American Rifleman - December 2020 - 76

I HAVE THIS OLD GUN ...

MODEL 1858
STARR ARMY REVOLVER
GUN: MODEL 1858 STARR ARMY
MANUFACTURER: STARR ARMS CO., NEW YORK, N.Y.
CALIBER: .44
MANUFACTURED: C. 1861
CONDITION: NRA FINE (ANTIQUE GUN STANDARDS)
VALUE: $2,500

W

hile the majority of revolvers used by the Yankees
and Rebels during the American Civil War were
single-action, a surprising number of doubleactions, both foreign and domestic, also took to the field.
Some, such as the British Beaumont Adams and American
Cooper, featured mechanisms that worked virtually the
same as those seen today. The user could, in one motion,
pull the trigger to cock, rotate the cylinder and fire the
gun or merely cock the hammer by thumbing it back for
more deliberate shooting.
A few others, such as the Savage, Tranter and this
month's featured gun, the Model 1858 Starr, employed
more Byzantine mechanisms to achieve single-action/
double-action operation. As its name eponymously implies,
this six-shot percussion revolver was the brainchild of
Ebenezer T. Starr, the scion of a well-known American
armsmaking family dating back to the early years of the
republic. As well as his revolvers, Starr was responsible for
other interesting arms, including a breechloading carbine
that enjoyed considerable popularity during the Civil War.
His revolver design was unique, though perhaps a bit too
clever for its own good. Rather than a simple trigger pull or
hammer manipulation, the Starr employed two controls, a
forward "firing-lever" (which today we would see as a trigger)
and back-mounted "trigger" which really was more like a sear.
Well-made and reasonably robust, the gun's finish was
blued and casehardened, and the stocks were of one-piece
walnut. Its cylinder could easily be removed by unscrewing

a knob at the rear of the frame and tipping the barrel
assembly downward.
Starr's manual explained the revolver's quixotic operation in the following manner: "When loaded and capped,
let the hammer down midway between the nipples, release
the firing lever, and the cylinder will be securely locked
and effectually guarded against any accidental discharge.
"The small slide on the [rear of the] firing lever being
pushed up, the arm is ready for rapid firing by simply
drawing back the lever to its extent. Then letting it go
forward to its place, the operation can be repeated until all
the chambers are discharged.
"When firing at leisure, move the slide down on the
firing lever. The arm may then be cocked and the cylinder
rotated as before by the lever, which being released, the
discharge is effected by a fine trigger behind.
"The same may be also effected by drawing back the
hammer and pressing lightly back at the same time on the
firing lever to disengage it from the cylinder; and when at
full-cock the hammer will be held by the trigger, or sear."
If this sounds complicated and fussy, the author's experience firing a Model 1858 verifies that it is. Still, around
20,000 "Army" (.44 cal.) and 1,900 "Navy" (.36 cal.) versions were eventually purchased by the Federals. Civilian
sales were also undertaken.
Clever as the 1858 was, authorities preferred issuing
simpler single-actions, so Ebenezer Starr was inveigled to
produce an "improved" Model 1863 version of his handgun
that dispensed with the double-action feature-not exactly
a great testimonial to the efficacy of the original product.
The specimen we see here is in superb mechanical condition, has a pristine bore and retains at least 40 percent
of its original finish. Accordingly, it is easily worth $2,500.
-GARRY JAMES, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

American Rifleman does NOT accept submissions for the I Have This Old Gun column. Topics are assigned to Field Editors in advance. Due to the volume of
mail received, our writers are not able to answer individual questions. Please consider instead sending your correspondence and questions through our Dope
Bag/Q&A service, which is available to all NRA members in good standing. Details appear in the Q&A section.

76
R2012_OLDGUN.indd 76

DECEMBER 2020

AMERICAN RIFLEMAN

Photos by Jill Marlow

10/8/20 1:52 PM



American Rifleman - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - December 2020

Contents
American Rifleman - December 2020 - C1
American Rifleman - December 2020 - C2
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 1
American Rifleman - December 2020 - Contents
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 3
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 4
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 5
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 6
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 7
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 8
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 9
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 10
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 11
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 12
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 13
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 14
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 15
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 16
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 17
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 18
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 19
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 20
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 21
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 22
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 23
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 24
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 25
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 26
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 27
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 28
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 29
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 30
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 31
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 32
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 33
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 34
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 35
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 36
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 37
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 38
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 39
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 40
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 41
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 42
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 43
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 44
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 45
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 46
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 47
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 48
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 49
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 50
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 51
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 52
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 53
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 54
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 55
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 56
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 57
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 58
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 59
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 60
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 61
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 62
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 63
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 64
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 65
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 66
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 67
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 68
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 69
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 70
American Rifleman - December 2020 - State_1
American Rifleman - December 2020 - State_2
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 71
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 72
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 73
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 74
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 75
American Rifleman - December 2020 - 76
American Rifleman - December 2020 - C3
American Rifleman - December 2020 - C4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_20210607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_202105
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_202104
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_202103
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_202102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_202101
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_202012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_202011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_202010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_202009
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_202008
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_202007
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_202005
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_202004
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_202003
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_202002
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_202001
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201912
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201911
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201909
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201908
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201907
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201906
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201905
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201904
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201903
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201902
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201901
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201812
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201811
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201810
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201808
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201807
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201806
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201805
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201804
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201803
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201802
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201801
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201712
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201711
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201710
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201709
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201707
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201706
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201705
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201704
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201703
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201702
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201701
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201612
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201611
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201610
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201609
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201608r
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201606
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201605
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201604
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201603
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201602
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201601
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201512
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201511
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201510
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201509
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201508
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201507
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201505
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201504
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201503
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201502
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201501
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201412
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201411
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201410
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201409
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201408
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201407
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201406
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201404
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201403
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201402
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201401
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201312
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201311
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201310
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201309
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201308
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201307
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201306
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201305
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201303
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201302
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201301
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201212
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201211
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201210
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201209
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201208
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201207
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201206
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201205
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201204
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201202
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201111
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201110
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201109
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201108
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201107
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201106
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201105
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201104
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201103
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201101
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201009
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201008
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201007
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201006
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201005_v2
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201004
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201003
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201002
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_201001
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_200912
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_200911
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_200910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_200909
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_200908
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ar_200907
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com