Excellent & Rare 5.5-Inch Barreled Remington Model 1890 Revolver
- Product Code: FHG-2320-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
This is wonderful, complete and near EXCELLENT condition example of the rarely encountered Remington Model 1890 Single Action Army Revolver. With only 2,020 of these revolvers produced by Remington between 1891 and 1896, the Model 1890 remains one of the most difficult of all the Remington revolvers for a collector to acquire, particularly in high condition.
The Model 1890 was a large frame, single action “six-shooter” that was produced in only one caliber and two barrel lengths. The revolver abandoned the large, angled web style under lug that typified Remington’s large frame revolvers from the late 1850s onward, and instead slimmed the profile to more closely resemble the venerable Colt Single Action Army. The 6-shot revolver was only chambered for .44 Winchester Center Fire (.44 WCF or .44-40), as that was undoubtedly the most popular cartridge during American expansion in the west. With a Winchester rifle (whether Model 1873 or Model 1892) chambered in the same caliber, any western cowboy was well armed with a pair of versatile weapons. The selection of this single caliber can be partially attributed to the owners of Remington at the time the Model 1890 was introduced; Winchester and Marcellus Hartley who owned the Union Metallic Cartridge Company (UMC). In 1888 Remington had entered receivership due to significant business setbacks, and was purchased by Winchester and Hartley, who both owned 50% of the company. The M1890 was an opportunity for Winchester to put its own competitor to the Colt Single Action Army on the market, without technically violating the long standing agreement between Colt and Winchester to “stay out of each other’s markets”. In other words, Colt would concentrate on making handguns and try not to interfere too much in the rifle market and Winchester would stay out of the revolver market. The Model 1890 was a great way to compete directly with the Single Action Army by Colt, without overtly starting a war between the two companies. The choice of the caliber was also a logical way for Winchester to emphasize the favorite pistol caliber chambering of its most popular rifle line. For Hartley, the more ammunition that UMC sold, the better. The revolvers were only produced in two-barrel lengths, either 7 ½” or 5 ½” and could be had in nickel-plated or blued finishes. Remington Arms monogramed hard rubber grips completed the aesthetic package for the revolvers, and a swiveling lanyard ring in the butt helped to ensure that a clumsy cowboy could retain his pistol if he dropped it while in the saddle.
However, Remington was always playing catch up when it came to competing with Colt on the large frame handgun front. Even though their streamlined M1890 was nearly a direct clone of the famous Colt single action, it was introduced at a time when the large single action revolver was beginning to fade from popularity, and swing-out cylinder revolvers from Colt and Smith & Wesson were becoming the handgun of choice for many Americans. As the “Wild West” became less and less wild, and with writing on the wall regarding the poor sales of these large, heavy single action revolvers (Remington shipped no M1890s in 1895 only 1 M1890 in 1896), the revolver was dropped from the product line to become more of a footnote in firearms history, and a highly desirable rarity for gun collector today.
This particular Remington Model 1890 Single Action Revolver is in about EXCELLENT overall condition. The gun is extremely crisp and sharp throughout, with no signs of abuse, excessive wear or cleaning. All markings remain crisp and clear and the gun appears to be 100% complete, original and correct in all ways. The revolver is serial numbered 1908 on the left side of the grip frame, under left grip panel. The cylinder is not numbered, which is typical of most Remington revolvers. The same serial number is present in the lower portion of the interior of the loading gate and in pencil inside both grips. According to Remington shipping records, regarding the numbers of M1890s shipped between 1891 and 1896, it appears that this revolver was manufactured and shipped in late 1894, assuming the shipping was in a somewhat chronological order by serial number. The top of the 5 ½” barrel is crisply marked in a single line:
REMINGTON ARMS CO. ILION, N.Y.
The left side of the frame, below the cylinder, is marked 44 C. F. W. to indicate the caliber. The revolver retains about 90%+ of its original nickel finish, with most of the loss due to minor flaking and light wear from handling and use. As usual, the areas where the nickel has flaked have developed a moderately oxidized brown color, which gives some portions of the gun a freckled appearance. The largest areas of lightly flaked wear are a thumb-sized patch on the obverse frame behind the recoil shield, another fingerprint sized area on the loading gate, and some small freckled patches on the lower reverse of the frame forward of the cylinder and along the ejector housing on the reverse as well. None of this is remotely objectionable or serious loss, just most minor thinning and minute flaking. Even the backstrap retains nearly all of the original nickel, with only some minute flaking loss along the very edges where it meets the grip. As with the other places where the nickel has flaked, the metal here has a moderately oxidized brown patina. The guns does show a couple of minor impact marks in the grip strap near the frame juncture. Although photographing a high condition nickel gun can be problematic in terms of reflection and trying to keep the nickel from taking on the color of the walls or furnishings of the room, the accompanying photos do a fairly good job of representing the overall condition and remaining finish on the gun, which is nearly all of it. The metal is smooth throughout and free of pitting and the markings on the barrel remain clear and crisp. The nickel hammer also shows some minor flaking and flecks of oxidized discoloration. The gun remains mechanically EXCELLENT as well and functions perfectly on all positions. The revolver times, indexes and locks up perfectly. The bore of the revolver is VERY FINE and remains mostly bright with some scattered patches of darker freckled oxidation and some lightly scattered pitting. The bore retains fine, crisp rifling throughout. The ejector rod functions smoothly and correctly, and the loading gate moves crisply between the open and closed positions. The original swiveling lanyard ring is in place in the bottom of the grip frame and is common the movement of the ring over time has created a wear mark in the finish on the bottom of the butt as well as some wear marks on the bottoms of the grips. The two-piece Remington checkered hard rubber grips are in about VERY FINE condition. They retain both retain crisp intertwined RA monogramed logos at the frame juncture. As is typical of the hard rubber of the era, they have faded and discolored slightly with time and now have more of a medium milk chocolate brown color, rather than their original darker, nearly black color. Another fault of the rubber composition of the 19th century is that the grips tend to become brittle with time and tend to crack and disintegrate with age. Thankfully these grips remain in very nice condition with no significant wear or damage. The grips are solid and complete and are free of any breaks or repairs. There are a couple of tiny surface hairline cracks visible on the bottom of the right grip, and the name MAX is lightly scratched on the bottom of the left grip; so lightly it can only be seen at the right angle and with good light. The letter A is more deeply scratched into the side of the left grip, below the Remington logo. Both marks probably refer to a pervious owner, possibly even the original one in 1894. The grips show some very light wear, and some minute handling marks, but other than the couple of minor condition issues mentioned are really in wonderful condition.
Overall, this is a really crisp and extremely well preserved example of one of the hardest Remington revolvers to find for sale. The revolver is extremely attractive, retains nearly all of its original nickel finish and displays wonderfully. For any serious collector of Old West handguns, the Remington Model 1890 is the bookend in their collection that establishes the end of that era of large frame, single action revolvers. This is a fine and crisp example that is all complete and correct and is wonderful mechanical condition with great grips. It will no doubt be a wonderful addition to your collection of arms of the American West or as a prize in an advanced Remington collection.