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Thread: Navy arms 1873 accuracy problems.

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy Remmy4477's Avatar
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    Navy arms 1873 accuracy problems.

    Early navy arms uberti made 1873 in 45 Colt.

    At about my witts end with this thing!
    Bought this a few montha ago, the bore is great but had some leading build up about 1/3rd the way up from the chamber (24&1/2inch barrel). Got that cleaned out.
    Slugged the bore, .450, did this 3 times to confirm. Checked a uberti twist rate chart that states the 45 colt at .442-.450 with a 1 in 16 twist for there rifles.u

    Been using a lyman 452664 boolit sized at .452, and some older speer swc at .452 moly coated.
    Loads have been 4-6grns trail boss, 5-6.5 bullseye, and 5-8grns unique. Winchester brass and neck sized only.
    All loads shot from sandbags at 40 meters (chicken silhouette) and 50 meters (pig silhouette).
    So far none of these will group less than 7 inches if you get that lucky to get them on paper. Sights are a brass bead front, marbles tang sight rear.
    Have examined for leading and have not found any traces, muzzle crown is fine, no loose spots in the barrel, cleaning or slugging everything goes through it tight.
    Sights are tight.
    Two different shooter off the sandbags with the same results!

    So at a loss as to why??? What am I missing or doing???

    Working with my marlin 1895 cb in 45-70 and any change load wise and it lets you know right away.

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
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    I would suggest trying lighter bullets as well as gas checked bullets. You don't mention how hard the alloy is for your bullets, but may also want to try varying that.

    I had a Uberti 73, with a 30 inch barrel that I picked up a few years ago, thinking it would be the ultimate long range rifle in a pistol caliber. In the limited testing that I did, it did not shoot as well as my Miroku 357 with heavy bullets, and someone came along who really wanted it, so it went down the road. Just looked at my notes, and this particular rifle did its best for me with lighter bullets, 180 to 200 grain, and also liked a 220 grain bullet with aluminum gas checks. These were with Unique in the upper range of what you are trying. I have tried Trail Boss in many loadings, and love the fact that you can fill or nearly fill the case, but have never had it come out as the most accurate load. I think Bullseye is a great light pistol load, but would put it far down the list of powders I would pick for a long range load. (and I know my opinion is valuable, because I can take it to McDonalds, along with a dollar and get a senior coffee

    I find that at moderate velocities, softer bullets will often shoot better than "hard cast." My theory is (again, see comment above relating to value of my opinions) that the softer alloy will sometimes better engage the rifling.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    Carbine or rifle we have found that on some rifles the front sight dovetail is too tight and when they force in the sight this puts a wrinkle in the bore under the sight. All in all we have found that the 44-40 rifles are more accurate than the 45 colts.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy Remmy4477's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KCSO View Post
    Carbine or rifle we have found that on some rifles the front sight dovetail is too tight and when they force in the sight this puts a wrinkle in the bore under the sight. All in all we have found that the 44-40 rifles are more accurate than the 45 colts.
    Checked the bore under the front sight, nothing showing and no wrinckles.

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    I'm interested in how you progress w/ yur 73 Nvy ,, think'n about one N 44-40 x 24 . Have you anneled your brass ,, will help seal the bore ?? keep us posted .

    coffee's ready ,, Hootmix .

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    I worked with an Uberti 73 in .45 Colt for years. Half dozen different bullets and powders. Hot loads, not so hot loads, light loads, you name it. One time I got a 4" 50yd grou...one time. Never got it to shoot.

  7. #7
    Boolit Man kaiser's Avatar
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    My loads: 255gr (253gr avg.) Lee bullet cast BHN 11 to 14 and left unsized at .4535 to .454 with 12.9gr of Blue Dot, 8.7gr of Unique, 17.0gr of SR4759, or 16.5gr of 2400. As these loads work well (and near max allowable pressure) in my rifle, a 1873 Uberti Short Rifle, you should work up with to them with caution! I've used Bulleye, Red Dot, and the faster burning "shotgun" powders, but have not had the accuracy or velocity I desired. I would think your longer barreled would prefer a bit slower powder burn. I have not experienced your lack of accuracy with my rifle and believe the .45 Colt is as accurate as any other small "straight case" cartridges, but only when matched with chambers and barrels precisely; I think these factors proved to be lacking (early on) in the accuracy department when Colt first issued "oversized" chambered pistols with barrels bored "too tight". The "case blow by" signs on .45 Colt cases are usually a problem resulting from too little a powder charge, rather than too much; a problem exacerbated by a "pressure limiting" action design of the 1873 "toggle link". I've also found Red Dot and Bullseye powders to be too "case sensitive" where the position of the powder in the case can "shift" causing (sometimes) large variances in muzzle velocity from shot to shot. My .02's free of charge, but not without error.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy Walks's Avatar
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    I have a pair of UBERTI 1873's, a 24" Rifle & a 19" carbine. A 1866 Carbine too. All 25+ yrs old.

    If ya use any BULLSEYE Load it won't generate enough pressure in that BLASTED rock hard starline brass to seal the chamber and prevent powder blow by.
    I don't like Trail Boss, it gives the highest pressure of any load in it's class and the worst accuracy.

    I can hit a 4" gong at 50yds offhand with any of these Rifles and a #454190/Heavy TITEGROUP load.

    I use TITEGROUP with a LYMAN #454190 or RCBS 45-225-CAV. A light load for COWBOY ACTION SHOOTING, that does give powder blow back.

    REMINGTON Brass may be soft, expensive and not as long lasting as starline. But if ya got arthritis it's a lot easier to size.
    A HEFTY Charge leaves clean brass with the 260gr LYMAN Bullet. The LEE #452-255-RF works as well.

    Clays will also work well.

    Sorry to be so disjointed, we're having Thunder & Lightning. The WIFE & the Cat are freaked out !
    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

  9. #9
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    .............It's very possible you may simply have a case of "Levergunitis". You have a wooden handguard under the barrel trapped between the forend tip and the action. Plus a magazine tube that goes THROUGH said handguard, and is also anchored at both ends. Or you may have a barrel band involved instead of the forend cap. So there are several parts all interconnected with each other to one degree or another.

    I'm no expert at this but one afternoon one of the silhouette shooters (Freeman) was back at the rangemaster's office casually messing around with a Rossi lever action short rifle in .357 Mag. I sat on the corner of the table and asked what he was doing? He said his infernal contraption was apparently experiencing "Levergunitis". He said he'd checked it all over and there was no reason that he could see for it to not be able to shoot much better then what he was experiencing with it.

    He had all the odds and ends off of the barreled action other then the buttstock. I ended up going back to finish up my shooting. Later that day on his way out to his car, Freeman stopped by and said he'd got his Rossi shooting. I asked what he'd done and he said he had to cut a strip of Aluminum off a pop can, fold it in half and put it under the barrel band on top of the barrel. At this late date I don't recall any further conversation at the time, so who knows what problem that solved?

    ............Buckshot
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  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Remmy4477 View Post
    Early navy arms uberti made 1873 in 45 Colt.

    At about my witts end with this thing!
    Bought this a few montha ago, the bore is great but had some leading build up about 1/3rd the way up from the chamber (24&1/2inch barrel). Got that cleaned out.
    Slugged the bore, .450, did this 3 times to confirm. Checked a uberti twist rate chart that states the 45 colt at .442-.450 with a 1 in 16 twist for there rifles.u

    Been using a lyman 452664 boolit sized at .452, and some older speer swc at .452 moly coated.
    Loads have been 4-6grns trail boss, 5-6.5 bullseye, and 5-8grns unique. Winchester brass and neck sized only.
    All loads shot from sandbags at 40 meters (chicken silhouette) and 50 meters (pig silhouette).
    So far none of these will group less than 7 inches if you get that lucky to get them on paper. Sights are a brass bead front, marbles tang sight rear.
    Have examined for leading and have not found any traces, muzzle crown is fine, no loose spots in the barrel, cleaning or slugging everything goes through it tight.
    Sights are tight.
    Two different shooter off the sandbags with the same results!

    So at a loss as to why??? What am I missing or doing???

    Working with my marlin 1895 cb in 45-70 and any change load wise and it lets you know right away.
    So whats it doin? spewin em everywhere from the get go OR walking shots as it warms the barrel?
    Heres something to try - see if it will shoot a group if you shoot one shot every fifteen minutes - yeah a PITA but take something else to the range to fill in the time . If it will do this is tellin you the problem is someplace ahead of the action.
    If that needs attention you need a good set of screwdrivers and maybe an impact driver - Uberti has this pet gorilla in the back of the workshop that they let loose while the screw man is on coffee break
    once you start, strip the magazine and all its bits down - dont forget the front magazine band/hanger is NOT a normal dovetail - you dont drive it out - it rotates out
    clear the magazine tube channel in the forend so its free to the point of rattly
    The front band needs to slither down the magazine tube easy - NOT LOOSE! just an easy slide fit - might have to carefully sand some clearance out of the barrel band but BE CAREFUL to keep it round and true - some fine emery on a dowel rod thats a neat fit.
    The aim of the excercise is to free things enough they can move a little without falling off and to prevent the forend wood from pushing at odd points on the magazine tube.
    The crazy fast twist is no help but it is what it is - should shoot ok - 3 inches at 50 yards is not a big deal

    Is your marbles sight straight and firm - I bought a mid range stem a while back that was wobbly and turned out was missing some of the balls from inside the base - still working on that - no joy so far.



    I have never had an italian gun that was ready to go out of the box, always something needed a tweak!

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy Remmy4477's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indian joe View Post
    So whats it doin? spewin em everywhere from the get go OR walking shots as it warms the barrel?
    Heres something to try - see if it will shoot a group if you shoot one shot every fifteen minutes - yeah a PITA but take something else to the range to fill in the time . If it will do this is tellin you the problem is someplace ahead of the action.
    If that needs attention you need a good set of screwdrivers and maybe an impact driver - Uberti has this pet gorilla in the back of the workshop that they let loose while the screw man is on coffee break
    once you start, strip the magazine and all its bits down - dont forget the front magazine band/hanger is NOT a normal dovetail - you dont drive it out - it rotates out
    clear the magazine tube channel in the forend so its free to the point of rattly
    The front band needs to slither down the magazine tube easy - NOT LOOSE! just an easy slide fit - might have to carefully sand some clearance out of the barrel band but BE CAREFUL to keep it round and true - some fine emery on a dowel rod thats a neat fit.
    The aim of the excercise is to free things enough they can move a little without falling off and to prevent the forend wood from pushing at odd points on the magazine tube.
    The crazy fast twist is no help but it is what it is - should shoot ok - 3 inches at 50 yards is not a big deal

    Is your marbles sight straight and firm - I bought a mid range stem a while back that was wobbly and turned out was missing some of the balls from inside the base - still working on that - no joy so far.



    I have never had an italian gun that was ready to go out of the box, always something needed a tweak!
    indian joe
    Spewin them from the get go! I've never had the mag tube or forearm off of it, but see what your saying. Might just go ahead and pull the mag tube and forearm completely off and run a group or two and see what it does, at this point nothing to loose!
    The marbles sight is straight and true, no wobbles, not yet anyway it's brand new.
    A friend of mine brought over some 180 & 200grn boolits so going to try six different loads with 3 different boolit weights.
    Were heading to the range this afternoon with the 45-70's and the 73 colt, tools, bench and whatnot.
    Will see what happens and report the progress or degress either way!

    If I could get 3 inch groups at 50 yards I'd be happy! The main goal is to just hit the ram silhouettes at 100 meters.
    Last edited by Remmy4477; 10-13-2018 at 06:40 AM.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master


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    Checked a uberti twist rate chart that states the 45 colt at .442-.450 with a 1 in 16 twist for there rifles.

    Suggest you actually measure the twist. Many early rifles had slower twists. Could be with the low end velocities and heavier bullets you are using the bullets are not fully stabilized. Have you tried and 200 - 230 gr RF type cast bullets?

    Also the 45 Colt case is actually a tapered case. The use of most carbide sizers reduces the case diameter too much below the bullet. Thus with light loads the case does not obturate to seal the chamber. The solution, if one is wanted, is to use a Redding 2 ring carbide sizer, to just neck size with a carbide sizer to the base of the seated bullet or to use a steel sizer such as the RCBS which sizes with the correct taper to the case.
    Larry Gibson

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  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy Remmy4477's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Gibson View Post
    Checked a uberti twist rate chart that states the 45 colt at .442-.450 with a 1 in 16 twist for there rifles.

    Suggest you actually measure the twist. Many early rifles had slower twists. Could be with the low end velocities and heavier bullets you are using the bullets are not fully stabilized. Have you tried and 200 - 230 gr RF type cast bullets?

    Also the 45 Colt case is actually a tapered case. The use of most carbide sizers reduces the case diameter too much below the bullet. Thus with light loads the case does not obturate to seal the chamber. The solution, if one is wanted, is to use a Redding 2 ring carbide sizer, to just neck size with a carbide sizer to the base of the seated bullet or to use a steel sizer such as the RCBS which sizes with the correct taper to the case.
    Larry
    Will check the twist rate here in a bit. It is an early rifle. Loading up some 200grn right now.
    I'm using an older lyman die set, I have the resizing die set so it just does the neck. Seems my lyman and rcbs dies if set to fl resize the dies pinch the brass down below the boolit diameter.
    Neck sizing has been doing great at keeping the blowback and smudged brass to a minimum.

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Remmy4477 View Post
    Larry
    Will check the twist rate here in a bit. It is an early rifle. Loading up some 200grn right now.
    I'm using an older lyman die set, I have the resizing die set so it just does the neck. Seems my lyman and rcbs dies if set to fl resize the dies pinch the brass down below the boolit diameter.
    Neck sizing has been doing great at keeping the blowback and smudged brass to a minimum.
    I am proly a bit crazy - I would be shootin this thing with blackpowder - and if the cases would go back in the gun after they fired there would be NO sizing - not even neck size - case full of black (well leave room fer a boolit!) card wad on top 1/8th to 2/10th compression - seat boolit - crimp enough to keep it all together - ka boom!!!
    who knows - that might even work!

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    I gotta say, this thread is disheartening for me.

    I have been saving for a nice lever action, sold some stuff, etc. and I have always wanted an 1873. I was leaning toward the Uberti. I was going to choose the 45 Colt as I don't load for the 44-40.

    To hear of the accuracy problems has me reconsidering my choice.

    But that is the blessing of forums like this. The gun buyer isn't limited to the non-stop glowing reports from gun mags.


    Steve in N CA

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy Remmy4477's Avatar
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    Got out to the range saturday with the 73.
    Several different loads tried still same results. Nothing consistent? Nothing I could call a group. Still off sand bags and at 50 meters.
    However I did try some handloads my friend brought out for me to try at the end of our shooting session, by then I figured the rifle was better as a fence post than a shooter!
    I fired a 5 shot group off hand at 50 meters. I had one flyer, but it hit paper and the four remaining shots, 2 shots touching and two shots touching, about 4 inches from each.
    So maybe there is some promise here?
    The reloads were unknown powder and bullet. my friend pulled a few apart before he brought them. Measured the powder at 5 grns, powder looks similiar to unique but very glossy. A flake powder.
    The boolit looks just like the lyman 454190 but with a hollow base, 255grns. sized .451 and fairly soft. Not much recoil with them. Whatever they are the rifle seemed to like them.

    So going to work on it a bit more. We have a lyman 454190 mold, some soft lead and I'll size them at .451 and for giggles a few at .452 and .454. Powder wise will try lighter loads of unique.

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy Grapeshot's Avatar
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    I have a Navy Arms/Uberti 1873 Winchester. It started out in 1981 as .44/40. I had it rebarreled for .45 Colt in 1982 with a Douglas barrel with a groove to groove diameter of .452 inch and a twist of 1:16 inches. I have never had an accuracy problem using either Cast Lead or J-word boolits. You might want to slug the barrel to see if you have any tight spots, or fire lap the bore and see if that fixes your problem.
    Listen! Do you hear it. The roar of cannons, the screams of the dying! Ahh! Music to my ears!

  18. #18
    Boolit Master 35 Whelen's Avatar
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    I'm think a tight spot in the barrel. When you slugged it, did the slug slide easily from end to end? When one slugs a barrel with an oiled, soft lead slug or ball, after starting it in the muzzle it should pass through the bore with only hand pressure or at the very most, light tapping. Even then, if the bore were oversize near the chamber it would be difficult to detect. I would try some bullets sized .454". I recently switched from .452" to .454" in my Uberti revolvers. Accuracy is as good as with .452" but leading has been reduced to very near zero.

    Regarding the Uberti rifles, I have a '90's production '66 in 44-40 and it is spendidly accurate even at 200 yds.

    35W
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  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy Remmy4477's Avatar
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    Finally found the time to clean and give the rifle another look since last weekends shooting session.
    Upon cleaning the bore, more lead in the barrel, 1/3 the way up from the breech. A lot more lead! Severe in my opinion.
    Got that cleaned out, again!

    Boolits used last weekend were the Lyman 452664 sized .452, 16 hardness, Lube is soft and blue in color but do not remember the brand? Leaves a very nice soft ring at the muzzle crown. A few mystery lead boolits at 200 grn, .452. Several loads with unique 6-8grns. Then there was the mystery ammo, with 255 grn hollow base at .451 diameter boolits. This load shot well and actually suprised me with its accuracy.
    Total round shot that day with this rifle was 20, started with a clean bore.

    Slugged the bore again, .450 no tight spots that I can detect.
    Took advice given here and took the mag tube and forearm off the rifle, this was an experience!!
    Took the pin out of the front barrel band and had a heck of a time trying to pull out the mag tube from the forearm, took a lot of effort to get it out.
    Got it apart and just trying to put the mag tube throught the forearm off the rifle was a chore. A dowel wrapped in sand paper and quite a bit of sanding loosened it up, finally have it sliding in and out easily with no resistance on or off the rifle. The front barrel band needed no attention.
    The forearm once its mounting screws and echeston? was removed it would spring up from the barrel. Determined it was the rear inleting on the forearm being too big for the action, you had to put the forearm on at an angle under the lip of the action and press down to bring it onto the barrel, hold it down it was fine, let go and it would spring up. Sanded down the forearm inletting a little at a time until the forearm would just slide into the action with little force and that cured the overly tight forearm.
    Put it all back together, the magazine now is free to float and not act like a bow along with the forearm, so I am hoping that has improved something?? Just could not believe how tight the mag tube and forearm were!

    So now back to loads. I found some 255grn, .451 swc's, hard cast, harder than anything I have around here. Going to try a few of those.
    Will size a few 452664's to .451 and try them and some 454190's sized at .454.
    Ran out of that blue lube last loading session so will try some white label xlox 2500.

    Guns show this weekend so will have to wait till next week to see if anything helps my accuracy problem.

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