Untouched and Crisp Martial Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver
- Product Code: FHG-B176
- Availability: In Stock
There is probably no more iconic revolver from the American Civil War era than the US Model 1860 “Army” Percussion Revolver produced by the famous Colt Patent Firearms Company. More Colt “Army” .44 caliber percussion revolvers were purchased by the US military during the course of the war than any other model. Many of the thousands of Model 1860 “Armies” sold commercially during and immediately before the war likely saw service in the field as well, in the hands of both northern and southern soldiers. The revolver was developed by Colt to provide a smaller, lighter, and more streamlined replacement for the .44 caliber “Dragoon” series of revolvers. The revolver essentially utilized the smaller Model 1851 “Navy” revolver frame, coupled with a slightly larger, iron backstrap, an 8” .44 caliber barrel and a rebated, six-chambered cylinder that allowed the .44 cylinder to fit on the .36 caliber frame. While some early production Model 1860 Army revolvers had non-standard features like 7 ½” barrels and fluted cylinders, these guns were produced in very limited quantities and are typically only encountered under serial number 5500 or so.
Colt produced some 200,500 Army revolvers between 1860 and 1872, making it one of their most successful handgun designs of the 19th century. During the course of the American Civil War, the US Ordnance Department acquired some 127,157 Colt Model 1860 Army revolvers by direct contract with Colt. These guns were delivered between 1861 and 1863, with no deliveries in 1864 or 1865. Delivery totals for 1861 were 14,500, with 53,702 and 58,955 delivered in 1862 and 1863, respectively. An additional 2,027 Model 1860 revolvers were acquired on the open market by the Ordnance Department from Joseph C Grubb & Co (963) and B. Kittredge & Co (1,064). The initial Ordnance Department contract listed the Colt Army revolvers at a per unit price of $25 each. Subsequent orders were at the much more reasonable prices of $14.50 and $14.00 each, respectively. The fire at the Colt plant in 1863, and the fact that Remington offered to deliver their “Army” revolvers at a price of just under $12.00 each, were the determining factors for the Ordnance Department deciding not to issue any further contracts to Colt for their 1860 Army revolver at the end of 1863. Even so, the Ordnance Department acquired nearly 65% of the total Colt Model 1860 Army production. More Colt .44 caliber revolvers were acquired by the US military than any other revolver during the course of the war, although the 115,557 .44 caliber revolvers delivered by Remington places that company’s revolver a very close second.
The Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver offered here is in about VERY GOOD+ condition. The gun is a mid-war production “martial” revolver, manufactured in late 1863. The revolver is well marked throughout and has all matching serial numbers, including the wedge. The revolver is serial number 144342, which indicates that it was produced towards the end of Colt’s 1863 production, which ran from approximately #85,000 to #150,000. It is also one of the 58,995 revolvers delivered by Colt to the US military during 1863. The serial number appears in full on the bottom of the barrel, frame, triggerguard and butt, with the last four digits on the cylinder, the wedge, the cylinder arbor pin, and inside the backstrap groove of the grip, written in period ink. A search of the Springfield Research Service Serial Number Booksdid not find this particular revolver but did locate several that were near it. #144238, 144251, 144278, 144290, 144388 and 144395 were all issued to F company of the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry, with the closest gun listed only 46 numbers away. Colt 1860 Army revolvers #144302, 144314, 144315, 144316 and #144325 were all issued to companies G and K of the 20th New York Volunteer Cavalry, with the closest gun from these numbers being only 17 numbers away. Considering that the SRS books only have the numbers for companies G & K of the 20th New York Cavalry and company F of the 2ndWisconsin Cavalry, the number of revolvers close to this one suggests that one those two regiments were issued this revolver.
The gun has a nice, “real world use” look it but remains quite crisp throughout, “used by not abused” is how such guns are often described. The metal has a moderately oxidized plum brown patina over it most of the metal and showing some mottled spots of darker oxidation and age discoloration, as well as some strong traces of blue here and there. The largest areas of remaining blue are some patches on the barrel, forward of the forcing cone and on the backstrap. There is also a thin ring of blue surviving at the shoulder of the cylinder rebate. Freckles of blue mixed with oxidized plum and brown are present mixed with the patina of the metal. The metal of the gun is mostly smooth but there are some lightly scattered areas of minor surface oxidation with some minor pinpricking as well as some light pitting scattered over the entire revolver as well as a few areas of more moderate pitting. The revolver also shows the scattered impact marks that are typical of a military carried revolver, especially around the wedge slot. The gun shows all the signs of real use in the field, with heavily oxidized cylinder chambers and cone recesses that show accumulated dirt, debris, and moderate pitting. The cylinder retains all the original cones (nipples), and they remain in good, serviceable condition. The rear of the cylinder retains none of the safety pins, as they have all been worn away or battered into submission, but traces of their existence are still visible. The barrel address is clearly legible and reads in a single line:
— ADDRESS COL. SAML COLT NEW – YORK U.S. AMERICA —
The cylinder is marked COLT’S PATENT No 4342 over PAT. SEPT. 10th 1850. The cylinder retains about 85%+ of the original roll engraved Mexican War naval battle cylinder scene. There are areas of scene that remain quite sharp and vivid, while other areas are somewhat fainter and thinner, probably from holster wear and carry. The lower left-hand portion of the frame is marked COLT’S / PATENT in two lines. The revolver shows the usual assortment of military sub-inspector marks throughout. The very nice script JT cartouche of principle arsenal sub-inspector John Taylor is present on the right side of the grip with the slightly softer MH sub-inspection cartouche of Merrick Howard present on the left side of the grip. Howard only inspected at Colt during 1863 and his cartouche has been noted on 1863-dated Colt Model 1861 Special Model Rifle Muskets and on Model 1860 Army revolvers in the 117,000 to 144,000 serial number range. In fact, Pate & Daum list his range to 143,000 but clearly this gun has his cartouche, and it was applied at the factory. His small sub-inspection H is also present on the bottom of the grip. The gun is in very good mechanical condition, and times, indexes and locks up exactly as it should, with action remaining fairly crisp. The creeping style loading lever functions smoothly as well, and locks into place when not in use with only minor wobble. The bore of the pistol is in about GOOD to NEAR VERY GOOD condition and retains crisp rifling. The bore is partly bright with moderate amounts of oxidation. The bore also shows light to moderate pitting scattered along its length. All the screws appear to be original. The screws all show light to moderate slot wear, and a patina that matches the gun well, and wear commensurate with the balance of the revolver. The one-piece brass gripstrap and triggerguard has a lovely, medium golden patina. The one-piece wood grip rates FINE and matches the condition of the balance of the gun well as it is fairly crisp. As previously mentioned, the grip is numbered to the gun in ink, in the backstrap recess, and both cartouches remain fully visible. The grip is solid and shows no breaks, cracks, or repairs. The grip does show some scattered handling bumps, dings, and some wear along the sharp, flared bottom edge. Even the leading and trailing edges of the grip remain in fairly crisp condition.
Overall, this is a very nice, very attractive, complete, correct, and original example of a combat used and issued Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver. The gun is well marked and very good mechanically with a nicer set of grips than are normally found on guns that saw this level of use with nice cartouches. It is all matching and has the very pleasing, untouched and evenly worn appearance of a real combat handgun that served over 150 years ago. Every Civil War arms collection needs at least one Colt Army, especially a martially marked one, and this is a very decent, no excuses example that is all original and correct. This is a really solid Colt Army that will display very nicely and will fill that gap in your collection, and that you will certainly be proud to own.