Reloading .45 Colt for R&D Coversion Cylinder

The Goose

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So this post is about reloading, but it is also a bit of a review of the R&D conversion cylinder for cap n ball revolvers. A few years back I acquired a Uberti 1858 Remington stainless .44 percussion revolver. Supposedly it had been owned by a cowboy action shooter who had it tuned. Sure seems like it to me. I also picked up an R&D conversion cylinder in .45 Colt to try out. The conversion cylinder just dropped in without adjustment. The manufacturer recommends either "cowboy" level smokeless loads or black powder (or substitute). Initially I fired smokeless loads mostly Trailboss under a Lyman 250 gr. cast bullet. Accuracy was absolutely excellent, arguably this converted revolver is as accurate as any handgun that I have ever shot. The Trailboss loads were very mild with negligible recoil and almost a pop instead of a bang. I wanted more so I tried black powder. WOW, what a difference. It went from pop to BOOM with belches of fire and smoke and a pretty hefty recoil, but the accuracy stayed the same. I was hooked. I picked up a 6 cavity Big Lube .45 mold that throws about a 255 gr. flatnosed boolit. I size it to .454 and lube it with either SPG or Sagebrush lube. I load it over 32 grains of 3F blackpowder with a 030 Walters wad and a little help from a compression die. My set of reloading dies are Lee and I use the factory crimp die as the final step. To date I have shot well over 1000 rounds through this revolver and it still functions perfectly and looks almost new. The picture below was taken today. For those of you who like to complain about black powder clean up it is a piece of cake on a stainless revolver. I use a diluted solution of Windex with Vinegar (not ammonia). Just drop out the cylinder, spritz the whole thing. A couple of swabs through the bore and a wipe down and it is clean. Compare that to what smokeless powder does to a stainless cylinder. The only drawback to this set up is that the cylinder has to be removed to reload and the spent brass is poked out with a punch. There are some conversion cylinders with loading gates and on some revolvers you can install an ejection system. I'm OK with mine as it is. Great fun to shoot and accurate as all get out. Also it hammers steel plates.

The Uberti with the conversion cylinder installed



The original percussion cylinder next to the R&D



A loaded cylinder



A loaded round and the Big Lube bullet with and without lube

 

Eric H

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Well well well, I just added another item to my list. I've got a Pietta 1851 steel frame .44, too bad I didn't see any .44 conversion cylinders for one. Guess I gotta get a 1858 and one of these conversion cylinders for s's and g's.
 

Knob Creek

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Well well well, I just added another item to my list. I've got a Pietta 1851 steel frame .44, too bad I didn't see any .44 conversion cylinders for one. Guess I gotta get a 1858 and one of these conversion cylinders for s's and g's.
Pretty sure they do make them. Kirst I think makes them.
 

gerrycaruso

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The .44 cap&ball revolvers are all really .45 caliber. All use .451,.454 or .457 diameter round balls. The 1851 is an open top design and isn't as strong as the 1858 which has a top strap.
 

The Goose

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The .44 cap&ball revolvers are all really .45 caliber. All use .451,.454 or .457 diameter round balls. The 1851 is an open top design and isn't as strong as the 1858 which has a top strap.

All of these percussion revolvers regardless of open top or top strap are marked for black powder only. The makers of the conversion cylinders say light "cowboy" smokeless loads are OK. I stick with black powder which I know is safe. Even relatively mild smokeless loads can have pressure spikes that can cause issues. Having said that the modern repro percussion revolvers are pretty sturdy and the conversion cylinders are quite strong.
 
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I have the Pietta 1858, (from cabelas, blued) with the Taylors conversion cyclinder for 45 colt. Also have fantastic accuracy with 45 colt. I use trail boss, HDY 255 Lead, 4.8-5gr. I use 777 for cap and ball, (not so accurate, but can make a load eqiv to 38 spl.) Pull out the cylinder, drop into a mug of hot water, and it cleans istelf. Also, Lee van Cleef uses one in "the good, the bad, and the ugly", so you know its awesome.

I would love to load BP into cartriges, where does one find that "reloading manual"? What primers does one use? Do you have to fill the empty space in the case?
 

The Goose

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There is really not any reloading data as such for black powder. You load the case up with as much powder as it will hold with a slight compression. It is loaded by volume and not by weight. The enemy is air space between the powder charge and the base of the bullet. That could cause dangerously high pressures that could damage the firearm. I load a fair number of both pistol and rifle with black powder and I always use magnum primers, but many do not. The big thing with loading black powder is the lube. Lube on a black powder bullet is designed to keep the fouling soft for a string of shots. Soft fouling means that you can fire more shots before having to clean and the cleaning will be easier. Back in the day the great Elmer Keith espoused learning to reload with black powder as a precursor to loading smokeless. Black powder is very forgiving to reload. You literally cannot over charge the case, bullet seating depth is irrelevant as long as the finished round will chamber and function properly in that firearm and you really do not even need a scale to weigh the charge. I load for several firearms from the 1860's and 1870's and it is perfectly safe with max loads of black powder. No danger of pressure spikes. Many old Trapdoors and Peacemakers have been destroyed by folks attempting to load "safe" so called mild smokeless loads in these old timers. A little reading and studying is always worth while, however, reloading with black powder is way easier and safer then reloading with smokeless at least in my opinion. See my post about the catastrophic failure of overcharging a .357 magnum with a double smokeless charge.
 

mg42doc

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so say one has a conversion cylinder installed, would it change the status of the black powder handgun? At what point would you have to file a FA10 on the thing?

As in, it now fires cartridge ammunition, so it moves towards the realm of a "modern firearm"

The drop-in cylinders aren't a permanent change.....and it's not like you're cutting a loading gate into the frame.




It's late and I've worded the question poorly. Hopefully someone gets what I'm asking.
 
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Knob Creek

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I've seen what is called the .45 Cowboy Special round. A Cowboy Action shooter wanted reduced Blackpowder loads for his guns and came up with this. He cut down .45 LC brass to .45 Auto Rim or ACP length. Eventually he had brass made by Starline and was selling it. Smokeless Load Data from the .45 ACP or Auto Rim can be used. For Blackpowder you could probably search for that.

 
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so say one has a conversion cylinder installed, would it change the status of the black powder handgun? At what point would you have to file a FA10 on the thing?

As in, it now fires cartridge ammunition, so it moves towards the realm of a "modern firearm"

Great question!......
 
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For those with 1858 Pietta Remingtons and Taylor conversion cylinders, make sure you check your bolt timing. Both of mine had an issue where the bolt was dropping out of the cylinder slot when the hammer started moving forward which can allow the cylinder to rotate out of alignment. I made a simple mod to each and the bolt now stays locked properly with both the conversion and the original cylinders.

Read Here : http://1858remington.com/discuss/index.php?topic=5188.0
 
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There is really not any reloading data as such for black powder. You load the case up with as much powder as it will hold with a slight compression. It is loaded by volume and not by weight. The enemy is air space between the powder charge and the base of the bullet. That could cause dangerously high pressures that could damage the firearm. I load a fair number of both pistol and rifle with black powder and I always use magnum primers, but many do not. The big thing with loading black powder is the lube. Lube on a black powder bullet is designed to keep the fouling soft for a string of shots. Soft fouling means that you can fire more shots before having to clean and the cleaning will be easier. Back in the day the great Elmer Keith espoused learning to reload with black powder as a precursor to loading smokeless. Black powder is very forgiving to reload. You literally cannot over charge the case, bullet seating depth is irrelevant as long as the finished round will chamber and function properly in that firearm and you really do not even need a scale to weigh the charge. I load for several firearms from the 1860's and 1870's and it is perfectly safe with max loads of black powder. No danger of pressure spikes. Many old Trapdoors and Peacemakers have been destroyed by folks attempting to load "safe" so called mild smokeless loads in these old timers. A little reading and studying is always worth while, however, reloading with black powder is way easier and safer then reloading with smokeless at least in my opinion. See my post about the catastrophic failure of overcharging a .357 magnum with a double smokeless charge.
lesson number one, Know what the hell your doing before you do it . 6.5 gr Unique and a 250 gr cast bullet in the conversion cylinder is a great shouting load , and very safe, have shot a ton of the with no problems
 

moojpg2

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I have a ruger old army and have a conversion cylinder for it, mostly for the novelty. I shoot smokeless loads in it but the ruger is a modern frame gun its plenty strong.
 

Broccoli Iglesias

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I did not know these guns could be converted from cap and ball to cartridge.

What a beautiful gun.

Maybe a stupid question, but this is MA. ... when you do the conversion, do you need to register the gun as a modern weapon?
 
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I did not know these guns could be converted from cap and ball to cartridge.

What a beautiful gun.

Maybe a stupid question, but this is MA. ... when you do the conversion, do you need to register the gun as a modern weapon?
If you're thinking of getting one, get one with adjustable sights. Not saying that the fixed sights are bad, I can shoot fine with them, but the adjustable sights are a lot better.

I've been craving a 12" Buffalo for years and they've been impossible to get all year.
 

Broccoli Iglesias

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If you're thinking of getting one, get one with adjustable sights. Not saying that the fixed sights are bad, I can shoot fine with them, but the adjustable sights are a lot better.

I've been craving a 12" Buffalo for years and they've been impossible to get all year.
I have a 12" buffalo I bought years ago. I never knew I could get the conversion cylinder for that.

It is very accurate. I was hitting paper plates at 100 yards.

Looks like I will have to start reloading .45 Colt.
 
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