By Bob Walsh
The Gun of the Week is the Remington Model 1858 revolver. The weapon is called the Model 1858 because that is the patent date that appears on the weapon, though actually it did not go into production until 1861. It was produced in three calibers, the pocket model in .31 caliber, the Navy model in .36 caliber, and the Army model in .44 caliber.
This was a well-built and well-designed percussion revolver. It differed from the more common Colt revolver in that the Remington had a top strap, making it a more solid and accurate design. It was however more costly, costing about 50 cents more than the Colt pistol, which is about $12 in current dollars.
Due to a fire in the Colt factory the U. S. government bought a fair number of these weapons beginning in 1864 as the Colt pistol was not available. They were also popular as a personal purchase by military personnel of the time as well as police officers and police departments.
One of the more innovative features of this pistol was, beginning in 1863 a series of “safety slots” were built into the weapon between the nipples on the cylinder so it could be more safely carried with all six chambers loaded with much less chance of an accidental discharge.
The weapon was popular enough that both Remington and local gunsmiths converted them to cartridge use beginning a couple of years after the Civil War. This made them the first readily available large-caliber cartridge pistol available, beating out the Smith and Wesson .44 American by two years.
Besides being used by both sides during the Civil War they were officially issued by the United Kingdom, Russia, Mexico, Japan and France.
The pistol is still manufactured by a couple of European firms that specialize in replica firearms. Most people consider it to be a nicely proportioned and even elegant looking weapon.