View Full Version : 1860 Colt Army 44, help with ID?

January 22, 2013, 08:44 AM
I recently purchased an 1860 Colt Army 44. I bought it along with a 2001 Pietta Remington 44, and don't have much invested in the Colt. The Colt looks old, authentic, great patina, and shows signs of a lot of use. Does not look abused, just old. The odd thing is that the Colt has absolutely no ID marks of any kind. No SN, proof mark, makers mark, point of origin, anything. Only the 1843 Naval scene on the cylinder, and the #32 on the cylinder post. The Colt looks sound and shoot able. There are no obvious signs that these marks have been removed as the finish is smooth and polished. I'll try to post a pic. ANY IDEAS?

January 22, 2013, 08:52 AM
It might have been defarbed (stripped of all markings). I recently sold an ASM 1851 .36 that had no markings, and I don't know it if was made that way or worked over.
It might be an original "lunchbox special", one that was removed from the factory by an employee. I recently saw (and almost bought) an 1862 Pocket Police that was definitely an original but had no markings on it at all.
Pics would help. Also, the nipple thread size and barrel twist.

Doc Hoy
January 22, 2013, 10:04 AM
You came to the right place.

January 22, 2013, 10:41 AM
Barrel length is 7.5 or 7.75 depending on where you measure from. The nipples are interchangable with my Remington Pietta. The twist is 1/3rd in
7.5" or roughly 1 in 22" using a cleaning rod. May not be the best way to check. If someone removed all the marks they did a masterful job, there is no evidence of it, or tool/file marks. It's had some use cause the cylinder shows a wear ring, and the edges of the the cylinder notches are pretty rounded. Timing is off as well. It has 4 screws in the frame so I think it can accept a shoulder stock. Any information would be appreciated. I just love the way if feels and looks.

Doc Hoy
January 22, 2013, 12:12 PM
1. The revolver has a cap groove and I think that few manufacturers made an 1860 with that feature. The Belgian Centaure comes to mind. Maybe I am wrong. I am not near the house to check mine but I know of no other example, apart from the 1960 NMAs I have seen. It is absent from my ASMs and Piettas. I can not recall but it may be present in ASPs.

2. There is a line between the barrel and the barrel lug. This in my opinion is a lapse in quality control at the factory and the higher the reputation of the manufacturer, the fewer examples you find.

The problem is that the two facts don't match. Cnetaures were made to the highest standards of quality. I think the frame may have come from them. On the other hand, the barrel is not up to their standards. It is possible that the revolver is actually parts from different origins. This would be a possible rationale for removing the serial numbers and proof marks so as to hide a mismatch.

Doc Hoy
January 22, 2013, 12:16 PM
Duelist has a video which shows both a Pietta and an Uberti with a cap groove.

Ignore everything I said.

January 22, 2013, 01:13 PM
Is that frame brass?
Does the barrel unscrew?

January 22, 2013, 02:55 PM
The grip frame is brass, mounted to steel. Not sure about the barrel unscrewing. I'm not by the gun right now, but I'll look for signs of screw threads when I get home. If it helps, the post that the cylinder slides over has what appears to be square, or acme threads, likely grease grooves. There's also a number 32 stamped on that post. I've seen others that look smooth. Also, on the cylinder other than "Engaged 16 May 1843" is the words Patent N, with no numbers at all. I'm in the machine tool business and the care and detail in the machining looks quality to me. Keep the ideas coming......CSI fun.

Doc Hoy
January 22, 2013, 03:11 PM
Grease grooves.

Has anyone ever seen an arbor marked with the last two digits of the serial number of the revolver? I have seen cylinders marked with the last three.


January 22, 2013, 03:16 PM
I'm curious about that ring around the barrel, above the loading lever - it looks like the barrel might unscrew there.
So, the nipple threads are metric?
It might be a kit gun.

January 22, 2013, 04:21 PM
I wondered about the kit gun too. Cause is'nt the metal rough machined with no markings? Lots of tool marks to file off?

Doc Hoy
January 22, 2013, 04:56 PM
...are an unfortunate manifestation of what I consider to be poor finishing.

In the seventies I did nothing but kits and I have seen them with and without the ring.

Recently I encountered a ring in a revolver that I think began life as a kit and it was from ASM. (Brass frame)

I was very disappointed to note that ring because it provides evidense to support the charge of low quality of ASM revolvers which is a reputation which I think is only partially deserved when you compare other pistols from the ASM period.

When you examine this ring closely on a kit which is untouched, you can almost see where the lathe stopped it's advance. Kit builders are well advised to finish the barrel such that the ring disappears. It takes a little time with a flat file on the top and sides and with a half round on the underside just forward of the lug.

Then wrap sandpaper around the file and repeat the process.

Then go to hand sanding.

January 22, 2013, 07:54 PM
One interesting thing is how the cutout under the barrel is so well finished like the originals. Most newer '60 Armies have little if any tapering or rounding of the forward edge of the loading cutout area and the area right under the barrel. The Centaurs do as do the originals. Typically you can't get a LEE conical to load due to lack of room whereas the originals are very spacious in the loading/ramming area. With a bit of jiggling I can load conicals in my Hartford model ASM Army but never could on a Pietta.

That funny ring does make you wonder.

Look under the rammer on the barrel for any manufacturer's marks.

January 22, 2013, 08:38 PM
I've been all over the gun, with the exception of taking the grip appart. No ID's anywhere. Is there anything unique about the 4 screw arrangment on the frame?

January 22, 2013, 08:56 PM
As you said, it was cut for a shoulder stock - that's why it has the screw set-up. I'm still curious about the ring in the barrel. Was it cut into the barrel or was the barrel mated there?

James K
January 22, 2013, 09:24 PM
Like Doc Hoy, I have seen kit guns with that ring. The barrel is one piece, the ring is the result of just leaving the barrel partly finished.

IIRC, Italy does not proof test or require manufacturer's markings on parts, only on completed guns, so I suspect that comments about its Italian origin are correct. The bluing appears to be cold blue.

That does not mean the gun is bad, or dangerous, and is no reason not to buy at the right price if everything seems to work OK.


January 23, 2013, 07:53 AM
I purchased this gun as a sweetner when negotiating with a used gun shop for a Pietta Remington (never shoshot(2001), $250 for both. I appreciate all you guys input. Sounds like it is a kit gun made some time ago.

I've got another rifle that I'll post about that may be of interest, an ORIGINAL, 1870 Navy Springfield 50/70 rollong block. Found by my dad when he was a boy. Wonder what it's worth?

January 23, 2013, 12:05 PM
Regarding capping grooves, I have three 1860s, all by Pietta, purchased over a span of ten or more years. I just received the newest just last week.

The older two both have capping grooves, but the newest did not. At least until I added one myself, anyway.

As I understand it, ALL original 1860 Colts had capping grooves.