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22 June 2011

New Cap and Ball Revolver

Figure 1, Colt Model 1860  'Army' Reproduction by Pietta.
I recently purchased a used cap and ball revolver at a muzzleloader shooting match.  Mrs. Bugbear was unimpressed when I returned home and announced the purchase.  When she heard the price she relented somewhat.  Well the transfer was completed on the weekend and when I showed my darling wife the latest addition to the Bugbear Arsenal  her eyes lit up.  Can you blame her though?  This is one very pretty gun.

The Colt Model 1860 'Army' was introduced...wait for 1860.  The revolver was used by the Union Army during the American Civil War and copies of the Model 1860 were used by the Confederate Army.  It was produced by Colt from 1860 to 1873 and it is thought that over 200,000 units were produced in the thirteen years of manufacture.  The Model 1860 is a single action cap and ball revolver.  Nominally weighing 43oz it was an improvement over Colt's previous offering in .44 caliber the Colt Dragoon which weighed in at over four pounds.  The Model 1860 is a slightly improved version of the Model 1851 'Navy', the chief improvement being a cam on the end of the loading lever. Both the Model 1860 "Army' and the Model 1861 'Navy' were built on a common frame and available with 8" .44 caliber and 7.5" .36 caliber barrels respectively.  Originally the 'Army' came with a fluted cylinder but after reports of cylinders blowing up the familiar belted cylinders of the Model 1860 became standard.  Many versions came with roll stamped scene on the cylinder. 

This is a relatively cheap reproduction and I bought a previously loved revolver for about half the price of a new one.    The Colt Model 1860 reproductions are also manufactured with a 5.5" barrel, I'm not sure of the historical veracity of the shorter barreled Model 1860.  Despite potentially anachronistic barrel length I'm very seriously considering getting a shorter barreled version of the revolver.  Perhaps I'll get Mrs. Bugbear the 1861 'Navy' as the lighter recoil of the .36 caliber might encourage her to come out to the range a bit more often.

I've also purchased a ball mold for the revolver so I'll be casting my own ammunition for the first time.  Due to the absolute lack of availability of FFFg blackpowder locally I'll be using the 3F formulation of Triple 7 initially in the pistol.  Triple 7 is easier to clean up, is marginally less corrosive than blackpowder and  somewhat more powerful for the same volume.  Loading information is available on Hodgdon's website.

Once I've cast some balls I'll update with a range report.

Addendum 23 June 2011

I've done a bit more research and Colt produced the 1862 Pocket Navy and 1862 Police in .36 caliber and in lengths of 4.5, 5.5 and 6.5".

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