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

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.

 

comments

  1. avatar jwm says:

    Nickel plating served a useful purpose in black powder days. It was resistant to corrosion and cleaned up easier than blued steel. I don’t care for the looks but it is practical.

    The Colts are more natural ‘pointers’ than the Remington. Having said that. If I was to get another black powder revolver I would find a solid used Ruger stainless steel New Army.

    1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      I’ll take the Colt’s they point more naturally and can be as or more accurate than many modern single and double actions. I’ve two 1851 Navy’s and two Richards Mason Type II conversions, the six-guns of the heydays of the old west.

  2. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    I became a big believer in caliber conversion after Sandy Hook. It’s a lot cheaper converting the guns you have to fire different caliber bullets, than to do invest the money in new guns.

    Gun owners always want to save money. Even going back a hundred and fifty years.

  3. I do see this as functional if you do not have any other gun and one is looking for something that one can buy online. That and it makes a decent prepper gun as it can shoot cartridge and “loose” ammo. It is lesser gun for sure but a gun it is. The downside on I see is (and this is just my understanding) they cannot take the higher pressures of most modern ammo.

    1. avatar Darkman says:

      Obviously you didn’t read the article or lack even a child’s reading comprehension level. As stated it was tested with several brands of modern cartridges. Oy Vey

      1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

        This !
        They will handle any SAMMI spec ammunition,they will not handle Buffalo Bore or the various +P or +P+ Ruger/TC Contender only loads.

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      What makes you think you can buy this “online”?

      1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        the bp version…

    3. avatar Biff says:

      The only Remington revolvers that can be ordered online are the cap and ball versions. It’s then possible to order drop in cartridge conversion cylinders to shoot modern ammo, but the ones I’ve seen for sale are 2 piece cylinders with a removable rear section that contains 6 firing pins. They have to be removed from the gun for reloading, so your reload would take almost as long as doing it the old fashioned way. If someone used preloaded paper cartridges and practiced they could probably be just as fast as removing a cylinder, pushing out the empty cases, reloading and reinstalling a .45 cylinder.

      I’ve also seen cartridge conversion parts sold for the cap & ball guns that have a loading gate, but I’m pretty sure you have to modify the base gun by machining away part of the recoil shield on the right side of the revolver, which the average person probably would not be comfortable doing.

      1. Yeah, this is what I was referring to. If you go cap n ball then it is not a firearm then you order the conversion cylinder/part and essentially “make” a firearm. I probably should have been more clear. This “type” of build does, or can, have some functionality to it. Every vid I have seen on these conversions say to use low power ammo and even on the companies online state that +p are a no go and even a steady diet of standard pressure (modern) ammo is bad idea. Something like .38 lc or .38 sc should be ok. Reloading is going to be slow(er) no matter what you do. The point is being able to shoot cartridge ammo and black powder has some merit. Being able to easily “make” a firearm w/ no ffl has merit as well.

        1. avatar Bob in Calif says:

          The maker of the conversion cylinder I am familiar with recommends keeping it below 800fps. HSM cowboy cartridges work quite well.

        2. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

          Some one better tell that to my 1851 navy colt’s with R&D cylinders, as they get standard 45 colt/45 Cowboy Special loads and shoot 25 or more matches a year since 1999.
          According to your statement they should have blown apart by now, however they run like a Timex or is that the Energizer bunny.

        3. avatar GS650G says:

          I’ve seen cartridge conversion cylinders on line and the sites state an FFL needs to take delivery of the cylinder because it converts the gun from BP to modern cartridges.
          Maybe some vendors do business differently but I wouldn’t consider it a way around a 4473.

          I am considering a BP gun with concersiokn because I really like the look of these vintage guns but have no desire to have a smoke stick. .38 special would be a winner for me. I like this gun and would buy a blues version in 4 5/8″ length.

        4. avatar Don from CT says:

          The best (legal) way around a 4473 is to simply buy used from an individual. If you live in a state that still allows the free transfer of firearms on the secondary market. (most states)

  4. avatar Hank says:

    I think the biggest advantage the Remington cap & ball revolvers had over the Colt was that you could easily drop an empty cylinder out of the frame by lowering the loading lever and pulling the cylinder pin then drop in another loaded cylinder.

    1. avatar possum says:

      Frank James said they hit harder.

    2. avatar Biff says:

      This makes me want to watch Pale Rider

  5. avatar Virgil Caldwell says:

    Yep this is a well made revolver.

    As for strength, well, I have fired one 250 grain SWC handload at 805 fps. That is pretty darned strong for personal defense if need be. I see this as the SAA for an accuracy bug that would enjoy firing the piece at a long 100 yards. That is plenty strong for anything you would like to do.

  6. avatar Virgil Caldwell says:

    Ooops
    Meant SA for single action

    Virgil

  7. avatar possum says:

    When first started reading thought ,”Another one way out of my price range.” Not so, and talk about a reloaders dream, black powder might become a thing, two gunms in one, pretty slick.

  8. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    “Early rimfire centerfire cartridges were far less powerful.”
    you’ll what, now?
    colt/ rem, ok. i’ll take a blackhawk.

    1. avatar VC says:

      .44 American, .44 Colt, .44 Henry much weaker than the .44 cap and ball

  9. avatar Pete Farris says:

    From what I’ve read, Remington conversions without loading gates or extractor rods were made. I have such an 1858 in .44 Colt. I doubt it was made by anyone other than Remington. I fire only BP loads in it.

  10. avatar Dusty Ed Bergen says:

    Back in the day there were many conversion made by Gunsmiths and manufactures , I have 3 1858 REMINGTON revolvers better than 15 yrs ,I have 2 R&D conversion cylinders ,They are the most accurate guns I own, I blew one up ,probably a double charge ,that was before I had I a powder check die for the Dillion 550 no problem ever since . I sent to Taylors for a new cylinder and frame put it together and I was back in business.
    I think it $250.00 for the new parts ,I didn’t need the breech block with the firing pins.
    I shoot my handloads 45 colt 5.0 grains of clays 250 grain cast rnfp , chronograph at average 780fps.
    I shoot this load in all of my 45 Colts 2 levers ,2 new vaqueros, 4 Ubertis ,2 Remingtons , Colt lightning Pedersoli.

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