Update: 1851 Navy or 1860 Army? My choice arrived
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Thread: Update: 1851 Navy or 1860 Army? My choice arrived

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    Update: 1851 Navy or 1860 Army? My choice arrived

    I collect SAAs, and now that I'm retired I'd like to acquire a 'shooter' grade cap and ball Colt. I'd like to know which you all consider the better balanced Colt, 1851 or 1860. I prefer .44, and I prefer the looks of the round barrel, but balance is my main concern. I've replaced most of my SAA 'shooters' with slightly oversize grips, which helps my accuracy.

    Another question, did they men of that time period actually pack the ends of the chambers to prevent crossfires, or did they rely on slightly oversized lead balls to seal them off? It seems to me that packing the front of the cylinders with lard, or whatever, on a hot summer day in Texas would just create a mess in their holsters.

    Steve
    Last edited by BisleySteve; 10-19-2016 at 02:03 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BisleySteve View Post
    I collect SAAs, and now that I'm retired I'd like to acquire a 'shooter' grade cap and ball Colt. I'd like to know which you all consider the better balanced Colt, 1851 or 1860. I prefer .44, and I prefer the looks of the round barrel, but balance is my main concern. I've replaced most of my SAA 'shooters' with slightly oversize grips, which helps my accuracy.

    Another question, did they men of that time period actually pack the ends of the chambers to prevent crossfires, or did they rely on slightly oversized lead balls to seal them off? It seems to me that packing the front of the cylinders with lard, or whatever, on a hot summer day in Texas would just create a mess in their holsters.

    Steve
    Well the answer to your question would be the Army, though I prefer the Navy. The Navy uses the exact same grips as the Col SAA, which I believe are the greatest grips of all time. But if you like to put oversized grips on your SAA, then the Army is for you. And in .44, the only navy's you could get would be pietta (that I know of), as the originals were in .36.

    I can't answer the second question, as I wasn't there, but when I shoot them I never put anything over the ball and I have never had a chain fire.
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    Thanks Big. I use to shoot a lot of BP when I was a young man (70s-80s) and after a while I bypassed the 'Crisco'. I never had an issue either. I was curious as to the standard practice of that time period, especially in the military.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BisleySteve View Post
    I collect SAAs, and now that I'm retired I'd like to acquire a 'shooter' grade cap and ball Colt. I'd like to know which you all consider the better balanced Colt, 1851 or 1860. I prefer .44, and I prefer the looks of the round barrel, but balance is my main concern. I've replaced most of my SAA 'shooters' with slightly oversize grips, which helps my accuracy.

    Steve
    Well, if you will abide my opinions, I'll address this part.

    I have been a Pietta fan for a number of years. The arbors on the Piettas are much more of a correct length than the Ubertis, therefore you should have not much problem with barrel/wedge/arbor fit if you want to shoot it a bunch insofar as longevity of the pistol.

    Just make sure it is a steel frame.

    Pietta revolvers are the least expensive pistols of the two, and the three I own are very good. Mine are all .36 caliber. I have enough in those 3 pistols to create an 1851 Navy 2nd Model, an 1851 3rd Model, a Leech & Rigdon, a Schneider & Glassick, and a fantasy 1851 Navy .36 Dragoon with a half round/half octagon barrel.

    I have no experience with Pietta .44 pistols on a rebated cylinder (cut water table).

    To me, the balance of the 1851 Navy is better than the 1860 Army. You must choose.

    Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by sourdough View Post
    Well, if you will abide my opinions, I'll address this part.

    I have been a Pietta fan for a number of years. The arbors on the Piettas are much more of a correct length than the Ubertis, therefore you should have not much problem with barrel/wedge/arbor fit if you want to shoot it a bunch insofar as longevity of the pistol.

    Just make sure it is a steel frame.

    Pietta revolvers are the least expensive pistols of the two, and the three I own are very good. Mine are all .36 caliber. I have enough in those 3 pistols to create an 1851 Navy 2nd Model, an 1851 3rd Model, a Leech & Rigdon, a Schneider & Glassick, and a fantasy 1851 Navy .36 Dragoon with a half round/half octagon barrel.

    I have no experience with Pietta .44 pistols on a rebated cylinder (cut water table).

    To me, the balance of the 1851 Navy is better than the 1860 Army. You must choose.

    Jim
    Everything Jim said is spot on. And all of the parts are interchangeable. You can really pull off a Tuco in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, by mixing and matching parts. I have done this with quite a few. The only downsides I have seen so far with Pietta is that the grips are not exactly shaped right and the bolt tends to need to be filed down to fit properly as they are almost always too large. Both issues are pretty easily corrected.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bighipiron View Post
    Everything Jim said is spot on. And all of the parts are interchangeable. You can really pull off a Tuco in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, by mixing and matching parts. I have done this with quite a few. The only downsides I have seen so far with Pietta is that the grips are not exactly shaped right and the bolt tends to need to be filed down to fit properly as they are almost always too large. Both issues are pretty easily corrected.
    I must agree with you, whether or not you are speaking of the "tail" grip profile pistols or the newer (post 2014 [CM]) pistols with the new profile. I have found, with my pistols, that the bolt width is not so much of a problem, but the early drop of the bolt is. That can be seen from wear on the cylinder on the beveled approaches.

    Insofar as the grip profile of the Pietta "tail" being "incorrect", if one has access to Swayze's 1851 Colt Navies excellent treatise one will find all manner of grip/backstrap profiles. Anyone who proclaims that a certain profile is correct is sadly mistaken.

    The newer Pietta profile is a step toward pacifying some of the crowd insofar as eliminating the "tail". I like how the "tail" profile held in the hand. The newer profile, not so much.

    To each their own.

    Bass Pro Shops just acquired Cabela's . Cabela's has been known to have one-day sales, as they did two days ago on Tuesday: I scored a Pietta 1851 Navy steel .36 (historically a Colt 1851 Third Model) for $180 with free shipping. Normally $250.

    I hope this helps you, sir.

    Jim

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    Thanks for the responses guys, but I'm planning on buying a real Colt. But you helped me answer my own question. When I was younger, as a gunsmith I repaired several 1851s and 1860s to working order, and with the owner's permission always ran six shots thru them to test them. There's nothing like the feeling of shooting the real thing. My problem is that I don't remember the balance of each gun I worked on.

    When reading your posts I had one of those 'dah' moments. I'll just find a store that sells reproductions of both models (Cabellas maybe) and see which model fits me best, then search for the right 1851 or 1860 'shooter' Colt. I'm leaning towards the 1860 model. Thanks for your help.
    Last edited by BisleySteve; 10-06-2016 at 07:15 PM.

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    I am pleased to see you are going for the real deal, Bisley Steve. The originals just ooze out history and are a joy to shoot. My preference of the two models is the 1860 Army. I have quite large hands and I perceive the grips of the Navy to be too short. The stocks of the Army fit my hands better, but I would not mind if they were 1/4" longer so I would have room for my pinky as well. Okay, the Navy balances better and the Army tends to be a bit front-heavy, but at the same time it feels more stable. All in all it is a matter of hand size and personal preferences.

    I can see you have been dealing with both models previously, but just as a little reminder, check out the fit of the arbor, wedge and joint between barrel lug and frame with extra care. Those parts are the heart and soul of an open top. If the inside of the barrel is slightly frosted or with a slight pitting does not matter much, but make sure the lands are not broken. Look for deep pitting in the chambers and that the nipples are not stuck. The rest is just DIY home gunsmithing. Most Uberti spare parts fit better than Pietta parts, but they need some minor gunsmithing before they fit properly.

    Good luck !

    Mel

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    I read somewhere (I think it was in one of my Colt books) that some of the famous Old West characters, such as Hickok, preferred the 1851. I also like the looks of the 1861 Navy. Does the 1861 Navy have the same size grip frame as the Colt SAA?
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    Oh yeah, Wild Bill preferred his trusty Navies even after the metallic ctgs were available. The 1861 Navy is basically an 1851 Navy with round bbl and creeping loading lever and both share the same size grip frame so, yes they have the same size as the SAA.
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