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Cartridge Conversions

What is a cartridge conversion?
A cartridge conversion is a cap and ball revolver that has been converted to fire metallic cartridges.

Why a cartridge conversion?
After Smith & Wesson's rights to the Rollin White Patent expired in April 1869, Colt and other gun makers began converting their existing supply of cap and ball revolvers to fire metallic cartridges.  Remington, under a licensing agreement with Smith & Wesson, had already been converting its supply of army revolvers for over a year.

What was the Rollin White Patent?
The Rollin White Patent was the process of boring through the revolver cylinder to allow the loading of a metallic cartridge from the rear of the cylinder.

What role did the cartridge conversion play in post-Civil War America?
The cartridge conversion played an important part in the history of the western expansion of the United States.  Cartridge conversions were first issued to the U.S. Cavalry to use in the Indian Campaigns.  Among those who used cartridge conversions were lawmen, cowboys, ranchers, settlers, outlaws and even Indians.  Not until the mid 1870's did a new single action revolver, the Colt Peacemaker, start to appear in the west.  The price of the new Colt Peacemaker was in the range of $12.00, much more than the average western inhabitant could afford.  In contrast to the $12.00 for the Peacemaker, a person for less than $5.00 could send his civil war issue percussion revolver to Colt or Remington and have it converted to fire metallic cartridges.

Today the cartridge conversions are popular with gun collectors and black powder and cowboy action shooting enthusiasts.

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