Author Topic: 44 Colt to 44 Special  (Read 1303 times)

Offline Yellowhouse Sam

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44 Colt to 44 Special
« on: March 25, 2024, 01:31:41 PM »
Who can ream my 44 Colt Open Top cylinder to 44 special?
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Offline Abilene

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2024, 06:45:24 PM »
When I was working at Cimarron, they had the reamer in the work area and I reamed a few cylinders that customers sent in, and a few new cylinders when they only had 44 Colt OT's in stock and somebody wanted 44 Spcl.  The last time I looked, I couldn't find it and maybe one of their gunsmiths had it.  That's some years ago but anyways, couldn't hurt to call and ask. It's also likely that one of their off-site gunsmiths could do it.

Pretty good chance somebody here has one, too!  Nice thing about the job is that you can mail a reamer or mail cylinders, no need to ship a gun!

Offline Mako

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2024, 08:14:48 PM »
Sam,
What kind of shape is it in?  If it is excellent you might try selling it and just buying another in .44spl.  People are goofy about things like having an actual chambering in .44 Colt and the revolver being marked as such.  They might jump on on it. 

I actually have .44spl revolvers, rifles and carbines.  '71-'72 Open Tops like you have, Type 2 '60 Conversion revolvers (hard to find) and a '66 rifle and carbine.  I actually mainly shoot .44 Russian, but I have .44 Colt and .44Spl cases too.  I have a carrier conversion in the carbine (originally made to allow .45 Cowboy in a .45 Colt chambered Henry, '66 or '73 rifle/carbine) that allows me to shoot the short .44 Russian case in the '66 carbine.  I chose everything to be in .44spl to give me greater cartridge choice.

If case availability is your concern get some .44 Russian from Starline, they almost always have it.  They rarely have .44 Colt, but when they do it may sit on their site for a while or get snapped up by people like you looking for brass.

,44spl is not as easy to find anymore, it used to be available quite often as once fired,, now when I find it they want stupid prices for it and I'd rather buy new Starline for less money.

Do you shoot Black Powder or Smokeless?  You can get good results with .44 Russian with either.  I shoot 200gr Mav Dutchman bullets exclusively in all three cartridges and also in .44 WCF.  For cowboy shooting distances the targets clang no matter which case the bullet starts out in.  One last thing, a .44 Russian with a 200gr bullet is closer to the .44 Rimfire the original '71-'72s were chambered in if your looking for more of a true analog cartridge.

If you get it reamed, have your cylinder chambers throats checked first and tell the gunsmith you need it reamed with the "throat" leade, just a chamber reamer without leade added will limit your bullet selection and can actually raise your chamber pressures and cause leading.

~Mako
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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #3 on: Today at 03:38:37 AM »

Offline Tuolumne Lawman

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2024, 09:59:24 AM »
As a note, there are actual existing original Colt 1871/2 Open Tops in .44 Russian from the factory.  In McDowell's book "Colt Conversions and other revolvers, I believe he has pictures of two that are still in existence. IIRC, there was a small run at the factory in about 1872/3.  I'll have to look it up.

With that said, for a Historical purist, .44 Russian would be an original and correct caliber to have an 1872 Open Top in.
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Offline Trailrider

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2024, 01:36:28 PM »
Who can ream my 44 Colt Open Top cylinder to 44 special?
Is this an original OT Colt's or a replica in ".44 Colt's"? The reason I ask is because the modern so-called .44 Colt's are really short .44 Russians with a slightly different rim diameter. If so, you could even shorten .44 Magnum brass.
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Offline Abilene

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2024, 02:21:07 PM »
Is this an original OT Colt's or a replica in ".44 Colt's"? The reason I ask is because the modern so-called .44 Colt's are really short .44 Russians with a slightly different rim diameter. If so, you could even shorten .44 Magnum brass.
Maybe you misspoke, but the .44 Colt is longer than the Russian, between Russian and Special length.  And actually, the original OT's were not in 44 Colt, but 44 Rimfire.

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2024, 08:28:46 PM »

 :)  PLUS ONE for Abilene  ;)

The original Colt Open Top was specifically developed as a "partner" for the 1860 Henry Improved (Winchester 1866) and was only chambered for production In 44 Rim Fire.  (44 Stetson).  It has been rumored Colt also built two Prototype Open Top guns in 44 Central Fire.  No one I know of has ever seen one, and Colt was known, as was Winchester, to sell their proto guns when they were done piddling with them.


Offline Galloway

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2024, 10:03:02 AM »
Sam are you unable to chamber 44special in that 44colt cylinder?

Offline Tuolumne Lawman

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2024, 08:38:38 PM »
:)  PLUS ONE for Abilene  ;)

The original Colt Open Top was specifically developed as a "partner" for the 1860 Henry Improved (Winchester 1866) and was only chambered for production In 44 Rim Fire.  (44 Stetson).  It has been rumored Colt also built two Prototype Open Top guns in 44 Central Fire.  No one I know of has ever seen one, and Colt was known, as was Winchester, to sell their proto guns when they were done piddling with them.

Actually, McDowell documents several still existing in .44 Russian (with pictures).  He is rather more knowledgeable that any of us.
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Offline Mako

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2024, 09:49:12 PM »
Tuolumne Lawman,
Abilene and Coffinmaker are correct.  The original intent of the 71/72 was to make a companion revolver for the Henry and .66 rifles and chambered in .44 Rimfire.  It is true there are/were examples of the pistols in .44 Russian just as there are examples of Henrys and primarily '66  rifles/carbines in .44 Central Fire (centerfire).

https://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?374154-Original-Winchester-1866-44-Henry-CENTERFIRE-!-help-please

Both Abilene and Coffinmaker are extremely knowledgeable as well.  Just because McDowell wrote about it in his book doesn't make it sacrosanct.  Heck I've written books and Coffinmaker doesn't quote me...  I'm joking (not about the books), but McDowel did say the .44 Centerfires were experimental, In fact Dennis Adler expanded on that in his book and pointed out Colt's "Experimented" with several variations of the Open Top design, including models chambered for .44 Centerfire, .38 Centertfire and .32 Rimfire; and even some variations known as Baby Open Tops on smaller frames.  HOWEVER, the only examples ever put into production were chambered for the .44 Henry Rimfire.

I've actually been in Colt's Vault at the factory in East Hartford and it is full of "pattern guns" and one off prototypes, mainly more modern pistols now.  The custom shop even had a couple of lockers full of "pattern room guns" which were variation in caliber and features, they never made it to production.  There are Thousands of prototypes, pre-production sample guns and guns that died in the factories out there,

Mauser made at least a couple examples of a P08 Luger in .45 ACP, but I would never claim the .45 ACP Luger was a production pistol, there were only 2 produced in 1907 for the US Army trials, only one still exists (there are modern copies now).  Also H&K produced the PSP or P7 in .40 S&W, but it never made it out of the prototype stage even though it had major fanfare at the time. Those are just two of the thousands of examples you could dig up.

No, the 71-72 was produced as a .44 Henry rimfire, somewhere around 7,000 were produced, almost all with the larger Army grip.

So, my pontification and  $7.58 will buy you a cup of Starbucks coffee (maybe... with inflation the way it is) (the money supply, not my ego...)

~Mako
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Offline Tuolumne Lawman

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2024, 08:26:24 AM »
If you read my post, I never claimed (or implied) it was a "production run" caliber, only that they produced some in .44 Russian, so technically it is correct.  As for McDowell, he is probably the foremost authority on conversion revolvers, so argue with him.

"As a note, there are actual existing original Colt 1871/2 Open Tops in .44 Russian from the factory.  In McDowell's book "Colt Conversions and other revolvers, I believe he has pictures of two that are still in existence. IIRC, there was a small run at the factory in about 1872/3.  I'll have to look it up."

I have been on CAS since the CAS-L days, and expected better "I'm right, your wrong". oh well, Adios! 
TUOLUMNE LAWMAN
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Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2024, 08:55:43 AM »

 :) Well Now  ;)

Just to add some fun Mudd to the discussion, which will point out how "some" stories/Rumors/Propaganda/Conspiracies get started . . . I've been kind of a Guru of the Open Top ever since Uberti stuck their toe inna water.  They are Chameleons.  If one owns a Uberti Open Top, one can simple source Cylinders and Barrels from Uberti in .38, .44 and .45 then swap them around at leisure.  I digress.  My Point:  I was adding a set of .44 Barrels and Cylinders to my Open Tops.  The barrels I received are stamped "44-40."  Understanding, in actuality, Neither Colt nor Uberti EVER made the Open Top to chamber 44-40 (44 WCF).

Additionally, from time to time Uberti has been known to make Open Tops marked "44 Colt" that are actually chambered for .44 Special as well as marked 44 Colt that won't chamber 44 Special (Go Figure)

Let us also acknowledge, there are many "Old Wives Tails" out there generated by some Scribe who managed to get published, regardless of actual knowledge.  Those whom claim to have seen Bigfoot are not necessarily shining examples of knowledge.

Oh heck, almost forgot, there is at least ONE example of an Open Top chambered in 44-40, Not built by Uberti, custom built by its owner.  Some day someone will pick it up and say "See! See! See! - They did So!!  So there."   Burma Shave

Offline Tuolumne Lawman

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2024, 09:37:21 AM »
I am sure that Bruce Mc Dowell does not fit your definition of "some Scribe who managed to get published, regardless of actual knowledge."  I also think Bud Firth (the most foremost Colt Conversion/Open Top collector) would be surprised to find that his two 1872 Open Tops (serial No. 4 & 6 shown on page 294 of the book) are merely "wives Tales" and don't exist.

If you are not referring to Mc Dowell with that description, perhaps you are referring to myself, as I have been a staff writer for the Cowboy Chronicle since 1996.  If that is the case, I do not appreciate the insult.  I do not claim to be an expert, but rather take the information presented by the experts and reframe it in an entertaining and easy to read summary for the masses. 

No disrespect to members of this forum, but I'll put my money on McDowell and his 459 page book (which is the definitive work of research on open tops) "Colt Conversions and other Revolvers."
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Offline Crow Choker

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2024, 09:51:08 AM »


Who can ream my 44 Colt Open Top cylinder to 44 special?

Sam are you unable to chamber 44special in that 44colt cylinder?

Something to check out Sam. If you haven't try a 44 Special of the bullet/bullet types you want to fire in your Open Top. Saying this as back in late 2007 when I bought my OT from Cimarron I ordered it in 44 Special. Also a Model 66 Yellow Boy in 44 Special. I was told by guy on the phone at Cimarron that the Open Top will be marked '44 Colt' but chambered in 44 Special. The reasoning I was told was that alot of shooters wanted the 44 Special chambering but didn't want 44 Special stamped on a revolver that was produced in the early 1870's with a cartridge that didn't come about until around 1907.

My plan at the time was to shoot smokeless rounds in 44 Special and black powder in 44 Colt brass. Did so for awhile, but eventually settled for shooting only 44 Colt rounds using FF and FFF black Goex topped at first with Lee 200 grain cast bullet but later used only Dicks BigLube 200 grain Mav Dutchman cast bullet.  Have had a harmonious outcome in both firearms with the 44 Colt topped Mav Dutch using only FF powder now. The 44 Colts cycle fine through the lever Yellow Boy.

In late 2008 I bought a Richards II from Cimarron and ordered in also in 44 Special. Was advised at the time that the practice of stamping 44 Colt on revolvers chambered in 44 Special had ceased, now what was ever stamped on the frame is what the revolver is chambered for. The Richards II is stamped 44 Special. I have loaded a few 44 Specials using the Mav Dutchman using FF black but didn't see any advantage over the 44 Colts. Ya never know, possibly your Open Top was made in the time when Cimarron was stamping 44 Colts on 44 Special chambered revolvers. OR if newer, when reamed for 44 Colt it was reamed enough to accommodate a 44 Special round. Worth checking. Just thought I'd toss this into the fray.

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Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2024, 11:32:52 AM »

 :)  AH Cummon TL  ;)

Don't be getting your Knickers all in a Twist.  I wasn't necessarily singling any "one" scribe out for the guillotine nor was I specifically referring to you in particular.  Were I to insult you personally, I'd call you out by name.

Understand though, even those whom are revered as the "Last Word" have ben known to be mistaken.  We all know the Earth is FLAT, right??

Offline Tuolumne Lawman

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2024, 11:37:20 AM »
Lol. Very true  ;D
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Offline Mako

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2024, 02:01:59 PM »
As a note, there are actual existing original Colt 1871/2 Open Tops in .44 Russian from the factory.  In McDowell's book "Colt Conversions and other revolvers, I believe he has pictures of two that are still in existence. IIRC, there was a small run at the factory in about 1872/3.  I'll have to look it up.

With that said, for a Historical purist, .44 Russian would be an original and correct caliber to have an 1872 Open Top in.

Good Morning Tuolumne,
No disrespect intended; Abilene, Coffin Maker and Crow Choker will all attest to the fact everyone will know if I am being disrespectful.

There are people with a lot of experience and expertise on these boards, Coffin Maker and Abilene only fall behind you one year in time as members of CAS City and I only 23 months.  I don't think we want to be starting any whipping it out and measuring contests, I know the Monkey (sorry Abilene) would be in trouble.

I think the problem is that the reader would infer from your original post that the .44 Russian was a "common" or even an available caliber for the 71-72 Open Top.

I am always the student, and I have a particular interest in the Colt's Percussion and Open Top Revolvers, in fact they are all that I shoot in Cowboy matches, whether loose powder pistols or conversion revolvers that I use for wet weather guns (I hate trying to load percussion revolvers in the rain...).  I even have a pair of Uberti 71-71 Open Tops. 

Because I am the perpetual student I have been waiting with interest for the information you mentioned concerning a reference for a "small run of .44 Russian revolvers".  That statement infers that there was a small production run of .44 Russian revolvers, maybe that is our failing in assuming you meant production...

I am no longer a historical purist because I quite often find I was mistaken or not privy to some tightly held information  (that was either a 0307 or 0203 lesson 101, and hard learned).  The fact is, history is often what the first to write a book says it is (No Disrespect to McDowell or his fine book, I have a copy...).  But a historical purist might have mentioned that there were also .38 Centerfire and .32 Rimfire cartridges as well.  But, as I think  you said later the .44 Russians were experimental non-production run examples.

But what's a few experimental calibers among friends?

~Mako
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Offline Mako

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2024, 05:17:24 PM »
I'm sorry all, but I just couldn't stand it.  I got bored and pulled out my copy.

See below from the scribe's "own hand", well actually typeset...

~Mako
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Offline Hair Trigger Jim

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2024, 05:28:49 PM »
Now I'm gonna have to get a copy to read the next page and see why he says that revolver was in .44 American!

Offline Mako

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Re: 44 Colt to 44 Special
« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2024, 05:48:56 PM »
Now I'm gonna have to get a copy to read the next page and see why he says that revolver was in .44 American!

Isn't suspense great?

It keeps you regular...

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