Ruger Old Army percussion cap and ball revolver to a Kirst cartridge conversion cylinder.

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cee_Kamp

Bearcat
Joined
May 5, 2011
Messages
45
Location
Upstate NY
I've had my Ruger Old Army percussion cap & ball revolver for more than twenty years.
In my personal preference, it is made from stainless steel.
I have fired it some using black powder and round balls, but cleaning it after shooting sure takes away some of the fun when using it. Likely less than 250 shots in 20+ years.
Over time, I used it infrequently and eventually it just sat in the safe occupying valuable real estate.

But even being stainless, it is a MAJOR pain in the butt to clean it after shooting black powder or BP substitute.
I have an unusual method for cleaning it that isn't common, but it sure is effective and saves quite a bit of time, but still is much greater cleaning time than a modern smokeless powder revolver.

Recently, I considered selling/trading the Ruger Old Army as I hadn't shot it in many years. But being they are out of production, I just couldn't sell/trade it.

I have known about cartridge firing conversion cylinders for Ruger Old Army revolvers for a long time, but they were available in .45 Long Colt and I just didn't want to add a new caliber for one gun.

While stocking up on some shooting supplies recently, I noticed Kirst Konverter LLC now manufactures a cartridge conversion cylinder for the Ruger Old Army in .45 ACP.
And it is rated for any non plus P .45 ACP load, including using jacketed projectiles.
The Kirst unit has a non rotating cylinder back plate and one robust firing pin.
The other conversion cylinders on the market have rotating cylinder back plates and six less than robust firing pins.
I had seen some online chatter about the firing pins on the rotating cylinder back plate style having firing pin problems. (mushrooming from hammer strikes)

All of the cartridge conversion cylinders on the market in the .45 Long Colt chambering require "cowboy action shooting" power level loads and lead projectiles.
That, along with .45 Long Colt being a cartridge I don't use or own any firearms chambered in that cartridge, convinced me that .45 ACP was the more intelligent caliber choice.
I stock plenty of .45 ACP ammo, and reload for it as well.

Belt Mountain Enterprises sells a kit for using a cartridge conversion cylinder in a Ruger Old Army revolver which simplifies removing the cylinder base pin.
Since the cartridge conversion cylinder and the back plate must be removed for reloading when using the cartridge conversion cylinder, that upgrade made sense also.
All of the Ruger factory parts for ramming round lead balls into the percussion cylinder are removed, and no permanent alterations/modifications are made to the stock percussion revolver.
For converting from cartridge firing back to percussion takes less than five minutes and requires one small allen wrench for removing the Belt Mountain base pin latch kit parts.
You use the cylinder base pin or a stick to push the fired brass out of the cartridge conversion cylinder after removing the cylinder/back plate from the revolver.
This reloading issue led to the invention of the flip down loading gate and ejector rod/housing on single action revolvers.

The new Kirst Konverter cartridge conversion cylinder dropped right into the Ruger Old Army. Timing/end shake/barrel cylinder gap are perfect. It's a beautifully machined package.
I compared the new Kirst cylinder dimensionally to the factory Ruger percussion cylinder, everything is within 0.0005" so it's about perfect. (within a half thousandth of an inch)
The Belt Mountain base pin latch kit is a spring loaded assembly and it occupies the former ball rammer tunnel location. Those parts also are machined beautifully.
The Belt Mountain latch kit for the Ruger Old Army also comes with a new Keith # 5 style cylinder base pin.

The Ruger Old Army is an old model (three screw) and is not equipped with a transfer bar safety system. If you carry it, it's hammer down on an empty chamber.

Next time I get to my local range, I will be firing the Ruger Old Army chambered in .45 ACP! Range Report soon.

When I cleaned the Old Army after shooting black powder or BP substitute, this is how I cleaned it.
1. Preheat kitchen oven to 225 F.
2. Remove the grips, cylinder, and percussion nipples from the cylinder.
3. All metal parts go in the kitchen sink filled with hot soapy water. (Dawn dish soap)
4. Scrub the bore and metal parts vigorously with a bore brush and GI gun style cleaning brushes.
5. When done scrubbing, drain the sink, rinse with hot tap water, and then pour a teakettle of boiling water over all the metal parts.
6. Then into the oven for about two hours.
7. After about two hours, turn the oven off and let it cool overnight.
8. The next day, remove from oven, lubricate and put it back into storage.

Links:
https://kirstkonverter.com/
https://beltmountain.com/

IMG_20240108_130617742_HDR by cee_Kamp 32ACP, on Flickr

IMG_20240108_130646340_HDR by cee_Kamp 32ACP, on Flickr

IMG_20240108_130756072_HDR by cee_Kamp 32ACP, on Flickr

IMG_20240108_130905473_HDR by cee_Kamp 32ACP, on Flickr
 
Joined
Aug 1, 2022
Messages
2,124
Location
Communist Paradise of NY
Kirst makes a good product and it makes sense in 45ACP. It's the old model action so it should be carried with the hammer down on an empty chamber.
0919172059.jpg
 

Rclark

Hunter
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
3,547
Location
Butte, MT
Nice! But .45 ACP? Now .45 Colt with BP in the cartridge... that makes more sense ;) . Ha!

it is a MAJOR pain in the butt to clean it after shooting black powder or BP substitute.
That is a personal opinion. I never found it so. But then I never resorted to ovens. Also just used hot water out of the tap. So all done within a hour easy maybe even 30 minutes as I've never actually timed it. Granted you do have to 'plan' on shooting BP for the day, so when you come home you can sit down and clean 'em... Ie. Don't pick a day your heading to your anniversary dinner or say getting home just in time to head to airport for a week vacation or something.... :)
 

cee_Kamp

Bearcat
Joined
May 5, 2011
Messages
45
Location
Upstate NY
I made it to the indoor range today and shot 50 rounds of .45ACP hardball through the Ruger Old Army/Kirst conversion cylinder.
Flawless performance, no issues of any kind.
We are having a slightly chilly cold snap here at my location and the outdoor range looked cold & drafty today.
I am no Bullseye shooter. The target was shot on the 50 foot heated indoor Bullseye range at my local club.
It was nice to shoot the Old Army and not need to immediately clean the black powder fouling.
I also got pretty good at removing/installing the conversion cylinder.

IMG_20240115_145721301 by cee_Kamp 32ACP, on Flickr
 

daveag.

Single-Sixer
Joined
Nov 14, 2015
Messages
452
Nice! But .45 ACP? Now .45 Colt with BP in the cartridge... that makes more sense ;) . Ha!


That is a personal opinion. I never found it so. But then I never resorted to ovens. Also just used hot water out of the tap. So all done within a hour easy maybe even 30 minutes as I've never actually timed it. Granted you do have to 'plan' on shooting BP for the day, so when you come home you can sit down and clean 'em... Ie. Don't pick a day your heading to your anniversary dinner or say getting home just in time to head to airport for a week vacation or something.... :)

Nice! But .45 ACP? Now .45 Colt with BP in the cartridge... that makes more sense ;) . Ha!


That is a personal opinion. I never found it so. But then I never resorted to ovens. Also just used hot water out of the tap. So all done within a hour easy maybe even 30 minutes as I've never actually timed it. Granted you do have to 'plan' on shooting BP for the day, so when you come home you can sit down and clean 'em... Ie. Don't pick a day your heading to your anniversary dinner or say getting home just in time to head to airport for a week vacation or something.... :)
You are right! .45 Auto is weak in this big revolver. I have an OM .45/.45Auto convertible. You all know this model. 7.5". One of the last 3 screws. .45 Auto might be good in a short barrel Shop Keeper, birds head grip.
 

gunman42782

Hunter
Joined
Jan 4, 2004
Messages
3,385
Location
KY
Pretty good shooting! I clean all my BP revolvers in a ultrasonic cleaner using Simple Green and water. Gets them clean as a whistle. I never have bought a cartridge conversion cylinder for any of mine as I got several revolvers in the other calibers they offer, so I never bothered. I actually LOVE shooting BP guns, I think its a hoot! Yeah, cleaning them isn't fun, but it really isn't that hard either. Before the ultrasonic cleaner I always used Windex mixed with water, or the old standby hot water and Dawn. All of them will work, and honestly the bore will get cleaner faster than most centerfire guns. The big difference is you HAVE to clean the BP guns, and of course you can let the smokeless powder guns stay dirty as long as you want to.
 

cee_Kamp

Bearcat
Joined
May 5, 2011
Messages
45
Location
Upstate NY
Here at my location, a 4473 was needed for the original purchase.
20 + years ago when I bought my Old Army, you could own the revolver or the percussion caps, lead balls, and black powder. If you owned both, that implied intent and it was just easier to buy it on a 4473 if you
ever planned on shooting it. I did plan on shooting my Old Army and I had it added
on my pistol license. (communist/socialist realm of new york state)
The caliber is still .45, the same as when I bought it.
I saw something online that said as long as you aren't a prohibited person, there isn't a problem adding a conversion cylinder to a percussion revolver. (federal law)
Various other laws in other states may or may not be a problem.
Do your own research.
 

Old and grumpy

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 7, 2022
Messages
208
Location
NV
Thanks for the info on the pin. I pick my as new ROA up in the morning. Conversion to follow next month. You are right about the 6 pin cylinders. I had one for a 51 navy. Pins don't last. Cylinder was also too short for some 45 colt. Went to the shorter 45 Schofield.
 
Joined
Nov 30, 2022
Messages
4,483
Location
Maryland
I've had my Ruger Old Army percussion cap & ball revolver for more than twenty years.
In my personal preference, it is made from stainless steel.
I have fired it some using black powder and round balls, but cleaning it after shooting sure takes away some of the fun when using it. Likely less than 250 shots in 20+ years.
Over time, I used it infrequently and eventually it just sat in the safe occupying valuable real estate.

But even being stainless, it is a MAJOR pain in the butt to clean it after shooting black powder or BP substitute.
I have an unusual method for cleaning it that isn't common, but it sure is effective and saves quite a bit of time, but still is much greater cleaning time than a modern smokeless powder revolver.

Recently, I considered selling/trading the Ruger Old Army as I hadn't shot it in many years. But being they are out of production, I just couldn't sell/trade it.

I have known about cartridge firing conversion cylinders for Ruger Old Army revolvers for a long time, but they were available in .45 Long Colt and I just didn't want to add a new caliber for one gun.

While stocking up on some shooting supplies recently, I noticed Kirst Konverter LLC now manufactures a cartridge conversion cylinder for the Ruger Old Army in .45 ACP.
And it is rated for any non plus P .45 ACP load, including using jacketed projectiles.
The Kirst unit has a non rotating cylinder back plate and one robust firing pin.
The other conversion cylinders on the market have rotating cylinder back plates and six less than robust firing pins.
I had seen some online chatter about the firing pins on the rotating cylinder back plate style having firing pin problems. (mushrooming from hammer strikes)

All of the cartridge conversion cylinders on the market in the .45 Long Colt chambering require "cowboy action shooting" power level loads and lead projectiles.
That, along with .45 Long Colt being a cartridge I don't use or own any firearms chambered in that cartridge, convinced me that .45 ACP was the more intelligent caliber choice.
I stock plenty of .45 ACP ammo, and reload for it as well.

Belt Mountain Enterprises sells a kit for using a cartridge conversion cylinder in a Ruger Old Army revolver which simplifies removing the cylinder base pin.
Since the cartridge conversion cylinder and the back plate must be removed for reloading when using the cartridge conversion cylinder, that upgrade made sense also.
All of the Ruger factory parts for ramming round lead balls into the percussion cylinder are removed, and no permanent alterations/modifications are made to the stock percussion revolver.
For converting from cartridge firing back to percussion takes less than five minutes and requires one small allen wrench for removing the Belt Mountain base pin latch kit parts.
You use the cylinder base pin or a stick to push the fired brass out of the cartridge conversion cylinder after removing the cylinder/back plate from the revolver.
This reloading issue led to the invention of the flip down loading gate and ejector rod/housing on single action revolvers.

The new Kirst Konverter cartridge conversion cylinder dropped right into the Ruger Old Army. Timing/end shake/barrel cylinder gap are perfect. It's a beautifully machined package.
I compared the new Kirst cylinder dimensionally to the factory Ruger percussion cylinder, everything is within 0.0005" so it's about perfect. (within a half thousandth of an inch)
The Belt Mountain base pin latch kit is a spring loaded assembly and it occupies the former ball rammer tunnel location. Those parts also are machined beautifully.
The Belt Mountain latch kit for the Ruger Old Army also comes with a new Keith # 5 style cylinder base pin.

The Ruger Old Army is an old model (three screw) and is not equipped with a transfer bar safety system. If you carry it, it's hammer down on an empty chamber.

Next time I get to my local range, I will be firing the Ruger Old Army chambered in .45 ACP! Range Report soon.

When I cleaned the Old Army after shooting black powder or BP substitute, this is how I cleaned it.
1. Preheat kitchen oven to 225 F.
2. Remove the grips, cylinder, and percussion nipples from the cylinder.
3. All metal parts go in the kitchen sink filled with hot soapy water. (Dawn dish soap)
4. Scrub the bore and metal parts vigorously with a bore brush and GI gun style cleaning brushes.
5. When done scrubbing, drain the sink, rinse with hot tap water, and then pour a teakettle of boiling water over all the metal parts.
6. Then into the oven for about two hours.
7. After about two hours, turn the oven off and let it cool overnight.
8. The next day, remove from oven, lubricate and put it back into storage.

Links:
https://kirstkonverter.com/
https://beltmountain.com/

IMG_20240108_130617742_HDR by cee_Kamp 32ACP, on Flickr

IMG_20240108_130646340_HDR by cee_Kamp 32ACP, on Flickr

IMG_20240108_130756072_HDR by cee_Kamp 32ACP, on Flickr

IMG_20240108_130905473_HDR by cee_Kamp 32ACP, on Flickr
A pot of hot soapy water to scrub in followed by hot Ballistol Water mix and you're done.
 
Joined
Sep 1, 2003
Messages
7,128
Location
Richmond Texas USA
I have shot many rounds of 45 colts both BP and smokeless with no problem out of these along with cap and balls in SASS. Having lighter hammer springs may help the firing pin (18#) problems you speak of.
Wow some of you make this cleaning way to hard. ;) ;)
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Rclark

Hunter
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
3,547
Location
Butte, MT
You are right! .45 Auto is weak in this big revolver.
Well, for me, that isn't the point when just holing paper :) . My point is auto cartridges need to be shot in auto pistols, while rimmed cartridges like the .45 Colt in revolvers. .45 Colt can be loaded down to 'weak' loads but at least it is a'real' reeevolver cartridge by jimmenie . Or just buy .45 Auto Rim cases (may need a special cylinder of course due to rim thickness), if you want to shoot auto style loads in a revolver... or buy some .45 Schofield brass, or even the StarLine Cowboy brass to shoot out of your .45 Colt revolver... My opinion only of course and not necessarily has to be every ones. :p :D . Oh and on that subject, black power revolvers deserve to be shoot with black powder (or substitute), not the new fangled smokeless stuff ;) :D . There I said it... Ha!
 
Last edited:

Jack Ryan

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 21, 2012
Messages
487
Location
Indiana
I own and shoot my ROA stainless but if I was going to convert it and shoot smokeless, I'd just buy a Blackhawk in a smokeless caliber. Oh, never mind. I did.
I just don't see the point in buy it to start with only to make it in to something it isn't . Kinda like buying a truck and then getting half a truck bed and a back seat.
 
Joined
Sep 1, 2003
Messages
7,128
Location
Richmond Texas USA
I own and shoot my ROA stainless but if I was going to convert it and shoot smokeless, I'd just buy a Blackhawk in a smokeless caliber. Oh, never mind. I did.
I just don't see the point in buy it to start with only to make it in to something it isn't . Kinda like buying a truck and then getting half a truck bed and a back seat.
Well Jack,
By having the conversion cylinders it allows me to use the ROA in every SASS category. With the percussion ROA there is only one competitive category and if that one is not available you are screwed ;) Since I reload it also allows a multitude of loads both BP and smokeless. Yea I have a couple of 45 Colt Blackhawks :)
 
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