2.10 Not For Collectors Only

Chapter 2 – Facts and Figures

2.10 Not For Collectors Only – Comparative Data and Hard Facts
















Not Collectors Only – Comparative Data and Hard Facts

Comparing Centaures with 19th Century Colt 1860 Armies

Qualitative Comments on Centaures Compared to Italian Colt 1860 Armies

Comparing Centaures to 2nd Generation Colt 1860 Armies

Comparison of the Barrel Assembly

Point of Aim vs. Point of Impact

Comparison of Frame and Grip

Heavy Duty Centaure Mainspring

Comparison of Cylinder Assembly

The Difference is in the Details




Comparing Centaures with 19th Century Colt 1860 Armies


Thanks to the work of gunsmith FROCS #4 Rifle from the U.S.A. and master gunsmith and conversion artist FROCS #50 Luger Master from Austria we can share with you some of their current day evaluations.We apologize in advance if  you perceive all this comparative data and tables a bit on the dry side. A couple of initiates asked for it, however.

Overall measurements and dimensions: Similar to original Colts except for the S curves of the barrel lug and the bullet loading slot.

Outside fitting: It is nice on the Centaures but not as good as we are led to believe by the 1971 Stammel and 1973 Modrau paper in German gun journal Deutsches Waffen-Journal (DWJ). Better than Italians of current production in a number of areas, however.


Comparative Key Data


19th Century Colt 1860 Army

Italian Colt 1860 Replicas/2nd/3rd Gen. Colt Armies

Chamber vs. rifling groove dia inch

Adjusted at .446″ for optimal accuracy

Rifling grooves ca. .451″

Rifling grooves ca. .451″

Bottomed arbor



Usually too short

Arbor contour

Early version period, then tapered or square ended w/o separate grease groove



Rifling of barrel

Shallow, modern

Deep, period

Deep, period

Gas leakage





Forged, welded from 2 parts and bent over ‚til 1970; then cast

Forged, one piece


Frame-barrel transition

„Centaure step“

Period w/o step

Period w/o step


Barrel: Centaure pins and the depths of the hole for the arbor in the barrel are different. The distinct S curve on the side of the barrel is sharper-edged, at the same time flatter curved on the Centaures compared to 19th century Colt 1860 Armies.

Screws: They are very similar to originals and almost fit. A bit smaller, Centaure 4.0 mm vs. 1st generation 4.2 mm. Thread is similar, heads are a mite smaller. Not properly fitted and often too short.

Frame recess: Centaures too generous, hammer wobbly (too small, frame recess too big). Mechanical dimensions of hammer notches including safety notch are different.

Hammers: 1st generation Colts have fatter hammers with a pronounced S-contour of the spur compared to steep one of the Centaure, see pictures below. For further details regarding the evolution of the Centaure hammer spur check chapter


D:\FAUL RNMA 1V 2SV #4079 Nedbal-Richards-Conversion\1-FIL08011.JPG

2.10_1 1860 hammers: “Fat” hammer of Uberti (left) and Colt (right) with “S” contoured spur; Centaure spur is steep and narrow (3rd variation), longer hand of Centaure (center)


Please take notice:

At the time when Luger Master did this comparison of these three hammers fitted to Uberti, Centaure and the 19th century Colt 1860 Army he was in the middle of converting Centaure RNMA 1st variation 2nd sub-variation #4079 into a Richards (R1) conversion of .44 Colt cal. Of course, RNMA #4079 was fitted with a hammer with 3rd version hammer spur.

If an early production Centaure would have been subject of the conversion project a 1st version hammer spur was fitted. That variant has the historically correct S contour, see chapter


Hands: Centaure measurements are different, smaller pins, narrower, not compatible with 19th century Colts. Well heat treated.

Cam area: Surface of Centaure comparatively rough,

Bolt: Can be made to fit original, well heat treated.

Bolt/trigger spring: Centaure is different (longer, thicker and stronger) but can be made to fit original. Well heat treated.

Wedge: Originals are serial numbered, Centaures are not. Thinner compared to 1st generation but can be used for original. Well heat treated.

Trigger: Centaure hole not exact, quality comparable to Italians. The curve does not correspond to original.

Grip: Centaures have a good fit to metal, good quality wood is used in their making. The backstrap fits original but workmanship does not meet standard set by 1st generation.

Triggerguard: Centaure fits original but workmanship leaves something to be desired.

Arbor: Some Centaures show sloppy fit. The pin is from above through the treads. The hole for the wedge is not properly cut (too much heat treatment?). The dimensions are similar to originals but sloppy, the threads are similar. Early pistols have the square ended bottomed arbor like the original. Most later ones feature a slightly tapered arbor end fitting.

Cylinder: Centaure has a smaller diameter of the rear segment, the locking notches are cut deeper and wider, ratchets are similar to originals.

Bullet loading slot: Centaure is differently contoured compared to the 1st generation Colts. The frame-to-barrel transition of both the 1st and 2nd generation Colts is one continuous line, the Belgian features the distinct Centaure Step.


D:\FAUL RNMA 1V 2SV #4079 Nedbal-Richards-Conversion\1-FIL22495.JPG

2.10_2 Comparing Centaure (top) to 19th century Richards (bottom): Note difference in “S“-curve of barrel lug and bullet loading slot


D:\FAUL RNMA 1V 2SV #4079 Nedbal-Richards-Conversion\1-FIL06154.JPG

2.10_3 Typical Centaure step



Qualitative Comments on Centaures Compared to Italian Colt 1860 Armies


Material used is two to three times better than Italians: Frame, parts, screws are properly hardened. The barrel is very well heat treated. Centaures feature modern, shallow rifling.

Contours and measurements: Are not more exact than today’s Italian replicas. The Italians might have copied the Belgians.

Internal Quality: Tolerances are identical to slightly inferior compared to current but better than contemporary production Italians.



Comparing Centaures to 2nd Generation Colt 1860 Armies


Today many shooters and collectors alike consider both Centaures and 2nd gen. Colt 1860 Armies premium cap & ballers of the newly made Colt 1960 Army pattern revolvers. Hence, comparing measurements and technical features of them seems prudent.

To assess these differences two (2) Centaures of

# Early 1960 making Civilian 1st variation #C418: Round 3-screw frame, rebated cylinder, carbon steel, traditional finish, and

# Late 1972 production, namely Regular New Model Army (RNMA) 7th variation #12307: 3-screw frame with notches to attach a shoulder stock, fluted cylinder, stainless steel,

were compared to a

# 1980 production 2nd generation Colt Army 1860 #207514: 4-screw frame with notches for the attachment of a shoulder stock, fluted cylinder, carbon steel, traditional finish. The three revolvers of this comparison

The three (3) revolvers were disassembled, visually compared and the parts measured. Measurements are in mm/inch unless otherwise stated, see them pictured below.


D:\Colt vs. Centaure\1-FIL31457.JPG

2.10_4 Centaures RNMA 7th variaton #12307 from 1972 (top), Civilian 1st variation #C418 from 1960 (center) vs. 2nd gen. Colt 1860 #207514 from 1980 (bottom)

Comparison of the Barrel Assembly

Maker/Serial Number

Colt #207514

Centaure #C418

Centaure #12307

OAL mm/inch




Dia. at muzzle mm/inch








Rifling groove dia. inch




Nr. of grooves in bore




Height of front sight








Front sight over bore‘ centerline mm/inch







Wedge L x W x T


27,10 x 13,40 x 3,40

1.066 x .528 x .134

27,10 x 14,10 x 3,40

1.066 x .555 x .134

27,30 x 14,10 x 3,20

1.075 x .555 x .126


D:\Colt vs. Centaure\1-P1000257.JPG

2.10_5 From left comparison of muzzles Colt vs. Centaures: Note difference in crowning


D:\Colt vs. Centaure\1-P1000260.JPG

2.10_6 From left top view comparison of wedges Colt vs. Centaures


D:\Colt vs. Centaure\1-P1000259.JPG

2.10_7 From left bottom view comparison of wedges Colt vs. Centaures: Colt is stamped with serial number

Point of Impact vs Point of Aim


The Belgians designed and manufactured their Centaures to be reliable, accurate and long-lasting shooting irons, not display pistols. Hence, they were concerned about the guns being able to hit what a person was aiming at. They shoot low or to point of aim, whereas 2nd and 3rd generation Colts and Italian clones always shoot high like the originals from the 19th century.