Uberti SAA conversion from 45LC to 38-40 WCF

Last year I discovered the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting. Once you discover this fantastic sport, “leveritis” sets in. After purchasing a number of modern lever action rifles, I just had to have an original, pre 1900 rifle. I found a beautiful Winchester 1873 that needed some love (See other article on this web site). This rifle was in 38-40 Winchester Center Fire (38-WCF). So I needed a set of revolvers in the same cartridge.

But I live in Massachusetts and in 1998 our wonderful legislature passed a law that you can’t purchase and handguns in Massachusetts unless they were already in the state before 1998 or if the undergo an exhaustive, full destruction test and then be certified by the Department of Public Safety. This means that it is nearly impossible to legally purchase any SAA revolvers other than a couple of Ruger models.

I have a pre 1998, Uberti 1873 Regulator,  45LC, nickle plated in the safe that I wasn’t doing much with. I’ve been shooting CAS with 1860 Colt conversions and 1858 Remington conversions.

The Uberti would be the donor!

I went to the Gun Parts Corp web site (Gun Parts, West Hurley NY) and searched for a 38-40 Cylinder and barrel. I couldn’t believe it when they listed both. And the cylinder was nickle plated, just like my revolver!

The barrel was the length I was looking for, 4 3/4″, but it was blued. It would have to do.

I ordered up the parts and in three days they were here.

First order of business was to see if the cylinder fit. It popped right in but was hard to turn. I realized that the cylinder was about .001″ too long. Three passes with a fine file on the ratchet and it was now good. The cylinder pin was a bit tight so a few passes of a piece of sandpaper in the cylinder pin bore took care of that.

Next the 45LC barrel was removed with my hydraulic my barrel vise. Easy peasy!

The 38-40 barrel screwed right on and the front sight indexed perfectly! Must be my lucky day!

But the barrel stub was just a bit too long and the cylinder would not fit.

This is very easily fixed with a tool that Brownell’s sells.

This tool is used through the barrel with the barrel installed on the revolver.


This picture shows the set up for cutting the barrel shank.


Ready to cut!


Lots of good cutting oil and a nice steady turn while pulling on the “T” handle.

The front of the rod is supported by an aluminum tapered bushing.

Once you have the cylinder gap where you want it, you need to break the sharp edge on the forcing cone. with the fourth tool from the left.

And this make a beautiful chamfer on the forcing cone.

In this conversion, I did not have to cut the forcing cone. The replacement barrel was already cut and I only removed a couple thou from its length. If this was a brand new, uncut barrel, I would have used the forcing cone cutter, second from the left and the brass hone. first on the left to accomplish this process.

The finished product!  I removed the blue from the barrel and highly polished it to match the Nickle plating until I can send it out to be plated proper.

Hope you like it!


See you on the range!






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1 comment on “Uberti SAA conversion from 45LC to 38-40 WCF”

  1. Mad Dog McGee Reply

    Nice work!!!!! I too shoot 38-40(38WCF). I love the cartridge as it replacates the 40 S&W . I have 2 consec. USFA’s, and 2 Ruger Old vaqueros with the interchangeable cylinders for 40S&W.
    I reload and usually shoot BP or Subs. I have an ’73 24″ barrel Uberti rifle also and I love it. Good luck with the new gun! And thanks for sharing it with us.
    Mad Dog McGee

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