SMALL ARMS RAFFLE
The Friends of Fort Fisher Small Arms Raffle is providing a unique opportunity for Civil War weapons enthusiasts and black powder shooters. This year’s raffle features a set of Civil War reproduction revolvers - the Colt “Army" Model 1860 and the Remington New Model Army. In addition to the revolvers, this raffle comes in a custom handcrafted wooden display case, with a powder flask, a brass .44 caliber bullet mold, and a brass container for caps (caps not included).
During the 1840a and 1850s, revolvers like the five pound Colt Walker and the only slightly lighter Colt Dragoon series of handguns, were meant for mounted soldiers and could not be easily carried on a belt. Based on their experiences prior to the Civil War, the US Army wanted a revolver that was light enough for a soldier to carry but utilized the larger .44 caliber bore with its proven stopping power. Small arms manufacturers, Colt and Remington, looked to meet the Army’s requirements by continuously improving the design features of their successful revolvers and the quality of the steel used in weapons manufacturing.
Colt had produced a successful revolver for the US Navy using a .36 caliber bore. Using the 1851 “Navy” frame as a starting point, they were able to marry the Colt Navy’s carry ability with the Army’s .44 caliber stopping power needs. This new revolver was designated the Colt “Army" Model 1860. It had several positive features including an improved rack and pinion loading lever, the barrel separating from the frame for cleaning, and having half the weight of the Colt pistols then in US Army service. The strength of the revolver came from the lower frame and the massive fixed cylinder pin. This made the gun slimmer and lighter than its main competitor, the Remington Model 1858. During the Civil War, the US Government purchased over 129,000 Colt Army revolvers making it the most widely used revolver of the Civil War. But on February 4, 1864, a fire destroyed the Colt factory forcing the U.S. government to order large numbers of the Remington revolvers.
The Remington New Model Army is commonly referred to as the Model 1858 due to the patent markings on its cylinder. But wide scale production did not start until 1861 and improvements on the revolver continued following suggestions from the U. S. Ordnance Department. While it was more expensive to produce, it had some advantages over the Colt. Those who could afford it, remarked on its durability due to the "topstrap,"or steel bar running above the cylinder, that made for a solid-frame design. This made the Remington less prone to issues arising from stress on the frame due to firing. The downside in this single piece design was not being able to remove the barrel for cleaning. But the Remington permitted easy cylinder removal, allowing a quick reload with a spare pre-loaded cylinder. It is, however, unlikely that this was common practice, as spare cylinders were not provided. Another innovative feature, which first appeared in the 1863 Model, were "safety slots" milled between chambers on the cylinder. The milled slot positively secured the hammer between chambers for safe carry by placing the hammer's firing pin between percussion caps, eliminating the risk of an accidental discharge.
Together, Colt and Remington revolvers made up almost three quarters of the hand guns used during the Civil War. Soldiers and sailors, on both sides of the conflict at Fort Fisher, used these revolvers during the two battles.
The raffle drawing will be held Sunday, January 19, 2020, at the conclusion of the 155th Second Battle of Fort Fisher Commemoration program.
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