Author Topic: 1851 in 40 Caliber  (Read 2090 times)

Offline StrawHat

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1240
    • View Profile
1851 in 40 Caliber
« on: February 09, 2016, 02:55:44 AM »
I had seen one in the old Colt Factory Museum in my teens.  They have since broken up the collection and sold it off.  Joe must have been lucky!  Wish it were mine.

http://www.joesalter.com/category/products/Rare-Colt-1851-Navy-Prototype-Enlarged-Caliber-Revolver

Wonder when the Italians will start producing one?  Hope it is Uberti, and I hope they get the chamber/bore diameters matched up better.

Kevin
Knowledge carried to the grave unshared, is wasted.

www.NoonSharpening.com

Offline ssb73q

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2086
  • Gunsmoke junkie
    • View Profile
Re: 1851 in 40 Caliber
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2016, 05:57:23 AM »
Hi Kevin, Pietta does make a larger than .36 caliber 1851, the .44 1851. What's 0.040" among friends?  ;)

Regards,
Richard
There’s nothing better in the morning than the smell of bacon and black powder smoke!

Offline Hawg

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1324
  • Newbie
    • View Profile
Re: 1851 in 40 Caliber
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2016, 06:07:10 AM »
If they haven't done it by now don't look for it.

Offline StrawHat

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1240
    • View Profile
Re: 1851 in 40 Caliber
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2016, 04:16:53 AM »
Hi Kevin, Pietta does make a larger than .36 caliber 1851, the .44 1851. What's 0.040" among friends?  ;)

Regards,
Richard

I figure if they can make a fantasy revolver, why not make something authentic?

If they do it in stainless, Fingers McGee would be all over it!

Kevin
Knowledge carried to the grave unshared, is wasted.

www.NoonSharpening.com

Offline Ringo

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 186
    • View Profile
    • répliques Old West
Re: 1851 in 40 Caliber
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2016, 04:47:47 AM »
I figure if they can make a fantasy revolver, why not make something authentic?
Because the fantasy sells better. The production costs are low, and the income high : why would they want to get into higher costs for a caliber that would not sell. 40 is not as popular as 44, from what I can see.

Offline Hawg

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1324
  • Newbie
    • View Profile
Re: 1851 in 40 Caliber
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2016, 06:37:36 AM »
I figure if they can make a fantasy revolver, why not make something authentic?
Because the fantasy sells better. The production costs are low, and the income high : why would they want to get into higher costs for a caliber that would not sell. 40 is not as popular as 44, from what I can see.

It's not really authentic since it never went into production.

Offline StrawHat

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1240
    • View Profile
Re: 1851 in 40 Caliber
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2016, 12:56:27 PM »
No, it is not a production model, but it is, in fact, a prototype.  And several variations were made.  Oh well, maybe I will make one for myself.

Kevin
Knowledge carried to the grave unshared, is wasted.

www.NoonSharpening.com

Offline sourdough

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 304
  • Newbie
    • View Profile
Re: 1851 in 40 Caliber
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2016, 01:42:24 PM »
I had seen one in the old Colt Factory Museum in my teens.  They have since broken up the collection and sold it off.  Joe must have been lucky!  Wish it were mine.

http://www.joesalter.com/category/products/Rare-Colt-1851-Navy-Prototype-Enlarged-Caliber-Revolver

Wonder when the Italians will start producing one?  Hope it is Uberti, and I hope they get the chamber/bore diameters matched up better.

Kevin

I am wondering why Colt ever decided to do a prototype 1851 in this caliber.

Quote
While ostensibly referred to as .40 caliber guns, they were, in fact, closer to .38/.39 caliber revolvers (this particular example has the following measurements: .374” at the chambers with a .385” bore diameter).


Insofar as the link provides the bore diameter as .385" and a chamber diameter as .374" (compared to the 1851 Navy .36 bore diameter as ~.378 using a .380 ball), is this the maximum size that Colt determined could be used with a non-rebated cylinder? If so, a pistol of true .40-.41 caliber was not feasible.

IMO, if so, it seems an effort in futility.

Insofar as Colt had produced Dragoons in .44 caliber (ostensibly ~.451" bore), I would have thought his logical progression to have been the 1860 .44 caliber (as we all have seen), and if the .40-.41 caliber cylinders required a rebated cylinder, the move to .44 (~.45) caliber pistols was the best business move as even a true .40 caliber would have been speculative at best. The Civil War was on the horizon and Colt would want to position himself best in a government arms market recognizing continuity of existing calibers. (It is true that the LeMat revolver was .42 caliber, but it was an expensive and prestigious quirk among some Southern officers and not used by the rank and file forces on either side.)

Just my $.02.

Jim


Offline StrawHat

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1240
    • View Profile
Re: 1851 in 40 Caliber
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2016, 02:31:53 PM »
Colt had a history of problems with the 44 caliber revolvers.  The poor quality iron in the frames would stretch and the equally poor steel used in the cylinders would explode.  The Walker was a failure because of this.  The Dragoon revolvers had problems with the cylinders bursting but it was soon remedied with better steel.  but the steel used in the 1850s was not enough to allow Colts to produce a 44 caliber cylinder on the belt model frame.  That needed the new "Silver Spring Steel" imported from England.  Until then, Colt was trying to come up with a larger than 36 caliber on the same belt model frame.  The 40 was going to be the answer until they got the new and improved steel.  At least that is my understanding from reading some of the notes in the museum and talking with one of the museum workers.  There are also a couple of books that deals with the whys and wherefores of the 40.  I haven't seen them since my divorce, wish I had them now.

Kevin
Knowledge carried to the grave unshared, is wasted.

www.NoonSharpening.com

Offline sourdough

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 304
  • Newbie
    • View Profile
Re: 1851 in 40 Caliber
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2016, 03:23:20 PM »
Colt had a history of problems with the 44 caliber revolvers.  The poor quality iron in the frames would stretch and the equally poor steel used in the cylinders would explode.  The Walker was a failure because of this.  The Dragoon revolvers had problems with the cylinders bursting but it was soon remedied with better steel.  but the steel used in the 1850s was not enough to allow Colts to produce a 44 caliber cylinder on the belt model frame.  That needed the new "Silver Spring Steel" imported from England.  Until then, Colt was trying to come up with a larger than 36 caliber on the same belt model frame.  The 40 was going to be the answer until they got the new and improved steel.  At least that is my understanding from reading some of the notes in the museum and talking with one of the museum workers.  There are also a couple of books that deals with the whys and wherefores of the 40.  I haven't seen them since my divorce, wish I had them now.

Kevin

Thanks for the reply, Kevin.

I know (historically) of the Walker failures, but I had not heard of Dragoon failures until your post here. I had thought Colt had it all remedied with the Dragoon shorter cylinder (to limit the powder charge) and the longer forcing cone on the barrel, as Colt produced these for several years and were very much in demand with the cavalry units as saddle pistols. With 3 or 4 Dragoons in holsters on a pommel, a cavalryman must have seemed a one-man army to any infantryman.

I have also read that Colt used that term "Silver Spring Steel" as purely an advertising term to sell more pistols and it was only a slightly better Bessemer Steel imported from England.

It seems the more one gets into this discussion, the less one really knows, on my part.

Sorry about the loss of your books. Been there, done that in another book world universe with my ex.

Jim

Offline Hawg

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1324
  • Newbie
    • View Profile
Re: 1851 in 40 Caliber
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2016, 04:10:23 PM »
I have also read that Colt used that term "Silver Spring Steel" as purely an advertising term to sell more pistols and it was only a slightly better Bessemer Steel imported from England.

It was steel tho. Up until then cylinders were made from wrought iron just like the frames and barrels. Starting with the 1860 cylinders and barrels were made from "silver steel" but the frames were still made from iron.

Offline Captainkirk

  • Administrator Extraordinaire and Part-Time Gunslinger
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3877
  • "Nothing like a nice piece of hickory"
    • View Profile
Re: 1851 in 40 Caliber
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2016, 07:07:02 PM »
From what I've gleaned over the years (sorry, can't recall where for references) Colt never made the "next logical step" (.44 cal Navy) because as Hawg mentioned, the cast iron of the day (1850's) was not up to the task in a small diameter cylinder (hence the mammoth cylinders on the Walker and Dragoon, which were known to erupt despite their size!) By the time the steel metallurgy had advanced to where rebated .44 cylinders would work, the '51 Navy was considered obsolete by Colt and the next logical step was the '60 Army.
"You gonna pull those pistols, or whistle Dixie?"

Offline StrawHat

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1240
    • View Profile
Re: 1851 in 40 Caliber
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2016, 04:16:09 AM »
...Thanks for the reply, Kevin...

Your welcome, Jim.

...I know (historically) of the Walker failures, but I had not heard of Dragoon failures until your post here. I had thought Colt had it all remedied with the Dragoon shorter cylinder (to limit the powder charge) and the longer forcing cone on the barrel, as Colt produced these for several years and were very much in demand with the cavalry units as saddle pistols. With 3 or 4 Dragoons in holsters on a pommel, a cavalryman must have seemed a one-man army to any infantryman...


Even the 1860 had some cylinders blow up.  The first several hundred were issued with full fluted cylinders and they were found to burst.  So, Colt would replace the cylinders as they were returned to the factory.  One of the reasons not many full fluted originals show up.  Colt should have learned, the first dragoons with full flutes also had a problem.  It wasn't until the 1861 that the full fluted cylinder was found to be strong enough to survive firing.

I know that a pair was the common number and gave the rider 12 shots of what was unheard of power in a handgun.  With practice those Dragoons, the riders, were capable of hitting out to rifle ranges.  Just a side note, cavalry, prior to the CW, was very similar to Dragoons and fought more as mounted infantry.  They rode to the battle, dismounted, fought, and rode away.  The gallant sabre charge came about during the CW, at least in the US.

...I have also read that Colt used that term "Silver Spring Steel" as purely an advertising term to sell more pistols and it was only a slightly better Bessemer Steel imported from England...

Absolutely!  Colt was nothing if not a great adman.  But, in fairness, others also used the term Silver Spring Steel.

...It seems the more one gets into this discussion, the less one really knows, on my part...

Same with me, each day, I learn something new.

...Sorry about the loss of your books. Been there, done that in another book world universe with my ex...


I did not know they were missing until I found a box of them at a book store I frequented.  The owner bought them and then called me.  Unfortunately, there were several book sellers and I missed getting some of them back.

Kevin
Knowledge carried to the grave unshared, is wasted.

www.NoonSharpening.com

Offline DoubleDeuce1

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 206
  • Newbie
    • View Profile
Re: 1851 in 40 Caliber
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2016, 07:18:20 PM »
StrawHat,
Would you hate me if I told you I have a Colt 1851 Navy from their archive collection? (7& 8)

Offline StrawHat

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1240
    • View Profile
Re: 1851 in 40 Caliber
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2016, 04:28:58 AM »
StrawHat,
Would you hate me if I told you I have a Colt 1851 Navy from their archive collection? (7& 8)

No pictures...

Kevin
Knowledge carried to the grave unshared, is wasted.

www.NoonSharpening.com