or the siding.

Historically, during the period we discuss, only the BAD GUYS carried multiple guns and for the most part, they didn't buy them.  When the adrenaline is pumped up and you're scared stiff, your ability to reload anything of the period is questionable.  Stopping in the middle of a fight to reload was suicide.

You are of course, entitled to your Opinion.  You can Soap Box it any way you like.  But historically, the vast majority of 19th century gunfights didn't happen in the street at 10 paces (hollyweird) or from behind the Horse Trough (Hollyweird again), it took place at 3 feet inna Saloon.  Or, at/in an ally with a Shot Gun.  If anything over 6 feet was involved, it was with rifles (Lincoln County Wars).

That is the same for modern gun fights.  3 rounds, 3 feet, 3 seconds, and low light is the statistic.  But yet no one sane would argue that you should limit yourself to a 6 shot single action slow reloading revolver today.  Most people carry 15+ round semi autos with 1-2 spare magazines, yet the statistics are the same.  You can argue that it is not that important and you were unlikely to have to reload anyway but the fact is if you did that would be a disadvantage, the same as today.  Will you really go through all 15-20 rounds?  Probably not, but should you load less or not carry spare magazines?  No.

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2023, 06:24:02 PM »

 :) 9245  ;)

Yup.  And I would never suggest someone select a Single Action Anything as a daily carry self defense.  In that context, I agree absolutely, the SAA is obsolete.  My own personal selection for carry is a 1911, eight round magazines, cocked and locked.

There is a very serious reason for my selection, I won't go into here.  Let us not, however, carry the "SAA is Obsolete" nonsense back to the 19th Century.  In it's day and the context of the era, the SAA was far from obsolete.

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2023, 11:16:05 PM »
And therefore I would like to nudge the topic BACK to

Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity

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Offline Cap'n Redneck

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2023, 05:20:37 AM »
As Coffinmaker mentioned, the rim of the .45 Schofield is larger than that of the .45 Colt.
It is in fact similar to the rim diameter of the .44-40 WCF.
In terms of LEE Precision equipment you will need a #11 shellholder for .45 Colt, and a #14 for .45 Schofield & .44-40 cases.
In terms of powder and lead capacity the .45 Schofield is as close to the .44 Henry Rimfire as a solid-head CF cartridge can get to a RF cartridge.

An additional benefit is that the .45 Schofield will feed, chamber and give good accuracy in most lever-guns chambered for the .45 Colt.  I know for a fact it will work well in .45 Colt Uberti Henry's, 1866 & 1873 Uberti Winchester clones. (and my ArmiSport (Chiappa) 1865 Spencer carbine in .45 Schofield caliber.)

My 6-shot R&D conversion cylinder in .45 Colt for the Uberti Remington NMA ("1858") revolver and the Uberti Remington 1866 revolving carbine had to have the rim recesses broached up to accept .45 Schofield cases, but I believe the conversion cylinders sold nowadays will readily accept both .45 Colt and .45 Schofield cases.
I really like the .45 Schofield cartridge for both revolver and rifle applications.
I haven't had to modify my guns much to make it work, and I have the benefit of being able to use .45 Colt cartridges in my guns should I need more "oompf"...!

The .45 Schofield is straight-walled and thus easy to load compared to the more finicky bottle-necked WCF cartridges, and the prices of cases and reloading dies are comparable to the .45 Colt.
I routinely recommend my new club-members to skip the .45 Colt cases and go straight for the .45 Schofield cases when they are getting started either in CAS or blackpowder precision shooting.

Carrying guns for self-defence isn't really a topic this side of the pond, but personally I would feel more confident carrying TWO percussion SA revolvers than a single period break-open DA revolver.
(one broken leafspring was all it took to leave you standing with a "paperweight" in your hand...)
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Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2023, 10:21:28 AM »

 :) Ok, Ok, Back on Topic  ;)

When we speak of Cartridge Conversions and Rifles cartridge compatibility, we must first lay down some "Ground Rules."  Primarily, WHEN??  Now, or, Then.

In the 19th Century there we NO rifles chambered in 45 Colt.  Cartridge conversions were most commonly either 38 Colt or 44 Colt.  Kindly remember, we are talking "Chambers" not bore diameters.  There were NO rifles chambered in those cartridges.

That was the story well into the Twentieth Century, when the 45 Colt gained a "Rim" and a couple of cottage specialty folks started making Conversion Cylinders chambered for 45 colt.  Prior to that, it was still 38 (now special) and 44 (now Special) which allowed several more cartridges to exist in "some" rifles as well as conversion pistols (hand built customs).

No one that I know of, ever converted the original Open Top Pattern guns to .45 Colt.  the cylinder was just too small and the chamber walls too thin.  This held true until Aldo and Co. increased the size and weight of the Open Top pattern guns to provide thicker (not thick enough) cylinder walls.  This step allowed the 45 Colt cartridge to exist in commonality with 45 Colt rifles which are also a Twentieth Century iteration.

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2023, 10:15:42 PM »
Ah My Dear Coffin….
As always, there are a few rare exceptions….

This one being my favorite: the Remington Revolving Rifle!

Snip………..
“ The Remington Revolving Rifle was initially produced in percussion models in two basic sizes, related to caliber. Both of these sizes were later offered in rimfire cartridge models as well. These initial sizes were the .36 cal percussion cap & ball, and the .44 cal percussion cap & ball. The cartridge conversions later offered were the .38 long rimfire and the .46 rimfire.”

There were also occasional field conversions, at least one of which was found in .45 colt.

Please see the excellent article from the Remington Society by Mike Strietbeck
https://www.remingtonsociety.org/a-study-of-remington-revolving-rifles/

The percussion rifles were available as early as Dec,1865, the .38 rimfire and .46 rimfire cartridge rifles were shown in the
1877 catalogue.

Please see the article for an interesting nickel version in .45 colt.

The advantage?
+ Low cost  (starting at ~ $25 ),
+ light weight , ~ 6 lbs ,
+ ability to shoot cartridges -or- and loose powder and ball
+ compatible with your remington revolver
+ simple to fix for any sixgun mechanic

Disadvantage?
Only 5 or 6 round
Oddball cartridge
Slow reload

Not that many were made or sold, and like the 1858 revolver it was based upon it slowly faded away except in the hands and minds
Of excentrics like myself….

Yhs
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Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2023, 09:18:00 AM »

 :) Well There Ya Go  ;)

Twould appear my research (years old) was a mite spotty.  Whilst I was aware of Remington chambering some of their revolvers for the imminently popular .46 Remington, I was unaware Remington was also converting prior manufacture percussion revolvers to cartridge.  Totally missed Remingtons Revolving Rifle being converted to cartridge prior to being manufactured as a suppository shooter as those odd suppositories became the new fad.

Of course, I would also have to admit, my research shortcoming is somewhat affected by my previously (frequently) stated dislike for Remington's.  did I mention I don't like Remington??

Now wait.  Now that I think of it, wasn't Remington the originator of the "Two Part" drop in cartridge conversion cylinder made popular by R & D??  Seems like I may well have known that and just ignored it as I don't like Remingtons.

Offline RoyceP

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2023, 12:27:16 PM »
I’m looking to (eventually) do a cartridge conversion on an 1858 Remington but want to be as historically accurate as possible.

Which calibers were original conversions available in?  (Including weird period gunsmith one offs you may have seen)  Were any ever done (HISTORICALLY) in .44-40?

Were ANY of those cartridges also used in rifles?

Basically I like the idea of using just one caliber for the revolver and the rifle, but I don’t particularly want to just use an 1873 like 99% of everyone else seems to and I’m trying to come up with a historical work around.

What I will likely do in the real world is just get a .45 Colt conversion, which I could argue hypothetically COULD have happened historically if a gunsmith independently figured out the angled chamber thing, but the .45 Colt was never historically used in long guns because of the balloon head case, so I would like to just use .45 Colt as a convenient modern “stand in” for some period cartridge that actually could have been used sometime in the 1880s.

Yes I’m probably over thinking this but that’s just how my head works.


If I were trying to do that I would use 44 Colt brass and this bullet: https://oldwestbulletmoulds.com/shop/ols/products/44-coltremington-210gr-heel-bullet-double-cavity-mould

Yes I realize it says "Out of Stock" but my experience with that statement and this company has been great in the past. Typically an out of stock item will ship within a week.

Whatever you are planning will involve a lot of reloading. 45 Colt ammunition is very expensive today. I have not bought any ammunition in years.

Offline RoyceP

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2023, 03:28:47 PM »
I’m looking to (eventually) do a cartridge conversion on an 1858 Remington but want to be as historically accurate as possible.


Or if you are into instant gratification (who isn't?) You could buy one of these and use 45 Colt or 45 S&W Schofield rounds:
https://www.buffaloarms.com/uberti-1858-rem-w-gate-45-colt-kk1858ug.html

Offline Hair Trigger Jim

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Re: Cartridge conversions and rifles cartridge compatabikity
« Reply #19 on: December 19, 2023, 05:21:05 PM »
The only metallic cartridge I can think of that was widely used in both conversion revolvers and lever-action rifles was the rimfire .44 Henry.  Hence the attempts to replicate its ballistics with various centerfire cartridges.

 

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