The Remington 1858 Revolver -
Bridging the Gap from Invention to Modern
Eliphalet Remington’s rifle barrels developed a reputation among gunsmiths for accuracy
beginning with his own match performances. In 1828, he devoted his entire smithy to making
barrels and won a government contract for 5,000 rifles in 1845.His sons Philo, Samuel, and
Eliphalet Jr came into the trade and E. Remington & Sons opened in 1856 in Illion, NY.
Approximately 2,500 first models were produced during 1857 and 1858 followed by 1,200
second models and 1,500 third models.
As the pocket revolvers found favor in the market, Beals began design of a larger and more
easily manufactured revolver
for the military. The result was
the .44 cal. Remington-Beals
2,500 of them
from 1860 to
from its patent
Remington did not overlook the popularity Colt had brought to the .36 caliber. Eight thousand
smaller guns were made during the two years of the Remington-Beals’ production, known as the
Navy 1858. Another 5,000 improved Navies, known as the 1861, were manufactured in 1862.
The improved Remington New Model Army .44 was introduced in 1863 to and manufactured
until 1875. Both newer models incorporated improvements and the gun was so well received that
132,000 were produced between 1863 and 1875, along with 32,000 New Navies. The
government eventually purchased some 110,00 Army and Navy revolvers under contracts that
reached $29,196,820.01 before the war’s end.
Though none of the romance of the Colt revolver’s development accompanied the Remington
1858 designs, they were popular with Union and Confederate soldiers. The solid frame, rugged
loading lever, and easily interchangeable cylinder of the 1858 and successor designs all
represented significant improvements over the percussion Colt. Apart from the greater strength,
compactness, simplicity, and utility of the Remington, its production cost was significantly lower
than the equivalent Colts. Following the war, the public widely adopted the battle-proven
handguns and the design prevailed in the marketplace until Colt's introduction of its cartridge
firing 1873. The advent era of the percussion revolver came to an end in 1875 when Remington
abandoned production of its percussion guns for its first cartridge revolver.
The revival and refinement of the Beals design and the height of percussion revolver
development came nearly a hundred years later in 1972 with Ruger’s introduction of its aptly
named Old Army.
Text adopted from David Stroud’s
“Guns of the Texas Rangers:
The Remington New Model Army”,
Texas Ranger Dispatch®, #8, 2002.
|That year, Remington hired Fordyce Beals. Beals, a
very talented designer and already had developed
patents for percussion revolvers with a solid frame
and easily interchangeable cylinder and had invested
in Colt's manufacturing ventures. Beals refined his
earlier design and created the first Remington
revolver in 1857, a five-shot, single-action .31 caliber
with three-inch barrel, the Pocket Revolver.
1st Model Pocket Revolver
Photo by The Remington Society
1st Model 1858 Army
Photo by The Remington Society