CVA Cap and Ball Revolver Kit

I found this gun for sale on a table at a local gun club swap meet for thirty dollars. It is a Connecticut Valley Arms brass framed Colt 1860 Cap & Ball Revolver made by ASM(Armi San Marco). The remains of an estate, the revolver had been assembled from a kit but was unfinished. The steel parts still showed heavy tool marks from the factory and were still in the "white".

Since I was pretty certain that just the cylinder itself was worth thirty dollars, I didn't even try to haggle.

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The revolver appeared to be unfired although it appeared that the previous owner may have fired some caps and certainly had dry fired it which left the nipples somewhat the worse for wear.

The wooden grip had been painted with a heavy coat of spar varnish.

image of assembled CVA 1860 black powder revolver.

Revolver after being refinished.

Most of the brass parts were smoothed out and it appears that the CVA emblem on the brass receiver above the trigger guard had been ground off.

CVA Model Colt 1860
Caliber 44
Capacity 6 shot
Action Single Action Cap & Ball Revolver
Sights Rear sight is notched hammer, Blade front sight
Barrel Length (inches) 8.0
OAL (inches) 13.9
Weight (oz) 42

Projectile 0.451 inch soft lead ball or conical.

Finishing the Kit

I finished the gun over the course of several days. The first step to finishing the work on the gun was taking it apart.

The wedge was a very tight fit, it had been hammered in place and peened somewhat. I used a brass punch to remove it. Since the gun appeared functional I did not bother to take apart the trigger assembly. All parts were put in a large ziploc bag so that no screws or other small parts went missing.

Field stripped CVA 1860 black powder revolver.

I was able to get out the worst of the tool marks from the barrel by hand sanding using 320 grit, then 400 and 500 grit. Since I did not wish to damage the engraving on the cylinder I only sanded it lightly with 500 grit paper to remove any burrs.


The muzzle of the barrel had been left cut to length at the factory leading distinctive saw marks at the end of the barrel. I used a fine grit carbide knife sharpening stone to remove them by holding the stone flat against the muzzle and moving the stone in a circular motion. The muzzle was crowned by using a dremel tool with a 1/2 inch diameter convex grinding stone at slow speed and a knife sharpening stone to round the outer edges.

I used a knife sharpening stone to smooth out the flat parts of the wedge, the hammer and the loading lever. The steel parts were sanded down with 400 grit and then 500 grit sand paper.

Bluing Process

Washed parts with detergent in water and dried them.

Wearing latex gloves to protect against the toxic chemicals on my hands and to prevent oils from the skin from being deposited on the metal.

91 percent Isopropyl alcohol was applied with cotton swabs to degrease the parts before bluing.

I used a cold blue applied with cotton swabs, for one piece at a time. Rinsed with cold water after a minute. Dried the part and buff with very fine steel wool. Two to three applications were necessary to get an even color.

Each part was wiped with gun oil after it had dried.

CVA revolvers manufactured by Armi San Marco (ASM) were first imported in 1981. ASM was later purchased by American Western Arms in 2000, the company ceased production of Cap and Ball Revolvers in same year.

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