Despite being favored by outlaw Frank James Remington Frontiers still could not outshine the rival Peacemaker six-guns they emulated.
- Written by Phil Spangenberger
- Published June 12, 2012
America was preparing to enter her 100th anniversary of independence, the nation’s firearms industry was a veritable beehive of activity. To fulfill demands made by the citizenry of our Western territories, or those ready to depart for these wild lands.
Arms merchants constantly strove to come up with newer and more practical guns of all types and sizes.
After Colt’s success in selling the U.S. government its 1873 Single Action Army (SAA) revolver, popularly known as the Peacemaker, the Hartford firm’s competitors knew they needed to bring out a metallic cartridge “Army” or “holster” revolver of their own. Most of these rival companies manufactured six-guns that differed significantly from the Colt offering. However, one manufacturer boldly entered the field with a revolver that bore more than a slight resemblance to the popular Peacemaker Colt.
E. Remington & Sons, of Ilion, New York, introduced its “New Model 1875” or “No. 3 Revolver”—a Peacemaker look-alike—in the fall of 1874, with the hopes of competing with, or at least taking advantage of, the ’73 Colt’s instant popularity.
The 1875 Remington
In designing its 1875 model, Remington combined the lines of its sturdy cap-and-ball New Model Army and Navy revolvers with those of the 1873 Colt SAA. The final result was a handsome marriage of the two handguns. Actually, about the only real differences between the two six-shooters were the Remington’s webbed under-barrel assembly and the slightly longer distance from the back of the frame and hammer area to the grip. On a subtler note, the Remington placed its ejector housing directly underneath the barrel, whereas the Colt’s ejector assembly was situated at an angle off the barrel’s lower right side. Another minor departure from the Peacemaker is that the ’75 Remington’s ejector head and rod are operated from the right side of the barrel, rather than from the left as with the Colt. Further, the Remington’s longer cylinder base pin-retaining screw is located in the fore-section of the ejector housing as opposed to the Colt’s shorter version being housed in the front of the frame itself.
Initially chambered for the .44 Remington, a proprietary centerfire cartridge, production guns were later produced in .44-40 (.44 WCF). A handful of revolvers were turned out in .45 Colt caliber and are extremely scarce today.
Although the 1875 Army was offered as standard with 7½-inch round barrels, a few hundred guns left the factory with the shorter 5¾-inch tubes. Such short-barreled ’75 Remingtons command a premium with collectors nowadays.
Factory finish was either full nickel plating or blued with a color case hardened loading gate and hammer. Triggers have been found blued as well as in a color-cased finish. Regardless of the gun’s overall adornment, front sights were either a simple nickeled blade (even on blued models) or a smallish blade-type post, finished to match the revolver.
While one basic hammer style was employed, the company fit its revolvers with three distinct types of solid firing pins. Despite the fact that in 1878, Smith & Wesson introduced a rebounding hammer in one of its new revolvers, thus reducing the chance of an accidental discharge should the firing pin strike the primer of a live cartridge if dropped, Remington, like Colt, did not adopt this feature in its single actions. Thus, the old frontiersman’s practice of only loading five rounds and leaving the chamber directly under the firing pin was indeed a wise one to follow. Nevertheless, Remington’s firing pin variations can serve as a clue to each gun’s date
Two-piece walnut grips were standard fare, although ivory or Mother of Pearl stocks were also offered at extra cost.
As a point of interest, during the 19th century, the Remington facility followed the practice of manufacturing its revolvers...
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