|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
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
||Approximate Quantity Produced
|Remington - Beals
Navy Model Revolver
|1861 - 1862
|Remington - Beals
Army Model Revolver
|1861 - 1862
|Remington 1861 Army Revolver
|Remington New Model
|1863 - 1875
|Remington New Model
|1863 - 1878
Below are photos of a few original Remingtons:
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”.
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
Winchester Technical Department
From Winchester Web Site;
|News and Press Releases
Ammunition in High Demand
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.