Belt Mountain Quick-Change Cylinder Conversion for the Ruger Old Army Cap & Ball Revolver

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

August 20th, 2012



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Belt Mountain conversion parts.


Small pin on knurled knob rotates to engage base pin.






Ruger Old Army retained the superb 3-screw Ruger action throughout its production.



Belt Mountain Enterprises of Belgrade, Montana has been producing over-size custom base pins for Ruger and Colt single action revolvers for several years now. I have Belt Mountain pins in several of my best sixguns. They eliminate the problem of the base pin moving forward under recoil, and the oversize diameter of the pin, compared to the standard factory pin dimension, tightens cylinder play. I highly recommend Belt Mountain base pins.

Belt Mountain also produces some of the absolute best precision hunting bullets available. These Punch bullets are the best that money can buy when deep, bone-breaking penetration is needed from a handgun or rifle. These are machine-turned brass bullets with a lead core and a flat meplat. They are the finest that I have found when bullet performance can’t be compromised. The Punch bullets are not cheap, but compared to the cost of a hunt, or to the loss of one’s life, the cost is not an issue.

Now, the latest innovation from Belt Mountain is a quick-change latch for the Ruger Old Army cap and ball sixgun. The Old Army is the best cap and ball revolver ever built. It is now out of production, but with many thousands of them in existence, they are still easy to find. They are very popular among the Cowboy Action competitors who compete with cap and ball revolvers, as they are very reliable and durable. The Belt Mountain quick-change cylinder device allows the cylinder to be swapped out quickly, without the use of tools. On the Ruger design, to remove the cylinder, a slotted screw must be turned, and the loading lever/base pin slid forward to remove the cylinder. As most competitors prefer to load the cylinder while it is removed from the gun, the Belt Mountain device allows this to be done by just turning the knurled knob and sliding the base pin forward.

A quick reload can be accomplished in just a few seconds if a spare loaded cylinder is available. Also, for those who use the popular cartridge conversion cylinders for the Old Army, removing the cylinder to reload it is a must. This innovative device from Belt Mountain makes the removal of the Ruger cylinder fast and easy.

The Belt Mountain conversion comes with everything needed, including a hex wrench. Removing the loading lever and installing the Belt Mountain parts takes about a full minute, if you are in no hurry. The conversion is available in either blued carbon steel or stainless, to match any Old Army revolver, and the conversion works with either the original seven and one-half or the recent five and one-half inch barrel sixguns.

Shooting cap and ball sixguns is not for everyone, but is enjoyed by many shooters. Those who think that all guns should have at least fifty percent polymer content and several inches of Picatinny rail will not understand. If all of your pants each have a minimum of nine pockets and are held up by a web belt, you have a “Kill Your Mama” tattoo over your left nipple, and your favorite movie features a nuclear-powered humanoid robot, you likely will not understand the intrigue of a cap and ball sixgun. However, a cap and ball revolver is the closest thing that we have to a time machine back to the Old West, and for those who love such things as stagecoaches, cattle drives, and the smell of black powder, such a sidearm is as good as it gets.

However, many shooters of these gun prefer the convenience of using a cartridge-conversion cylinder to shoot 45 Colt ammunition in the Old Army. For those, this Belt Mountain device is just the thing for quickly removing the cylinder to load.

I really like the idea of carrying a spare cylinder, already loaded and capped, for a quick install into the Old Army. I also prefer to load the cylinder using a Black Dawge press, for uniformity and simplicity. Popping the cylinder out to load on the press is much faster than loading on the sixgun, and I am able to get more consistent velocities by doing so. For those who shoot the cartridge conversion cylinders in the Old Army, the Belt Mountain conversion greatly improves the usefulness and practicality of the cartridge conversion. The Belt Mountain conversion makes this process quick and easy, and the parts are built and assembled with the precision and quality that I have come to expect from Belt Mountain.

The Belt Mountain latch system is available for only $34.95 US as of the date of this review. The Old Army base pin is $29.95 for the standard style, with the Keith No. 5 style base pin shown here only five dollars more.

To order the Belt Mountain conversion, go to

To order a Black Dawge cap and ball cylinder loading press, go to

Jeff Quinn

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