.... July  2009 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
There Just Ain’t no Remington Model 1858 Revolvers by Lefty – SASS #361

For many years now I've heard countless people (well maybe a few dozen) refer to the commonly available imported copies of Remington Large Frame Percussion Revolvers as “Model 1858s”, or “’58 Remingtons”.  In fact several manufacturers/importers refer to their products as Model 1858 Remingtons.  But Remington did not market a Large Frame Percussion Revolver until 1861!  So, what's up?  Well, the following is my effort to set the record straight.  And, if you'll read to the end, Ill share my view on how this misnomer got started.

On August 29, 1836 Samuel Colt was granted U.S. Patent Number 1304 for a “Revolving Gun”.  The patent detailed a pistol having a fixed frame and barrel, with a revolving cylinder containing multiple chambers.  From 1836 until 1857, when it expired, this patent prohibited other U.S. companies from manufacturing any Revolver (pistol or rifle).

In about 1848 Eliphalet Remington II began to commercially manufacture firearms.  His father Eliphalet I made his first rifle about 1816.  This makes Remington Americas oldest gun maker.  In 1852 Eliphalet (II) changed his Company's name to “E. Remington & Sons” when he took his sons Philo, Samuel, and Eliphalet Jr. (III) into the business as partners.

Until E. Remington & Sons (Remington) ultimately went bankrupt in 1888, they purchased and/or licensed the patents and designs of many talented firearms developers of the 19th Century.  One of these individuals was Fordyce Beals.  Beals was granted a patent on September 14, 1858 for various features of a solid frame percussion revolver.  Approximately 3 years after the expiration of Colt's patent, in late 1860, Remington commenced production of a solid frame .36 caliber percussion revolver whose cylinder pin and loading lever positioning were based on Beals’ patent.

When the Civil War broke out in April of 1861, the U.S. Ordinance Department began procuring these “Remington - Beals Navy Revolvers”.  Ultimately, in the order of 14,500 of these revolvers were produced, with most being purchase by the Government.  The Chief of Ordinance also ordered 5,000 Remington revolvers, in .44 caliber (“Remington - Beals Army Revolvers”) during 1861.

In 1862 Remington received additional contracts to supply revolvers to the Government.  During this period a number of Remington Navy and Army Revolvers were fabricated with an “improvement” designed by Dr. William Elliot (inventor of the Colt Lightning Magazine Rife, Remington Model 95 Double Derringer, and multiple other firearms).  Elliot’s improvement was a channel cut along the top of the loading lever to allow removal of the cylinder pin without lowering the lever.  Collectors have labeled these pistols as the “Remington 1861 Army Revolver” (a.k.a. “Old Model Army”) and the “Remington 1861 Navy Revolver” (a.k.a. “Old Model Navy”).  This was not one of Bill Elliot’s brightest ideas.  It was quickly discovered that when a revolver, so modified, was bounced around a bit (like in a cavalry soldiers holster), the cylinder pin worked its way forward (influenced by gravity), and when the revolver was removed from its holster, and the hammer was cocked, the cylinder frequently fell out.  Many of these revolvers were returned to the factory to have the rammer replaced, or the channel blocked.

The final large frame percussion revolvers manufactured by Remington were the “New Model Army Revolvers” and the “New Model Navy Revolvers”.  The Ordnance Department purchased thousands of these revolvers.  Remington’s success with the Government was due not only to Samuel Remington’s salesmanship and the lower cost of these guns over Colts, but Colt's East Armory was almost totally destroyed by a disastrous fire in 1864, severely reducing their production capacity.

The following table lists the various model large frame percussion revolvers manufactured by E. Remington & Sons and the approximate quantities produced:

Model Production Period Approximate Quantity Produced
Remington - Beals
Navy Model Revolver
1861 - 1862 14,500
Remington - Beals
Army Model Revolver
1861 - 1862 1,900
Remington 1861 Army Revolver 1862 6,000
Remington 1861
Navy Revolver
1862 7,000
Remington New Model
Army Revolver
1863 - 1875 122,000
Remington New Model
Navy Revolver
1863 - 1878 28,000

Below are photos of a few original Remingtons:

Remington – Beals Army Revolver

Remington 1861 Army Revolver (with Elliots Improvement)
Notice the channel on the top of the loading lever.

Remington New Model Army Revolver
Notice the notches on the back of the cylinder between the nipples – safety notches (12 notch cylinder) and the exposed threads at the rear of the barrel, where the frame is relieved to reduce the buildup of fouling.


All Remington reproduction I have seen appear to be copies of New Model Army Revolvers.  It stands to reason that since an original Remington must have been used for a pattern, someone took the date on the barrel as a model number.  The date of course refers to Fordyce Beals original patent, not the date the model was first introduced.  This was common practice in the 19th Century.  Colt Single Action Army Revolvers have patent dates in 1871 and 1872 stamped on their frames, but the model was not introduced until 1873.  Similarly, Winchester Model 1873 Rifles (so marked on the upper tang of their receivers) have patent dates in 1860 and 1866 stamped on their barrels.  The patents all relate to various features incorporated in these guns.  So to reiterate the title of this article – “There Just Ain’t no Remington Model 1858 Revolvers”.

August 30th - Long Gun Match at RRBar . . . .  . No pistols needed . . . . Information Here
Savage 1861 Navy Model, .36 caliber, made in 1861

The Savage Navy Model, a six shot .36 caliber revolver, was made only from 1861 until 1862 with a total production of only 20,000 guns. This unique military revolver was one of the few handguns that was produced only for Civil War use. Its design was based on the antebellum Savage-North "figure eight" revolver. The Savage Navy had a unique way of cocking the hammer. The shooter used his middle finger to draw back the "figure 8" lever and then pushed it forward to cock the hammer and rotate the cylinder. The Union purchased just under 12,000 of these initially at $19.00 apiece for use by cavalry units while many of the remainder were purchased by private means and shipped to the Confederacy for use by its cavalry. The United States Navy also made a small purchase of 800 Savages during 1861 for use on its ships.

The Great Primer Shortage of 2009 by Cliff Hanger

I have no real answer for what is going on. I do know I can't get primers as a federally licensed (FFL) commercial ammunition manufacturer. 

I have heard rumors and such just like everyone else.  Sometimes I think the government is involved. How you might ask. Well it may be that they are buying up military ammunition in great quantities. But where's the .22 caliber ammunition? Where's the 380 auto and all the other non military ammunition? The amount of production the big guys are capable of, makes me wonder if the government is involved. 

One rumor I've heard is the government may be involved in the ammunition and components  manufacturing like it's involved with farm crops. Farmers get paid not to produce some crops to raise pricing by depleting the surplus. This can also be used to eliminate any product availability to the public. 

Currently I don't think we will ever know the real reason there's a primer and ammunition shortage today. But I will share with you some letters I found on the net from various primer makers.

From Winchester
Thank you very much for taking the time to contact us here at Winchester Ammunition. We are always glad to hear from our many friends and customers who share in the shooting sport.

Since last November we have been working 7 days a week, 24 hours a day making and shipping ammunition and components. However, in spite of our best efforts we can' make enough to fill what seems like an insatiable demand for ammunition and primers. As long as the extraordinary demand continues we will continue to have shortages. When this might end is impossible to guess.

Thank you again for contacting us here at Winchester Ammunition. If you should require additional information, do not hesitate to contact us.

Winchester Technical Department 
From Winchester Web Site;

News and Press Releases

Ammunition in High Demand

Winchester Ammunition
Winchester Ammunition, like other ammunition manufacturers, has seen the demand for our products increase significantly since last fall. To meet that increased demand, our operations are running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our team is literally working around the clock to make quality ammunition available for purchase. We remain absolutely committed to meeting the growing needs of our customers.

From Federal

We've seen unprecedented demand for certain calibers of ammunition and the primers that charge them over the past several years. We've added capacity to meet the increasing demand and are fulfilling backorders.

From CCI
First of all I would like to apologize for the delay in our response.
We've seen unprecedented demand for ammunition and primers over the past
several years. All of our major trading partners have orders on the
books and we will be filling orders as product becomes available.
Production is currently working 24/7 to try and keep up with the demand.
Thank you for your support.

Brenda Larson
Customer Service
ATK Commercial Products

From Wolf
All of our distributors are out of stock right now on our primers and probably will be for a while; we have been and will continue to send out shipments to them. The next primer shipment will be going out to our distributors in June. The demand is so great that they are trying to fulfill all their back orders. If you can find one, we recommend placing yourself on a back order list in order to try and receive some.

Below is a list of all the distributors who carry our primers. Please contact them directly to find out pricing and availability:

Widener's Reloading
Johnson City, TN 37601

Here are some sites to visit to read their take on this shortage.

Confederate Yankee
Nation Wide ammunition shortage hits
PoliceOne site
The Ongoing Ammunition Shortage

All articles submitted to the "Brimstone Gazette" are the property of the author, used with their expressed permission. 
The Brimstone Pistoleros are not responsible for any accidents which may occur from use of  loading data, firearms information, or recommendations published on the Brimstone Pistoleros web site.