Samuel Colt and Colt Manufacturing are very familiar names when it comes to firearms and their history. They are responsible for making some of the most iconic firearms. The Colt brand has been credited with manufacturing weapons that were involved in various wars. Although, Colt passed away in 1862 and never saw the end of the Civil War, his products had a major impact on the war overall. Two guns that were both used in American Indian Wars and the American Civil War are the 1860 Colt Army and the 1861 Colt Navy. These side arms are often mistaken because of how stunningly similar they look.
The Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver was used extensively in the Civil War, especially by Union troops. The government purchased over half that were initially produced. This side arm is a six shot, single-action revolver that has an eight inch barrel. The firearm is effective at up to 75 and possibly 100 yards. There is also a front sight and a rear sight, which is located on the hammer of the gun that can be seen when the hammer is fully cocked.
The Colt Model 1861 Navy Revolver, a strikingly similar comparison to the 1860 Army, is also a six shot, single-action revolver but with a seven and a half inch barrel, slightly shorter than the Army Model. This firearm was also popular in the Civil War on both sides. Not nearly as many were purchased by the government for use in the war, but it was still very popular.
In looking at the similarities, both firearms were manufactured by the Colt Manufacturing Company and designed by Samuel Colt. They both have six round cylinders and have a creeping loading lever. They include the same barrel markings which read, “ADDRESS COL. SAML COLT NEW-YORK U.S. AMERICA” and also “COLT’S PATENT”. The Army and the Navy were initially produced in either 1860 or 1861 and production stopped in 1873 on both firearms. Finally, both firearms were designed for civilian use as well, the design of the Navy was not intended for Naval combat, just as the Army was not intended specifically for land combat. These guns were very popular amongst civilians.
By viewing the differences, there is the obvious and main difference, being the caliber. The Army Model is a .44 caliber, while the Navy Model is .36 caliber. Another difference is that the 1860 has a rebated cylinder, while the 1861 does not. For more specifics, the Navy is slightly smaller at 2.6 pounds and 13 inches, while the Army is 2.11 pounds and 14 inches. Although there are slight differences, the only main difference is that the Navy Model is a .36 caliber and the Army Model is a .44 caliber. After research, it seems that these are still very similar handguns. Nevertheless, both firearms were prominent during their time and are still talked about today.