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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This subject seems to come up often in various survival and gun boards, so I am going to give my take on it with my preferences and reasons for them. These are just my recommendations to take them with a large grain of salt and do your own research.

This isn’t a primer on shooting a black powder revolver there are plenty of them available, just my recommendations.

First let’s recognize that firearms evolve. The Colt revolver was an improvement over the single- and double-barrel percussion pistols it replaced, but the 1873 Colt was an improvement over the 1860. The 1911 Colt was an improvement over the 1873 and a Glock 19x is (arguably) an improvement over the 1911. In short practically any cartridge firing pistol in decent caliber is an improvement over any percussion revolver and the modern detachable magazine double action a vast improvement.

That said there are individuals who for legal reasons, either individual or jurisdictional, are precluded from owning modern firearms but allowed to own black powder. If you can get a modern firearm, do so, if not then read on.

I am going to recommend the Remington over the Colt, the two main types available, although I actually like the Colt better. I am going to recommend 44 caliber although I like 36 better, stainless over blued although I think blued looks better, and a shorter barrel over longer although, again, I think aesthetically longer looks better. Why am I recommending against my preferences? Because my preferences are guns I enjoy, for fun and recreation, but my recommendations are what I think makes the most sense in a defense situation. So, this isn’t a list of what I like as much as what I think is best.

Basically, there are two types of reproductions available, Colt and Remington. Ruger made an excellent black powder revolver, the Old Army, but stopped in 2008 and they are getting increasingly rare and expensive. If you can find, and afford, one go for it. They are currently going for north of $1,000.

There are a few other makes reproduced, Star, Spiller & Burr, etc. but the most modern repro’s made on modern CNC machines are typically Colt or Remington. The two main manufacturers, regardless of what label is on the gun, are Pietta and Uberti. There are some older ASM’s around, no longer made, that are hit or miss, and the rest are junk, except a few really high-end European makers. But if you have a few grand to drop on one back powder revolver you probably have the resources to get something better.

First up I am going to recommend the Remington design for three reasons. One is the design, with a top strap, is stronger, although with the lower pressures of black powder I think that can be overrated. Two, it is easier and faster to swap the cylinder without needing to remove the barrel. There is just something about the idea of removing the barrel and breaking the gun down into four components (frame, barrel, cylinder, wedge) in a fight that bothers me. Yes the Remington is more prone to fouling but you should be able to get through three cylinders without trouble. And third, they are readily available in stainless steel and for around $400 new.

Next is caliber, you basically have 36 and 44. Forget everything you might read about the 36 “hitting hard” or that Hickock preferred the 36, the 44 will take your opponent out of the fight faster. Your objective in self defense is to stop the attacker from being able to harm you, pure and simple. Stop him/her, and the 44 will do that faster and better with less shots

Barrel length. Black powder, or substitutes, need length to develop power, but like everything else this is a compromise. 7 ½ is better but 5 ½ is handier and the power penalty is small enough that I would recommend the 5 ½, unless this is almost exclusively a stay-at-home defense gun, in which case either is fine.

Material. Here I am going to recommend stainless steel. I don’t like stainless guns, and it isn’t historical, but black powder is corrosive and in this case stainless is just better. They used to nickel plate them for a reason and it wasn’t just cosmetic but for its protective qualities

So here we go. Remington style, 44 caliber, stainless steel, 5 ½ barrel, made by Uberti or Pietta, with two (or more) spare cylinders. I like Uberti but Pietta is just as good lately.

Powder. Hodgen 777 (or triple-7) is the way to go. Forget black powder, 777 is more powerful and less corrosive plus being less explosive and safer to store.

Bullets. There is really only one best choice. Kaido Ojamaa has developed a hunting bullet for black powder and been spending years promoting black powder revolvers for hunting. Google can easily find him, he has multiple youtube videos and is on facebook. He sells molds for 240 to 255 grain hunting bullets specifically designed for the Remington and maybe cast bullets. He has a wealth of information on the use of his bullets on deer and pigs and other game and shares it freely. If you can't find his contact info and want it drop me a PM

After that the options are yours. Goon Gunworks does a complete action job to the Remington with multiple enhancements, including, if memory serves, converting to coil springs. He has done some work for me and his quality is second to none. If you can't find his contact info and want it drop me a PM as well. Various leather options are available including spare magazine carriers

On a side note don't ignore used guns. Many BP revolvers are bought and fired once and the work involved in loading and cleanup means they are never fired again

Second side note. If you can, especially for home defense, get two. Picking up the second one is faster than swapping the cylinder. The old timers didn't carry two guns so they could shoot with both hands but so they could drop one and start firing another one. Bloody Bill Anderson of civil war fame carried 5 or 6 at all times and one of his men carried a sack of revolvers for a fight

third side note. With 777 powder and the Kaido cast lead bullet the power basically replicates the 45 ACP +P loading of 230 grain bullet at 950 FPS so not too shabby
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Nice write up on this!. I am just getting into BP and the firearms. From what I have read the Remington frame is stronger then the open top Colt.
Technically true the Remington frame is stronger but given the low pressures involved it is less of an issue than you would think. If you use a conversion cylinder I would definitely get the Remington. If only percussion I think the two things it has going for it are stainless steel and quick change of the cylinder.
 

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Overall, I have to heartily concur. I sincerely wish that someone would manufacture an reproduction of the double action Adams or Tranter revolvers, which were tactically superior to the Colts and Remingtons and the reason that European contracts were nowhere near as lucrative as they could be (plus pin fire, but I digress)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Overall, I have to heartily concur. I sincerely wish that someone would manufacture an reproduction of the double action Adams or Tranter revolvers, which were tactically superior to the Colts and Remingtons and the reason that European contracts were nowhere near as lucrative as they could be (plus pin fire, but I digress)
Actually what I would like is something like a charter arms bulldog in 45 that uses 209 primers and has a swing out cylinder that quickly interchanges. For situations where you can’t purchase a modern pistol like 18 year olds
 

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If somebody said your only handgun for defensive use could be a properly functioning and correctly loaded .44 Remington 1858 clone in the Sheriff's configuration, my response would be shoulder shrug and no lost sleep.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Well they wouldn't be my first choice they are far and above fists or a knife for defence.
As I said at the start a modern detachable magazine pistol is the best recommendation in a service caliber like 9mm or greater, or 380 if 9mm recoil is an issue

But not everyone has that option. If I was 19 and pistols were illegal for me to own I would go with the Remington as detailed above where ever it was legal for me to carry

Just be careful. Some states let you buy a percussion revolver as a non firearm but once you load it up treat it differently. Check local laws before use
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Here's my ideal, sort of a S&W 629 double action crossed with a Remington 1858 using 209 primers and 45 caliber in stainless steel - I wish someone made one I would buy a pair

Air gun Trigger Gun barrel Gun accessory Metal
 

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Nice write up and recommendations. And I too like the Remington design over the Colt. But if all you could own is a BP revolver just the plain ordinary 1858 in blued steel loaded with round balls would give you all the protection you should need. Evan Marshall and Ed Sanow tested the 44 caliber round ball loads in the book Stopping Power and came to the conclusion that round balls make excellent man stopper rounds.

I had a 5.5" Sheriffs model NMA and when I saw how much velocity I lost with the shorter barrel I sold it and intend to get another with the full length barrel. Its not something I would wear out in public. It would just be a house gun. So the longer barrel isn't a big deal to me.

I have a lot of real BP on hand but do need to try some Triple 7. I have read all kinds of good about that powder. Its now selling for $30 a pound. So sort of expensive compared to the BP I paid anywhere from $6 a pound to about $12 a pound last time I bought a 25 pound order.

I would recommend buying and extra spring set for your gun. See what springs commonly break and order a couple of extra of those. My bud bought an Army San Marco that was broke. The spring on the hand was broke. He ordered a new hand for it and I fitted it for him. So that wasn't a spring I would have expected to break but it did. There is a mod you do to replace the bolt spring with a plunger and spring mounted in the frame.
 
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Those 1858 reproductions in the sheriffs model are hard to find nowadays. I had to settle for a full sized one….. The one thing everyone seems to never mention is how good those old BP revolvers are for fondling. So much fun to fondle and play with.
 

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My Sheriffs model was brand new and unfired when I sold it. I got it from Cabelas. They had it in stock but the website said they weren't I had to go to Cabelas and look myself. The idiots that work there won't do a good job of checking for you over the phone.

If it ever gets to where we can't own a modern gun we probably won't be able to own an antique style gun either. So its really a moot point.
 

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When I bought my gun from Cabelas I still had to fill out a form similar to the one you fill out for a regular gun purchase and show my ID and information. The difference is that they didn't call it in.

If thats what you are worried about just buy a few guns from individuals and pay cash. No paper trail there either. I have several guns bought that way. I have bought and sold so many guns I don't remember where I sold half of them. You can find guns listed in the local paper every week that you can buy direct from the owner with no paperwork.
 
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When I bought my gun from Cabelas I still had to fill out a form similar to the one you fill out for a regular gun purchase and show my ID and information. The difference is that they didn't call it in.

If thats what you are worried about just buy a few guns from individuals and pay cash. No paper trail there either. I have several guns bought that way. I have bought and sold so many guns I don't remember where I sold half of them. You can find guns listed in the local paper every week that you can buy direct from the owner with no paperwork.
Not legal to do so in my state.
 

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Not legal to do so in my state.
Ah, OK. I'm in Tx and we are pretty lax here still. I have bought and sold many guns from the Ft Worth Star Telegram newspaper. I have an account and can list them free on the internet portion of the paper. Before gunbroker I would wait for the new listings every week to see what was for sale. There was normally a couple of columns especially a month after christmas when the holiday credit card bills came in.

If its not a problem what part of the country are you in?
 
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