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It was one of the most powerful revolvers in the world at the time it was introduced, and the Remington 1858 New Army debuted a number of new design features that would carry forward into the eventual development of centerfire designs. Unlike the Colt models in service at the start of the Civil War, the Remington 1858, also called the Remington New Model, was a large revolver with a top-strap solid frame that made it incredibly rugged. Its internal workings were of a simpler design than that of Colt's. But one of its most popular features was the speed the gun could be reloaded by swapping out cylinders.
Cap-and-ball revolvers introduced fast, multishot capability to combat during the fighting with the Seminole Indians in the 1840s. But one of the drawbacks of early revolvers was the time it took to reload all of the cylinder's chambers. It took even the most skilled loaders three minutes or more to load a six-shooter. Later Colt models made changing empty cylinders for loaded ones much easier, greatly reducing the time it took to reload. The Remington New Model introduced a system that made swapping out cylinders extremely fast by standards of the time. With the Remington, removing an empty cylinder and replacing it with a loaded one took as little as 10-12 seconds.
Another advantage the Remington New Model offered was hard-hitting power. The .36-caliber Colt models in service at the time were comparable in man-stopping power to modern low-end 9mm loads such as the .380 Auto. The .451"-diameter projectiles fired at velocities averaging 800-900 fps from the Remington New Model put it on par with the modern .45 ACP in power. That power, combined with accuracy that's been tested to be in the same league as some modern production-model semiautomatics, made the Remington New Model a highly sought-after firearm.
A number of variants of the Remington New Model were produced, including one that accepted a shoulder stock that turned the firearm into a revolver carbine. Some percussion models were later converted to fire high-caliber centerfire and rimfire metallic cartridges.
Many legendary historic figures carried the Remington New Model, including Buffalo Bill Cody, and the gun's legendary performance earned it starring roles in several Hollywood Westerns. A percussion model was used by Lee Van Cleef as Angel Eyes in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, and Vivian Leigh used one as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind. Clint Eastwood used centerfire conversions of the full-size and pocket models in his role as Preacher in Pale Rider. A Remington New Model carbine also appeared in the miniseries Lonesome Dove.
Cabela's offers two fully functional reproductions of the Remington 1858 New Army. Both have a blued finish, polished-brass trigger guards and walnut grips. The full-sized model sports an 8" barrel, measures 14" in overall length and weighs 2 lbs. 11 oz. A smaller version is available which has a 5-1/2" barrel, measures 11-1/2" overall and weighs 2 lbs. 9 oz.
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