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Old August 1, 2002, 06:13 PM   #1
DARTH 44
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New member`s 1st post-Civil war revolvers

Having spent countless hours enjoying all this excellent gun-info I decided to join TFL. HI ALL!!
Remember ''Outlaw Josey Wales''?After watching that great movie I asked myself a question ''If I were living in the years of Civil War,and like Josey I could have four handguns to protect myself,what guns would they be and how carried?''
Conditions:The guns must be revos,american made(no Lefaucheux,please)and available prior or during the Civil War(up to 1865) Enter my choices:
1. A six-inch 44cal. STARR M1858 in a strongside thigh holster.
WHY? this would be my ''quick response'' gun as its DA lockwork and relatively short barrel could ba an aid for fast first shot.
2. An eight-inch 44cal. REMINGTON M1858 in a crossdraw holster.
WHY? I like the Remingtons for their ability to quick change cylinders(kind of a 19th century speedloader)and for their strong frame & looks.
3. A 7,5'' 44cal. COLT 3rd DRAGOON in a shoulder holster.
WHY? 3rd DRAGOON`s stout 50-grain powderloads and additional sights could help if I needed more stopping power or if
I had to fire a longer,more precise shot.
4. A S&W Model 2 in 32 Long rimfire as a hideout/backup/boot gun

I emailed John Taffin asking for his opinion.Here`s what he answered "I rarely ever play the what if game myself but your choices are fine''

Soo,what do you guys think? Pros?Cons? What would your 4-sixgun battery look like? Sorry for being a little longwinded but there are so many questions,just waiting to be asked
Thanks

P.S. I hope you`ll forgive me possible mistakes in my English.
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Old August 2, 2002, 08:03 AM   #2
4V50 Gary
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Given the choice of 4 revolvers of the same make (commonality of parts), make mine LeMat. Something about having a 16 or 18 bore barrel to support the 9 40 caliber shots appeal to me. With four guns, that works out to 36 40 caliber shots and 4 whopping charges of buckshot. However, I'd hate to carry that many guns and there'd better be a horse to help out.
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Old August 2, 2002, 10:36 AM   #3
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4V50 Gary got it. LeMat, no question. Carried hammer down on an empty chamber, four LeMats would give you 36 shots (does the LeMat have the pins between the nipples for resting the hammer, thus allowing loading of all cylinders??).
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Old August 2, 2002, 01:28 PM   #4
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Since your going firepower route why not have four Walch (spelling?) revolvers, I belive they had 12 shot cylinders that would give you 48 shots at your disposal. In any event I think I would have picked four 1860's for my carry guns. One I would have chopped off in front of the barrel wedge for concealed/backup use. The rest would have been left unaltered except for a taller front sight and a more pronounced notch in the hammer.
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Old August 2, 2002, 01:59 PM   #5
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Thanks for your reply guys.
I did not mention a horse,because I considered having one as obvious Now,Le Mat you say.Hmm..I`ve looked at them when doing my choices,but I`ve read somewhere that LeMat`s lockwork was complicated and prone to breakage(correct me if it`s BS) No doubt,having four identical guns is ''logistic-friendly'',but then you don`t have a concealable piece.As far as I remember Eastwood/J.Wales was carrying 3 types: Two COLT DRAGOONs, one COLT 1849 and one COLT1860/Richards conversion(He couldn`t have it in 1865 btw)
Back to LeMat,what is the correct caliber of it? I`ve heard .40,.41 and 44 (I believe 44 is closest to the truth)
Was it possible to fire slugs from the 65 caliber barrel?

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Old August 2, 2002, 02:07 PM   #6
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IIRC, correct caliber is .44.

Slugs could be shot out of the smooth bore barrel. Just get a mould of the right size, and you're good to go.

The LeMat was a favorite of J.E.B. Stuart, I believe. Don't know if he experienced any breakage problems.
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Old August 2, 2002, 02:12 PM   #7
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Forgot to add...

AJ,I`ve considered the option of having a chopped barrel for one of the Colts too,but a backup gun is usually carried close to the body.Being a firm believer in Murphy`s Law I`m sure that sweat,body salts,perspiration would render a cap`n`ball backup unshootable,exactly in the moment I`d need it
Hence I chose a rimfire.
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Old August 2, 2002, 02:31 PM   #8
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AJ ,Walch revolvers? Never heard of them.Are they cap`n`ball?That 12-shot cylinder makes me think they may be pinfire Lefaucheux system.Actually there were even 30(thirty)shot pinfire revolvers(butt ugly too)some of them even sported a folding bayonet(Tactical/Assault revolver)
TaxPhd,65-caliber slug in center of mass.Now THAT`S stopping power!! A ''Howdah'' revolver?
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Old August 2, 2002, 02:32 PM   #9
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Slug or shot, that center barrel speaks with authority!
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Old August 2, 2002, 04:27 PM   #10
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As I recall the Walch revolver was a 12 shot cap and ball 36 caliber. I've heard that they found favor with a few types in their period, but were known to be somewhat ungainly in both appearance and handling qualities. As far as the perspiration with the cap and ball revolvers there was a simple fix. The gas tight seal of the ball in the chamber was a pretty good insurance against moisture content, but adding some grease to it to prevent chain fires would further eliminate this problem. The capped nipples were treated in a similar fashion with either varnish or melted beeswax effectively waterproofing them. It was said that a revolver treated in this fashion could be dropped into a barrel of water, retreived and than fired empty. I would imagine that gunfighters such as Hickock probably follwed similar practices for reloading their cap and ball revolvers.
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Old August 2, 2002, 06:13 PM   #11
DARTH 44
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I must admit I didn`t know that method of waterproofing caps,but still,if metallic cartridges were already available why not
to use them?(going with progress )
AJ could you post a pic of the Walch revolver?
I checked my gun-library but was unable to find it.
Nevertheless,my search was not vain,because I`ve found a very interesting pre-Civil War sixgun.It is MOOR Model 1860.There was a brief description stating that the Moor was available in 30 ,32 and 44 rimfire calibers.What`s so interesting about it?Well,externally the Moor looks almost the same as a 1851 Navy Colt,except the barrel is octagon not round,and there`s no rammer assembly under the barrel.
That space is occupied by very long(almost to the muzzle) cylinder axis/pin ended with a knurled head.
Now the most interesting part.You grab the knurled head,pull it a little forward,and..Presto!! The whole cylinder-barrel-pin unit swings to the left of the frame for reloading just like in modern revos.The star extractors didn`t exist at that time,so I think the Moor had ''gravity'' ejector(muzzle skyward & shake when clean,and empties plucked out with the shooter`s fingers when fouled.
Unfortunately,the book says nothing about ruggedness or reliability of the Moor revolver.(Any feedback appreciated),but IF it was any good I`d go with them. Just look,the only 44 rimfire existing in 1860 was the 44Henry Flat,so the Moor would be excellent companion to a Henry rifle.
Did some math.
I load a Henry in Sunday,and can shoot it for the rest of the week.
That means,with a Moor I`ll run out of ammo on Wednesday morning.


Regards
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Old August 2, 2002, 08:23 PM   #12
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Actually there would have been some very good reasons for sticking with cap and ball revolvers over cartridge ones, the same goes for other firearms as well. Cartridges were still in there infancy, as were designs for early cartridge guns. Cartridge guns generally were not as powerful as equivelent caliber cap and ball revolvers. The 32 long rimfire you're talking about used only 13 grains of FFFg powder, equivelent guns such as the 1849 still used 15 grains of whatever powder you elected to use. The Henry cartridge only carried 28 grains in a day when the regulation load for the 58 caliber rifled musket was 60 grains. The henry cartridge was used widely in both rifles and early pistols so you would still have been better off using an 1860 with say 30-35 grains of powder behind the ball when talking about the power department. In addition, it was far easier and cheaper to feed a cap and ball revolver with loose powder, balls, and caps than it was to shoot a cartridge gun where a source of cartridges was often far away and expensive to boot. Even the early conversion revolvers often allowed the guns to be quickly converted back to cap and ball when cartridges were unavailable. Some noted gunfighters, Hickcock included, favored the percussion revolvers to the cartridge counterparts (though Hickock also carried a #2 S&W army in 32 rimfire as a backup) probably because they had used them for most of their careers and trusted them more so than they did the newer untested cartridge guns. Given the large number of percussion revolvers used before and during the civil war and the fact that many of these guns were carried away by veterans after the conflict it is a fact that by far the most common revolver in the west up until the 1880's was percussion.
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Old August 3, 2002, 06:58 AM   #13
4V50 Gary
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OK, I lied. 3 LeMats and John Booth's Deringer. Think of the bucks you could have if'n it wasn't seized as evidence.
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Old August 3, 2002, 11:02 AM   #14
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C`mon 4V50 Gary, The Lincoln derringer is(as you stated )a derringer,not a revolver.I like it too ,but it`s a 41,thus I`d have to use two diameter ball/moulds to feed my guns.If you look at my original post you`ll see i`d use .454'' balls for all of my cap`n`ball sixguns,and 32 Long rimfire to feed my backup.
AJ,You`re absolutely right,the early metallic cartridges were wimpy compared to their C&B equivalents,but the easiness of use of metallic cartridge,and the fact that A.Lincoln had shot a Spencer rifle himself made one Civil War battle won,(forgot the location,sorry) Let`s take a look at the 1866 Prusso-Austrian war.German infantry had decimated Austrian troops only because the Germans used 15,43mm Dreyse rifles,which could be loaded prone position,whereas the Austrians were equipped with muzzleloaders,and they had to get on their feet to reload.AFAIK there was less powder in the Dreyse cartridge,than in the Austrian MZZLoaders,so it`s not always muzzle energy.In that particular case the user-friendliness turned out to be more essential than raw power.
Of course,I`m not a follower of the ''Wound ,but don`t kill the enemy''theory:barf: Too many good soldiers lost their lives because of that.Let`s get back to the subject.
LeMat revolver-Gun Digest 1995
-Cavalry model(lanyard ring.spur trigger guard)
-Army model(round trigger guard,pin type barrel release)
-Naval-style(thumb selector on hammer)
Which one is the best and most common?
Yeah,I`ve been bitten by that ''65 caliber slug'' bug And why not!?
Good shooting
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Old August 3, 2002, 06:09 PM   #15
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My father has the cavalry model LeMatt, which I probably have shot more than him. I never shot the shotgun barrel with a slug, but I've put a few loads of buckshot through it. Frankly I have to admit that it is an impressive weapon when you consider the 9 chambers in the revolver and the shotgun barrel at your command. Loading it, I thought, was somewhat awkward because of the European style loading lever. Accuracy wise it was more than acceptable, but the thick post front sight coupled with a small sighting notch made any real fine aiming a diffculty, but than again I very much doubt this pistol was intended for use on any but close quarter targets. It would have been nice if they would have made this pistol double action like the Adams and Star revolvers, I bet it would have had more popularity in such an instance, but nevertheless it is still quite a pistol.
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Old August 4, 2002, 12:18 AM   #16
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Lemat would be cool, but in the time frame set, a very, very rare weapon. I assume the place these potential pistols would be used would be the plains/mountain west? If so, good choices would be the 3rd Model Dragoon and Colt pocket. The Remingtons a good revolver, but fouls easy, and when fouled the cylinder pin sometimes has to be tapped out. The 3rd model Dragoon, has the advantage of the open top/Arbor pin setup. Also, it is (was) capable of shots out to 150 yds or so..very useful as one of the common tactics in open country was to keep potential trouble out past 100 or so yards. In many cases, any closer, and it was too late. The disadvantage to the Dragoon is that it eats too much powder, and is heavy (that's why the Navies were so popular). The pocket Colt, simply because it could be hidden, and even in the 1860's there were times when a revolver slung off the belt...was considered too much. Plus, up close, good for potting stew meat. Although, up close a few did use the Dragoons for buffalo running...apparently lot's of fun and you got fed too...cool.
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Old August 4, 2002, 12:32 AM   #17
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oh yes, forgot. About weather proofing as percussion revolver. Front of the cylinder a mix of tallow and wax. Seals it and doesn't run out in hot weather (if it's hot enough some tallows, greases tend to flow out, then is loose seated balls, Bang! chainfire) Seat the caps, then on the sides of the cones/cone 'walls' seal with wax. Don't get any on the tops of the caps though...causes misfires.
And in general, the military flap holsters did a pretty good job of keeping the gun operable. Although a twist draw is a problem, especially with a heavy gun like a Dragoon. And in general, during this period little need to carry a pocket gun directly on the body, usually a waistcoat, coat etc was worn. That crowd generally wore more clothing than we do today...excluding of course, those times when the army campaigned in underwear.
But then in those circumstances, they didn't care if their weapon..or anything else was visable.
And as noted...at the time cartridges could be very hard to get..one pair of argonauts had all of 18 cartridges for a needle gun..so when confronted by the Cheyenne for trespassing etc, they had to try as much as to point their rifle and not shoot it. The Native Nations were generally even worse off for metallic cartridges, as such they seemed to have invented reloading. As stated, that's one reason the percussions stayed about so long. Best tool for the time and place.
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Old August 4, 2002, 10:33 AM   #18
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Very interesting replies,thanks folks!
Yes,I too have read Remingtons were fouling faster than the open-topped Colts,but if a Remington shooter would remove empty cylinder(what requires the cylinder pin to be moved forward)from the frame,and replace it with another freshly loaded cylinder,I think the effect of fouling could be significantly diminished.Of course,this would be possible only if the shooter had spare cylinders.
I wonder after how many shoots would a Remington ''freeze''Any thoughts?(oh yes,all shots from one cylinder)
What`s the most fouling-proof C&B revolver in your opinion?
What`s the ergonomics of LeMat,I mean,can it be cocked easily w/o hand shifting?
And now to muddle muddy water more,a quote from CLASSIC ARMS magazine
''...the Remington New Model Army purchased in large numbers during the war nad co-issued with the Colt M1860 as the standard firearm for cavalry was not well regarded by frontier troops owing to misfires and breakages.''
D`you know what kind of breakages it was?
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Old August 4, 2002, 02:20 PM   #19
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About fouling, it seemed that any Colt or colt copy (ie Manhattans etc) did best avoiding the problem. Due to the open top and large arbors-which could hold a good amount of grease.
Using 2f,3f my Remington will start to bind up in about 4 cylinders. That can be stopped by wiping the front face of the cylinder...if the pin isn't stuck. As for the problems they seemed to have had-I recall reading a few reports of the cylinder hand working loose, and the rammers breaking. Also the Remington design is very vulnerable to cap jams. That said, politics might also have been a factor-during the civil war, it wasn't uncommon for poor/condemned weapons to be issued to state militias/residual US army troops in the west. For example the Colorado militia was issued a batch of Whitney's where the triggers would bend when used.
And some Spencers in the 1860's were so worn as to be even more problematic with the 'fool killer' magazine problems.
Given the usual 'losses' of supplies off of military posts in the period...that might account partially for the stories about the Remingtons.
At times, at least in pistol manufacture, quality manufacturers like Remington/Whitney did have trouble. Also, somewhat weird, never recall seeing a Savage revolver in a frontier photo-what happened to these? A weird operation system-but some were found of it (ie James Wilson)...and anyway given the habit of taking the war guns west-it would seem more would be in evidence. Especially since, for many the costs of a pistol vs resources were often quite imbalanced. One reason why so many 19th century Sat. night specials, are still around...many were made, but for many it was the best they could get.
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Old August 4, 2002, 02:39 PM   #20
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Last time I shot my '51, I ran 7 cylinders full without the gun binding up. Crisco over the balls seemed to work fine in keeping the fouling soft and the gun shooting.

Have had a number of cap jams with this gun, though. Cap debris will sometimes get down through the hammer slot and lock the gun up tight. Have been told that a heavier main spring (hammer spring?) will help to prevent this from happening.
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Old August 4, 2002, 03:05 PM   #21
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Yes,the rammers on Colts are considered more robust.
I cant recall in which of gun mags I read that,but the author complained about a very little screw?/pin? on which the Remington`s rammer pivots,that it might bend or broke easily.
If you have a C&B Colt,could you describe the difference?

What is - the ''fool killer'' magazine problem??

TIA
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Old August 4, 2002, 03:30 PM   #22
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Sorry 'bout that. The Spencer had a tube magazine which was placed in the buttstock. So even when new or in good order, if someone slammed the butt of a Spencer down into the ground, the cartridges in the magazine would sometimes chain fire. When a Spencer became worn, or the tube magazine was worn,dented etc this problem became even more of a concern. The term "fool killer" came about...I guess...becuase only a idiot would handle a Spencer in that manner.
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Old August 4, 2002, 11:41 PM   #23
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Sounds like the 1858 is getting kind of a bad rap in some of the posts. First off, I own three of them so I've had a fair ammount of experience with both the Remington and Colt pistols, in fact my first cap and ball revolver was a 58 Remington which I shot endlesselly. As far as the situation with cap jams I have to say I've never experienced this with a Remington style pistol, Colts have given me endless problems when the cap falls back into the frame and jams up the mechanisim (seems to happen quite frequently actually). I've heard that this was one of the real dangers with the Colts in combat and probably contributed to more than one poor soldiers demise in the civil war. The Remingtons seem to be able to bypass this problem since the hammer sticks through the frame enough where broken caps are more likely to fall out before they can be dragged back into the hammer channel where they could jam up the internals.

The second advantage over the Colts is that the Remington is a stronger pistol, the added top strap (thought to be a disadvantage by some) actually adds considerable strength to the overall design, you encounter loose Colts quite frequently, but never encounter this with the solid frame Remingtons. This was a nice plus in the days when steel was not quite what it is today and people still needed to be able to wring the most power possible out of pistols on occasion.

Lastly the Remington revolver actually shot close to point of aim rather than 6-8" high as in the case of the majority of Colt revolvers. One can argue that this was done on purpose by Sam Colt who felt that in distress an aim at a mans torsoe was most likely, he might have reasoned that in such a scenario the shot would still land in the chest. Still, plenty of old west gunfighters requested higher front sights, I've seen one of Hickocks 51 Navies in Cody Wyoming that had the sight changed from a pin to a higher dovetailed sight, so this must have bothered some of the men that actually used these guns in combat. I would imagine hitting one's mark was just as important to these people as it is to some of our modern day shooters. In any event the higher post front sight on the Remington was a standard factory item.

Lastily as to the fowling issue, I've never fired an original Remington, but I've had plenty of practice with the reproductions, when I was actually using real black powder I would generally end up cleaning up the cylinder pin and cylinder hole every 5 or six loadings. However, bear in mind this was when I was loading from the flask and not removing the cylinder. If I was actually removing the cylinder each time and replacing it with a fresh cylinder I don't think the problem would have been anywhere near as pronounced. Honestly, you can't really believe that being able to reload a gun more than five or six times without cleaning would have been all that important to most of these people. Battles would have seldom been encounterd that required this much firepower at one time and spending any ammount of time reloading a revolver during the heat of battle would probably have got you killed in relatively short order, this is reason for the popularity of multiple pistols and the original intent of this post. In defense of the Remington the Colts also are prone to cylinders locking up due to powder fowling, I've had experience with this situation on numerous occasions so I don't think the comparison is all that valid in proving one's superiority over the other.

The Remington had quite a following, largely because of the fire that destroyed the Colt factory in the later years of the war allowing Remington to supply large numbers of pistols to the Union army. Still, the Remingtons proved to be a worthy pistol in combat and it was said that at some points in the conflict a Remington was worth the same price as 2-3 colts in the minds of the soldiers and officers who used them on both sides of the line. I still love the Colts and have several of them, but let's not forget the significant role the Remingtons played in history and the numerous advantages they had over many of their competitors.

Darth, in answer to your question the screw the Remingtons loading lever pivots on is in the frame, it does on occasion work it's way loose if it is well worn. The Colt's rammer also has a screw right on the rammer assembly itself. I've found this screw is also prone to working itself loose. If someone was going to swap cylinders in combat the logical move would have been to completely remove the rammer assembly from the 1858 as it would be a hindrence in quick changes of the cylinders and of no use if this was what you intended to do. The only problem would have been if the cylinder pin (which is retained by the closed loading lever) was to work itself out during use, this wouldn't likely have been much of a problem however as long as the pin was a tight fit as it should be.
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Old August 5, 2002, 12:21 AM   #24
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Interesting how our series of posts has a definite weapons partisan aura, for such old weapons. M. Johnson, good posting on the merits of the Remingtons. The '61 model, did have a slot cut into the rammer... so the cylinder pin could be pulled forward and the cylinder removed without dropping the rammer. It was dropped by '63 because the pin would move forward because of the jolts on horseback-and thereby bind up when needed. That might also account for some of the period criticisms of the Remingtons...by the 1863 model that slot was gone, so was the problem. It seems on the whole, the Remington was better suited to those who maintained a revolver well. The Colt's were a better gun for dropping in the muck as it were. And woe to the Colt owner who lost that wedge...although some did carry spares. And they're pretty rare today, but the Webleys and Adam's had a pretty fair following. Likely, in the 1860's these discourses also occurred. And really, these were an immature technology...so problems were likely for any make. Oh yeah, forgot..as noted, some preferred the Colt rammer as it generated more force.
The nitrated cartridges of the time used a picket ball, which is (was) bloody hard to seat if it started in misaligned. But then again, the round balls used today lesson the range that the old guns had when used in the 19th century.

Last edited by faraway; August 5, 2002 at 12:48 AM.
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Old August 5, 2002, 12:42 AM   #25
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This is a very interesting topic at many levels. I have owned several blackpowder reproduction revolvers and find it incredible that at one time, people depended on them with their lives. I haven't done much research on the subject and was interested in the comments about putting wax on the caps to keep them in place. I have found this to be my biggest problem with blackpowder firearms. On my revolvers, I have had the caps fall off just standing and firing them, let alone trying to carry them. I have had ML rifle caps fall off when deer hunting even though all I did was sit leaning against a tree with the rifle resting on my lap.
I often wonder about firearms ownership in the mid to late 19th century. I assume that people back then didn't have the disposible income we have today. They probably owned whatever firearms they had access to and whatever they could afford. Many were probably "bring backs" from military service. My first impluse with the original question would be to say I would carry an 1960 Army since that seems to be the most common thing from that time period, although I don't know that to be true. Common sense would tell you that those who used firearms back then would use the best thing available, but I am not so sure that is the case based on what I said previously. Still, I would have to go with the 1860 Army. I think it was a powerful handgun in it's day. They feel great in my hand and seem to be a natural pointer. My repo is surprisingly accurate (I don't know about the originals). I have had problems with cap jams however.
__________________
You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.
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