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Pietta 1851 Navy .36 Type Revolvers / Parts Changing

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40 Cal
Feb 3, 2020
Reaction score
SW WA State
Per requests from Treestalker and hawkeye2, these are what I have.

I chose to use Pietta revolvers and parts because since ~2001 Pietta has used CNC machining, which means that most everything is interchangeable (a few things are not) so as to be LEGO guns with very little or no fitting. However, I have found these things during 10 years of being afflicted with "parts-changer syndrome":

Conventional wisdom has it that there are two types: "tail" grips and "non-tail" grip assemblies. Up until last a year ago I thought that was true, but I have found a third variation that fits between the two. For the sake of this discussion I will label them as the Large Tail, the Small Tail, and the Non-Tail.

Large Tail grip assemblies seem to have been manufactured from ~2001 (when Pietta went to CNC machining) through 2014. Non Tail grip assemblies were manufactured from 2015 to present day. During the past year I have procured a Pietta 1862 Dance .36 revolver (date code BH/1996 SN C00013) and a Pietta 1851 Navy .36 4-screw frame (date code AZ/1990 SN 18852). Both have what I will term the Small Tail grip assemblies, and this is why:

Top: 1851 Navy .36 2nd Model Squareback (CM/2014 SN 636005) Large Tail
Middle: 1862 Dance .36 (BH/1996 SN C00013) Small Tail
Bottom: Leech & Rigdon .36 (formerly an 1851 Navy) (CP/2016 SN 673674) Non Tail

A: Length of butt front to back
B: Length between back and attachment recess
C: Length of attachment recess
D: Length between front of screw and front

Large Tail:
A: 2-5/16"
B: 1/4"
C: 3/8"
D: 3/16"

Small Tail:
A: 2-1/4"
B: 1/8"
C: 3/8"
D: 3/16"

Non Tail:
A: 2-1/4"
B: 1/4"
C: 3/8"
D: 1/8"

There are also differences in the curvatures of both the backstraps and the trigger guards, as well as the wood. That is why individual parts are not interchangeable from type to type, but as a 3-piece assembly they will all fit any Pietta 1851/1860/1861 frame.

Now the photo lineup. NFG denotes non-factory gun, FG denotes factory gun. Parts are/were readily available from VTI but are not inexpensive, and now with coronavirus hitting Northern Italy hard I have no idea what Pietta's production is like, and availability is probably not what it was like prior to this pandemic.

Augusta Machine Works (NFG) with octagon barrel and a 12-stop-slot plain cylinder (which is not a factory part) using a Non Tail revolver. My neighbor is a retired Boeing machinist who milled the 6 extra stop-slots and approaches in two used older Pietta plain cylinders with no safety pins (historically correct) I obtained from a guy on another forum a few years ago for $25 each (!). His fees to do the work was $100 for both cylinders.

Leech & Rigdon (NFG) using a smooth cylinder and part round/part octagon barrel from the Griswold & Gunnison (FG) using a Non Tail revolver; Schneider & Glassick (NFG) with smooth cylinder and octagon barrel using a Non Tail revolver.

1862 J. H Dance and Brothers (FG) date code BH/1996 with a non historical squareback trigger guard, Small Tail revolver, barrel marked Angleton Texas: this revolver is one of 35 total produced and was valued at ~$1000 in 2009. I have only found the location of two others of this run.

Fantasy 1851 Navy 2nd Model Dragoon (NFG) date code CM/2014 with smooth cylinder, part round/part octagon barrel, squareback trigger guard, Large Tail revolver. The TG is very hard to find these days, but maybe on sites like Ebay one may show up.

Rigdon & Ansley (NFG) with smooth 12-stop-slot cylinder (no safety pins) and part round/part octagon barrel, Non Tail revolver; Griswold & Gunnison (FG) with smooth cylinder, part round/part octagon barrel, Non Tail revolver and a replacement backstrap with no stock attachment aperture that I found by mistake a few years ago for $25.

1851 Navy 4-screw CFS (cut for stock) (FG) datecode AZ/1990. Pietta has never produced a 4-screw 1851 Navy since going to CNC in ~2001, but they do market an 1861 Navy 4-screw CFS but it has no aperture on the butt of the backstrap for a stock.

I acquired a used ASM 1860 Army gripframe assembly to use with the Type 3 shoulder stock I have, and with a bit of fitting it works, along with a plain cylinder and part round/ part octagon barrel. If you have not guessed by now I like the Dragoon look with an 1851 Navy.

Straying from Pietta 1851 Navy type revolvers, couple of years ago I acquired a used ASM 1860 Army .44 datecode BD/1994 (FG) for a good price. I wanted to procure a full-fluted cylinder for it, but ASM went out of business in 2002 and parts are scarce as hens' teeth. I did some caliper measuring and determined, with the help of like parts-changers on other forums, that a full-fluted cylinder from Pietta was too long but an Uberti might fit with some additional fitting, so I ordered one from Taylor's for about $100. When I received it I was on pins and needles until I assembled the gun. It fits like a glove, and all of the chambers align with the barrel very well, no fitting needed to shoot it. Barrel/cylinder gap is .003" which is very acceptable. I might add that there was a family tie to the Uberti and ASM companies, so ideas and dimensions may have been shared, especially in the mid-to-late 90's when ASM was graduating out of BP C&B revolvers. ASM never went to CNC machining so many things are iffy insofar as fit with either Uberti or Pietta.

If one wishes to go a bit further, I have a good friend that was jealous of my Pietta Dance .36 procurement and decided to create one using a Gregorelli & Uberti 1851 Navy from about 1959 marketed by Navy Arms. It was in poor shape and was not a collector firearm. I will let him tell his story, if you are interested.

My next pipe dream project is a cased shoulder stocked 3rd Model Dragoon. The guy that did the Dance project above has one that I am wanting to acquire if and when he wishes to sell it in lieu of another project he wants to accomplish. It is an ASM 3rd Model 4-screw CFS 7.5" barrel with barrel mounted sights. Perfect candidate. It needs a lot of work, and if I acquire it I will get a modern Colt 1860 Army Type 3 stock and fit it to the frame (lots of file work). I have contacted Hampel Woodworks for a price to build a case and it is about $100.

We shall see.

Done for tonight. If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. I will help out as much as I can.


I would like to also say that Pietta parts prior to ~2001 are different than the newer parts. The pre CNC parts, specifically the bolt and the hand are of different dimensions. The older bolt heads have a different profile and the bolt legs are nowhere near the same. The pre-~2001 frame recess for the bolt is longer, and the hand is different.

Here is the Pietta Factory Tour. Very good and very interesting. It says a bunch.

Wow, Sourdough. I guess I should be careful what I ask for, LOL! What a beautiful collection you have created. I have a lot to work towards! I wanted to tell you of some of my late Brother Tiny and my adventures with cap and ball hoglegs. Tiny started out with a few factory guns, one was an 1851 steel in .44 caliber; it fit his hand well. It became his favorite. Also a steel framed Whitney .36, and a brief sojourn with a Remington '58' in .44, which he traded very fast. My first c&b was a Colt 1848 31 cal 6" which I loved and lost. Then I acquired a Yank Navy .51 and used it for a long time. Then came the craving for a Walker. Tiny and I visited Leon Miller in Kirbyville, Texas and I asked about a Walker he had in the cabinet about a week before. You guessed it, it had sold before I made it back. Well, Mr. Miller had a new 3rd model Dragoon, so I settled for it. Now I understood the Dragoons could handle up to 50 grains of 3f, so I loaded 40 and fired it just fine, used it about 3 months and then decided to try 45 grains. First 2 shots went fine, plenty of power and hit a large target ok. Third hot the front sight disappeared and the barrel was hanging down from the frame at about a 30* angle. Well, couldn't get a new arbor, it had broken on top just rear of the wedge. Tiny traded me something for it and tried to fix it, to no avail. He finally cut the barrel to about 3 inches and added a front sight. He then fitted it to his .44 Navy and carried it with him driving a taxicab nights in Beaumont. I wish I had a picture to share. I still have the barrel. Stay tuned for more adventures and a pic or two if I can get my daughter Mel to help. Geo.
and a brief sojourn with a Remington '58 in .44, which he traded very fast.

Tiny was a good judge of revolvers if his abdication of the Rem NMA is any indication. Lots of folks love them but they don't feel right in my hand.
My first C&B was a Colt 1848 31 cal. 6" which I loved and lost.

I owned this 1848 Pocket .31 6" Replica Arms El Paso Texas date code XIX/1963 made by Armi San Marco (first year of manufacture) for quite a few years. It was kind of fun to shoot, but it just got lost in my hand. I like the look of SB TG's and really paid too much for it, so I sold it and moved on.

Sorry to hear about the Dragoon demise. I consider a 40 gr. BP load to be the max for a Dragoon. I had always wanted a Walker, but I am 68, 5'-8", and 150 lbs., so I decided to get an Uberti 1848 Whitneyville Hartford Dragoon that Midway had on sale last September for $360 and could not pass it up. It has the Walker grip frame so it was a compromise in my mindset. The revolver is still huge compared to my Navies and Army. I have only shot one cylinder full, and when I did it attracted many other shooters when the BOOM and the smoke occurred. LOL! It is now my safe queen.

Comparison photo:

Armi San Marco 1860 Army .44 4-Screw CFS Full-fluted cylinder BD/1994
Uberti 1848 Whitneyville Hartford Dragoon .44 CU/2019
Pietta 1851 Navy Second Model Belt Dragoon .36 (fantasy) CM/2014

Looking forward to any photos you can supply.