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Thread: Colt 1851 Navy Cartridge Conversion Cylinder

  1. #1

    Colt 1851 Navy Cartridge Conversion Cylinder

    Howdy folks.

    It has been a while since I have been here, not had time for shooting sadly.

    I am wondering if anyone can give their feedback on the Kirst Konverter cylinders and whether these will fit an original 1851 Colt Navy revolver? I have the chance to buy an original navy and would like to know if it can be fitted with a Kirst cylinder without the need of a pro gunsmith.

    Also would be interested to know if the Uberti 1851 Navy Percussion Cylinders would fit an original Colt Navy?

    Based on my research a Uberti Percussion cylinder would fit an original Colt, but not sure on the Kirst.

    My apologies if this has been answered, I struggled to find the answer (also was not sure about where to post this).

    Much obliged


  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Way up in the Cascades
    I don't know all of the answers to your questions, but you're topic is one in which I've recently become quite interested. I'll "stay tuned" and we'll probably both learn when the man with the answers comes along.

    A couple of things I'd like to chat with you about are: Is the 1851 Navy in question an actual original Colt, or is it an Italian replica? Your post leaves the question open for speculation. Most, perhaps not all, shooters and collectors would balk at modifying an original if it meant milling, filing, or grinding something. I was previously not familiar with the Kirst cylinder conversion, but am with the Howell. The Howell is a straight "drop in" cylinder, but I can see advantages to the Kirst as being similar to the original 1872 Richardson conversion in that it has a loading gate. This is certainly preferable to having to take the Howell out of the revolver to reload it. But what I do note in looking at the Kirst website is that it mentions the inclusion of a template for the loading gate, which to me would indicate some sort of modification to the revolver itself. If you're talking an original Colt Navy, then that really wouldn't be a good idea, but if it's a replica then I'd go for it and the Kirst would certainly be my choice over the Howell.

    So, I don't know what the revolver is, original or replica, and the finances involved, but something you might consider if it is a replica is to go the route I did a few months ago and buy a ready made replica of the Mason-Richards as shown below. When you consider the cost of the revolver you are intending to buy and the cost of the conversion cylinder, over $300 for either brand, you'll be at least and probably a little over half way to the cost of one of these new. Also, the conversions both use .38 LC, whereas the Mason Richards open top uses .38 Special. Not that you'd want to hotrod the .38 Special in these revolvers, but .38 Special brass is so much easier to come by.

    Just some thoughts.......and I'm certain someone will come along with better answers for you.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    May 2014
    If it is a reproduction from the 1980-9 s it was made by Uberti and has the strength to fire cartridges. If it is an actual 1851 from the war do not put a Kirst in it. I owned both a Kirst and an R&D cylinder for my 1858 navy's. Both worked well. The Kirst was reloadable in the gun.

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    South Jersey
    Taylor's has them - 1851 Kirst Conversion Cylinder ... http://www.kirstkonverter.com/1851-61-colt-navy.html

  5. #5
    Howdy partners.

    The Colt that I have the opportunity to buy is an original Colt Navy, made by Colt in about 1858.

    I am considering buying it to put a Kirst cylinder on (or blackpowder loads only) as it does not come with a cylinder and has already been modified and is no longer original.

    I beleive the receiver has been stripped and blued at some stage, non original grips etc etc. |

    Hence me considering putting a Kirst Cylinder or Uberti manufactured cylinder on it. Basically it will be a project gun that I would like to have looking in good condition, regardless of minor modification I may have to do.

    I guess to summarise my questions are; will a kirst cylinder fit a genuine Colt manufacture 1851 Navy (made around 1858) and will a Uberti manufactured cylinder fit the same gun?

    Based on what I have read the Uberti cylinder should fit the Colt just fine. "Cap and Ball channel" on you tube shows an original colt 1851 Navy and a Uberti 1851 navy having the cylinders and barrels swapped and functioning fine.

    Kind regards


  6. #6
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Way up in the Cascades
    That information puts a whole new light on the situation! Sure go ahead a make the modification. So what I would do in this case, and usually do when facing the unknown is to go to the source. Why not send Kirst an e-mail and ask them? Then let us know also, as your situation about "updating" a genuine Navy isn't something one encounters every day.

    Here's one for you to file away: About a year ago I purchased a new Uberti 1873 percussion from Midway. I was waiting for good weather to come around to take it out and shoot it, and while the snow was all about I handled it many times in anticipation. Thinking about the whole thing I decided that I really should have a spare cylinder, as the 1873 doesn't have the loading lever of the 1851 or 1860, and to load it one has to remove the cylinder (easy enough to do) and reload it on a bench with a special tool. That problem would be eased when afield if I had an extra loaded cylinder to swap into the revolver when empty. Then a used one was offered for sale that looked so nice I purchased it, and could observe no difference between the two revolvers. I ordered a extra cylinder from VTI (I think that's the name) Gunparts, but they were out of stock and advised they couldn't fill the order until the next boat arrived from Italy. I went on back order, six months passed, and I thought I had been forgotten. But one day a nice lady phoned and said the cylinder was available, $132. When I received it I discovered that it fit and functioned perfectly in the new revolver, but not in the used specimen. I think it might be made to work in the second gun with a little filing, but that being irreversible and having the potential of being a $132 mistake I left things as-is. Turns out Uberti did change the specs somewhere along the line and no longer make replacement cylinders for the older version which in appearance is identical to the newer version. So I guess the moral to the story is to take nothing for granted in cylinder swaps.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Ozzman..I have a couple of Kirsts conversion cyl.s, both .38 long-colt & .45 long-colt. I have them in circa 1972 & 1980 Colt made percussion 1851 & 1860 army revolvers. I just couldn't bring myself to cut and fit a loading gate into those beautiful case colored frames..so brl. needs to be removed for loading/unloading..no big deal..wedge can be pushed out with thumb pressure. I am using hollow base bullets for obturation, but do have mould for heeled hollow-base bullets made by Old West. Very accurate at 25yds..even more so than in percussion persuasion. I wouldn't cut original colt frame..that way, even though your gun has been re-finished..it still is original and has worth in that configuration..otherwise it would just be a fake conversion. Oh, cyl. dropped right in & timing perfect you would want to check this before firing. I called Kirst & he informed me that their cyl. are proofed for modern smokeless loads.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    If you get the Kirst cylinder you will have to specify if it is uberty or pietta. Then you should have the barrel lined for .357, the navy will have a bore of .375 or you can use hollow base boolits if you can find them to bump up in the back. Rapine use to make a mold but they closed their doors.

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