Contact Us:

Phone: 608-676-2518
Fax: 608-676-2269

5728 East County Road X
Beloit, WI 53511

made in the usa

Authentically Styled Custom Gated Conversion Kits

Holster from Wild Wild West

The conversion of percussion revolvers to fire self-contained metallic cartridges is not “new” as it was developed soon after the American Civil War. During the war, the advantages of the cartridge over loose powder and ball or paper cartridges became apparent. The ‘new’ metallic cartridge was reliable in all types of weather and could be carried without having to worry about the integrity of the cartridge. In the early days of westward expansion, when you needed your gun to fire, you needed it to fire. Paper cartridges were fragile and rough handling left you with a ball and powder in the bottom of your cartridge box!

Early Colt conversions were based on the patent by Elisha Root. These conversions, while a marvel in engineering, were not very reliable or popular and the metallic cartridge was loaded into the front of the cylinder in much the same manner as the older percussion revolvers the conversions were based on.

In 1871 C.B. Richards was given a patent for converting the popular Colt 1860 Army revolver to fire metallic cartridges. Richards’ patent used a rimmed metallic cartridge that loaded into the rear of the cylinder. Later Charles Mason was given a patent for his conversion of the Colt revolver that was simpler than the Richards patent. Root, Richards and Mason were Colt employees.

Howell’s conversions have long been synonymous with truly authentic reproductions of the famous Colt conversions of the 1870’s. These guns were based on either the Richards or the Richards- Mason patent conversions. Kenny was also the first manufacturer to ever reproduce the Colt 1871- 72 Open Top revolver. These conversions and the Open Top were handmade pieces and all parts are directly interchangeable with the originals.

Since 1969, there have been others who have offered conversions or conversion kits. Some are still in business, but most have fallen by the wayside. Kenny Howell has continually been in business and the reason is simple. Howell Old West Conversions are the only one to offer truly authentic reproductions of these interesting guns of the Old West. Others claim they offer authentic conversions, yet when examined and compared to original specimens, their claims fall short.

The conversion ring on the Howell conversion kit is the same size in diameter as the ones produced by Colt. The difference is in how they are mounted on the frame. Instead of milling away a portion of the frame, our conversion rings are designed to overcome the need for this operation, while maintaining the appearance of the original conversions.

Our conversion ring is securely mounted to the frame by two machine screws which require drilling and tapping. A word about mounting the conversion ring. The reason we decided to mount our conversion ring in the manner we did is so that the ring is secure. Mounting in this way insures durability of the revolver. If the ring is allowed to ‘free float’, it does not absorb the force of the hammer blow, but transmits it to the cylinder, which in turn transmits the built up inertia of the hammer blow, ring, and cylinder, to the forcing cone area of the barrel. Over time, this will cause your gun’s wedge to become battered and a general ‘looseness’ of the gun overall. Since the barrel is secured to the cylinder pin, it too will be affected by this force. This is one reason you hear about ‘looseness’ in percussion revolvers on based on the Colt patterns. By securing the ring, the force of the hammer blow is dispensed to the frame. The firing pin does impart force to the primer, but the primer material is soft enough not to further transmit this force, and the general life expectancy of the converted revolver is extended.