Santa Monica Shooter’s Civil War Pistol

by Fred Ray on June 12, 2013 · 0 comments

I’m sure everyone has heard of the awful events in Santa Monica, CA, where a gunman shot several people. He used the ubiquitous AR-15, but he also had a pistol in his “arsenal” (which in California apparently means anything more than one firearm)—a reproduction Remington 1858 cap & ball revolver. Introduced in 1863, it was by war’s end the second most popular revolver.

The Remington normally shoots black powder but you can also get a conversion cylinder that will allow you to shoot modern smokeless centerfire cartridges (not the same as the post-Civil War conversions). It’s not terribly convenient as you must remove the cylinder and unscrew the end to reload, but it does work.

The Santa Monica police exhibited  the guns in a show & tell, and it was hard to tell whether the pistol was in the original cap & ball configuration or had the conversion cylinder (web opinions are divided). No matter, as you can plainly see by looking at the front of the cylinder that the gun is still loaded.


This is slightly amusing but also very scary, as these old pistols don’t have any sort of safety. They were normally carried with an empty chamber under the hammer to avoid accidents, but if there’s a live cartridge there and the pistol is dropped, gets a hard bump on the hammer, or the hammer catches on something and springs back, the gun will go off.

Let’s hope they figure this out.

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