Original U.S. Civil War Colt M1860 Army .44cal Revolver Marked to 1st Alabama Cav. with Period Holster - Matching Serial 108183 Made in 1863

Item Description

Original Items: One of a Kind Set. This is a fantastic lightly used .44 caliber percussion, 6 shot round cylinder, 8" barrel Model 1860 Colt Army revolver, which came to us with a lovely period holster. These were purchased together, and possibly may be the original it was issued with! Even better are the markings carved into the grip: 1 ALA. CAV. on the right side and JLE on the left. With initials AND a regiment, it is very possible that historical records could be used to identify the soldier it was issued to!

The 1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment was a cavalry regiment recruited from Southern Unionists that served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. The regiment was raised from Alabama Unionists at Huntsville, Alabama and Memphis, Tennessee in October, 1862 after Federal troops occupied the area. It was attached to the XVI Corps in various divisions until November 1864, when it became part of the XV Corps. During this time, its duties mostly consisted of scouting, raiding, reconnaissance, flank guard, and providing screening to the infantry while on the march.

The regiment was selected by Major General William T. Sherman to be his escort as he began his famous 1864 March to the Sea. It was assigned to the Third Division of the Cavalry Corps, Military Division of the Mississippi in January 1865. It fought at the battles of Monroe's Crossroads and Bentonville and was present at the surrender of the Army of Tennessee at the Bennett Place. It was sent to the District of Northern Alabama, Department of the Cumberland in June 1865.

The pistol overall has a nice lightly worn gray patina, and does not look to have been refurbished at any time, as the markings are all crisp. The action and barrel frame lock up are tight, and the grip is still solidly held in the frame. The barrel, frame, trigger guard, and grip frame all bear matching serial number 108183. This means that it was produced during Colt’s 1863 production, which ran from approximately #85,000 to #150,000. The cylinder, cylinder arbor pin, barrel wedge, and even the grip bear shortened number 8183, which makes this a very desirable "ALL MATCHING" example, with no parts swapped out!

The address marking is still fully legible and crisp on the top of the barrel:


The COLT'S PATENT marking is still fully visible on the left side of the frame, and unlike most we see, it still has a mostly clear COLT'S PATENT over PATENTED SEPT 10th 1850 marking on the cylinder. These early Colt revolvers did not have the additional patent dates listed on the frame. There is even over 60% of the original "Naval Engagement Scene" still visible on the cylinder! We almost never see these with such well retained Naval scenes, especially on all matching examples!

The original walnut grips are in very good condition, showing light wear from use, and some chipping around the bottom, as is common. They have the previously mentioned markings carved into the sides, and look to have been refinished at some time in the distant past.

Functionally, the action is excellent, with good indexing and a strong cylinder lockup. We did not notice any of the usual finicky behavior we usually see on Civil War era Revolvers. The barrel to frame connection is very stable. The bore is in excellent condition, showing a mostly bright finish with crisp lands and grooves. We have not seen a bore this good on an 1860 Army in some time! There is just a bit of past oxidation, but considering the usual condition of black powder percussion revolvers, this is really one of the best we have ever seen. The cylinder cap nipple cones look to be original, and five out of six are clear, with all showing wear and oxidation to the exterior.

The original holster is in very good considering the age and amount of use it has seen. We often see these so delicate that they are about to fall apart, but this one is definitely in better shape than that. It has a lot of the original finish, and definitely looks like it has been with this revolver for some time. The belt loop on the back is deteriorated, and overall it really is suitable only for display.

If one seeks a classic, Regimentally marked Colt Model 1860 Army revolver in great condition complete with an original holster, this fantastic set fits the bill. Good Colt sidearms are increasingly becoming very difficult to find and this small collection would make a handsome addition to any fine arms collection. Ready to research display!


Year of Manufacture: 1863
Caliber: .44cal
Ammunition Type: Percussion Cap and Ball
Barrel Length: 8 inches
Overall Length: 14 inches
Action: Single
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver

The Colt Army Model 1860 is a muzzle-loaded cap & ball .44-caliber revolver used during the American Civil War made by Colt's Manufacturing Company. It was used as a side arm by cavalry, infantry, artillery troops, and naval forces.

The Colt 1860 Army uses the same size frame as the .36 caliber 1851 Navy revolver. The frame is relieved to allow the use of a rebated cylinder that enables the Army to be chambered in .44 caliber. the barrel on the 1860 Army has a forcing cone that is visibly shorter than that of the 1851 Navy, allowing the Army revolver to have a longer cylinder. Another distinguishing feature of the Colt 1860 Army, first introduced on the Colt 1855 Sidehammer Revolver, is the "creeping" loading lever.

More than 200,000 were manufactured from 1860 through 1873. Colt's biggest customer was the US Government with no less than 129,730 units being purchased and issued to the troops. The weapon was a single-action, six-shot weapon accurate up to 75 to 100 yards, where the fixed sights were typically set when manufactured. The rear sight was a notch in the hammer, only usable when the revolver was fully cocked.

The Colt .44-caliber "Army" Model was the most widely used revolver of the Civil War. It had a six-shot, rotating cylinder, and fired a 0.454-inch-diameter (11.5 mm) round spherical lead ball, or a conical-tipped bullet, typically propelled by a 30-grain charge of black powder, which was ignited by a small copper percussion cap that contained a volatile charge of fulminate of mercury (a substance that explodes upon being subjected to a sharp impact). The percussion cap, when struck by the hammer, ignited the powder charge. When fired, balls had a muzzle velocity of about 900 feet per second (274 meters/second), although this depended on how much powder one loaded it with.

The unfluted cylinder was 'rebated,' meaning that the rear of the cylinder was turned to a smaller diameter than the front. The barrel was rounded and smoothed into the frame, as was the Navy Model. The frame, hammer, and rammer lever were case-hardened, the remainder blued; grips were of one-piece walnut; and the trigger guard and front grip strap were of brass while the backstrap was blued."

A distinguishing feature of the Model 1860 was that its frame had no top strap, or no component running above the cylinder. Instead, its strength came from the lower frame and the massive fixed cylinder pin. This made the gun slimmer and lighter than its main competitor, the Remington Model 1858, but with a possible loss of strength. The fixed cylinder pin also meant that the barrel had to be removed in order to remove the cylinder, unlike the Model 1858, which only required you to remove the cylinder retaining pin.


By April 1861, 2,230 of Colt's earliest production went to dealers south of the Mason-Dixon line. The United States Navy ordered 900 fluted cylinder revolvers in May 1861 later issued to ships enforcing the Atlantic and Gulf blockade. United States Army orders also began in May, and 127,157 had been delivered before a 5 October 1864 fire put Colt's factory out of operation for the duration of hostilities.


Loading is a somewhat lengthy process, with each of the six chambers drilled into the revolving cylinder being loaded from the front, or "muzzle" end. A measured amount of black powder is poured into a chamber. Next a lead ball is placed at the opening of the chamber and seated by firmly pressing it in with the pivoting loading lever which is attached beneath the barrel of the revolver. For sealing each chamber, an over-size 0.454-inch-diameter (11.5 mm) lead ball is trimmed slightly by the rim of the chamber as the rammer forces it inside. Cap and ball shooters also often place a lubricated wad between balls and powder, or, alternatively, pack lard or a commercially-sold bore lubricant at the mouth of each chamber in an attempt to prevent powder in an adjacent chamber from being ignited by when the gun is fired, which is known as a chainfire.

When the Colt Model 1860 was used by 19th century soldiers, they most often loaded the gun using paper cartridges. These cartridges consisted of a pre-measured load of black powder and a ball, wrapped in nitrated paper (paper that had been soaked in potassium nitrate and then dried, to make it more flammable). To load each chamber, one only had to slip the cartridge into the front of the chamber and seat the ball with the loading lever ram. Then a percussion cap was placed onto the raised aperture, called a nipple, at the back end of the chamber.

The Colt 1860 cost approximately $20 per revolver. This was rather expensive during the 1860s, both for the United States Army and private citizens. Colt had been criticized by this high price, and by 1865 the revolver was reduced to $14.50.

The Colt "Army" revolver is to be distinguished from the Colt "Navy" revolver of which there were two models, the octagonal barrel Model 1851 Navy, and the round-barreled Model 1861 Navy, both Navy models being in the smaller .36-caliber.

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