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Thread: Brass vs. Steel

  1. #1
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    Brass vs. Steel

    I'm considering picking up my first black powder revolver. I'm leaning towards the 1851 Navy or maybe the 1851 Confederate Navy. Price difference is about 50 bucks so it's not that big of a deal although the wife may not agree. The brass frame on the Confederate Navy is awful purdy but, well, it's brass. This wouldn't be an every day shooter but more of a toy for lack of a better word. Should I be too concerned about the brass or should I just get the steel frame?

    I'm not opposed to shooting lighter loads, if that's what's recommended with a brass frame. How much lighter of a load would be recommended and is it a huge difference? I'm somewhat familiar with black powder, but I honestly know just enough to be dangerous.

    any opinions are much appreciated
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  2. #2
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    I would choose the steel one.

    Brass will tarnish much faster and color case hardening is really pretty on the steel frame. Steel will hold up better and is more versitile in a reenactment situation. Look thru the Dixie catalog (dixiegunworks.com) and lool at all whats available. There are quite a few replicas of confederate arms there, some steel and some brass.

  3. #3
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    go steel.... then if you decide to convert it to cartridge, you'll be safe
    I got a new 1911 for my wife... I think it was a pretty good trade.

  4. #4
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    Go with a steel frame revolver for your first one. After you have gained some hands on experience you can look at some of the brassers. Some are historically correct and some are not. I think they are nice looking, they are easy to defarb. The CSA revolvers make an interesting collection.
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  5. #5
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    Thanks guys. Something in the back of my head was telling me that steel was the way to go.

    I don't know that I'll ever convert it to cartridge, but it's something to keep in mind, I guess.
    "There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." - Ernest Hemingway

  6. #6
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    If you are considering a 44cal, the brass frame will not hold up to full (30gr) loads. Eventually it will shoot loose and become a paperweight. I have one but keep the loads to 20grs FFFg and a ball. So far, so good after a couple hundred rounds. A 36 cal shooting 15-18 grs and a ball should last a long time. The steel frames will hold up much better to maximum loads which we are all tempted to do at some time or another or another or another or another.......

  7. #7
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    I have to cast my vote for Brass! Over 200 round shot at 30 grains of fff and it is still Rockin and Rolling! Was having issue with wedge getting loose, but a $3 walmart hammer into the ammo case to tap it in and out (with the wood handle ONLY) did the trick! Brass is stronger than you think. Keep the wedge tight and you'll be alright!

    They're tough guns, don't be afraid to beat on them! When the caps try to jam while fanning, smack down on the guns hammer harder! The cylinder is made to chew up the copper caps and spit them out the side.

    I love this gun, the more you man handle it, the better it works! No wonder Wild Bill loved em!!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hellgate View Post
    The steel frames will hold up much better to maximum loads which we are all tempted to do at some time or another or another or another or another.......
    That is probably true and I would NOT exceed 30 grain witha Brass frame (though I have).. Just saying that if you find a good deal on a brass frame Pietta 1851 Navy, it is allot tougher than you think!

  9. #9
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    I have learned "brass frame" was a misnomer. The "brass frame"1866 Winchester "Yellow Boy" was made of a bronze alloy (gun metal: 9 parts copper, 1 part tin, and a trace of zinc) and bronze is not brass, which is often 3 parts copper, 2 parts zinc (there are lot of different brass alloys). Brass is softer than bronze.

    Confederate "brass frame" copies of the Colt were often made from donated bells, sometimes donated to the war effort by churches, and "bell metal" is 4 parts copper, 1 part tin, a harder alloy than brass.
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  10. #10
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    Something in the back of my head was telling me that steel was the way to go.

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