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This happened many years ago at the shooting range.

I was observing a shooter shooting what seemed to be a very attractive Single Action, looked like new condition from my vantage point, nice blue and brass back strap. When he put the gun down I could see not brand new, from the one-piece walnut grip which was very darkened and marred up in places. Also noticed it was an open top. Then it appeared to be a conversion.

As he paused, I asked him about the gun. It was an original 1860 Army model, converted to metallic cartridges via the Richards Mason conversion. He knew nothing about the gun, having inherited it from his late step-father. The gun had been cut to a 5" barrel, and expertly polished and blued. The brass had been polished at one time and had some darkening from oxidation. I glanced at the box of cartridges, expecting to see .44 caliber rounds. Instead they were .45 ACP!

He told me they were loaded with a 200 gr. cast SWC and Pyrodex powder. This information had been on papers found with the gun. Did I want to try it?

You bet I did! I loaded and fired two five round cylinders. The smoke was not too bad, accuracy not real good, but sheer pleasure in shooting. Yes, the cylinder was chambered to correctly headspace .45 ACP cartridges. As to bore diameter, I have no idea. I never saw the gun nor the shooter again. But chalked up another bit of experience.

Bob Wright
 

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That's a weird one. An unknown gunsmith made an interesting gun that in the future might blow up because I'm sure it wasn't marked blackpowder only. But the guy you met knew what he was doing. That would be a fun one to have. My 1860 conversion on an unknown Italian gun was half done when I bought it at a gunshow. The most important part, the cylinder was there and the guy said it was a .44 Magnum! Well, I thought it would make a great blackpowder only .44 special. John Gren then built a loading gate, ejector and rod, higher front sight, lined the barrel and refinished it. It's regulated to standard lead bullets for a .44 at 200 grains. 215 worked great with 23 grns. of black and it's very accurate. Scary part is, way in the future a guy can slip a .44 Mag., or modern .44 special in it and blow it up.It's bored straight through. But like the gun you shot, it works great when used properly. My gun had a faint "JAD" stamped on it. I wish I know who that was who started this conversion. He stamped the gun with wobbly Colt address and "1871", etc. Here it is again. I wish you had a picture of the one you shot. John Gren did the conversions used in Wyatt Earp with Kevin Costner. The one he took off the guy he hit with an eight ball, and the 1860 Bignose Kate tried to shoot Doc with.

 

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Bob, very cool story! That's what's so interesting about firearms and shooting, we constantly learn something new and exciting. Who would have ever thought of a relatively modern semi-auto caliber in an old open-top black powder revolver. Chances are good, that with some experimentation, accuracy could have been improved upon and that would be a delightful gun to shoot.

Thanks for the great story. :cool:
 

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That is an awesome story indeed. I like the idea of the conversion and I think I will end up converting one of my replica bp guns down the road. The problem with liking guns of old is that there are so many models to choose from. Have the bp versions, the converted, then there's the open top, then the venerable SAA....lots of guns to buy, not enough money to spend :confused:
 
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