Skip to main content

Remington Timeline: 1875 - Remington Guns of the Wild West

Remington Timeline: 1875 - Remington Guns of the Wild West

If our Civil War had been traumatic, then the immediate aftermath was equally so. While the fabric of the nation had avoided being torn in two, it was badly tattered on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. Besides the physical damage of the war, the former social and property structure of the South was totally demolished. And, while victorious, the North was facing an economic disaster.

The cost of the war had escalated the national debt to a then-astronomical three billion dollars. Countless factories that had tooled up for the war effort now had to convert their production lines to civilian products and to find markets for those products.

This need also applied to E. Remington & Sons, but in a different manner. Its basic business, and commitment, for the future was to produce firearms. And, although almost all Remington contracts for supplying the military were terminated at the war's conclusion, that commitment wasn't to change. Remington now faced a desperate need to find other markets for its arms production, either civilian or military. That wasn't going to be easy, since a number of other armsmakers faced the same need and were now direct competitors.

Remington firearms played a vital role in the Wild West. (Courtesy Remington Art Collection)


The most immediate opportunities seemed to be in the West for civilian arms and overseas for military types. Remington pursued both, with surprisingly greater success at the latter. By the end of the war, the number of states had reached thirty-six and extended all the way to the Pacific Ocean.


Including eleven remaining territories, the nation's borders were then the same as those of today's contiguous forty-eight states. However, in a stroke of good fortune equal to that of the Louisiana Purchase, the nation's last, huge land acquisition was about to occur. Russia, believing that the fur-producing resources of its Alaskan territory had been "tapped out," and fearing loss of its defenseless province to Great Britain, offered it to the United States. In what was primarily a gesture of good will, we accepted this seemingly remote wilderness in 1867 for an astonishing bargain of $7,200,000.

remington anniversary

Despite this lucky acquisition, the times were not easy. A European-triggered financial panic in 1873 threw the nation into a severe economic depression. It was in this atmosphere that E. Remington & Sons struggled to build a civilian market among consumers who had little or no extra money.

Nevertheless, the postwar decades produced a number of historically significant Remington firearms that included a broad line of handguns, the famous Hepburn-designed target rifles, and the internationally marketed Rolling Block military rifles. The period also saw the early beginnings of two other Remington product lines that were to become the ultimate cornerstone of the company's growth and success in the 20th century — repeating rifles and shotguns.


William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody was an American hero in 1873 when E. Remington & Sons presented him with this engraved rolling block rifle.

The favorable government response to the designs of Fordyce Beals and William Elliot had led to sales of over 133,000 revolvers of various types to the military during the Civil War. Now, with the frontier atmosphere of the Great Westward Movement creating a need for personal protection weaponry, Remington first attempted to exploit the civilian market with a line of percussion revolvers.

However, the future of slow-loading percussion guns was already doomed by the development of self-contained cartridge ammunition and related new designs for cartridge guns. As a result, a far greater portion of Remington production efforts during the final years of the 1860s was spent converting existing percussion revolvers to cartridge versions. Unfortunately, later Remington-originated cartridge revolvers such as the Model 1875 Army Revolver never attracted sufficient sales among either military or civilian markets to make Remington a major player in this field.


New Remington guns that enhanced the company's reputation, if not its profits, during this period were the famous Remington-Hepburn sporting and target rifles. The performance of these rifles made them key players during the so-called "Golden Age of Single-Shot Rifles" of the 1870s and 1880s. One of the first won the famous Creedmoor match against the Irish team in 1874. The Remington-Hepburn No. 3 rifles in various forms became the Cadillac of highly accurate, precision-shooting rifles during this period. However, these single-shot models were not "everyman's" guns and total sales weren't great enough to stem Remington's looming economic problems of the 1880s.

This classic painting of frontier hunters depicts "flagging" for antelope — a tactic that hunters still employ today. (Courtesy Remington Art Collection)

Two other developments at the time had little effect on immediate Remington fortunes but became the seeds of what would ultimately grow into some of Remington's greatest sales successes of the 20th century.

Remington rolling block rifles were an Army standard back in the days when Custer made his Black Hills Expedition in August 1874.

The introduction of the Remington-Whitmore double-barrel shotgun in 1873 was the company's first venture into shotguns for the nation's growing fascination with bird hunting and, later, clay target shooting. Then, in 1878, a somewhat itinerant gun designer, James Lee, invented the first truly workable bolt-action magazine-fed rifle. Subsequent Remington-Lee Magazine Rifles, both military and sporting models, were to become the basis for the British and American military rifles of World War I and Remington bolt-action sporters well into the middle of this century.

remington anniversary timelime

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Guns & Ammo TV: Cameras Don

Guns & Ammo TV: Cameras Don't Lie: 9mm vs .45 ACP

The age-old question, 9mm vs .45 ACP. For some, this has been asked and answered already. For others, the debate goes on. In this segment of “Cameras Don't Lie,” competitive shooters Patrick Sweeney and Jim Tarr head to the range to put the vaunted loads on record, and then consider the footage.

Trijicon

Trijicon's New Specialized Reflex Optics (SRO)

The Trijicon SRO is specifically designed for pistol use. The wide field of view and clean, crisp dot makes it easy for users to find and track the dot in both target and competitive shooting applications.

Air Gun Reviews: Why Shoot Airsoft?

Air Gun Reviews: Why Shoot Airsoft?

In this Guns & Ammo TV segment, Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr discuss the benefits of airsoft training for uniformed professionals and armed citizens alike.

Pocket-Pistol Carry Tips and Tricks

Pocket-Pistol Carry Tips and Tricks

Pocket carry, as a method of concealed carry for a defensive firearm, can be a practical option when done right. This is especially true during the colder months when heavy outer garments can obstruct access to a traditional waistline holster. Former U.S. Navy SEAL Jeff Gonzales, president of Trident Concepts, joins G&A contributor Kimberly Heath-Chudwin to discuss guns, training and gear, including Blackhawk's TecGrip holster that can make pocket carry more successful.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The Browning X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed Long Range McMillan is arguably the best production-grade precision hunting rifle available.Browning X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed Long Range McMillan Review Rifles

Browning X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed Long Range McMillan Review

Joseph von Benedikt - March 25, 2019

The Browning X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed Long Range McMillan is arguably the best...

Don't mortgage the homestead to get into PRS, this is what's available from the likes of Mossberg, Tikka, Savage, Howa, Bergara, Weatherby and Remington.Starter Rifles for Under $1000 Rifles

Starter Rifles for Under $1000

Aaron Carter - May 09, 2019

Don't mortgage the homestead to get into PRS, this is what's available from the likes of...

A guide on how to pair .223 and 5.56 NATO rifle barrel twist rates with bullet weights. Conventional wisdom says slower twist rates wouldn't properly-stabilize a heavy bullet. On the other hand, faster rates could over-stabilize lighter bullets. This is correct in theory, however, modern ballisticians have all but debunked the over-stabilization theory. All things being equal, it is better to have too much twist than not enough.Pairing Barrel Twist Rates with Bullets for .223 and 5.56 NATO How-To

Pairing Barrel Twist Rates with Bullets for .223 and 5.56 NATO

Keith Wood - November 17, 2018

A guide on how to pair .223 and 5.56 NATO rifle barrel twist rates with bullet weights....

Springfield Armory's SAINT Edge Pistol may be the best AR pistol on the market.Springfield Armory SAINT Edge Pistol Review Handguns

Springfield Armory SAINT Edge Pistol Review

James Tarr - April 17, 2019

Springfield Armory's SAINT Edge Pistol may be the best AR pistol on the market.

See More Trending Articles

More Historical

His friends called him “Fudd,” a name Donald Rollo embraced during high school in Manito, Illinois.Before & After: Restoring A Veteran's Memory Historical

Before & After: Restoring A Veteran's Memory

Eric R. Poole - November 11, 2020

His friends called him 'Fudd, ' a name Donald Rollo embraced during high school in...

Marlin has been in the lever-­action business since 1881, but their lever-actions are only a partial picture of Marlin's heritage. In it's 150 years of continuous production, Marlin has manufactured nearly every type of firearm.Celebrating 150 Years of Marlin Firearms Historical

Celebrating 150 Years of Marlin Firearms

Craig Boddington - November 19, 2020

Marlin has been in the lever-­action business since 1881, but their lever-actions are only a...

The Dardick revolver is one of the more bizarre firearms to come out of the mid-­20th century. Despite its unusual and ungainly appearance, it's not that uncomfortable in the hand.The Dardick Revolver Handguns

The Dardick Revolver

Garry James - March 18, 2019

The Dardick revolver is one of the more bizarre firearms to come out of the mid-­20th century....

No matter how you arrive, a visit to the Center of the West is a must for anyone traveling through northwest Wyoming.Touring the Buffalo Bill Center of the West Historical

Touring the Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Eric R. Poole - October 02, 2019

No matter how you arrive, a visit to the Center of the West is a must for anyone traveling...

See More Historical

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now