Remington Model 1858

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Remington New Model
New model Army IMG 3544.jpg
Remington New Model Army Revolver made c. 1863 - 1875.
Type Revolver
Place of origin  United States
Service history
Used by  United States
 Confederate States
 United Kingdom
 Russian Empire
 Second Mexican Empire
 Mexico
 Empire of Japan
 France
Native Americans
Wars American Civil War
American Indian Wars
Franco-Prussian War
Production history
Designer Fordyce Beals
Designed 1858
Manufacturer Remington Arms
Produced 1862 to 1875
Number built Over 230,000
Variants 10
Specifications
Weight 2 lb, 13 oz (1.27 kg)
Length 13.25 in (337 mm)
Barrel length 8 in (203 mm)

Cartridge Powder & ball or Paper cartridge with conical bullet
Metallic cartridge for conversion
Caliber .31, .36, and .44 percussion,
.32 rimfire (converted),
.38 centerfire (converted),
.38 rimfire (converted),
.46 rimfire (converted)
Action Single and Double action
Muzzle velocity 550–1286 ft/s
Effective firing range sighted in at 75 yards
Feed system 6 round cylinder (5 round pocket)
Sights Fixed Post, Notched Top Strap

The Remington-Beals Model Revolvers along with subsequent models and variations were percussion revolvers manufactured by Eliphalet Remington & Sons in .31 (Pocket) .36 (Navy) or .44 (Army) caliber, used during the American Civil War, and was the beginning of a successful line of medium and large frame percussion revolvers. It is commonly, though inaccurately, referred to as the Model 1858 due to the patent markings on its cylinder, "PATENTED SEPT. 14, 1858/E. REMINGTON & SONS, ILION, NEW YORK, U.S.A./NEW MODEL."; although wide scale production did not start until 1861.[1]

The Remington revolver was a secondary, supplemental issue firearm for the Union Army until the Colt factory fire of 1864. Due to the fire the Colt 1860 Army was not available for some time, subsequently large numbers of the Remington revolver were ordered by the U.S. government. It was more expensive, by "50 cents" (a difference of more than US$12 in 2013 dollars), than the Colt, but those who could afford it remarked on its durability and ability to quickly reload by switching to another pre-loaded cylinder.[2]

It saw use in the American West, both in its original percussion configuration and as a metallic cartridge conversion, as well as around the world.

Overview[edit]

Remington New Model Army Revolver, early model with mortised frontsight

The Remington was a single-action, six-shot, percussion revolver produced by E. Remington & Sons, Ilion, N.Y., based on the Fordyce Beals patent of September 14, 1858 (Patent 21,478). The Remington Army revolver was large-framed, in .44 caliber, with an 8 inch barrel length. The Remington Navy revolver was slightly smaller framed than the Army, and in .36 caliber with an 7.375 inch [Beals Navy 7.5 inch] barrel length. There were three progressive models; the Remington-Beals Army & Navy (1860–1862), the 1861 Army & Navy (1862–1863), and the New Model Army & Navy (1863–1875).[3] The three models are nearly identical in size and appearance. Subtle but noticeable differences in hammers, loading levers, and cylinders help identify each model. The 1861 Remington actually transitioned into New Model appearance by late 1862, slowly transforming throughout 1862, due to continual improvement suggestions from the U. S. Ordnance Department.[4][5]

By the time of the Civil War, most percussion revolvers were fired with commercially made combustible cartridges, constructed of a powder envelope (usually paper cartridge) glued to the base of a conical bullet. The treated envelope self-consumed upon firing. To load a combustible, a cartridge was dropped envelope first into each chamber and seated firmly with the loading lever, the process continuing until all six chambers were loaded. After all six chambers were loaded, placing a percussion cap on each of the six nipples at the rear of the cylinder readied the revolver for firing. The six chambers of a revolver cylinder could also be loaded one chamber at a time, by dropping in a powder charge from a powder flask, followed by seating either a round ball or conical bullet in each chamber, using the loading lever. To help prevent chain firing (also known as "cross-firing") of the black powder charge and to reduce black powder fouling, grease (such as tallow) was often put into each chamber on top of the loaded projectile. Combustible cartridge bullets were already pre-greased with beeswax, so the greasing step was unnecessary. The final loading step was capping as in the combustible cartridge loading method described earlier.

The combustible cartridge loading method sped up revolver loading considerably, simplified ammunition management, and became the loading method specified by the U.S. Ordnance Department just prior to the Civil War.[6]

Remington percussion revolvers are very accurate, and capable of considerable power with muzzle velocities in the range of 550 to 1286+ feet-per-second, depending upon the charge loaded by the shooter. Combustible cartridge velocities averaged from 700 to 900 feet per second (270 m/s), depending on powder quality, charge and conical bullet weight. Combustibles were usually loaded with a special high performance sporting grade black powder, using the minimum charge required for a specified impact level, usually determined by pine penetration tests. The special powder and minimal charge reduced black powder fouling, allowing revolvers to be fired as much as possible before cleaning was necessary.[6][7]

Design[edit]

New Model Army Fully dismounted
Original Remington New Model Navy, 36 caliber

The Remington revolver owes its durability to the “topstrap”, solid-frame design. The design is stronger and less prone to frame stretching than the Colt revolvers of the same era. The internal lockwork of the Remington is somewhat simpler in construction. While the Colt employs separate screws for the hand and trigger, those components share the same through-frame screw in the Remington design.

The Remington's small-diameter cylinder pin is vulnerable to black powder fouling buildup, which can make it hard to rotate the cylinder. This problem is aggravated by the way modern black powder is manufactured to make it more stable, which significantly increases the fouling residue. Revolvers of the Colt pattern are less prone to cylinder binding even with modern black powder, because the cylinder pin is larger in diameter and is scored with spiral grooves which capture the majority of the fouling.

Another innovative feature (first appearing in late 1862 in the 1861 Model production series) was "safety slots" milled between chambers on the cylinder. Most 19th-century revolver designs lacked such safety features. Early Whitney revolvers, for example, were similar to the Remington but lacked the safety slots. It was possible to lower the Whitney hammer between cylinder chambers for safe carry, but without the Remington milled slot the Whitney cylinder could possibly slip and rotate, allowing the hammer to strike a loaded, capped chamber and cause an accidental discharge. The Remington milled slot positively secured the hammer between chambers for safe carry by preventing accidental cylinder rotation.

The Remington revolver permitted easy cylinder removal, allowing a quick reload with a spare pre-loaded cylinder (an advantage over other revolver designs of the time.) It is, however, unlikely that this was common practice during the period. Spare cylinders were not provided by the Army.[8]

A prized possession of the Remington Arms Company is an original New Model Army with ivory grips once carried by William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody. This historic revolver is on display with Cody's simple handwritten note, "This old Remington Revolver I carried and used for many years in Indian wars and buffalo killing. And it never failed me." Cody carried the revolver in its original percussion form well into the cartridge era, and never converted it to cartridge use.

Metallic cartridge conversions[edit]

Remington Conversion cal .46 RF
Remington Conversion, Rollin White Patent

In 1868, Remington began offering metallic cartridge conversions of the revolver in .46 rimfire. Remington paid a royalty fee to Smith & Wesson, owners of the Rollin White patent (#12,648, April 3, 1855) on bored-through revolver cylinders for metallic cartridge use. The Remington Army cartridge-conversions were the first large-caliber cartridge revolvers available, beating even Smith & Wesson's .44 American to market by nearly two years.

Due to the large volume of these pistols, individual gunsmiths also produced cartridge conversions (from cap and ball versions) in a variety of calibers such as .44-40 and .45 Colt.[1][9]

Modern reproduction with conversion cylinder

Model series[edit]

The various pistols in this series with pertinent data.[10]

Model Frame Years Mfg'd Caliber(s) Production Barrel Notes
Remington-Beals Army Model Revolver Large 1861-1862 .44 1,900 (estimated) 8 inch octagon
Remington-Beals Navy Model Revolver Medium 1861-1862 .36 14,500 (estimated) 7 1/2 inch octagon
1861 Army Revolver (Old Model Army) Large 1862 .44 6,000 (estimated) 8 inch octagon
1861 Navy Revolver Medium 1862 .36 7,000 (estimated) 7 3/8 inch octagon
New Model Army Revolver Large 1863-1875 .44 122,000 (approximately) 8 inch octagon Used for factory conversions in .46 RF & .44 Remington
New Model Navy Revolver Medium 1863-1875 .36 28,000 (approximately) 7 3/8 inch octagon Used for factory and U.S. Navy conversions to .38 RF & CF
New Model Single Action Belt Revolver Large 1863-1875 .36 percussion and .38 CF 2,500 - 3,000 (estimated) 6 1/2 inch octagon Factory conversion production started in 1873
Remington-Rider Double Action New Model Belt Revolver Large 1863-1873 .36 percussion and .38 CF 3,000 - 5,000 (estimated) 6 1/2 inch octagon 1863-1865 available with fluted cylinder, conversions had two-piece cylinder
New Model Police Revolver Medium 1865-1873 .36 percussion and .38 RF 25,000 (estimated) 3 1/2, 4 1/2, 5 1/2, 6 1/2 inch octagon Conversions all believed to be rimfire only
New Model Pocket Revolver Medium 1865-1873 .31 percussion and .32 CF 25,000 (estimated) 3, 3 1/2, 4, 4 1/2 Majority produced as conversions or cartridge

Modern use[edit]

A New Model Army replica. The cylinder has been removed from the frame.

The Remington-Beals design lives on today in the form of replicas from Italian manufacturers Uberti, Pietta, and Euroarms in both modern steel and non-historical brass frames. The Euroarms and Uberti New Model Army replicas are nearly identical to the originals, as most parts will interchange and can be used for repairs. The Pietta New Model Army has a slightly enlarged grip area for more comfortable use by the larger hands of 21st-century users. The Uberti and Pietta replicas are very popular in Cowboy Action shooting, either as cartridge conversions or shooting black powder or modern substitutes, just as the original Remington cartridge conversions were popular on the actual Western frontier of the 1860s and 1870s.

Several companies produce drop-in "conversion" cylinders for both Uberti and Pietta replicas, enabling the firing of low-pressure modern cartridges without altering the revolver's frame. The percussion cylinder can be used interchangeably. One maker of conversion cylinders is R&D Gun Shop (now Howell Old West Conversions) offering cylinders that shoot .45 Colt or .38 Special cartridges in replica .44 or .36 1858 Remington revolvers. The new cylinder drops in with no change to the revolver and only minor cylinder fitting required.[11] R&D has also converted replicas to fire smokeless powder safely.[12] Kirst Konverter produces converters of a different design, with a safety chamber called the Kirst Safety Cylinder. It has only 5 loading chambers, but is designed to index to six separate positions.[13] This feature accommodates Cowboy Action shooters, who are permitted to load only five rounds in competition and must start with the hammer down on an unloaded chamber.

Media[edit]

Remington percussion revolvers and conversions have appeared in notable movie scenes in films such as The Big Trail, Pale Rider, Gone with the Wind, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, as well as early episodes of Bonanza. Easily identified by its octagonal barrel, topstrap frame, brass trigger guard and distinctive loading-lever web, the streamlined Remington is easy to spot in movie and television scenes.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bequette, Roy Marcot ; edited by James W.; Gangloff, Joel J. Hutchcroft; foreword by Arthur W. Wheaton; chapter introductions by Richard F. Dietz; book design by Robert L. (1998). Remington : "America's oldest gunmaker". Peoria, IL: Primedia. ISBN 1-881657-00-0. 
  2. ^ Colt vs Remington
  3. ^ The Remington Model 1858 at Civilwarhandgun.com
  4. ^ "The Gun Report", Dr. Stephen Cook, February 1990
  5. ^ "Flayderman's Guide To Antique American Arms, 8th Edition", Norm Flayderman, 2001, Chapter V-E, "Remington Handguns", pages 137 through 142
  6. ^ a b "Round Ball to Rimfire, Part 3", Dean S. Thomas, 2003, Chapter 1, "Federal Arsenals", pages 1 through 10
  7. ^ "Percussion Pistols and Revolvers", Mike Cumpston and Johnny Bates, 2005, Chapter 23, "Shooting the 1858 Remington Army and Navy Revolvers", ballistics table beginning on page 132
  8. ^ "COLT OR REMINGTON: WHICH IS BETTER?". 
  9. ^ Marcot, Roy ; edited by James W. Bequette; Gangloff, Joel J. Hutchcroft; foreword by Arthur W. Wheaton; chapter introductions by Richard F. Dietz; book design by Robert L. (1998). Remington : "America's oldest gunmaker". Peoria, IL: Primedia. ISBN 1-881657-00-0. 
  10. ^ Flayderman, Norm (2001). Flayderman's guide to antique American firearms ... and their values (8th ed. ed.). Iola, WI: Krause Publications. p. 146. ISBN 0-87349-313-3. 
  11. ^ R&DCylinders
  12. ^ Firing a 1858 smokeless powder
  13. ^ Kirst Cylinders
  14. ^ "Remington 1858 New Army". IMFDB.org. Retrieved 18 August 2013. 


External links[edit]