5.6 The Centaure Richards Transitional Conversion

Chapter 5 – Centaure Conversions the Next Level of the Evolution?

5.6 The Centaure Richards Transitional or R2 Conversion

















The CentaureRichards Transitional or R2 Conversion

The Colt 1860 Army Richards Transitional Model in Perspective

What is a Richards II?

The Making of the Nadbal Centaure Richards Transitional Model

Centaure R2 Project Outline

The Cat Cannot Stop Chasing Mice

Winter 2011/12 – Update from Downrange

Trio of Nedbal Centaure Richards




The Colt 1860 Army Richards Transitional Model in Perspective


The Colt 1860 Richards Transitional Model or Richards II (R2) as some call this Improved Richards conversion is the rarest of the Colt Hartford factory conversions. Their total number produced is estimated today at less than 1,000 specimens. If you calculate the survival rate of period guns at only 10 to 15 %  and add to this equation that  Colt breech loading Army conversion pistols specifically saw extensive military use – through the 1880s at the Western and Southwestern frontier but later again during the Mexican Revolution between 1910 and 1929 – it does not come as a surprise that well maintained R2s demand very high prices at auctions.

Originals hitting the market today are usually in a used to molested condition. This might explain why my good friends from Gardone/Italy during 2006 decided to market a replica of the Richards Transitional instead of the more common Richards. Compared to R1’s the R2’s are less costly in the making, not only today but also back in the day.


What is a Richards II?


In essence in the Richards II the barrel assembly of the Richards (R1) was mated with frame, cylinder and conversion ring of the later Richards-Mason (RM). The hammers were modified C&B ones with a firing pin added. The R2 was launched during the 1870s after some 9,000 Richards Army conversions (R1s) were completed.


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5.6.2_1 Original Colt Richards Transitional Model


The U.S. Army was happy with their Richards conversions. Colt Firearms on the other hand found their making and their repairing (!) too expensive. Hence, they incorporated these afore mentioned short cuts in the production. This allowed them to make further use of their surplus stock of Colt 1860 Army Model percussion parts including hammers built-up during the Civil War.

Regarding the repairs mentioned, remember that ex-factory most of the Richards (R1) were fitted with their C&B cylinders bored through to shoot cartridges. Through blown out notches these former C&B cylinders had weak rear segments. During use some of these cylinders even exploded. At the factory such disabled Richards conversions were equipped with newly lathed cartridge cylinders with their rear segments made thicker. Comparative measurements of the diameters of these rear segments: Colt 1860 Army C&B cylinders bored-through 3,89 cm/1.533 inch, newly made conversion cylinders 3,98 cm/1.568 inch.

All Richards II had these newly lathed cartridge cylinders installed which were 0,9 mm/.035 inch thicker than the bored-through percussion ones. This way the Richards II program led to the more advanced Richards-Mason conversion once the inventory of percussion barrels in Hartford was exhausted!

The Making of the Nedbal Centaure Richards Transitional Model


Thanks to Austrian master gunsmith Karl Nedbal, Centaure Richards (R1) and Richards-Mason (RM) chambered for the modern .44 Colt cartridge are reality by now as customs conversions. On the other hand, a Centaure in R2 configuration would bridge the evolutionary gap between R1 and RM within the family of Hartford made Colt 1860 Army type conversions. Therefore, I had to have one for my collection of Centaure conversions. My 2003 production Uberti Richards Transitional #X04444 before the period correct ejector rod was installed as free of charge factory replacement: „You served me well, but I like the proportions of my Centaure conversions with historical-correct dimensions better“


Hence, I waved a respectful “Good bye“ to my beefed-up Uberti Richards Transitional X04444 when she had to go! After the experience FROCS #50 Luger Master aka Karl Nedbal had gathered with the previous Centaure breechloaders but the Richards and the Richards-Mason conversions in particular the Richards Transitional conversion was going to be a straight-forward task. Nedbal let me have his RNMA 1st variation 3rd sub-variation #6981 from 1967 and converted her for me. She was liberated for such a project a few months earlier in a German auction. The project was kicked-off on July 18, 2010, right after the 1st Annual Meeting of the FROCS meeting in Hofheim.


D:\FAUL RNMA 1V 3SV #6981 Nedbal Richards Transitional\1-1772826_480f62ce05f43.jpg Project gun for the R2 conversion project: Centaure RNMA 1st variation 3rd sub-variation #6981

Centaure R2 Project Outline

Project revolver

RNMA 1st variation 3rd sub-variation #6981


8″, Centaure step maintained

Barrel marking



.44 Colt inside lubed (liner, .429″ rifling groove diameter

Ejector housing

Richards type



Conversion ring

gated, Richards II type

Conversion cylinder

newly lathed conversion type, Centaure proprietary naval scene engraved


altered C&B type from Centaure

Gate spring


Grip frame

Centaure brass triggerguard, backstrap with without notch


Traditional (rust blued, whenever possible case color parts left unchanged


We agreed on a completion date around the end of March 2011. Because at that time I had some business meetings scheduled in Vienna. Detailed discussions of her making will not be necessary. The barrel assembly is covered in chapter 5.1 on the Centaure Richards whereas details on the frame/cylinder/conversion ring assembly can be found in chapter 5.4 on the Richards-Mason.


D:\FAUL RNMA 1V 3SV #6981 Nedbal Richards Transitional\1-P1030852.JPG „Semi-clinical“ right side view of Nedbal Centaure RNMA Richards Transitional #6981


Labor time incurred for the making of this conversion added up to an amazing 40 (!) hours! As scheduled I took possession of this piece of Nedbal conversion art on March 29, 2011. This was going to be the last Centaure conversion project of Karl for yours truly for the time being but certainly not the end of it.


D:\FAUL RNMA 1V 3SV #6981 Nedbal Richards Transitional\1-P1020186.JPG Nedbal Centaure RNMA Richards Transitional #6981 proudly displayed on Austrian State flag



The Cat Cannot Stop Chasing Mice


On March 29, 2011, Karl confided to me he was seriously thinking about retirement at age 65 in April 2011! Hence, this Nedbal Centaure Richards Transitional Model is the last conversion the master completed … or so everybody thought at that time. While this news is sinking in, please, take a closer look at some of the finer details of this Centaure conversion.


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5.6.3_1 Centaure Richards Transitional #6981: New firing pin on hammer, external gate spring


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5.6.3_2 As with other Nedbal Centaure conversions the factory barrel marking are maintained


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5.6.3_3 #6981 serial number stamped on loading gate


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5.6.3_4 Belgian proof marks maintained on barrel lug, domed screw heads, 44 CAL stamped on shoulder of triggerguard