To modern cap and ball revolver shooters, Remington is best known for the .44 caliber New Model Army revolvers the company sold to Union forces during the Civil War. Quite a few of these big manstoppers made their way to the Western frontier, but many people don’t realize that Remington’s first revolvers were pocket pistols. Samuel Colt developed the first concealed carry revolver when he designed the .31 caliber 1848 Baby Dragoon. It was a good seller, and it paved the way for the even more popular Model 1849 Pocket Revolver. However, his competitors weren’t going to let Colt have that lucrative market all to himself for long. Among those eager to take a piece of the pocket pistol pie was Eliphalet Remington.
By the mid-1850s Remington was already a successful rifle and shotgun manufacturer. In 1856 he turned his attention to the handgun market with a .31 caliber pocket pistol designed by Fordyce Beals. Remington marketed three generations of Beals’ pocket pistol, but the first model was the bestseller by far, moving nearly 5,000 units. During the Civil War years, Remington concentrated on building full-sized revolvers to meet government contracts. But, when the war was over, the government cancelled unfilled contracts, and the handgun market was flooded with surplus .44 caliber sixguns. So Remington decided to concentrate their handgun manufacturing on the .36 caliber police market
and the .31 caliber concealed carry market.
In 1865 they developed a new five-shot, .31 caliber pocket pistol. The new offering used design improvements developed for Remington’s bigger Army revolvers, resulting in a sleek little revolver that was well suited for concealed carry. Remington developed three variations of their new pocket pistol. The first version, of which very few were ever produced, making originals very valuable today, had a brass frame and a brass guard for the spur trigger, what Remington called a “sheath.” The second model of the new pocket pistol featured an iron frame and a brass sheath. The third variation, and the most common, featured all-iron construction. These re-volvers were equipped with cap and ball cylinders chambered for .31 caliber. They were also available with two-piece cartridge conversion cylinders for .32 rimfire cartridges. All the variations of the New Model Pocket Revolver were available in four
barrel lengths—3 inches, 3½ inches, 4 inches and 4½ inches.
Between 1865 and 1873, Remington sold about 25,000 new model pocket revolvers. In 1870 the price for one of these little five-shooters was $8.25. If you wanted one with the optional .32 rimfire cylinder, the price was a princely $9.50. If we account for inflation that would be between $144.74 and $231.00 in today’s money, depending on the computational method you use. Even the higher price is significantly less than the cost of modern made replicas. So, these guns were not out of reach for the average man on the street in 1870. Of course originals cost quite a bit more today. The all-iron variation, in excellent condition commands $850 on the antique arms market. But, thanks to Taylor’s & Company, we can have a high quality replica if this handgun for a fraction of the price of an original.