Less Common Guns in
the Civil War
Colt Model 1855 Sidehammer Revolver
The first Colt revolver with a solid
frame is commonly called the "Root Model" or "Root Revolver" for Elisha
Root, the Colt designer, although Samuel Colt was the inventor.
This model was made in the two calibers of 28 and 31. The unusual
sidehammer was also used on Colt Model 1855 long arms. The revolvers had a
five shot cylinder with barrels in lengths of about 3-1/2", 4", and, 4-1/2".
Some had fluted cylinders while others had cylinders engraved with an
Indian or a
stagecoach holdup scene.
Two more distinctive features for the Model 1855 are the spur trigger
and the cylinder pin is withdrawn from the back.
The two different calibers were given different series of serial
numbers. In the years of 1855 to 1870, about 40,000 of the .28
caliber guns were made and about 14,000 of the .31 caliber guns.
Not all that many of these are thought to have been carried in the Civil
The .28 and .31 caliber revolvers can be lethal, but unless the first shot was
quickly fatal, these small guns were found to be too low powered for
serious military or defensive use. The mild recoil can make these
fun to shoot with a suitable backstop behind the targets.
It was loaded with loose
blackpowder and a bare bullet, referred to
as "cap and ball," or with paper cartridges.
Loading a cap and ball revolver is from the front of the cylinder.
It was fired with percussions caps. Misfires in cap and ball revolvers were more common than in the subsequent metallic cartridge guns.
It is available to legal buyers as a modern made reproduction
from Dixie Guns Works and others. For more information, consult "Flayderman's Guide To Antique American Firearms" by Norm Flayderman.
||about 7 inches depending
||about 1-1/4 pounds depending
||750 feet per seconds
||60 foot pounds
More About Civil War Guns