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Best civil war pistol??

Discussion in 'Civil War Weapons and Ammunition' started by Jayboss1, May 9, 2012.

  1. Jayboss1

    Jayboss1 Private

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    Just wondering the opinions on what you think the best CW pistol was? In terms of accuracy, reliability, function, availability, etc. If you had to ride into battle which would you take. Personally I'm a fan of the 1858 Remington army model in .44 caliber. I like the top strap to protect the cylinder and the ability to carry pre loaded cylinders on your belt to reload. But I know those guns were pricey too. What you think?
     

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  3. wayne jackson

    wayne jackson First Sergeant

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    1860 44 colt
     
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  4. Bob Owen

    Bob Owen Captain Trivia Game Winner

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    Colt 1860 Army, colt60.jpg as it was less likely to jam up with spent caps as was a failing of the Remington. The progressive rifling contributed to fine accuracy in spite of the simple sights.
     
  5. tmh10

    tmh10 Major

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    Im no expert, but from what I read I think I would go for a Remington .44 cal.

    Remington had 3 basic models of handgun that were used throughout the Civil war. These are today all commonly called Remington 1858, however in the civil war era they would be refered to as distinct model types or simply a Remington. Many companies copied the Remington design almost exactly or they changed some minor items to avoid patent infringment.

    The term 1858 Remington comes from the fact that Remington purchased the Patent rights to this weapon from Beals in the year 1858.
    The Handgun was produced for many years and was still being produced in various styles until 1875. The Barrel was octagon and had an attached loading rod. The cylinders were never engraved as were the Colt models. Sighting was done with fixed sights that had very little modification to them, filing of the groove in the top strap was about all that was possible in the field.

    The Remington models were considered some of the finest revolvers of the civil war, sought after by troops of both sides.
    The Remington had three large advantages over the Colt style revolvers. It had a solid frame wrapping completely around the cylinder, notice the "top strap", as it is called over and above the cylinder. This gave the Remington models a huge advantage, both in strength of the firearm as well as accuracy over time.

    A second lesser advantage was the special hammer groove ground into the cylinder in between each firing chamber on the cylinder. Not all Remington models had this but the large majority did. To use a Colt style revolver a shootist would normally load only 5 chambers of a 6 cylinder gun, this is because the hammer must rest upon a firing chamber of the weapon. If the revolver had all 6 cylinders loaded the hammer would rest upon a live cylinder, if the gun were dropped or fell upon its hammer the gun could fire. The Remington models had the extra notch for hammer placement. This allowed the gun to be fully loaded, all 6 cylinders and still have the hammer placed in between a firing chamber, by placing the hammer into the safety notch. If the gun were dropped the hammer would simply push deeper into the safety notch causing no problems. It is hard to say how definite an advantage this was when a war was being fought. With the enemy shooting at you presumably a soldier would load all 6 rounds no matter the safety issue. Around camp, while traveling and on horseback the extra safety notch would be a definite advantage. Please note there is a minor exception to the above. Some Colts (1860 3rd, Army, IIRC) did have small pins on the rear of the cylinder that fit into a small hole in the hammer for this same purpose. This was not as effective as the Remington system as the pins could be easily sheared off or the hole in the hammer get filled with crud (technical term meaning crud) and allow the cylinder to turn and bring a capped chamber under the hammer. (Thanks to Joseph Lovell for reminding me of this fact)

    A third major advantage was in loading and firing the Remington. The Remington and its copies had a very real advantage in battle, because of the following reasons. On a Remington style pistol a soldier could carry with him an extra loaded cylinder with all of its 6 chambers loaded and capped. When his pistol is empty, he can drop the loading lever, slide out the cylinder pin, and quickly pop in a freshly loaded spare cylinder. Then he would slide back in the cylinder pin and snap shut the loading lever. The soldier is now ready to fire 6 more bullets. This entire process can be completed by the author within 5 seconds, I am sure a soldier with practise could certainly do as well or much better! Modern 6 shot revolvers with speed loaders cannot do much better then this. One version of the Remington had a modified cylinder pin especially ordered by the U.S. Government making it difficult to remove. I can only guess that they did not want a soldier dropping the cylinder or gun parts during battle, thereby making the gun useless.

    This cannot be done on the Colt style revolvers, because they have a screw holding the pistol together, with a wedge that has to be driven out and then the loading lever has to be pulled out of the pistol and finally the barrel can be removed. In the Colt variations and copies simply reloading the cylinder itself would be much faster.

    It is interesting to note the brass frame on the Remington revolvers. This was not originally planned for any aesthetic appeal. It was done because the confederate troops were short on supplies and wished to use the available gun metal (steel) for cannons and other weapons. Brass was chosen because it was more available and still supplied the necessary strength in the firearm. Union troops did not have such a problem so all of their Remington's were produced in steel. If you ever come across an original Remington revolver in brass you will now know the reason.

    I have had the opportunity to fire both the Colt model revolvers and the Remington style revolver. As far as accuracy the guns are very similar and this author is certainly not capable of pushing either weapon to its limits of accuracy. Suffice it to say the handguns were certainly both extremely accurate even by todays standards. I do prefer the Remington style revolver for its extra strong top strap and can see how Civil war troops would prefer the handgun for the same reason. I am sure for the short term of the war, ballistics and weapon accuracy would not change greatly between the Colt or Remington models, however if the guns were dropped, laid upon, fallen upon etc I can see that the extra strong Remington would have a clear advantage. If the soldier had access to spare cylinders a Remington model would have a very big advantage as far as speed of loading.

    http://civilwarhandgun.com/remington.htm
     
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  6. Tin cup

    Tin cup 2nd Lieutenant

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    and the ability to carry pre loaded cylinders on your belt to reload.

    What period type (not posted internet opinions) documentation do we have of this practice of carrying the extra cylinders?
    I like the looks of the 1860 Army, but think the Remington's beat it for strength.​
    Kevin Dally
     
  7. johan_steele

    johan_steele Lt. Colonel Retired Moderator

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    There is no period reference to extra cylinders, carrying one capped & loaded on your belt would be like carrying around a grenade. Remington made 1 cylinder per pistol and neither govt bought large numbers of extra cylinders. It's a Hollywood cowboyism & re-enactorism.

    While I like the 1858 Remington, I do believe the Smith & Wesson was a superior design to either the more common Colt, Remington or Starr. Other pistols to consider, which are almost always overlooked, are the Adams, Kerr & various French Pinfires. All were every bit as robust & hard hitting as well as liked by those that carried them.

    I'm not a pistol guy & firmly believe a pistol is merely a weapon used to get a better weapon.
     
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  8. johan_steele

    johan_steele Lt. Colonel Retired Moderator

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    The man who wrote this is no expert either, the CS manufactured NO brass framed Remingtons. Swapping cyliners in combat, or while on horseback... try is sometime. The author is simply repeating what he's been told by cowboy re-enactors. He needs to read a book on period firearms, it's not like there aren't a lot of them out there or even that they're very pricy...
     
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  9. ole

    ole Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

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    The Colt wins, if only because Colt had the production capacity.
     
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  10. JWheeler331

    JWheeler331 First Sergeant

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    Hard to disagree with that.
     
  11. JWheeler331

    JWheeler331 First Sergeant

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    Which S&W do you think was a superior design?
     
  12. Bob Owen

    Bob Owen Captain Trivia Game Winner

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    The Colt revolver had pins between the nipples that the hammer rested upon. It was perfectly able to have all six chambers loaded and carried. The empty cylinder is a myth.
     
  13. LT.J.H.McDaniel

    LT.J.H.McDaniel Sergeant Major

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    I carry a J.H.Dance and bros when im reenacting. I love the dance revolvers, Griswold and gunnison, spiller and burr, etc.... But to be honest with you, any Colt is a d@mn fine weapon. I love the dragoons and the walkers.
     
  14. JWheeler331

    JWheeler331 First Sergeant

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    It may be a myth with the older Colts such as the cap and ball pistols but its not a myth when you get to later versions like the 1873. I know that is not what this thread is about though.

    I have read about people rolling up paper money to keep in their empty cylinder for things such as buying a horse should they loose theirs or their funeral expense should they die.
     
  15. LT.J.H.McDaniel

    LT.J.H.McDaniel Sergeant Major

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    I heard they would put money in the chamber to have themselfs buried if they were killed
     
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  16. Bob Owen

    Bob Owen Captain Trivia Game Winner

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    Even the Colt Peacemaker was designed to be carried with all six chambers loaded. After placing cartridges in all six cylinders, you lower the hammer down where the firing pin rests between the rims of the cartridges. The empty cylinder is a modern myth designed by people who didn't understand the design of the revolver.
     
  17. johan_steele

    johan_steele Lt. Colonel Retired Moderator

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    I'd say either model available at the time were well ahead of their time. Their cartridge was rather anemic though.
     
  18. tmh10

    tmh10 Major

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    Good point on the extra cylinders, esp the loaded grenade on your belt part. I had not thought of that. Also reloading on horseback would be tough even with a loaded cylinder another point made. Thanks Ted
     
  19. JWheeler331

    JWheeler331 First Sergeant

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    While cartridge they were very weak and no trigger guards if I remember right. Def not on par with the Colts in my opinion. Am I thinking of another model and missing the one you are talking about?
     
  20. Tin cup

    Tin cup 2nd Lieutenant

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    I want to see someone load a 10-shot LeMat revolver (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LeMat_Revolver) while riding a horse!:bounce:
    I helped a fellow this last week-end load his reproduction LeMat...it took forever!
    Kevin Dally
     
  21. BillO

    BillO 1st Lieutenant

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    The Smith and Wesson's were very popular pre and early war among southern militia and officers. The problem was ammunition. After the south seceded the ammo quickly became scarce and most of them were probably sent home.
     

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