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Common Guns in the Civil War

36 Colt 1862 Revolver

The Model 1862 Colt was a smaller, lighter, five shot, revolver then the earlier six shot Model 1851.  Both are "36" caliber using .375" bullets.  Around 47,000 of the 1862 were made by Colt between 1862 and 1873, which is a little fewer then one-fifth as many as the Model 1851.

The Police Model has the smooth flowing contour barrel first seen in the .44 caliber 1860 Colt Army revolver, and a deeply fluted cylinder to reduce weight.  It also has the creeping style loading lever of the Model 1860.  Barrels were available in lengths of 3-1/2" (which were rare), 4-1/2", 5-1/2" (shown), and 6-1/2".  Total production of the Police Model is around 28,000.

The Navy model cylinder is unfluted with a Navy battle scene roll engraved on it.  The octagonal barrel is a slightly smaller version of the Model 1851 Navy.  Barrels were available in lengths of 4-1/2", 5-1/2" (shown), and 6-1/2".  Total production of the Pocket Navy Model is around 19,000.

The 1862 is significantly smaller than its look alike predecessor, the 1860 Colt Army in 44 caliber.

To many collectors, the Colt models 1860 and 1862 are the epitome in development of the cap and ball revolvers.

Both were loaded with loose blackpowder, a bare bullet, fired with percussion caps, and referred to as "cap and ball," or with paper cartridges. Loading a cap and ball revolver is from the front of the cylinder.

Manufacturing quality control suffers during any war, including Colt in the Civil War. If the barrel moved too far forward, the cylinder would move forward to where the hammer couldn't reach the percussion caps. Then the gun wouldn't fire (shoot). Field expediency would exchange barrels and cylinders among revolvers for the most serviceable fit. Navy cylinders can be found on pistols with Police barrels, and vice versa.  The frames for both guns are the same with a single series of serial numbers for both models.

For more information, consult "Flayderman's Guide To Antique American Firearms" by Norm Flayderman, or "Colt Conversions" by R. Bruce McDowell.

Technical Information

Length 11 Inches
Weight 1 pounds
Caliber 36 (.375")
Bullet Weight 76 grains
Power Charge 22 grains
Muzzle Velocity 750 feet per seconds
Muzzle Energy 100 foot pounds

More About Civil War Guns

 

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