Colt Model 1860 Army
.44 Caliber Percussion
Date: January, 1863 SN:

The Colt Model 1860 Army was the Unions most purchased and issued revolver during the Civil War with over 127,156 acquired. Total production period for the Model 1860 Army ran from 1860 to 1873 for a total of approximately 200,000 revolvers. These revolvers utilized paper-wrapped cartridges, inserted into the cylinders and rammed with the attached loading lever which swung beneath the barrel and percussion caps were placed on each of the nipples behind each cartridge.

This middle production revolver has the following characteristics:

  • rebated six shot cylinder roll engraved with the Naval Engagement scene

  • three screw frame cut for shoulder-stock

  • blued barrel, cylinder and back-strap,

  • casehardened frame, hammer and loading lever

  • brass trigger-guard

  • one-piece oiled walnut grips

Post serial number 8,000 all frames have 3 screws like the example pictured below, there was a estimated 4000 four screw versions made in the total production. Another rare early variation to this revolver is the fluted cylinder which does not have the engraved battle scene and is also found in very early production.

The date of contract for this revolver order was August 14, 1862 with it being received by the Union Army along with 1000 others on January, 1863. The original contract prices was $14.00.

This particular revolver is also marked with a "US" stamp (See Image 3 below), this mark is consistent in style, size and location to what was used to mark re-issued Colt Armies post the Civil War. The Annual reports of the Commanding Officer of the Springfield Armory for the years 1865 through 1873  document the refurbishing and re-issuance of these revolvers and the annual reports of the commanders in the field document their use. The reconditioned Colt revolvers were marked on the trigger guard with a "US" that was approximately 1/8" Roman letters with out periods. There have been slight variations observed indicating there may have been more then one set of stamps. Examples revolvers have been observed with no matching serial numbers, some matching  serial numbers and all matching serial numbers. The commonly accepted location for the "US" marking is on the trigger guard below the serial number as pictured in the images below.

 Some people have reported these revolvers to have been issued to the 9th and 10th cavalry and one has been reported with the marking "F 10 Cav" on the trigger guard, better known as the Buffalo soldiers these units were almost entirely made up of Negro soldiers and were heavily engaged in the Indian wars of the western frontier.

The Serial Numbers are located on frame, trigger guard, barrel, cylinder, wedge, grip, butt strap and cylinder base pin. US marked refurbished revolvers typically have mismatching numbers like this example. The frame serial number is 85824 and the only part that has a match is the arbor/cylinder pin. The other serial numbers do not match but all fall into the range of the Colts manufacture during the Civil War. Other indicators that support the US marking being original are the military sub-inspector marks on the frame, cylinder and trigger guard. Click here for the serial numbers by year.

Image 1- Left profile

Image 2- Right profile

Image 3- "US" marking

Image 4- "E" inspectors mark
on front grip strap

Image 5- "D" and "E"
marks on cylinder

Image 6- Frame, Cylinder
and trigger

Image 7- Hammer

Image 8- Hammer with
"V" notch sight

Image 9- Grip

Image 10- Close up of
frame and barrel SN

Image 11- Top quarter view
From the collection
of T. Moore

Technical Information

Length (overall/barrel) 14 inches/8 inches
Weight 2 pounds, 11 ounces
Sights (Front/Rear) Brass blade 7/16 inch/"V" notch hammer lip
Caliber 44 (.451")

The Civil War started on February 9th, 1861 - The Confederate States of America is formed with Jefferson Davis as president.
The Civil War Ended in
May, 1865 - Remaining Confederate forces surrender. The Nation is reunited as the Civil War ends. Over 620,000 Americans died in the war, with disease killing twice as many as those lost in battle. 50,000 survivors return home as amputees.

United States Military Small Arms, 1816-1865 - By Robert Riley
Civil War Arms Purchases and Deliveries - By S. Mowbray
Civil War Arms Makers and their contracts - By S. Mowbray
Civil War Guns - By W. Edwards
Civil War Pistols of the Union - By John D. McAulay
Civil War Small Arms of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. - By John D. McAulay
U.S. Ordnance Dispatch - By E.S. Meadows
Special thanks to Bill Koszarek for his contributions to researching this revolver

I am doing research on the Civil War revolvers so expect this page to be updated soon. Found on this page are images of all markings found on this Colt Model 1860 Army revolver. Are you a Civil War firearms collector? Would like to hear from you so we can share research and compare specimens. Regards, Ty Moore

Click on images for larger image
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