New Revolvers & Worthwhile Organizations

The news for the spring is sixguns and rumors of sixguns! The new sixgun is actually a fivegun, the British designed Adams revolver, custom crafted by Swiss master gunsmith Andy Baumkircher. The Adams is available in .36 caliber, takes a .375 ball and can be fired double or single action.

Based on the original 1851 Patent of Robert Adams, modified and improved by Frederick Beaumont and James Kerr and manufactured by the London Armoury Co., the Adams had surpassed the Colt in popularity in Britain by the late 1850s. Most of the the British made Adams guns were .50 or .44 caliber, but the US government purchased 100 revolvers in .36 caliber from London Armoury in 1857 and then another 500 from the Massachusetts Arms Company, which was licensed to produce the Adams in America. The original 100 guns were issued to the regular army, but the rest remained in storage until they were issued at the outbreak of the Civil War. Some London Armoury Adams revolvers were purchased from agents and gun dealers just prior to and during the war by individual states and both Union and Confederate governments.

There are a number of variations of the Adams. Baumkircher's reproduction is patterned after the American made Massachusetts Arms Company's version, with the improved Kerr side-loading lever. Six of these custom handguns are currently in use by target shooters in Europe and Baumkircher's American agent, Tom Hollinburger of Phoenix, AZ, reports that the gun is capable of "10-ring accuracy" on the International 25 yard muzzle loading revolver target, which translates into x-ring accuracy on the standard American 25 yard handgun target.

Hand-made craftsmanship comes at a price, however, and I don't think we'll see many of the new Adams guns in the holsters of reenactor officers or cavalrymen. Serious target shooters may well, however, be willing to shell out the $2,800 (which may fluctuate due to the Swiss franc-US dollar exchange rates) price for an Adams and endure the one year wait in order to own what is probably the ultimate in black powder revolver accuracy. The Baumkircher Adams is not yet N-SSA approved, but I don't think that will be much of a problem. Mayhap we'll see a sample arriving for the Small Arms Committee to evaluate at the Spring Nationals. For further information contact Tom Hollnburger at For a picture of the Adams go to Baumkircher's website at Baumkircher's

The rumored sixgun is the Starr. We're still waiting for something definitive on the availability date as well as the price of the new Starr single and double action revolvers from Pietta. Although information floating around the internet seems to indicate we won't see a reproduction Starr until 1999, the latest word from Pietta is that the Starrs will be in this country by September, so we may see them at the Fall Nationals.

The New Jersey Civil War Heritage Association (NJCWHA) is up and running with a $16,000 preservation grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission. The Association is currently conducting a study to determine the best long term methods to preserve and protect the state's Civil War flags and documents, and the grant money will be dedicated to preserving the more than 16,400 Civil War documents in the state Archives.

At present, Association volunteers are classifying and conserving a large number of original vouchers and supply orders in the archives. Although time constraints prohibit me from assisting in this project, I have seen several interesting documents which have come to light as a result of the project. They include orders for flags and vouchers to workmen directed to "straighten and bore" musket barrels. The state was involved in the conversion and rifling of smoothbore muskets during the war, and the vouchers identify the contractors involved in this process.

The NJCWHA will hold its first annual meeting at 1:00 PM on March 18, 1998 at the New Jersey State Museum auditorium in Trenton. The meeting will feature reports from State Archivist Karl J. Niederer on the Association's archival preservation project and Curator Susan Finkel of the NJ State Museum on the Civil War regimental flag restoration project. NJ Adjutant General Paul Glazer will address the importance of the NJCWHA's role in preserving the state's Civil War Heritage.

Keynote speaker Dr. David Martin, noted author of Gettysburg, July 1, will deliver a slide lecture on New Jersey's Civil War colors, affording participants their first opportunity to view the state's more than 140 battle banners since 1987, when the flags were placed in storage to avoid further deterioration.

For further information on the NJCWHA and/or the annual meeting, contact the NJCWHA, at PO Box 6202, Parsippany, NJ 07054 or call the organization's information line at 1-888-927-3524 or NJCWHA president Charles Webster at 609-394-1965. Membership in this worthwhile body is $20 a year.

Another New Jersey project worth mentioning is the National Guard and Militia Museum of New Jersey. Founded in 1980, the museum, which has as its goal "to portray the citizen-soldiers of New Jersey and explain the importance of their contributions to the State and nation," has made some significant strides towards achieving that goal of late.

Museum holdings include an 800 square foot classroom/display area with weapons displays covering the period from the Civil War to the present, including a rifle musket carried by William H. Reid, a New Jersey resident who served in the 26th United States Colored Infantry. A 2,300 square foot garage display area holds a collection of vehicles and weapons from World War I to the present. CWO Judith McCabe, the current curator, advised me that the museum is expanding its library, which already contains a full set of the Civil War Official Records.

The National Guard and Militia Museum depends on the public for donations or loans of artifacts and memorabilia and is staffed by volunteers. Annual Memberships are priced at $5 for individuals, $20 for a family and $1500 for corporations. Individual life memberships are also available at a cost of $250. To join in this effort, send your name, address and dues to: NGMMNJ, DMAVA, ATTN: Ellen Fruscione, Eggert Crossing Road, CN 340, Trenton, NJ 08625-0340.

The National Guard and Militia Museum of New Jersey is located in Building #66 at the National Guard Training Center in Sea Girt, NJ. Call for information on visiting hours. The Museum's mailing address is PO Box 277, Sea Girt, NJ 08750. (tel. 732-974-5966, and its email address is

1998 by Joe Bilby

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