Original U.S. Civil War Colt Model 1860 Army Four Screw Revolver Manufactured in 1861 - Serial No 17998
Original Item: Only One Available. This handsome percussion cap and ball sidearm is an early, original Civil War Model 1860 Army revolver in very nice used condition. This is one of some 200,000 M1860 Army revolvers made from 1860 through 1873, and was the successor type to the larger Colt Third Model Dragoon horse pistol. The government-issued Colt Army 44 was the major sidearm in use by US troops during the Civil War.
This particular handgun is a nice .44 caliber, early production four-screw frame model with a 6-shot rebated cylinder and an 8” round barrel. The Barrel address marking is present, but faded due to corrosion, and is only partly legible:
- ADDRESS COL. SAML COLT NEW-YORK U.S. AM[ERIC]A. -
Solid, one-piece walnut grips are in good condition with a lovely color, though they have shrunk a bit, which has made them smaller than the grip frame. The patent date markings on the cylinder completely are worn away, as is the cylinder "Naval Engagement Scene", which is very rarely seen intact. The serial number 17998 indicates this revolver was produced by the Colt armory in 1861. The revolver has matching serial numbers on the frame, barrel, trigger guard, cylinder axis pin (2665) and grip frame. The barrel wedge is a non matching (2400) arsenal replacement, while the cylinder has lost most of the serial number due to wear.
The cylinder cap nipples look to be original, and all are still clear, but also show wear and powder burn. The cylinder safety pins, as with virtually every other colt we have had, are all but worn off. Sidearm has strong half cock and full cock positions with good indexing. However, as with any firearm of this age, it can be finicky. There is just a bit of play in the barrel/frame connection. The bore still shows clear rifling, though overall there are signs of of past oxidation and light pitting.
Equipped with a four-screw frame, this revolver was made to fit a shoulder stock and has the recoil shield cutouts on the frame and has the small notch in the iron buttplate. Screws are original, though they are a bit worn down. The revolver features an intact COLTS PATENT stamp on the left side of the frame. These early versions did not have the additional patent dates listed. Exterior surface shows overall wear, with some areas of light peppering, all proper and normal for this sidearm’s age and use. Overall, this Colt exhibits a lovely aged patina.
If one seeks a classic, Colt Model 1860 Army revolver in good condition, this original, early war revolver fits the bill. Good Colt sidearms are increasingly becoming very difficult to find and this specimen would make a handsome addition to any fine arms collection. Ready to display!
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.
Year of Manufacture: 1861
Ammunition Type: Cap and Ball
Barrel Length: 8 inches
Overall Length: 14 inches
Action: Percussion Cap
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver
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