Remington Navy 1858 conversion
Your revolver is undoubtedly a genuine factory-conversion of the Remington Navy 1858 revolver.
The Navy Model is quite uncommon and was not taken into production before 1863. It was originally a .36 caliber six-shot percussion revolver, designed for and used by the Union Navy during the American Civil War.
Since the Civil War saw the uprising of the self-contained cartridges (metallic cartridges), the Remington Company decided to do what other large producers (cfr Colt) also did: from 1864 on, they started to convert their old percussion muzzleloaders for the metallic cartridges.
The conversion was not simple, however, and either not cheap, but still cheaper than making a totally new model and scrap the existing unsold parts; so they took the decision of converting the parts they had in stock, which allowed for sale of the obsolete percussion parts, that would otherwise have been lost.
Besides, since the supply of specific metallic cartridges to remote areas of the Frontier could be a problem, the Remington engineers developed a conversion that could still be used as a conventional percussion revolver by simply replacing the bored-through cylinder by a common percussion one. That is why the original percussion ramrod has been left in place. Most of these revolvers have been sold with an additional percussion cylinder.
The conversion required a new cylinder and a loading gate in the recoil shield, but no reboring of the barrel: the old .36 and .44 measurements had enough tolerance
to accommodate respectively .38 and .45 cal. pure lead bullets.
The Remington Co developed in fact 3 different types of conversions (see the Pocket and Police conversions onto rimfire by using a separate disk placed at the rear
of the cylinder).
On your revolver, the conversion onto .38 Long Colt Centerfire cartridge is called the "Type lll" conversion. It was the latest and best type of conversion developed by Remington. The revolver was probably never sold as a percussion arm.
Since all Remington conversions allow for use either with the new metallic cartridges or percussion cylinders, they are probably the best of all.
Colt conversions (Thuer, Richards, Richards-Mason) of the 1851 Navy and 1860 Army are complicated and cannot be used as percussion arms. Also the Colt Pocket Navy with rebated cylinder, although using the frame and lock of remaining Pocket 1849, could not be used as a percussion arm. On that field, the Remington conversions offered a great advantage.
The choice for the .38 Long Colt cartridge has a simple reason: that ammunition was in those days the most powerful, most reliable and easiest to find cartridge in the .38 caliber range.
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