A Remington Resurfaces


This is the near forgotten Hartford Armory replica of the Remington Model 1875 .44-40 Duke landed recently.

Back in the first years of this century a fellow contacted me saying he was putting a replica of the Remington Model 1875 revolver into production and he would like to visit and show me his prototypes. Definitely! Especially because in my opinion the Remington ’75s were about the most unheralded sixguns of the black powder era. He showed up with a satchel full of revolvers, even including a prototype of the very rare Model 1890 Remington.

We spent an afternoon shooting his revolvers and as I remember they were in .44-40 and .45 Colt calibers. They were beautifully crafted pieces of machinery. The best way I could describe them was they were reminiscent of the fit and finish of 1960s vintage Ruger Super Blackhawks. The new manufacturing company was called “Hartford Armory” and of course located in that Connecticut city. The revolvers were all going to be purely “Made in USA.”

I was impressed with the samples and told the fellow once he had them in production, to send me a sample or two. I’d write them up fairly and probably buy one or both. The fellow left and I never heard another word from him. I did learn a replica importer back east was going to be sole source for the Hartford Armory revolvers. Then, at least in my life, they faded into obscurity.

As this photo shows the Colt SAA (bottom) and Remington Model 1875 (top)
are similar in size and function exactly the same.

The Original

Remington’s Model 1875 was intended as a competitor with Colt’s new “Strap Pistol” of 1873 that eventually gained the moniker of Colt Single Action Army. In some ways the Remington was superior to Colt’s design. Whereas the Colt’s grip frame consisted of two pieces bolted to each other and then to the main frame by six screws, the Remington’s grip frame was forged integral with the main frame, with the single piece trigger guard held in its recess by a single screw.

Obviously, Remington borrowed heavily on the SAA’s basic design, as the 1875’s mechanical function was the same. Anyone familiar with a Colt SAA could pick a Remington Model 1875 up and go right to work with it. Of course both revolvers were single action only.

There was a half-cock notch allowing the cylinder to rotate freely for loading. Cartridges were inserted into chambers by means of a loading gate on the frame’s right side. After firing, empty cases were punched out of chambers by means of an ejector rod mounted on the barrel’s right side. The Colt’s ejector was housed in a steel tube but Remington’s version was exposed. Sights were similar, grooves down the frames’ top straps for the rear, and blades (Colt) or tapered posts (Remington) for front sights. The two single actions are so close in size holsters for them are interchangeable.

The ’75 had one feature the Colt did not. Running from the frame to near the end of the 71/2″ barrels were what some collectors call the “sail.” It’s a sturdy piece of steel serving to brace the barrel when the revolver was used as a club in combat. I’ve actually encountered Colt SAAs with barrels bent upward from striking something or somebody with a downward blow.

Duke has only owned one original Model 1875 .44 Remington chambered for its proprietary caliber.
He had it refinished along the way.

Remington’s Big Mistake

Except for a few specimens made as .45’s for government trials, the Remington ’75’s were all .44’s. One chambering was proprietary, the .44 Remington. The other was the great .44-40, and this might be where Remington made a grave mistake. Their .44 round used a heel type bullet actually about 0.451″ in diameter. I’ve had the opportunity to check chamber mouths on two vintage Remington ’75 .44-40’s and both had 0.446″ chamber mouths. At that time .44-40’s were factory loaded with .425″ bullets. So you can guess how badly those guns shot with this arrangement.

I only got to fire one of those original Remington .44-40’s and it keyholed every bullet. The only original Remington Model 1875 I’ve owned was pretty much a gray relic. However, it was in .44 Remington caliber and its chamber mouths likewise measured 0.446″. Recently a correspondent told me his Remington Model 1890 .44-40 had 0.457″ chamber mouths!

Now back to the Hartford Army revolvers. Recently on a website I saw an HA Model 1875 .44-40 listed for sale. Duke’s luck again! I spoke for it without hesitation. It appeared brand-new/unfired on arrival with serial number HA0010. How does it shoot? That’s going to be a topic for a future column after I get a variety of factory loads and handloads through it. I’m just happy as heck to land one after all those years!

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