Common Guns in the Civil War
The 44 Remington Revolver
During the American Civil War, Remington
produced about 130,000 revolvers in 44 caliber as the Model 1858. It had a six shot
cylinder and an 8" octagonal barrel.
The Remington is more accurate than the better
known 44 Colt 1860. Field experience demonstrates the
Remington has between one and a half and two times the effective range of the Colt.
Both produce comparable power.
Both were loaded with loose powder and a bare
bullet referred to as "cap and ball," or with paper
cartridges, and fired with percussion caps. Loading a cap and ball revolver is from the front of the
cylinder. Reloading an entire six shot cylinder can take several
minutes. The Remington can be quickly reloaded by switching the empty cylinder
with a previously loaded one. Switching cylinders in a Remington is easier
then with a Colt, and especially so if the Colt's parts are a tight fit.
A Civil War re-enactor wrote to us that
conical bullets are more accurate. My experience of 50 years ago
used only round ball bullets as we didn't have access to conical bullets
then. From what he says, he is probably correct. He also
claims his Colt is equally accurate to the Remington. Another
re-enactor tells me that he cleans his Remington by removing the wooden
stocks and putting the cylinder and the rest of the revolver in the
dishwasher. The water is hot enough to heat the gun's metal to
evaporate the residual water. He doesn't do this when there are
also dishes to be washed.
The Remington was more quickly converted to
breech loading metallic cartridges then the Colt with several thousand
Remingtons being altered as early
as 1868. There is now available a conversion cylinder for the cap and ball
Remington to shoot the 45 Colt revolver cartridge. The barrel inside
diameter is correct, or close enough. But the cylinder side walls are just
a little thin, so keep the loads down to the original or less.
The rising interest in the Civil War caused an Italian manufacturer to
start making a nearly identical replica in the mid-1950s. The difference
is in the screw threads and possibly the barrel rifling. The screw threads
in the replicas are metric because that was what was available then in Italy. The
combination of the screw threads and the rifling strongly reduces the
opportunity for faking a new replica into a more valuable original. The total Remingtons
made as replicas may exceed the total number of originals ever produced. I bought my Dad a
newly made replica from Dixie Gun Works
as a gift while I was stationed overseas in 1968. We still have it, and as a testament to the ruggedness of the
Remington design, it still shoots very well.
For more information, consult "Flayderman's
Guide To Antique American Firearms" by Norm Flayderman, or "Colt Conversions" by
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||725 feet per second