2.2 The Coppell Classification

Chapter 2 – Facts and Figures

2.2 The Coppell Classification













The Coppell Classification

Models, Variations, Sub-variations and What?

The Coppell Classification

Include Hidden and Secondary Parameters?


Variations and Sub-Variations





Models, Variations, Sub-Variations and What?


As you will have noted Fabriques d‘Armes Unies de Liège (F.A.U.L.) produced their Centaures in a great number of variations of the basic Colt M1860 Army design, even more than the Colt factory did back then during the 19th century.

During the early days of our favorite Belgian percussion revolvers the aspirations of Bill Edwards and Sig Shore seem to having been to provide their clients in the U.S. market with Centaures of all major M1860 models documented. But they were also driven by the ambitions to add proprietary models. From ca. 1970 another push for new variants has been noted. It was most probably initiated by manager Peter Harlos of German distributor and dealer of F.A.U.L. by the name Bärbel Harlos of Schwäbisch Hall. Hence, at the Belgian factory constituents of the „1960 NEW MODEL ARMY“ were now combined in ways old Sam would not have dreamt of. This effort coincided with the business objective of the F.A.U.L. management to use up existing inventories of parts.


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FROCS #9 Mullie the Bullie always complaining „What a confusing story“; Mullie sure has a point there!


It is this output of the many additional variants of the Centaures between 1959 and 1973 that attracts today’s collectors‘ community on both sides of the Atlantic. However, this situation also calls for some structuring of the major characteristics of the New Model Armies (NMAs) to establish a common “Centaure language“.



The Coppell Classification


By now you are getting a feeling of the extent of the major and minor visibly different Centaure variants. And we did not even start looking at details regarding factory markings or factory engravings and the like.

Since nobody has come up with another proposal, I herewith suggest the following easy to use classification system of distinct and visible Centaure features. I also propose to call it the Coppell Classification. Coppell in Texas was the place where Panhandle Paden and I were sorting this out during February of 2008.

  • Major differences = model: Like different barrel lengths, cylinder and frame features,
  • Intermediate differences = variations: Of the models like finishes, cylinder engravings, type of centaur logo, alloys used, etc.,
  • Minor differences = sub-variations: Of the variations like toes or no toes on buttstraps, styles of front sights, etc.

This way we are ending up with five (5) models of the Centaure, plus their variations and sub-variations as applicable.

Include „Hidden“ Parameters?


During the introductory session on this subject at the 1st Meeting of the FROCS in Hofheim/Germany during July 2010 all participants agreed this classification is key to a better understanding of the complexity; but, also desirability of certain models and to establish binding parameters defining the many variants of the Centaures.


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Poster of the 1st Annual Meeting of the FROCS in 2010: Only this German language version was published


Some participants proposed to amend the classification by additional further, possibly hidden and/or other secondary parameters like versions of the arbors or hammer spurs, number of threads of screws or nipples installed, number of grooves and lands in the bores of the barrels, welded/bend-over vs. cast back straps, vertical vs. horizontal arbor lock pins, variations of the barrel markings, size or type of fonts used in the factory marks, or even modifications in the stamps applied by the Liège Proof House. After some discussion such amendments to the classification system were rejected by the attendants. Nonetheless the meeting noted the logic of the Coppell Classification has room for further parameters if ever needed. For the time being it was agreed to leave such a „scholarly“ approach to the more demanding collectors.

You will have noted, however that a number of these hidden parameters were addressed and researched some since 2010, see amended and updated chapter 2.1. for example. Subject contents have been circulated by email through the network of the FROCS & Centaure Aficionados usually after a peers‘ review. As for a „vehicle“ for this type of communications the FROCS News was introduced in 2018.



Between 1959 and 1973 the original New Model Army (NMA) project has evolved or spread out into five (5) basic models

  • 1st Model: Regular New Model Army aka RNMA (details in chapter 3.2),
  • 2nd Model: Civilian Model (details in chapter 3.3),
  • 3rd Model: Cavalry aka Wade Hampton Model (details in chapter 3.4),
  • 4th Model: Marshal Model (details in chapter 3.5),
  • 5th Model: Pocket Army Model (details in chapter 3.6).

In 2009 the FROCS Special or Pocket Army 4th variation was added as a custom commemorative for the global FROCS community (details in chapter 3.7).

During their life cycle the five models underwent further evolution with more or less distinct external or internal changes, respectively. They are addressed in the next level of differentiation of the models termed

Variations and Sub-Variations


You will be surprised by the number of variations we have to recognize for some of the models:

  • Regular New Model Army: Seven (7) variations including three (3) factory engraved variants,
  • Civilian Model: Two (2) variations,
  • Cavalry aka Wade Hampton Model: Two (2) variations,
  • Marshal Model: Two (2) variations including factory one (1) factory engraved variant,
  • Pocket Army Model: Three (3) variations plus the custom commemorative FROCS Special as a 4th variation.

For some of these variations additional clusters of Centaures were identified with further minor common characteristics or modifications. For a better understanding we subsumed this subject under the heading Sub-Variations.





Before we dwell upon the subject in the next chapters a caveat is in order here: Consecutive numbers of models, variations or sub-variations of New Model Armies (NMAs) are not (always) an indication of their years of production or launch in the market back then. Instead, they reflect the time of their first (re-) discovery and documentation in the survey of this website when Panhandle Paden and I started with the use of the Coppell Classification in early 2008.


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Mullie the Bullie is finally seeing the light!


Just like you, esteemed Centaure shooter, collector, reenactor or student, our always complaining pard Mullie the Bullie is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. And it is not the train coming at him.


Updated March 20, 2024

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