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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello,
I have a very nice original Civil War Colt Army model 1860 44 caliber cap & ball revolver that I want to know as much about as I can.. The gun was made in 1862 and has military markings including the army inspectors cartouche on the lower grip. Also included is an old holster, belt & authentic lead filled US buckle. The gun is in great shape except for the bluing is gone. All numbers match through out but I'm wondering is there anything else I should look for as far as stampings, inspectors marks...etc?
I picked this up at a Civil War gun show about 25 years ago. I don't want to sell it but am curious as to its value. Any info or opinions appreciated.
Thanks for looking. IMG_7056.JPG IMG_7059.JPG IMG_7061.JPG
Wayne
 

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Very nice, the holster is a late issue model 1863 and was made to accommodate the Colt M1860 and the Remington M1858, the 1873 Colt SAA also fit into it very well, this is the type holster that Custer and the 7th Cavalry used at the battle of the little big horn with their new Colt SAA 45's.
If I could pick between your M1860 Colt and your holster I would pick the holster, they are very hard to find, I've been looking for one at antique gun show's for a few years now, no luck.
Can't help you with a value, sorry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Are you sure about the holster? It isn't stamped "US". I thought the "US Army" stamped one's brought the big bucks.

Rio,
I've used Black Rock leather paste on it several times. It's highly recommended.
Thanks
 

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Are you sure about the holster? It isn't stamped "US". I thought the "US Army" stamped one's brought the big bucks.

Rio,
I've used Black Rock leather paste on it several times. It's highly recommended.
Thanks
The 1863 civil war holster's did not have the US stamp, that came later, your holster would be correct for both the civil war and the Indian war, and would have carried the Colt 1860, the Remington 1858, and the 1873 Colt SAA , your holster would have been correct for the LBH also.
 

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Very nice set. Are the serial numbers matching. Frame, barrel, last 4 digits on the cylinder, cylinder arbor, wedge, grip bottom and grips? Looks like a good honest 1860.
 

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Very nice set. Are the serial numbers matching. Frame, barrel, last 4 digits on the cylinder, cylinder arbor, wedge, grip bottom and grips? Looks like a good honest 1860. Nice even plum. The grips look almost too good. Is there a cartouche? You might have to look with a loop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Wow! Mr. Rush....I didn't know that! I was under the assumption that the north stamped US on their holsters but I stand corrected.
I bought this gun and holster 25 yrs ago, at a CW gun show from a guy who said he'd owned it for 40 years. He said as far as he knew, the holster had always been with the gun but I took that with a grain of salt because people can claim anything. I thought it was an aftermarket "after civil war" holster because it wasn't stamped US. So you are saying that (although unlikely) this holster is possibly as old as the gun...1862....and could be original to it? I know Gaylord stamped their holsters but I don't see any markings on this one. Thanks for the info.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Yes RussJackson,
The serial numbers are matching throughout...Frame, barrel, last 4 digits on the cylinder, cylinder arbor, wedge, grip bottom and grips. As far as the serial number on the cylinder, 3 of the last 4 serial numbers are clearly visible ...the 4th is only partially visible.
I didn't realize the arbor even had a number so I took it apart and sure enough...the last 4 digits of the serial number are there. Cool!
Yes, the grips both have the cartouche although right side is more worn than left side. There is also a small inspectors mark (H) on the bottom of the grip. The last 3 numbers (possibly 4 numbers) of the serial number are on the inside of the grips and you can tell it was written in black ink many years ago. The grips are original. Many thanks.
 

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These 1863 dimension holsters were not stamped "U.S." in an oval on the flap when issued during the CW. They were only so stamped when issued or reissued after the CW.
MrRush,
Thank's for your helpful info. on the M1863 holster, could you tell me which holster would have been used at the LBH, a left over C/W holster with no US stamp, or only a post war holster with the US stamp ? I have a small LBH display and would like for it to be as correct as possible, their is a pic. of a C/W era M1863 holster in John Kopec's book Cavalry Artillery Revolvers page 226 / 20-1 with no US stamp that show's the older model as the type used at the LBH, is this correct ? .... Thank's.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Iboos,
While we're waiting for a response from Mr. Rush, I noticed on page 24 of "Packing Iron" that the standard military issue sidearm in 1874-75 was the 1873 Colt SAA with black 1/2 flap holster without the US stamp. Wouldn't this have been the holster carried at Little Big Horn?

KINDLE_CAMERA_1509821319000.jpg KINDLE_CAMERA_1509821328000.jpg KINDLE_CAMERA_1509821337000.jpg KINDLE_CAMERA_1509820460000.jpg
 

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Who makes the best value Colt M1860 leather CW holster reproductions? I want to get one but saw some really low quality ones.
 

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Without examining the holster it is not be unlikely that it is a M1863 holster as they are not hard to find. It would help to date the holster if there was evidence of a maker's mark on the body or flap and/or a "U.S." stamp. The "U.S." stamp identifies a post CW holster but I'm not sure all post war M1863 holsters had the "U.S." stamp.

These holsters were made for the Union by various makers during the CW Vast numbers remained at the war's end and stored for later issue to U.S. troops. Post CW saw a great reduction in Military personnel and facilities. Great cuts in the military budgets and the years of economic depression that followed the CW meant no new equipment and no standardization of military issue. So the leftover CW arms and equipment was issued. The M1863 holster, in original and modified form, was issued to the frontier troops at least until the 1880s and even thereafter, modified with the 1895 double loop, to other service units into the 1900's.

During the 1870's, the military experimented with various holsters and adopted some for limited issuance. Including the Pattern1874 holster with the Hoffman swivel referred to by Waynes124. These holsters were issued to some troops but not all. The Army did not get the funds to modernize and standardize equipment until the late 1870's and was not able to implement standardization until the 1880's.

So it is not unlikely that the 7th at little big horn was issued a variety of holsters, including the M1863 holster marked "U.S". Perhaps others are aware of research in this regard. in any event even if issued the holsters with the Hoffman swivel may have chosen not to use them as they proved a poor idea for active cavalry men as the the holsters were prone to swivel at high gallop so as to eject their hand gun.

I've collected military holsters belts and cartridge boxes to augment my period arms collection over a number of years. Doing that time I've noticed nice examples less often encountered and prices have greatly increased. I've got serious gaps in my collection and at current prices I'm challenged to fill them. Still opportunities do come up, but rarely any more at shows or auctions..
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Very informative Mr Rush. So....what I got out of your response is my holster is a M-1863 and is correct for my 1860 Colt...but being unmarked, there is no way of telling whether it was actually used in the Civil War or was a "leftover" that was issued years later. I'm fine with that. I'm glad to hear it's a M-1863 holster.
Thanks
Wayne
 

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At war's end, there were mountains of brand-new, unissued equipment in the Quartermaster Department's hands - all paid for.

Given the parsimoniousness of the postwar Army, what they had, was what was going to be issued - so issued it was.

That explains the old-pattern clothing and equipment used by the Indian Fighting Army, up until the 1880s.

Much was modified - much was worn/used to shreds - the military's clothing and leather were never of the highest quality, after all - the lowest bidders did get the contracts to equip, and they used the cheapest material they could find to do so - it's where we get the term 'shoddy', since it was a type of cloth.

The leather was all black, too - why? - because any and all flaws could be covered over with a liberal application of black dye, whereas that couldn't be done with brown leather goods.

This goes towards explaining why good examples of a soldiers' equipage are hard to find, today - and why they're so expensive.

Uncle Sam wanted full value for his money, and it took the Civil War to illustrate the venality and complicity of suppliers and buyers to finally turn the page, and educate future Quartermaster Officers in how to inspect and approve durable goods for the military, but while they were doing that, those massive piles of stuff needed to be issued out until gone, so throughout the span of the Indian Wars, Civil War era equipment was the norm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Spot on Dogface!
Further evidence of the US Army's "frugality" can be seen in the following paragraphs copied from an article titled "Battle of the Little Bighorn: Were their weapons inadequate?"

"During the battle, the 7th Cavalry troopers were armed with the Springfield carbine Model 1873 and the Colt Single Action Army revolver Model 1873. Selection of the weapons was the result of much trial and error, plus official testing during 1871-*73. The Ordnance Department staged field trials of 89 rifles and carbines, which included entries from Peabody, Spencer, Freeman, Elliot and Mauser. There were four primary contenders: the Ward-Burton bolt-action rifle; the Remington rolling-block; the ‘trapdoor’ Springfield; and the Sharps, with its vertically sliding breechblock.


Although repeating rifles such as the Spencer, Winchester and Henry had been available, particularly in the post-Civil War years, the Ordnance Department decided to use a single-shot system. It was selected instead of a repeating system because of manufacturing economy ($$$), ruggedness, reliability, efficient use of ammunition and similarity to European weapons systems. Ironically, the board of officers involved in the final selection included Major Marcus A. Reno, who would survive the 7th Cavalry’s 1876 debacle on the Little Bighorn.


The guns were all tested for defective cartridges, endurance, accuracy, rapidity of fire, firing with excessive charges, and effects of dust and rust. The Springfield was the winner. The Model 1873 carried by the 7th Cavalry was a carbine that weighed 7 pounds and had an overall length of 41 inches. It used a .45-caliber copper-cased cartridge, a 405-grain bullet and a charge of 55 grains of black powder. The best effective range for this carbine was under 300 yards, but significant hits still could be scored out to 600 yards. A bullet was driven out of the muzzle at a velocity of about 1,200 feet per second, with 1,650 foot-pounds of energy. The trapdoor Springfield could hurl a slug more than 1,000 yards and, with proper training, could be fired with accuracy 12 to 15 times per minute.


The Colt Single Action Army revolver was chosen over other Colts, Remingtons and Starrs. By 1871, the percussion cap models were being converted for use with metallic cartridges. Ordnance testing in 1874 narrowed the field to two final contenders: the Colt Single Action Army and the Smith & Wesson Schofield. The Schofield won only in speed of ejecting empty cartridges. The Colt won in firing, sanding and rust trials and had fewer, simpler and stronger parts. The Model ‘P’ had a barrel of 7.5 inches and fired six .45-caliber metallic cartridges with 28 grains of black powder. It had a muzzle velocity of 810 feet per second, with 400 foot-pounds of energy. Its effective range dropped off rapidly over 60 yards, however. The standard U.S. issue of the period had a blue finish, case-hardened hammer and frame, and walnut grips. The Colt became ubiquitous on the frontier. To the soldier it was a ‘thumb-buster,’ to the lawman a ‘peacemaker’ or ‘equalizer,’ and to the civilian a ‘hog leg’ or ‘plow-handle.’ The revolver was so strong and dependable that, with minor modifications, it was still being produced by the Colt Company into the 1980s."

I certainly don't profess to be an expert on the battle and it's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback but IMHO, had our troops been armed with the repeating arms previosly mentioned above (although the outcome may have been the same due to overwhelming odds) they would of at least had a far better chance. Jus sayin'....
 

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That argument goes on ad nauseam over on the CASCity site - woulda, coulda, shouda - and it never ends.

They weren't - 'and' they were untrained and untried - 'and' met a recently successful hostile force never before gathered together, cocked, locked and ready to rock.

Emotions ran somewhat high...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
I know there is a lot of controversy about the actual battle but I don't think there can be much controversy over my statement...
Although I guess there are people who would debate the benefits of a single shot rifle over a repeating rifle during a battle, I think they would be in a very small minority.

"I certainly don't profess to be an expert on the battle and it's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback but IMHO, had our troops been armed with the repeating arms previosly mentioned above (although the outcome may have been the same due to overwhelming odds) they would of at least had a far better chance. Jus sayin'...."
 
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