Uberti/Remington 1858 New Model Army .44 Revolver
By Chuck Hawks
A. Uberti, Srl is not a traditional name in U.S. firearms history. However, the Italian company that bears Aldo Uberti's name has been carving out a reputation for producing "the best" reproduction firearms for over four decades.
Remington introduced their New Model Army .44 revolver in 1863. It was an improved version of the earlier Remington-Beals and Remington Army revolvers of 1860, 1861 and 1862. The basic patent for all of these was issued in 1858. This is how the model later became known as the "1858" Remington New Model Army.
The design of Remington's New Model Army featured a steel, one-piece frame and grip frame. For superior accuracy, the barrel is screwed firmly into the frame. Removing one screw allows the brass trigger guard of the New Model Army to be detached from the bottom of the frame, giving access to the lockwork from the bottom. Two traverse (left to right) screws hold the internal parts in place. The New Model Army's lockwork is simple, tidy, and well designed.
The cylinder is removed by placing the hammer in its half-cock position and then lowering the loading lever about 45 degrees, thus freeing the head of the cylinder pin but keeping the ram clear of the cylinder. Pull the cylinder pin forward until it clears the cylinder. With the cylinder pin free from the cylinder, the cylinder can be rotated out of the frame to the right. The cylinder is replaced by reversing the process.
The design of the Remington New Model Army was quite advanced for its time, and some of its features, such as the one-piece main and grip frame and captive cylinder pin, are superior even to modern Colt and Ruger single action cartridge revolvers.
A snyopsis of the specifications of Uberti's reproduction of the Remington New Model Army .44 revolver is as follows.
In addition to the standard models, Uberti also offers target models with adjustable sights for target competition or hunting.
The gun that is the test subject of this review is a brand new, stainless steel, standard model. This is clearly a well made, high quality firearm. There is virtually no cylinder endplay, the bolt locks the cylinder with minimal movement, and the flash gap is tight and uniform. The walnut grips are particularly well finished.
The hammer draw is stiff due to a heavy (flat) mainspring. The trigger pull was a pleasant surprise, as it broke at about 3.25 pounds with commendable crispness right out of the box. I backed out the mainspring tension screw about a turn, which slightly eased the hammer draw and reduced the trigger pull to 3.0 pounds.
The Uberti's rear sight consists of a historically accurate "V" shaped groove machined into the top strap of the frame. The way this was done does allow the user to widen the "V" with a small file if desired. The front sight is a simple rounded blade dovetailed into the barrel near the muzzle. It can be drifted left or right in its dovetail slot to adjust for windage as necessary.
The Uberti New Model Army .44 is intended for use with traditional black FFFG, Pyrodex P, or Triple Seven FFFG powders, and must never be used with smokeless powder. I chose to use Hodgdon's Triple Seven FFFG sulfur-free powder. It is more expensive than regular black powder, but the cost of the powder itself is a relatively small part of the expense of shooting a black powder revolver.
The loading procedure is straightforward. Check to make sure that the revolver is clean and dry, empty, and that the nipples are clear. Then pull the hammer back to the half-cock position; this frees the cylinder so that it can be freely rotated. The chambers can then be charged individually with powder, wad, and ball, or each operation can be performed on all chambers before going on to the next step.
The revolver is now loaded, but the hammer must not be left at half cock--this is not a safe hammer position. The hammer should be pulled back slightly, using the thumb of the shooting hand, just enough to free the sear from the half cock notch . . . use the trigger finger of the shooting hand to pull the trigger all the way back. Use the off hand to rotate the cylinder as necessary so that one of the safety notches on the back of the cylinder (between each chamber) is directly under the middle of the top strap and therefore directly beneath the hammer. Then slowly lower the hammer until its tip comes to rest in the safety notch.
This Uberti is a superbly accurate revolver. it will outshoot most modern semi-automatic service pistols.
After shooting is finished, all black powder revolvers must be thoroughly cleaned; even stainless steel models like the Uberti. Modern percussion caps are non-corrosive, but the black powder residue contains salts that will attract moisture and cause rust and corrosion if not removed.
Black powder revolvers are not "spray and pray" firearms. But, history demonstrates that they can be very effective for many purposes when used properly. The Uberti "1858" New Model Army is a well-made and accurate reproduction of one of the very best of the breed.
Note: A complete review of this revolver can be found on the Product Review Page.
Copyright 2003, 2007 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.