Kirst Konverter, continued
I have come to expect good quality from Kirst Industries and I knew from the interview with Walt that the design would be a challenge, but I was not prepared for the incredible precision and fine quality of the cylinder that arrived. The parts fit precisely and the blue finish on the Kirst cylinder was much better than the blue finish on the Ruger Old Army revolver.
Figure 2 shows the details of the side of the backing plate that faces the standing breech (recoil shield). The design of the ROA makes the star (the plate with six holes) on the rear of the cylinder so large that the rotating plate in the Kirst Konverter must remain between the cartridge bases and the standing breech. This complicates the design of the conversion cylinder and makes it impossible to easily make a ported converter.
The star assembly rides as a ring in the middle of the backing plate of the Konverter. Please note in Figure 2 that Kirst even provides a ramp to make it easier to install their Konverter into the Ruger without it becoming snagged on the hand (pawl). This unique design allows the converter to be easily slid into place with the gun in the half-cock position and the cylinder locking bold retracted. A very nice touch!
I have shot many cartridge conversion kits in the past, but I found this one can quickly go into place and the cylinder pin can be slid and locked into place more easily than other conversions I have shot.
I removed the loading ram from the ROA and also chose not to secure the cylinder pin using the twist screw. This secures the cylinder pin in place by using the locking arm that snaps into place. There is no concern about the cylinder falling out, but I can release it by simply putting the gun into half-cock, releasing the loading lever latch, pulling the loading assembly forward, and tilting the gun to the right to allow the cylinder to slide out into my hand. I do not know if ROA's with longer barrels will have problems, but the loading assembly in mine with a 5 1/2 inch barrel remained in place even when moved forward.
Loading is done simply by reversing the unloading process and is very quick and easy to do smoothly. Failing to remove the loading ram will probably result in it falling off at the loading table, unloading table, or onto the ground during a reload on the clock.
I loaded some .45 Colt cartridges with 30 grains of Clean Shot and 255 grain round nose bullets. The Ruger shoots a .457 round ball so I used a .454 lead bullet with no lube at all on the bullets. I didn't have a loading die so Tracy Shooting Supplies loaned one to me. I loaded about 100 cartridges and It was off to the to the local shooting range and a field test of this combination.
The gun shot very well. The full load bucked in my hand and smoked enough to keep the darksiders very happy. It was a joy to shoot. When the cylinder was empty, I simply pulled the gun to half-cock, released the loading lever, pushed the loading assembly forward, and tilted the gun to the right to slide the cylinder assembly into my hand.
Cartridges slid out of the chambers during the first loads of the cylinder, and reloading was not too awkward while standing on the line. Although the rammer should be able to push out any cartridges, mine gun has a short barrel and the rammer could not do it. I was able to push the empties out using the little loading ram I had put in my pocket.
I would probably be like Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider and keep a spare cylinder if I was going to shoot this as a main stage gun. I think that combination would look very nice on a gun belt. I am sure the gun can be reloaded much more quickly that way than a reload of a normal SAA.
I shot the gun at about ten yards, which is consistent with most cowboy action stages. The gun was hand held on a windy afternoon, but it shot a three-inch group despite the wind moving me around a little.
If I remove the two shots that are better as measures of my inability to shoot well, then the gun shot a one-inch group of three at ten yards. That puts it in the same category as my Ruger Blackhawks and shows that this combination really works.
My conclusion is that the Ruger Old Army revolver combined with the Kirst Kartridge Konverter is a winning combination. It makes it easy to switch from Frontiersman any other cartridge category and makes this an excellent option for entering the world of cowboy shooting.
Hot tip-- If you use the little disposable foam ear plugs while you shoot and would like to clean and use them again, simply put them in a jar of warm soapy water. Shake the solution and rinse in cool water and lay out to dry.