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The Army Colt

May 2024
1min read

While I agree with the thesis that the Army Colt (“American Made,” March) was a “crowning achievement,” a number of misstatements detract from what is otherwise an interesting article. The comparison of the Dragoon, 1851, and 1860 models confuses weapon weights and caliber sizes. The .44-caliber Dragoon, at four pounds, one ounce, was heavy; the .36-caliber 1851, at two pounds, ten ounces, was lighter; the .44-caliber 1860 weighed only an ounce more than the 1851, but its advantage was in its heavier caliber rather than its overall weight.

Loading the, or each, chamber with powder (and ball) was typical of most Civil War weapons, which were muzzle-loaders. The problem wasn’t that brass was too expensive; rather, cartridges hadn’t been developed that could safely contain the propellant loads necessary for the heavier calibers (.36 and .44 vs. .22). And fresh cylinders are not snapped into place; one must loosen a screw and remove a wedge and then the barrel before cylinders can be exchanged.

The civilian model wasn’t different because it lacked frame screws for attaching a stock; rather, it lacked the notches in the frame and backstrap necessary for such an attachment.

Incidentally, although the article does not specifically say so, it wasn’t the 1860 model that became the “single most potent icon of the American West.” That honor went to the 1872 single-action Army revolver (also known as the Peacemaker or Frontier Six-shooter).

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