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open top revolver vs top strap

jaegermisterjaegermister Member Posts: 692 ✭✭✭✭
Considering purchase of 38cal cartridge revolver. Is there any advantages/disadvantages to a open top such as a colt navy vs a top frame such as single action army? The open top seems to put the barrel sight line higher or closer to the bore, feels more intuitive. The open top cylinder is less diameter with no flutes and brings the rounds up quicker with a shooter hammer stroke, the single action army style is stronger or so it would appear, In a 38 spl would this be a consideration? do not intend on cowboy action competition just casual shooting.


  • Frontiersman101Frontiersman101 Member Posts: 3,259
    edited November -1
    The open top is based on black powder revolvers that were converted to cartridge revolvers. If you plan on getting an Italian reproduction, you will most likely have problems with eather one. Mechanically that is. The .38 is good for target shooting and is easy to come by, but if you go with the SAA, I would get one in .45 Colt(also known as .45 long Colt) because it is well known as the cowboy caliber and it is great fun to shoot. Each type of gun has its history. I would look up the history for each gun, and find out what you like about what it was used for and who used that kind of gun. Hope this helps!
  • 44caliberkid44caliberkid Member Posts: 925 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    What do you want to do with this revolver? The main interest in open top conversions is their historical significance and trying to re-enact a particular period in old west history. They are not as strong as a full frame revolver and will eventually shoot loose. If they were the final answer they'd still be making them. They were a way for Colt to get into producing cartridge revolvers while waiting for the S&W patent on the bored through cylinder to expire. The 1872 was the only one made new as a cartridge revolver and was just a stop gap till production on the 1873 SAA could get going.
    I love 1851 and 1860 conversions, but the only reason to have one is, if you think they're cool. For an all around, all purpose western style revolver, go for the SAA.
  • MeauxMeaux Member Posts: 3 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Get both!! I did and enjoy them both, I do favor the 1860 Army it hits where you point it.
  • jaegermisterjaegermister Member Posts: 692 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I fired a replica open top navy percussion 44cal. I like the balance and point it has, the quick lock up of the cylinder. So I figured with modern steel in a light caliber 38 special, it should hold up. That would give me a pistol to match my 38 rifle. I took the percussion 44 cal replica mounted a low profile front ramp with bead and then took a deeper notch out of the hammer, it puts rounds right there on the bead. Do they make a all steel navy open top, no brass at all?
  • rhmc24rhmc24 Member Posts: 1,984 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    As I read it, your question is whether the difference between sight line and bore line makes a difference in a .38 Special. It can make a difference but so little the shooter would never know. More important and practical difference is the difference between sights, sight radius. The Colt 1872 repro will have the rear sight on the rear of the barrel (front of cylinder) while the SAA repro has the rear sight at the rear of the cylinder, giving a couple inches more sight radius.

    A world class pistol shooter might know the difference. I would go with the one that looks, feels best to you.

    There may be something to the belief that the open top will eventually shoot loose. Possibly so, but you will have by that time spent more on ammo than the cost of replacement hardware.

    I'm with the get-both idea.
  • machine gun moranmachine gun moran Member Posts: 5,198
    edited November -1
    I have both, and I like both real well. My open-top is not a conversion copy, but a copy of the 1871/72 which was made originally as a cartridge gun using the basic percussion-gun system of assembly. I bought one in .38 with an Army grip, and as the Army-grip Cimarron's are only available with a 7 1/2-inch barrel, I bought a second barrel and shortened it to a custom length. Note that shorter barrels are available for the Navy-grip guns, but which will also interchange (all barrels need fitting). I made mine to an odd length and made a brass filler for the ejector tube mounting slot, using it as an 'ejectorless' type.

    I use standard-velocity loads. The gun is a barrel of fun and handles very well with either length of barrel. Although the sight radius is shorter than on the 1873 design, the gun is very accurate. I have also found that, even using very soft lead bullets, neither barrel has shown a trace of leading after hundreds of rounds. This is a first for me, and I attribute it to Uberti's use of correctly-dimensioned chamber throats and tight bores in their .38's, which completely prevents gas blow-by and consequent gas-erosion of the sides of the bullets.
  • spasmcreekspasmcreek Member Posts: 37,724 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    like the older style revolvers with the convenience of modern my open top 44...not smart to put bear killer loads in
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