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Monday, 27 June 2016

'London NAVY' Revolver Conversion .36" to .38?:

Above photo is a 'normal' cap & ball London Navy .36" Calibre - while below is JBTFLs new 'Conversion' model fitted with a two part gated 'single-action' cylinder for use with a metallic cartridge - in this case it is marked for the .38" Colt Long cartridge:

 'JBTFL' had to buy this 'Conversion' when he saw it in an auction - to keep his other Uberti Navy company (they play much more nicely when together eh. - JBTFL = John Boy The Farmers Lad).

- The conversion consists of an open-ended rotating cylinder and a fixed breech-block with a gate that pivots open for loading/unloading the cartridges.

Just to help clarify the calibre issue with these Conversions Wikipedia lists these thus:

Colt 1851 Navy Revolver .. Cartridge: .38 Rimfire / .38 Centrefire (conversions) Calibre .36

- So that's clear eh.

How it is? - is that the .36 Calibre Navy used 80 grain lead balls that measured .375" - .380" diameter which had to 'obturate' (squeeze-down) into the .375" bore and rifling.

Colt London Navy Conversion (.38 really .36?)(Or .36 really .38)
 with my Ruger Old Army .44"(really a .45")

These calibres and names for cartridges are incredibly confused - without any real system until our more modern era.

You surely DO learn something new every day - when looking for history on this conversion I read that the very first Navy model Thuer conversions used a tapered cartridge to insert into the chambers from the front - thereby avoiding the Rollin White patent for open ended cylinders:
Thuer Tapered Brass Cartridges.
Only approx. 1,000/1,500 guns converted this way.

- Then it seems that in 1871 a Colt employee Charles Richards was awarded a patent for his cartridge conversion and that was further improved the following year 1872 by another Colt worker William Mason - so these later Navy Cartridge-Conversions should be properly known as an '1851 Richards-Mason Navy' .

These conversions were very popular as they were cheap and the guns were worked hard by the cowboys of the day - being used to hammer staples into posts to fix barbed-wire fences etc.

- It seems that you can either use .38 Special cartridges (pills measure .357" diameter) loaded with soft lead hollow base bullets to bump-up to bore size - or you can use .38 Long Colt cases with a correctly sized stepped heal bullet.

Life gets complicated eh..

Marty K.