The Remington Model 95 Double Derringer (aka “Over & Under Derringer”) is probably one of the most recognized and famous firearms in the world. Even those with little interest in, or knowledge of, firearms will immediately identify one as a “Derringer” when it is shown to them. Other than the Colt Single Action Army Revolver, and the Winchester 1873 Rifle, there is probably no other firearm that has a stronger association with the American West. This is most likely the result of the ubiquitous use of the Model 95 in Hollywood westerns. As a result, the guns will forever be associated with the gamblers, outlaws, women of ill-repute, scallywags and the scoundrels that seemed to have inhabited every western town on the big and small screen.
The Model 95 Double Derringer was designed by William Elliot of Remington, who had previously designed as whole series of popular and successful pocket pistols and derringers for the firm. The Model 95 was unique in that it provided the “big bore” punch of the .41 rimfire cartridge in a very compact package and offered the user two shots without reloading. The small number of .41 RF derringers that preceded the Model 95 to the market were single shot pistols, so the Model 95 offered twice the firepower of most of its competition. The pistol was patented by Elliot and Remington in 1865 and went into production in 1866. The overwhelming success and popularity of the Model 95 is underscored by the fact that it remained in production from 1866 through 1935, well past the golden age of the American West, with more than 150,000 of the diminutive pistols being produced during those 69 years! The simple elegance and utility of the design is further highlighted by the fact that derringers of the same basic design, although made by companies other than Remington, remain in production to this very day!
The Model 95 was a simple and elegant design. Two 3-inch long, superposed barrels were mounted to a frame with a compact, semi-birds head grip shape. The barrels were connected to the frame by a top hinge at their rear and secured by a pivoting latch on the bottom of the frame. Swinging the latch 180-degrees down and forward freed the barrels to tip up at the hinge for loading and unloading. The first 2000 or so Model 95 pistols were produced without an extractor, but all subsequent production incorporated a manual sliding extractor on the left side of the frame to ease the removal of spent cartridge casings. The central component of Elliot’s patent was the pivoting firing pin, which automatically shifted between the upper and lower barrels every time the hammer was cocked. This was simpler and more robust design than the rotating firing pins that had been used in the Sharps, Starr and Remington-Elliot multi-barreled derringer designs that had preceded the Model 95. The pistol had a simple, single action mechanism and a spur trigger. The pistols were available with either a blued or nickel-plated finish and the two-piece grip panels came standard in walnut, rosewood, or hard rubber, with mother of pearl, ivory, and other exotic materials available for an additional charge.
Initially the guns were serial numbered sequentially, but this was abandoned fairly early during production for “batch numbering” in smaller quantities. Today, this system of numbering prevents the guns from being dated by their serial number. As a result, collectors have broken down Model 95 production into “Types”, based primarily upon the style and location of the barrel markings. The only significant manufacturing change to occur during production was the introduction of the manual extractor circa 1867, after less than 2,000 pistols were produced. The typical breakdown of types, per Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms…and Their Values are as follows:
Type I, Early Production (aka Model 1): circa 1866, less than 2,000 produced, without extractor. Barrel markings are found on each side, between the barrels. They read: E. REMINGTON & SONS, ILION, N.Y. on one side and ELLIOT’S PATENT DEC. 12, 1865 on the other.
Type I, Transitional (aka Model 1 1st Variant): circa 1867, less than 100 produced, same barrel markings and locations as above, but with the new, frame mounted extractor.
Type I, Late Production (aka Model 2): circa 1868-1888, about 14,000 produced, barrel marking text the same as above, but now in two lines on the top rib of upper barrel.
Type II (aka Model 3): circa 1888-1911, about 80,000 produced, barrel marking changed to a single line on top of barrel and reads REMINGTON ARMS CO., ILION, N.Y.
Type III (aka Model 4): circa 1912-1935, about 55,000 produced, one line marking on top of barrel changed to: REMINGTON ARMS – U.M.C. CO., ILION, N.Y.
Type III, Late Production (aka Model 4, 3rd Variant): circa 1935, about 500 produced, same markings as above, but simplified barrel shape with simple fluting rather than the usual rib between barrels and grooved rather than knurled hammer spur.
This is a VERY FINE condition example of a Type I Late Production (Model 2) Remington Model 95 Double Derringer. The pistol bears the expected single line barrel marking on the top rib that reads:
E. REMINGTON & SONS. ILION, N.Y.
ELLIOT’S PATENT DEC. 12TH 1865
This marking places the production of this Remington Double Derringer between 1868 and 1888, at the height of the classic “Old West” period in the post-Civil War era. The pistol is clearly and crisply marked throughout. The serial number, or “assembly batch number” 150 is present under the barrel and on the upper left side of the frame, under the grip. The gun retains about 93%+ of its original factory nickel finish with only a few very minor areas of minute flaked loss noted. There is some moderate frosting to the finish that has given in a slightly milky patina, and some very minor surface scuffs from handling and carry are scattered on the pistol. These in no way affect the display of this really nice derringer. The condition of the finish is truly outstanding. The small metal parts all retain the at least some of their fire-blued finish. The hammer retains about 30%+ vivid fire bluing with moderate fading and high edge wear that still leaves the hammer with most of the dull blue finish intact. The extractor retains some traces of its vivid fire blued finish with most of it having dulled to a deep, soft blue-black color. Even the spur trigger, which was likely handled more than any of the blued parts, retains some traces of fire blue, but again shows a mostly dull blue-black patina. The screws all retain at least some strong traces of their faded and dulled fire blue. All of the screws remain fairly crisp with fine heads showing little or no slot wear. One of the biggest design problems with the Model 95 was the weakness of the barrel hinge, and as a result cracked and broken hinges are common on these pistols. The hinge on this gun is pristine and completely undamaged. The pistol functions perfectly, with the automatically pivoting firing pin alternating between the upper and lower barrels exactly as it should. The breech latch functions smoothly and locks the action securely and the extractor moves smoothly, functioning as it should as well. The bores of the pistol are in about GOOD condition. They remain partly bright and retain crisp rifling. The bores show moderate amounts of pitting along their lengths. The two-piece hard rubber grips are in FINE condition. They are solid and complete and free of any breaks, cracks, or repairs. The grip panels retain very crisp molded checkering and show only some minor handling marks and light surface scuffs. The original black color of the hard rubber has faded to a brownish, chocolate color, which is typical as the material ages and is exposed to sunlight.
Overall, this is a very nice example of the most famous and recognizable of all the old west era “derringer” pocket pistols. No collection of American western arms, pocket pistols or derringers is complete without a Remington Model 95 “Double Derringer”. This gun is in a really great state of preservation and is a piece that will be fairly difficult to ever upgrade from. It bears the very desirable crisp markings that date the gun to the height of the “Old West” period and is mechanically excellent. This will be a fine addition to your collection that you will certainly enjoy for years to come.