Shooting the Remington New Model Army Revolver

This month, I want to discuss shooting the Remington New Model Army Revolver, known to civil war enthusiasts as "the Remington," and sometimes referred to by it's patent date as the "Model 1858." The Remington is an excellent workhorse of a revolving pistol, capable of delivering round after round in a single day, which makes it great for skirmishing, as well as Cowboy Action Shooting. The Remington outnumbers all other types of revolvers on the line at both types of shoots, by more than 2 to 1.

HISTORY.

The original New Model Army was manufactured from 1863 until 1875, and Flayderman estimates that a total of 132,000 units were produced, or more than 10,000 a year! The New Model was proceeded by the Old Model Army, of which 12,000 were produced circa 1862. The Old Model had a dovetailed front sight, and the loading lever was cut so the cylinder could be removed without lowering the lever. The Army found both features unacceptable and the New Model Army features a loading lever that must be dropped for cylinder removal and a screw-in post front sight. One of the oddities of civil war weapon collecting is that the Old Model Army has a patent date of Dec 17, 1861 and the New Model Army, it's replacement, has a patent date of Sept 14, 1858! The solid frame of the Remington revolver was a mainstay of the company's production line until replaced by the Model 1890 Single Action Army, which resembles the Colt Model P revolver, known also as the Peacemaker.

The solid steel frame design of the Remington makes it perfect for generous loads and hard work. After the War Between the States, a lawman in Wichita could be seen on the outskirts of town practicing with his ol' Remington on a regular basis. The deputy could use the revolver well, and practice kept his hand and eye keen, but he was also just as likely to slam the heavy butt of the Remington against an adversary's head, a practice that made young city policeman Wyatt Earp a constable to be reckoned with. Wyatt even had the old pistol converted to cartridge use while working in Wichita. It is also a fact well known that Frank James preferred the heavy frame of a Remington cartridge revolver for his infamous work. The Remington is still favored today, and most Distinguished Revolver Shooters in the N-SSA have garnered well-deserved recognition using a Remington revolver.

SHOOTING.

Loading the Remington Revolver is an easy process. The photo shows two ways to load the pistol; you can use a loading stand, or remove the cylinder and use a loading tool. I prefer the use of a loading tool, mostly because the stress of loading thousands of rounds with the loading lever is starting to take its toll on the metal parts.

There are several loads you can use in the Remington, and I've provided ballistic data for five below. By far, the best performer in this group was the combustible paper cartridge load with 22.5 grains of FFF blackpowder. From a consistency standpoint, the 20.5 grains of FF blackpowder showed excellent standard deviation results, and is a light recoiling load, too.

I have three cylinders that shoot the 18.5 grain paper cartridge loads really well, and this has been my standard load for three or four years. Three out of six hits in a team event is good pistol shooting for sure, however, the 22.5 grain paper cartridge sure looks promising and I may have to change my pet load for Team Revolver.

LoadAverage VelocityStandard DeviationGroup Size# of hits 4" circle
20.5 gr FF(a) 700.5 18.18 20 sq. in. 4 / 10
18.5 gr FFF(b) 553.2 95.28 14 sq. in. 3 / 8
22.5gr FFF (b) 745.9 48.73 9 sq. in. 6 / 7
18 gr FFF (c) 580.9 22.27 24 sq. in. 4 / 10
23.5 FFF (c) 716.5 32.60 20sq. in. 5 / 8

NOTES: (a) WonderWad and filler used

(b) Combustible Paper Cartridge

(c) Filler used, no wad.

All of these loads are accurate and easy to shoot and practice with. They certainly form the basis of a good starting point when looking for your Remington load.

For more information on making and using combustible paper cartridges, see my August 1995 column in The Civil War News.

CLEANING

After removing the wood grips, I like to start the cleaning process with a good dunk in hot water with just a little detergent in it. It not only softens all the crud up, but raises the temperature of the gun metal enough to open the grain of the metal up a little, which releases more dirt and helps the metal absorb the light oil applied after cleaning.

After about a ten-minute soak, I scrub the barrel and each chamber of the cylinder out with a bronze bore brush. Removing the Remington cylinder is easy, just drop the loading lever and pull out the cylinder pin. Placing the pistol on half-cock makes removing the cylinder easier.

After a quick rinse in the warm water bucket, I wipe each chamber and the barrel out with a couple of patches until the patch comes out clean. If it's a sunny day, I'll put the hogleg on the hood of my car and let the sun dry it out (while the car is parked). Dreary days call for a couple of dry patches and a lot of water-displacing oil sprayed on and into the pistol. After the revolver is free of water and oiled, I can put it away until the next time I plan to use it.

About once a year, I like to disassemble the whole revolver and toothbrush scrub all the parts and check for wear on the internal parts. Paying close attention to detail has kept my New Model Army on the line for almost eight years now.

If you don't yet have a Remington revolver, they are available from most sutlers. It is a good idea to comparison shop when acquiring a Remington, there always seems to be some deals out there somewhere. That's all on the Remington for now. Until the next time, promote responsible gun ownership, shoot safe and have fun.

2000 by Tom Kelley

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