Frequently Asked Questions

What is the age of my pistol, and why is this important?

Italian Revolvers:

The quickest way to identify when the pistol was manufactured is to look for the Italian Proof Date Code.  The two-letter code is enclosed in a rectangle and typically on the right side of the pistol, near the trigger guard, or behind the grip area.  We are not looking for the “PN.”  Please reference the chart below.  If the percussion pistol was manufactured prior to 2002, please do not order. Frames and parts are different in older percussion pistols. These slight differences may affect chamber alignment to the barrel and how the cylinder indexes.  We are no longer manufacturing custom conversion cylinders.  If your revolver is manufactured after 2002 and needs a fitting, Click here for the Howell Arms Work Form.

Year Mark
1945 I
1946 II
1947 III
1948 IV
1949 V
1950 VI
1951 VII
1952 VIII
1953 IX
1954 X
1955 XI
1956 XII
1957 XIII
1958 XIV
1959 XV
1960 XVI
1961 XVII
1962 XVIII
1963 XIX
1964 XX
1965 XXI
1966 XXII
1967 XXIII
1968 XXIV
1969 XXV
1970 XXVI
1971 XXVII
1973 XXIX
1974  XXX
1975 AA
1976  AB
1977 AC
1978 AD
1979 AE
1980 AF
1981 AH
1982 AI
1983 AL
1984 AM
1985 AN
1986 AP
1987 AS
1988 AT
1989 AU
1990 AZ
1991 BA
1992 BB
1993 BC
1994 BD
1995 BF
1996 BD
1997 BI
1998 BL
1999 BM
2000 BN
2001 BP
2002 BS
2003 BT
2004 BU
2005 BZ
2006 CA
2007 CB
2008 CC
2009 CD
2010 CF
2011 CH
2012 CI
2013 CL
2014 CM
2015  CN
2016 CP
2017 CS
2018 CT
2019 CU
2020 CZ/20
2021 21
2022 22
2023 23
2024 24
2025 25
2026 26
2027 27
2028 28
2029 29
2030 30
Why does my gun need a fitting? How much does it cost?

Due to gun manufacturers variances, we sometimes must fit a conversion cylinder to a pistol.  We always try to make any adjustments to our cylinder to make it work, however, because these pistols are hand assembled by people, the internal parts, such as the hands, or bolts may be modified. We will never alter a pistol without the customers approval.

Note:  We will not fit a conversion cylinder to a revolver that was manufactured prior to 2002. 

Fittings are only $35 plus shipping to and from customer.  Please keep in mind, if we must replace parts, or additional labor is required these costs are not included in the $35 fitting fee. Click here for the Howell Arms Work Form.  Please note when shipping in a revolver for a fitting, conversion cylinders must ship separate from the black powder revolver.

Does my Ruger Old Army require a Fitting?

99% of Rugers do not require fittings, however, we have found that sometimes we do have to fit the Howell Conversion cylinder to fit inside the frame. For a perfect fit in your revolver, please click here and follow the Ruger Measurement Instructions PDF. If the measurements are correct, please order. If smaller, do not order. We will need to modify our cylinder to fit in your frame. Please call with any questions. Click here for the Howell Arms Work Form

Will the conversion cylinder work in my Armi San Marco, Armi San Paolo, Colt, Connecticut Valley Arms, Colt, Euroarms, Haas, Lyman, or Navy Arms?

The conversions cylinders were built for the following manufacturers:  Pietta, Ruger, Uberti and the Euroarms Rogers & Spencer.  If the pistol is manufactured by any of the manufacturers from above or one that is not listed, do not order.  Our cylinders will not work with other manufacturers. We are not manufacturing making custom conversion cylinders.

What is Cowboy Ammo?

Cowboy ammunition is loaded with lead bullets and either smokeless powder, black powder, or black powder substitutes in a brass case.  We do not recommend using ammo with a muzzle velocity over 850 fps/12,000psi. 

A few manufacturers that make cowboy ammo:

  1. Choice Ammunition
  2. Black Hills
  3. Fiocchi
  4. Ultramax
  5. HSM Cowboy
Why can't I use Jacketed Ammo?

Jacketed ammunition exerts higher pressures than cowboy ammunition.  The barrel is designed for LEAD bullets only. The rifling in the barrel is deeper than a barrel designed to fire Jacketed ammunition.  Jacketed ammunition creates more pressure and is absorbed either by the firing pins/ferrules, the arbor pin and or the frame. This can cause damage.

Can I dry fire my pistol? Can I use Snap caps?

We do not recommend dry firing. If you must practice, a snap cap will absorb some of the impact, but we cannot guarantee that the firing pins will not peen over.  Should damage result from dry firing, replacement firing pins can be ordered here.

Why should I use a Hollow base bullet in my .36 percussion pistol?

To overcome the larger bore of the 1851, 1861, & 1858 .36 revolver (.361), we recommend using the hollow base bullet.  A hollow base bullet will expand into the rifling and allow for more accuracy.  We recommend using a 38Spl Hollow base wad cutter.

If you prefer not to have to use a hollow base bullet, lining the barrel would a better option.  Please refer to the question, “Is barrel lining necessary in my .36 percussion pistol?” See Barrel Lining service here.

Is barrel lining necessary in my .36 percussion pistol? Would I be able to shoot my cap and ball after lining the barrel?

The .36 barrel of the 1851, 1861, or 1858 has a bore dimension of .361.  Any 38-caliber bullet is .357.  So how do you overcome the larger bore?  A simple solution would be to use a hollow base bullet, A BETTER option, would be, to line your barrel with .357 (Groove Diameter) .351 Bore diameter hammer forged barrel liner.  Lining the barrel would allow you shoot any Cowboy 38 caliber cartridge.  You can also still shoot with percussion cylinder. See Barrel Lining service here.

Do you make a Gated Conversion Kit for 1860?

No, we do not.

I see you make a conversion cylinder for the 1860 Uberti, do you make a cylinder for the 1860 Pietta?

No, we do not. 

Do you make a conversion cylinder for the Percussion 1873 Cattleman?

No, we do not.

Will the Reduced Pull Spring Kit damage my Thompson?

No, it will only reduce the amount of force needed to cock the Thompson.  The urethane buffer will absorb the impact of the bolt.  The original Thompson used a phenolic & steel wafer to absorb the impact of the bolt. For more information about Reduced Pull Spring kit click here.

The Reduced Pull Spring kit can be used with blank and live rounds of ammunition.

Do I need to order a replacement urethane buffer?  Not necessary but if you would like to order an additional buffer, click here.

Order Issues

An item in my order was damaged in transit! What do I do?

We’re so sorry to hear an item was damaged! Please contact Howell Arms after receiving a damaged shipment and we will be more than happy to help you.

Office 608-563-0974 or you can email us at:

Shipping and Delivery (Within US)

When will my order ship?

Excited to get your order? We know the feeling! All orders are processed upon receipt. Actual shipping time is contingent upon the availability of merchandise and credit verification. Most orders are shipped within 1 business days of receiving your order. Orders placed after 10:00 AM CT will be processed the following business day. Please note that orders are not processed or shipped on Saturdays or Sundays.

Where will my order ship from and how long will it take for my order to arrive?

Orders ship from the Janesville Wisconsin. Our standard shipping method is USPS Priority Mail Shipping, but you will be given a choice of shipping method at checkout- UPS Ground, UPS 3-Day, UPS 2nd Day Air and UPS Next Day Air.

Please note that shipping time is not the same as total delivery time. Additional time is needed to process and package your order before the package ships. Choosing Next Day Air does not guarantee your order will be delivered the day after you place your order.

For clients in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and U.S. territories please note UPS Ground delivery may take up to 14 business days to deliver.

Will I get a tracking number?

For all orders shipped, the tracking information will be provided to you via email as soon as the order is processed.

Do you ship to PO boxes?

Yes we do.  Only USPS can deliver to PO Boxes.

Do you ship Internationally?

Currently we only ship within the United States.

Can I make changes to or cancel my order?

Unfortunately, once an order is processed and sent to the warehouse, we are unable to modify orders in the fulfillment process. If you have any concerns, please contact Howell Arms at 608-563-0974 for additional help. Please see our return policy below If you would like to return your order.

What is your return policy?

We hope you love your Howell Arms products, but we understand sometimes products may not be right for you. If you need to return your product(s) for a refund, please return your unused product within 90 days. Shipping and handling not included in returns.

Returns will be accepted on products purchased from only. Products purchased from any of our dealers should be returned to the place of purchase.

Please repackage the merchandise in its original packages and return with the completed Return/Exchange Form via ground USPS or UPS insured to:

Howell Arms Inc

419 S Arch Street

Janesville WI 53548