Common Guns in the Civil War
44 Colt 1860 Revolver
One of the most popular of Civil War
pistols was the Colt 44 Model 1860 Army Revolver. In the eyes
of many, this 44 caliber revolver is the gun with the graceful and unbeatable looks.
Around 200,000 were made by Colt between
1860 and 1873. Nearly all were made during the War. It had a six shot
cylinder and a 7½"
or (more common) an 8" barrel. The standard cylinder featured an engraved
scene of a naval battle. The Army designation meant it was 44
caliber. 36 Caliber was known as Navy, but both terms were merely
convenient marketing designations. Many Colt 36 Navy were carried
into the field by the Army, and many Colt 44 Army were carried to sea by
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 then fired with
percussion caps. Misfires in cap and ball revolvers were more common than in the
subsequent metallic cartridge guns.
Colt's first effort to convert this
revolver to metallic cartridges was in 1869 designed by Thuer which was
disappointing. The Richards conversion of the 1870s (with the closely
similar Richards-Mason conversion and the 1871-72 Open Top) were both successful and
used more modern looking cartridges.
The 44 Colt is available as a modern made replica
from more than one manufacturer
in several brand names, including from
Dixie Gun Works. The
cartridge conversion model became available a few years ago because of a
growing interest in Cowboy Action Shooting, but the cartridge version must
be purchased through a dealer in your state with a Federal Firearms
For more information, consult "Flayderman's
Guide To Antique American Firearms" by Norm Flayderman, or "Colt
Conversions" by R. Bruce McDowell.
||2 ¾ pounds
||725 feet per second
||160 foot pounds
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