Breechldrs Colt Model 1855 Revolving Rifle

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
In small arms, I'd say the Henry.

It was reliable, accurate, a repeater, could get covered in mud and keep working (Forgotten Weapons video, I never would've thought it would), and most importantly it could evolve into better designs. But that's me.
 

zburkett

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 21, 2015
Location
Orange County, Virginia
What would be considered the best firearm that saw action during the conflict, the Henry rifle perhaps.

It depends on your definition of "Best." For a fast firing, easy to reload carbine the then Henry is way up there. If you are a sniper making long range shots then it has to be the Whitworth. If you are with Mosby than its your favorite revolver, usually a Colt. Most of the guns that made it into battle had good points but some of the "best" failed because they had ammunition supply problems. Just a few years before during the War With Mexico Scott issued flint locks because he had supply problems with the percussion caps.
 

ucvrelics

Colonel
Forum Host
Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
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May 7, 2016
Location
Alabama
and was no more difficult than loading the revolver.
I have to respectfully disagree as I have owned 2 Colt revolving rifles and numerous Colt Army's over the years and even though I have never fired any of them I did find that with the stock and the length of the barrel of the rifle it was not as near as easy to load as the pistol.
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Did you know that at the start of the ACW, Samuel Colt had intended to raise a regiment of approx. 800-1,000 men and equip the entire unit (at his expense) with the 1855 Revolving Rifle? His idea was to use them as shock troops. What enemy unit could withstand the sheer firepower of such a regiment??? The idea was rejected, however, and the approx. 150-200 recruits he had armed were released from his "command". I can dig up the story if anyone is interested in this....its in one of the books I read last year.
 

Jobe Holiday

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Location
The Perpetually Frozen North
The Colt Revolving Rifle is very easy to load/reload by simply kneeling with the butt stock resting on the ground. You get good support by steading the now vertical rifle with the left hand holding it by the barrel & forearm. This way you get an immense amount of leverage on the loading lever to seat the oversized 0.575" diameter bullet. Yes, I have shot mine, and that is the size of the bullet as cast from an original mould.
J.
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Just curious, what's the Colt Revolving Rifle worth these days at a gun show (no point quoting over-inflated auction prices)? ….one in shootable condition, with appearance being fair to good. Asked a different way, what is the price from low end to high end? Are there many still in existence?
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
Texas
Can't use the forearm to support it.

It has the same issues as with cap 'n ball revolvers. First, like Zburkett mentioned, gases and lead escaping from the barrel and cylinder gap can injure the support hand if it is holding onto the forearm. Second, like a cap 'n ball revolver, you can had chain fire where other cylinders discharge. If your hand is supporting the forearm, you can get shot in the hand/wrist.
Is this correct though? I've never heard of it happening.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
Texas
I’ve never managed to find a first person account of a chain fire on a Colt Revolving rifle or shotgun prewar, wartime or postwar. I’ve failed o ever find the name of a man wounded by a chain fire of a Colt Revolving rifle. It seems most of the negative remarks and writing came out of Berdan’s men. I believe it has more to do with it being in the hands of men who were prone to tinker or were prone to tear things apart to see what made them work.

The Colt Revolving rifle is not a simple rifle and just because a man knows how to shoot doesn’t make him a gunsmith. If you don’t know the weapon putting it back together correctly can be an issue. Admission of mistakes isn’t done as often as people admit.

It doesn’t help that the men had been promised Sharps rifle. Which already had a good reputation and was a simpler arm.

I believe the Colt Revolving rifle gets a bad reputation. But from what I’ve seen much of it is undeserved.

I have seen some really boneheaded things done to firearms over the years. Some done long in the past.
So in your opinion the Revolving rifle was unecessarily maligned?
 

johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
South of the North 40
So in your opinion the Revolving rifle was unecessarily maligned?
I think so. The weapon remained in use well after the war, especially the shotgun version. As often as I’ve read of complaints about the chain fire issue I’ve not found a first hand account of it happening or the name of a victim.

to add the men who were issued Berdan’s Colt Revolving Rifles used then to devastating effect with little complaint.
 

sourdough

Corporal
Joined
May 29, 2017
Location
Pe Ell, Washington
The weapon remained in use well after the war, especially the shotgun version.


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Regards,

Jim
 

Lanyard Puller

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 29, 2017
Location
South Carolina
[QUOTE="ConfederateCanuck,
what's the Colt Revolving Rifle worth these days at a gun show (no point quoting over-inflated auction prices)? ….one in shootable condition, with appearance being fair to good"

In antique fair to good condition you'd not want to shoot it.
A 1855 Colt revolving rifle now can be found in Very Good to Fine condition with a shootable bore and NO U.S> cartouche for about 6 to 11 K. With the "U.S" and bayonet lug double the price. Carbines run about the same, but 24" Artillery carbines are rarely seen and are much more valuable due to the very limited numbers made.
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
[QUOTE="ConfederateCanuck,
In antique fair to good condition you'd not want to shoot it.
A 1855 Colt revolving rifle now can be found in Very Good to Fine condition with a shootable bore and NO U.S> cartouche for about 6 to 11 K. With the "U.S" and bayonet lug double the price. Carbines run about the same, but 24" Artillery carbines are rarely seen and are much more valuable due to the very limited numbers made.

I haven't seen any that are in shootable condition. I do love the way they look. Would be sweet to have one up on the wall.

As much as I like shooting originals, I think I'd be looking for a repro when it comes to something as valuable as the Colt Revolving Rifle. Does anyone make a faithful quality replica?
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I don't have the details at hand, but if the Colt was loaded with the wrong bullet, it would cause the barrel to spit at the muzzle. Soldiers learned that if they fixed the bayonet, it gave enough reinforcement prevent that. Like the pistols, reloading the cylinder of the rifle under stressful conditions was problematical. Doing it correctly takes several minutes. Reloading a Spencer, on the other hand, is only a matter of seconds.

Just like the pistol, grease had to be smeared over the individual holes to prevent a chain fire. You left out that step at your peril. Even modern revolvers have blow by where the cylinder meets the barrel. By all accounts, the gap on the Colt rifle resulted in a significant spray that could inflict burns on the shooter.

I have handled a Colt rifle. I was struck with how clumsy the weight distribution was. Besides potentially setting your shirt on fire, it was not easy to point, it took some effort.
 

DixieRifles

Captain
Member of the Year
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Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Location
Collierville, TN
Just like the pistol, grease had to be smeared over the individual holes to prevent a chain fire. You left out that step at your peril. Even modern revolvers have blow by where the cylinder meets the barrel. By all accounts, the gap on the Colt rifle resulted in a significant spray that could inflict burns on the shooter.

No one has mentioned the possibility of spraying pieces of LEAD. I had a cheap replica Colt with brass frame and 5-1/1 inch barrel. One time I fired it, a close bystander said something hit him in the face. Luckily it didn't break his skin.

A proper ball will shear off a ring of lead as it is rammed into the cylinder. Then after firing, it enters the barrel with Lands that are even smaller in diameter and the ball is further deformed. This constriction combined with the gap between the cylinder and barrel +PLUS+ any slop that would allow the cylinder misalignment with the barrel could lead to Lead (that is hard to read) being sprayed out to the sides of the pistol.
Comments? Ever experienced this?
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
No one has mentioned the possibility of spraying pieces of LEAD. I had a cheap replica Colt with brass frame and 5-1/1 inch barrel. One time I fired it, a close bystander said something hit him in the face. Luckily it didn't break his skin.

A proper ball will shear off a ring of lead as it is rammed into the cylinder. Then after firing, it enters the barrel with Lands that are even smaller in diameter and the ball is further deformed. This constriction combined with the gap between the cylinder and barrel +PLUS+ any slop that would allow the cylinder misalignment with the barrel could lead to Lead (that is hard to read) being sprayed out to the sides of the pistol.
Comments? Ever experienced this?
I quit firing my 36 cal, Navy Colt because it became progressively terrifying. No matter how hard I tried, couldn't hit what I aimed at.
 
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