DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

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Sarge
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DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Sarge »

I won't blame this all on Jim Taylor, but he did shorten a Rossi 92 awhile back and that got me to thinking...

I love this old 7 1/2" Iver Johnson (Uberti) Cattleman 44 mag- it's mechanically accurate, has a great trigger and the 1860 grip frame fits me to a T. But that long barrel was a PITA in my tree stand last fall and the recent aggravation of an old shoulder repair made it worse.

So my favorite SA was gathering dust while other guns pulled chore duty. The only thing keeping me from shortening it was finding a local 'smith to cut a 3/8" front sight dovetail top dead center on the barrel. With that resolved I cut it to five inches, squared it up and worked in the new crown. I’ve always liked 5” revolvers and that length gave great handling and balance in conjunction the Army grip frame.

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Here's a couple more pics of the dovetail cut and the finished crown, after a little cold blue.

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I've got an assortment of old 3/8 front sights to modify and establish exactly what height I need for 100 yard elevation zero with my hunting load. I went with a dovetail mount because it provides a little wiggle room for windage adjustment. I installed an old .500 tall Marbles bead to get a feel for what sight height I'll need. It was about 10" low at 50 yards with the 205 grain /925 fps load so that's a good place to start. I also use this old Uberti with full magnum loads, but never over a 240-250 grain bullet. The good news is my full snort 240 XTP load is producing overlapping bullet splashes on steel 50 yards, so the cut/re-crown job turned out OK.

While a cobbled-in rifle bead was OK for establishing sight height requirements, I still needed a conventional revolver sight and I decided to take a stab at building one. The cut-off barrel nub still had the original Uberti blade attached. A half bottle of MAPP gas later, it was free of the barrel. I also had an old Marbles front sight with bead broke off, which had the wide base I wanted for this application. I filed it flush and Dremeled a groove down the center, just wide enough to accept the recycled Uberti front sight. This was an inexact method that, thanks to dumb luck, happened to work out well. The old front sight landed essentially square to the bore and straight up. I fluxed and tinned both components, set them in place and heated the works until the solder flowed. I also touched in a little extra to fill the slot around the sight base.

It took some file work to get it to the general shape and contour of a single action revolver sight; and I'll finish it when I'm certain it will work. I checked the overall height frequently during the process and finished the height at 0.510" some of which I'm certain will be removed during the zeroing process.

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A little more heat, some cold blue and here it is mounted in the dovetail. Zeroing commences ASAP.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by AmBraCol »

Great work, Sarge! Now to hand file a bit of crosshatching on the face of it to break up the glare... :D Seriously though, looking good. It'll be interesting to see how it works out for you.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Griff »

Very good! Nice job...
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by GunnyMack »

Nice job! Range report please.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by JimT »

HACKSAWS FOREVER!!

Nice work. The 5" looks good. I like the work you did on the sight.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by ollogger »

Wow that looks very nice! with all you guys chopping off these barrels & showing your nice work & then all
the photos of these short hand guns floating around here, it makes me want to get the hack saw out &
hack off 3 1/2 in, on a Uberti in 38-40, most likely it would win no prize :lol:



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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by BenT »

Looks great. I agree I like the 5 to 5 1/2 inch barrels.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Sarge »

Thank you for the kind comments. I test-drove it a bit yesterday with the homemade sight in place. Windage was easily set but it was shooting a little high, which I found odd since the post is still taller than the bead I used to test with.

Then I realized I had left the ejector housing off, to simplify drifting the front sight and I believe that missing weight explains the slight elevation divergence. When these spring rains let up I'll set up a folding table and fine tune it at 50 yards and eventually, 100.

Somewhere in my gun toolbox is a 40 LPI checkering file which I have used, in the past, to serrate a sight post or two.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Oldncrusty »

Looks good. You got me thinkin I might not pass on those 7 1/2s any more.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by piller »

Looks good.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Scott Tschirhart »

I like it!!!!

Seems like a short .44 magnum always needs more front sight than you might expect.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Sarge »

Scott Tschirhart wrote:
Wed Mar 23, 2022 7:20 am
I like it!!!!

Seems like a short .44 magnum always needs more front sight than you might expect.
Thank you. They do need a substantial front sight and a good sturdy one, too. Unfortunately the one I built, isn't it. I gave the blade a couple of hard 'test bumps' with a plastic screwdriver handle and it moved. Better to find out now than when it's called on for business; and with components increasingly scarce I only intend to zero it once.

I see skinner has their Patridge available in brass or steel in about any base width or height you could want. Looks like it might even stand a good rap with a screwdriver handle ;)

http://www.skinnersights.com/front_sights_5.html

I weighed the abbreviated Cattleman today and it could teeter-totter with a GI 1911.

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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Scott Tschirhart »

Once you file that sight down to where you want it and get your windage right, just weld a tiny bead at the junction with the front of the blade and the barrel. It should stay put.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by piller »

Would silver solder work? It wouldn't get as hot for the time.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by AmBraCol »

Fermin Garza supplies some excellent sights, but Skinner has a better price on theirs.

https://fermincgarza.com/shop/ols/produ ... ail-sights

You've already cut the dovetail or one of Fermin's other sights might be an option.

https://fermincgarza.com/shop
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Sarge »

The dovetail base stayed put. The weak link was the solder joint between the base and the blade. It wasn't as close a fit as I would have liked for a good high heat solder joint. What would be perfect is a dovetail base purpose built to support a soldered-in blade.

Image
https://www.ebay.com/itm/224231968844

Thanks for the links, Paul. As this is basically a $400 gun I'll probably go with the Skinner/
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Scott Tschirhart »

Heck I like that Marlin sight!
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Sarge »

Scott Tschirhart wrote:
Thu Mar 24, 2022 9:29 am
Heck I like that Marlin sight!
I do too! Last I checked, that seller only offered them in .300 and shorter and I've asked for the 2nd time how thick the silver blade is. If they could be had at .500 and taller with a 0.080 to 0.100 thick blade, this old Uberti would be wearing one.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Scott Tschirhart »

I'll bet you could find something like that at Buffalo Arms that would get you where you need to be.

Bill Bagwell and I used to take the blade out of sights like this and replace them with a filed down penny. (gotta find an old penny that still has copper in it) We could really see the old penny blade in any kind of light. You could blacken it or rub it to get it to glow depending on the light.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by wvfarrier »

That turned out pretty awesome!!!
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Sarge »

Undeterred by failure or common sense, I grabbed another old Marbles front sight and rebuilt the 44’s front sight again in the same manner as before. The solder joint was perfect this time and it withstood pounding with a screwdriver handle. Once shaped and squared it stood 0.540” tall and a couple of file stokes brought the 240 grain magnum XTP load into good 25 yard elevation alignment. I do need to move it left in the dovetail a tad; but for a ‘try sight’ to stand in until something permanent is chosen, it works fine.

I also chronographed a couple of loads to see how much velocity the 2 ½” shorter barrel was costing me.
A 205 grain Bear Creek RNFP over 7.0 grains of W231, which produced 925 fps from the 7 ½” barrel, did 861 fps from the 5” barrel.

The 240 grain XTP over 23.5 grains of W296 which did 1422 fps from the 7 ½” barrel, ran 1350 fps from the 5” barrel.

I had 50 Hornady 240 grain swaged lead hollow points, which I loaded over 10.0 grains of HS6 and crimped over the shoulder. Those averaged 904 fps and I shot one into a 3” wet catalog. It cut a full caliber hole going in and a 1 1/2” hole out the back. It was enough to make me comfortable with the LSWCHP load for nightstand duty or trips into town.

I thought long and hard before shortening this old Uberti. Now I’m really glad I did it.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by piller »

Just my opinion, but the loss of velocity is not enough to worry about at the distances you are probably going to be using that pistol. You are still getting enough power to do what needs to be done.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Sarge »

Agreed, Piller. I wasn't worried about the little dab of velocity it cost to have a much handier sixgun. My self imposed limit on deer with a conventional handgun is 50 yards and that XTP load in particular is more than enough for that. I will occasionally shoot a groundhog or coyote further. I shoot steel plates at 100 yards fur fun and, as my mother said, that 'little dose of humility' that never hurt anybody.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Sarge »

I'm gonna throw an update in here and then I'll quit pestering you fellas about it.

My second effort at sight building is sturdy but had just a tad of right lean. I was able to file that out and still have plenty of post for a usable sight picture. I also have about 250 of the 205 grain load, so I decided to file the homemade sight to that load. I ordered those at 0.434" to match the old gun's generous but consistent throats.

I got out for a bit yesterday, pretty easily got it on a 6" plate at 25 yards and then moved back to 50 for fine tuning. One of the things I love about this old Uberti is that shoots almost anything well and since the re-crown, it's shooting better than ever. Sitting and shooting over my knees, I'd fire three, drift & file and fire three more. Often those three shots would be 2-3 inches apart. This is one of the better clusters.

Image

It only took a peck or two of windage and about four file stokes to correct that. With a 6 o'clock hold standing unsupported at 25 yards, it will also now put the 240 swaged/900 fps load right in that dot. I'm almost anxious for the groundhogs and garden raiding racoons to show up!
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Scott Tschirhart »

Sounds like a very successful experiment.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by .45colt »

"I'm gonna throw an update in here and then I'll quit pestering you fellas about it." You can pester All You want. this has been a great project to follow. You have done a Great Job. :D .
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Sarge »

Thanks guys I appreciate it. When these 205 grain RNFP loads are gone, all this revolver will see are 240-270 grain bullets- a 900 fps general-use load a wide meplat SWC and maybe a throttled up WFN at maybe 1200.

I've always liked the XTP but I ain't married to it. Times like this encourage independence from the whims of jacketed bullet makers and retailers. My experience with 44-45 revolvers on critters indicates a fat SWC around 1000 fps works just as well with the same placement.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Sarge »

I selected a sight and got it mounted. Skinner Sights offers a brass or steel post sight they sell as the 'Patridge Sight' available in a variety of heights and base widths. It cones with a serrated post. I ordered the 0.525" high brass sight with a half inch wide dovetail base. The sight I received had an almost rectangular blade and the base had fairly sharp corners. No matter, I've got a belt sander and files. I reprofiled it to a basic SA revolver shape with the corners of the base rounded up and serrations removed, to make it holster friendly.

Image
Image

The old Uberti zeroed with 6-8 file strokes and the front sight right where you see it in the last photo. Once off the bench, I shot 4-5 cylinders standing unsupported at steel from 10-100 yards using the Lyman 429667 reload. Boom...clang. All that's left is to Loctite it to the dovetail.

And reload more ammo.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by JimT »

I bet that sight shows up well against dark targets! Nice work Sarge.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Sarge »

Thank you Jim. I find a gold faced (brass) revolver sight much easier to see in the dark ol' woods. Might have something to do with wearing out 65 calendars ;)

The final zero couldn't have worked out better. Peggi got me a Do-All spinner target a few years ago. The top half is 2 7/8" and the bottom is 4 1/2"; they were easy at 10 and 17 paces respectively. When I didn't flub the press, I hit 6" knock-down plates at 50 yards by holding six o'clock on them. My 100 yard pistol target is an 18" square plate, hanging by one corner like a diamond and I shot in the middle of it holding on the top third. This was all with the Lyman 429667/7.5 W231 reload and it's working so well I may never shoot anything else in this old Uberti.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by 2ndovc »

That brass front sight is super cool. I’ve had several revolvers with brass or gold beads and love them. Just work well for me.
Great project! Turned out very cool.

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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Grizz »

Kudos. Outstanding craftsmanship. And a most useful tool to keep at hand.
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Re: DIY Barrel Chop- IJ Cattleman 44 Mag (pic heavy)

Post by Scott Tschirhart »

That really turned out nice. Good work!
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