Gun Review: Taylor's and Company 1858 Remington Conversion Revolver


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Remington’s Model 1858 revolver was the primary competitor to the Colt revolver for several decades and a famous and worthwhile handgun in its own right. The revolver went into production in 1858. While some preferred the solid top of the Remington over the Colt’s design, Colt also offered solid top revolvers. For many reasons the Colt 1851 Navy and 1860 Army revolvers were far more popular.

The Remington was used by men that could have afforded any revolver. As one example, Buffalo Bill Cody used a .44 Remington revolver for many years. The Remington and its later variants were important and trusted pistols in the west and anywhere that soldiers and lawmen traveled. After the Civil War there were thousands of cap and ball revolvers in use. Many were converted to the new rimfire cartridges.

While new revolvers were also available, it was much less expensive to convert existing revolvers. I have examined a handful of these conversions and they were well done. Machining of the recoil shield to include a loading gate into the design was undertaken and then a cartridge case ejector of some type was incorporated into the ball seating assembly.

My research indicated revolvers were sometimes converted for less than five dollars at a time when a new revolver was twenty dollars or so. The user could retain the original cylinder and have the ability to use loose powder and ball if the need arose.

The supply line for the different types of paper, rimfire and centerfire cartridges wasn’t ideal back in the old west. The original Remington conversions used a .46 caliber rimfire cartridge and the cylinders were five-shot versions.

It should be noted that the .44 Remington and .44 Colt cap and ball guns were powerful revolvers. The soft lead ball expanded well and produced an impressive wound. Early rimfire centerfire cartridges were far less powerful. The .45 Colt and .44-40 changed the equation.

The Taylor’s and Company Remington is well made of good materials and offers a close copy of the original conversion revolvers. They are by far a better handgun in terms of material, metallurgy, fit and finish to the originals of the day.

My example is nickel plated. This is just what happened to be in the shop, but it’s an eye-catching revolver. The cylinder holds six rounds of .45 Colt. The .38 Special and .44-40 versions would have some appeal as well, but the .45 Colt is easily one of my favorite cartridges. The eight-inch octagonal barrel Remington revolver is no lightweight at 45 ounces. The heft and balance, though, work well and the walnut grip fits my average size hands nicely.

Let’s get this out of the way — the Taylor’s Remington revolver is comfortable to fire and handles well and may have greater accuracy potential than some Colt types. That said, it doesn’t particularly handle as well in fast fire and exactly doesn’t point like a finger. This is the reason you don’t see many Remingtons in cowboy action matches, at least not in my experience.

The Remington conversion features an authentic recoil shield with loading gate. The revolver is placed on half cock and the cylinder is rotated as cartridges are loaded one at a time. Unloading is another matter. It must be kept in mind this revolver is interchangeable with a cap and ball cylinder offered by Taylor and Company. To eject spent cartridge the cylinder is indexed in line with the ejector rod. The ram rod that’s used to load balls in the black powder cylinder is released and lowered, but not far enough to lock the cylinder up.

Next a relatively thin ejector rod is moved from a notch in the underside of the barrel and moved to the rear to eject spent cases. These cases are ejected one at a time as the cylinder is indexed. Then the revolver is reloaded. There are faster systems but this one isn’t difficult to use once learned. It is also historically accurate.

To test fire the Remington 1858 I had on hand several .45 Colt loads including the 250 grain hard cast bullet and enough Titegroup for 780 fps, the Black Hills Ammunition 250 grain lead load, and the Winchester 255 grain loading. The two factory loads I had were in the 750 fps range. I have been able to test the Fiocchi 250 grain load more recently and clocked it at 675 fps. A 45 ounce revolver firing sub 800 fps loads is very controllable to shoot.

The sights of the Remington copy are good with an easily visible front blade, a wide rear notch and a loooong sight radius. These revolvers were originally sighted to strike high at 20 yards or so. That gave the shooter a good chance of connecting at 100 yards or more if the target was an Indian war pony or rebel cavalry.

I took a six o’clock hold and found the revolver indeed struck several inches high. I had on hand a small quantity of Blazer 200 grain Gold Dot loads. They struck less than two inches high, clocking at 788 fps. I sighted the revolver at 15 yards and then fired for accuracy at 25 yards. The best groups were less than two inches for five shots, excellent by any standard.

The Taylor’s and Company Remington 1858 conversion is smooth in its operation and never tied up or became difficult to rotate in firing just under two hundred cartridges in several range sessions. This is a very enjoyable historical reproduction that I find well worth its roughly $650 retail price.

One concern: there is a tiny lever set in the hammer that may be turned to ‘safe’ to prevent the revolver from firing. I suppose it may be included in the design to garner import points, but I don’t like it. These things tend to work loose with time and while this isn’t a revolver most owners will have for critical use, I may at some point remove the thing…at my own risk, of course.

Specifications: Taylor’s and Company 1858 Remington Conversion

Caliber: .45 Colt (.38 Special and .44-40 WCF available)
Barrel Length: 8 inches  (5.5 and 7 3/8 listed)
Cylinder capacity: 6 rounds
Weight:  45 ounces
Overall length: 13.4 inches
Average Retail:  $650

Ratings (out of five stars):

Fit and Finish * * * * *
This revolver is gorgeous, made of excellent materials and is finished beautifully.

Reliability * * * * *
The revolver never failed to index, never failed to fire, and loading and ejection were reliable.

Accuracy * * * * 
The Remington clone is more accurate than I would have thought. It’s more accurate than most similar single action replica types.

Utility *
Well, it is a fun gun. It isn’t a hunter and it is outclassed in handling in cowboy action. But this is one fun gun.

Overall * * * * 1/2
The Taylor’s and Company Remington Model 1858 is an excellent reproduction pistol that’s largely historically accurate, well made and reliable.

 

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