The Rogers and Spencer is considered one of the best revolvers of the Civil War era, and it is still very popular among target shooters. In this video I am comparing an original to a Pedersoli and to an Euroarms version. History, technical specs, disassembly, and lot of shooting, even some long range fun!
From the 1840s new models appeared on the revolver market alongside the Colts – the Remingtons, Spiller & Burr, Whitney, Le Mat, Cofer or the southern version of the Colt revolvers (Griswold and Gurnison, Leech & Rigdon, Dance & Brothers).
The Rogers & Spencer was one of the most promising challenger of the Colt dominancy, who came to the market after the end of Colt’s patent for the revolving mechanism. They were originally manufactured in Willowvale, NY about 1863-65. In January 1865, the United States government contracted with Rogers & Spencer for 5,000 of the solid frame pistols. Delivery on the contract was made too late for war service, so many original Rogers & Spencer revolvers are seen today in excellent, near mint condition.
The Rogers and Spencer Army Model Revolver was actually an improvement of earlier pistols produced by the firm – the Pettingill and Freeman revolvers. The Pettingills were produced in the late 1850’s and early 1860’s, and were double action revolvers. The Pettingills were ahead of their time, being designed as hammerless pistols, which were popular in the last decade of the 19th Century, but certainly too avant garde for Army purchasers. The Navy Model was a .34 caliber, of which less than 1,000 were produced. The Army Model was a .44 caliber, and only about 3,400 were produced in the early 1860’s. The Freeman Army Model Revolver was a solid frame .44 caliber pistol with a round 7 1/2″ barrel, of which 2,000 are believed to have been produced in 1863-64, and in appearance the Freeman resembles a Starr Revolver.
The Rogers & Spencer is an improved Freeman, with a less severe grip style, a heavier frame and a stronger octagon barrel of identical 7 1/2″ length. Interestingly, the Rogers & Spencer design is eligible for N-SSA competitions because the contract was consummated before the end of hostilities.