3.6 Fifth or Pocket Army Models


Chapter 3 – Models & Variations of the Centaure

3.6 Fifth or Pocket Army Models










Fifth or Pocket Army Model


Common Characteristics of the Pocket Army Models

Pocket Army Models 1st Variation – Key Features

Pocket Army Models 2nd Variation – Key Features

Pocket Army Models 3rd Variation – Key Features

Pocket Army Models – Rational of Serial Numbering

Pocket Army Models – Pricing and Serial Number Ranges

Pocket Army Models – FAQ







Many 1860 Armies carried during the Civil War and more often thereafter were modified by their owners or gunsmiths on the frontier with the loading lever removed and barrels cut off to a comfortable length between 2” and 4” to carry as a back-up pistol. Usually, the slot in the barrel lug that previously accommodated the loading lever was not plugged. A few of these pistols had dovetailed front sights fitted, others just a blade, a bead or post mounted on the barrel and quite a few had no front sight at all. No matter the sights or barrel length of these .44 cal. pocket artilleries they made impressive and functional Avenging Angel aka Natchez Special type revolvers.


D:\Colt 1860 Army Snubbies\1-FIL08044.JPG

3.6.1_1 Original Colt 1860 Avenging Angel nickel plated from the 1860s


A Centaure Pocket Army Model has been haunting me since April 2008 when U.S. FROCS Chain-Fire presented an ad of Centennial Arms Corp. of Chicago from the early 1960s. Among other New Model Armies (NMAs) among others this ad featured such a F.A.U.L. made 1960 NEW MODEL ARMY“ percussion revolver for the first time. In a nutshell it was a Centaure snubby with full size frame, grip and .44 cal. 6 shot cylinder. Offered as a „special-order only“ gun.


D:\Ads Centennial Arms Corp\1-Centennial Ad Lg.jpg

3.6.1_2 Centennial Arms ad from the early 1860s featuring „Special-Order Percussion Sheriffs, our NMA Civilian, fluted“, 4″ barrel“ Centaure, bottom center


Sometime later further information became available. The snubby was said to be modelled after the rare .36 cal. 5 shot cylinder pocket size frame Colt 1862 Police in what some call Trapper or Avenging Angel design. Like this Trapper this Belgian came with a separate heavy duty brass plunger instead of the integrated loading lever as we know from the other NMAs. By February 2010 another advertisement was found of this Belgian Pocket Army. It explained with „4” barrel on regular or Civilian frame”. An even further ad dubbed the Pocket Army Sheriff’s Model.

I suggest the use of the name 5th Model or Pocket Army.

Please, do not get carried away by the prices of Centaures quoted by the Centennial Arms Corp. ads and flyers of the 1960s. My heart is bleeding too and I am chiming in with you “If I could turn back time” (quote from Cher).



Common Characteristics of the Pocket Army Models



The few facts we could gather on this Pocket Army Model were collected from studying these old ads of Centennial Arms Corp. They were main distributor and North American dealer back in the days of Fabriques d‘Armes Unies de Liège (F.A.U.L.), maker of the Centaure percussion revolvers. Important new information was provided by Leslie Field and Mitch Shore on occasion of a visit to Shore Galleries in Lincolnwood in February of 2010.

The hard facts presented below are the result of measuring, photographing, disassembly and reassembly again of the five (5) documented Pocket Army Models per August 2022 in the survey of the Centaure & FROCS website plus one possible from August 2023. Therefore, consider our information as preliminary research assumptions only.



4″, without integrated loading lever, heavy duty brass made loading rod supplied as a loading tool


rampant centaur

Barrel marking


Front sight





„traditional“ blue and color casehardened (b cch)


1st version


Produced on special-order only. No visible serial numbers. Very rare, found in the U.S.A. only.



During this February 2010 visit to Shore Galleries (

I was privileged to take a closer look at the outstanding Shore Collection of early New Model Armies (NMAs) in Lincolnwood, IL, suburb of Chicago. Among others there were three of these rare Pocket Armies, pictured below. They were all what the Centaure collectors today call 2nd variations. i.e. fluted cylinders, silver plated triggerguard and backstrap, varnished grips.


D:\#PA4 Pocket Army 2V MS USA\1-P1020665.JPG

3.6.2_1 The first Centaure Pocket Army at Shore Galleries in February 2010 I laid my hands on: Note brilliant traditional finish like on Civilian Models, fluted cylinder, silver plated grip frame, varnished grip …


The 4” barrels are not regular production Centaure barrels. Instead, they were specially manufactured without slots for the loading lever. Barrel-lugs are contoured with a drastic, no-nonsense 90° angle from the bore line. That is the way a gunsmith on the frontier could have chosen it back then. It makes for a belly gun with a very distinctive, almost brutal look.


D:\#PA4 Pocket Army 2V MS USA\1-P1020667.JPG

3.6.2_ 2 … serial numbers not visible: Note rampant centaur logo, „guiding hole“ for the loading rod in barrel lug …


This is in contrast to the pocket-sized 3rd generation Colt 1862 Police or Italian short-barrelled Army clones without loading lever pictured in this chapter. These replicas were launched at least two decades after the Centaure Pocket Army made its appearance to the U.S. market.


D:\#PA4 Pocket Army 2V MS USA\1-P1020666.JPG

3.6.2_3 … post type front sight, barrel marking „1960 NEW MODEL ARMY“


D:\FAUL FROCS Special #FS11477\1-FIL34177-001.JPG

3.6.2_4 Comparing .44 cal. „Pocket Army class“ Karl Nedbal made FROCS Special top to tiny 3rd gen. Colt 1862 Police aka Trapper in .36 cal.


The $$$$$ question: Why introduced Centennial Arms Corporation the Centaure Pocket Army during the early 1960s in the first place?

Here is my thinking which is always dangerous. Quick draw competitions with short-barrelled Colt Single Action Armies loaded with wax bullets or blanks were a hot game during the late 1950s and well into the 1960s. Celebrities like Clint Eastwood, Sammy Davis Jr. and a few others were into quick draw action stuff.



3.6.2_5 Centennial Arms Corp. 1961 tin-plate sign featuring 3” barrel Colt SAA aka Sheriff’s Model


According to the above 1961 ad Centennial Arms Corporation offered genuine Colt 1873 SAAs with 3” barrel, without loading lever dubbed Sheriff’s Model .45 as an exclusive. Mitch Shore of Shore Galleries advises that this was the first ever Colt 1873 Single Action Army made as a Commemorative issue!