And if you search 'Google' 'Centennial Arms Corp' and look at the forums talking about these Belgium built Colts you'll note that they built a real nice Colt.
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September 24, 2013, 05:37 PM
I had a very nice Centennial in 1967. It came in a walnut case with accessories.
I shot it so much that everything on it that could be loose was loose.
September 24, 2013, 06:01 PM
A friend of mine has one of these and they are EXCELLENT quality.
September 24, 2013, 06:09 PM
These are very nice revolvers, with a pedigree going back to the 1800's. They are called Centare's in Europe and Centennials in the USA, as they hit the market here in 1960, 100 years after the 1860 came out.
They are regarded as the most precise copy of the Colts made, and there is some argument by collectors for the proposal that they were licensed by Colt to build these in the 1800's and that the modern production ones are a direct continuation of that production. There is an equal argument made by other collectors that this is nonsense, and that they are simply a modern (and very authentic) reproduction, and that claims of direct descent from Colt's licensing scheme is simply marketing. In any event, there is one thing that is generally agreed on and that is that they are definately closer to the originals than are the Italian copies (which include any of the modern Colt replicas, which are Italian in origin)
I've been collecting them for a while, and have about a dozen now. There are several different variations, and they are of interest to a growing group of collectors. In Eurpoe they are very keenly sought after. Prices reflect this, and any of them are worth more than any Italian copy of equal condition. They often approach Second Generation Colt's in price, and are considered better shooters. They are most definately a step better than the Signature Series "Colts" (which aren't).
They shoot well, although if you want to shoot one I suggest buying one that's already been shot, leaving pristine ones for collectors.
September 24, 2013, 06:11 PM
Centenniel's bring a premium on the on-line auctions too.
September 24, 2013, 07:44 PM
The early ones made in the 60's are very good quality the later ones are not as good quality.great shooters.
September 24, 2013, 07:46 PM
Check this out. Read the Statement Of Significance.
From "Henri Mangeot GUNMAKER TO THE COURT IN BRUSSELS" (I can't post a link to the site)
"In 1849, Samuel Colt had obtained a 14 year Belgian patent for his revolver. This patent also
covered the ratchet-wheel ramrod and Colt continued to prosecute every unauthorized
counterfeit or variants thereof. As a consequence, Mangeot and Comblain were under
pressure to avoid a trial."
From what I can find, Colt only licensed the 1849 and 1851 to Belgian gunmakers, not the 1860.
Are the screws and nipple threads metric or American?
September 24, 2013, 08:29 PM
This is the expert level website for these revolvers.
September 24, 2013, 08:47 PM
Yep, been to that site many times. I like Belgian guns a lot. I've just never seen a Colt-Belgian license for the 1860.
September 24, 2013, 09:06 PM
I'm in the collectors group that thinks the link between Sam Colt and these is pretty tenuous... but... there is a corporate connection between the original license holders for the earlier Colt designs and the manufacturer of the Centaure's, so... <sigh>.. folks will believe what they want to believe when it suits 'em to do so.
Here's a pretty decent one for sale, along with a typical letter from Germany describing it in the context of it's variation.
Connection or not, the couple of antique Colt "brevete" Belgian revolvers I have seen are not anywhere near true copies of Colts in appearance, though they would be quite functional and would infringe Colt patents if not made under license. AFAIK, the only Belgian "repros" that could be called that were made in the 1950's and 1960's and are no longer made or imported.
September 24, 2013, 10:46 PM
^^ The OP's question has nothing to do with Belgian brevete revolvers, and it's well established that the Centaure's and Centennials (same revolvers, marketed to Europe under one name and the USA under another) began production in 1960 and ended about 1972. Take a look at the link I provided, which is the definitive one for the manufacturer being discussed. It's interesting, and updated regularly.
September 24, 2013, 11:03 PM
I think the Belgian Centaures can stand by themselves, like the Ruger Old Army and the Santa Barbara Remingtons, without a questionable link to the original Colts. If the Belgians had a license agreement with Colt for the 1860, it should have surfaced by now.
September 25, 2013, 09:33 AM
^^ I'd agree 100%. Note that it's only recently that the claim has been made, it was not made when they were being manufactured. I think it's just internet marketing and grasping at straws. And I collect them, so I have every vested interest in having them be as valuable as possible.... ;-)
Now: Having shot and handled every sort of 1860 from originals, to cheap generic Navy Arms (probably ASM ones), to Pietta, to Uberti, to Second Gen Colts, and the Centaure's, the Centaure (or Centennial) is the pick of the litter for fit, finish, shootability, and trueness to the original Colt contours. Even there there are some small things that I can see from 10 feet away that distinguish it from an original. Still... they are excellent and a step up from any of the Italian ones.
September 25, 2013, 09:53 AM
Great information guys!!! I'm reading where this Belgium made revolver uses hard steels and closer tolerances than the Italians did or do currently, is this correct? And wasn't original Colt machinery sent over to Belgium during the 1800's and used by Centennial Arms to build this Colt? I also read where this revolver uses standard (American) threads, and parts, even nipples are hard to come by.
September 25, 2013, 09:58 AM
I've handled one but never owned or fired one. It seems that they all need some kind of work out of the box but that's no big deal. I'm guessing the threads are metric.
I recently sold a Santa Barbara Remington New Model. I fired it a few times - great gun, but so are the Ubertis and Piettas.
My favorites are the Signature Series Colts. Doesn't matter if they can "letter" from Colt or not (for $300). I think the 2nd Generation Colts are very authentic but I like the 3rd Generations.
If the Belgian Centaures are as well made as some of the Belgian originals I have (or had), they'll be around a long time, in great shape.
It's possible that they had some machinery once used for the 1851 Brevettes hidden away, but keep in mind, the 1860s were never made by the Belgians, so I'm guessing they'd have to start from scratch for the Centaures.
September 25, 2013, 10:03 AM
And, is $795.00 a good price for this Colt?
September 25, 2013, 10:09 AM
I guess if you want one bad enough but it seems pretty high even for that gun.
That's 3 decent Piettas or Ubertis.
September 25, 2013, 10:11 AM
I agree Pohill 100%!! My Signature Series 1860 Army is a great shooter!!! And I can get spare parts for her anywhere but this Colt may be a little tough to get parts for.
September 25, 2013, 10:41 AM
excellent website for these, very interesting
beautiful revolvers 'cept for the cylinder engraving, little perplexed by it, the non engraved looks good though
September 25, 2013, 11:45 AM
That Colt is more expensive then what I paid for my 2nd generation 'F' series '51 Navy or any of my 3rd Generation Signature Series Colts. Another thing is they said on those web-sites (The North South Skirmish Society)that only "Original" Colt parts will fit these revolvers. Another case for providence to the original line?
September 25, 2013, 12:25 PM
I think it depends on what parts they're talking about. I have originals - Colt 1851 .36, Whitney .36, Remington New Model .44 - and repro parts will fit with some fitting, but the screws and nipples are all American threads. So we're back to the Centaure question about the threads.
September 25, 2013, 02:40 PM
Here is some interesting information on these Colts;
Here is some additional info regarding the Centaur story and the story of the Colt Army M 1860 of licensed Belgian (Colt brevete) production.
Sam Colt came to Belgium in 1853 to negotiate licensing deals with local manufacturers/gun smiths. in April 1853 a licensing agreement could be reached with "Union d'Armes de Liège". This was a group of 7 Belgian gun manufacturers/gun smiths, namely Ancion & Co., Collette, Darrdoy, Drissur & Co., Hanquet, Petry and the Pirlot brothers. To symbolize their alliance with Colt their selected the sign of a centaur with a rifle, kind of close to the Colt sign. This centaur was placed as a trademark on the frame of their Colt Army license pistol.
Since 1853 Unie d'Armes manufactured various models of Colt C&B revolvers under that license. 1960 they re-started producing the Colt Army 1860 using the old blueprints and the old machinery. Instead of the original Colt barrel marking - ADDRESS COL. SAML COLT NEW YORK US AMERICA - the Centaur barrels sport the marking - 1960 NEW MODEL ARMY CENTENNIAL TRADE MARK. This was to document the re-start of production of the Colt Army 1860. As mentioned somewhere else various barrel lengths, steels, cylinder configurations of the 1860 Army were made.
The Centaur is obviously closer the the original as 2nd or 3rd generation Colts. They are identical to the original except for the modern steel used. It is estimated that up to some 60,000 model 1960 were made. Manufacturing was discontiued in the 1970s but the company stayed in business as a gun dealer. It is not known, however, if they are still around today.
Union d' Armes/Centaur is said to having been the only Colt licensed manufacturer of Colt spare parts in the World.
I don't know if I helping or hurting someone, but it would seem that if someone runs across one of these Colts they could be better informed as to what they are looking at.
I have done some searches recently on auction sites and it looks like these Centennials are being listed at a higher price then the 2nd Generation 'F" Series Colts, the black box ones, and the 3rd Generation Signature Series Colts. But their listed prices are about equal to or a little less than the initial 'C' Series Colts, the brown (wood grain) boxed Colts.
September 25, 2013, 03:30 PM
"1960 they re-started producing the Colt Army 1860 using the old blueprints and the old machinery"
This story has been repeated on the internet for years, but there has never been any primary reference material to draw on, or confirmation of to from any reliable source.
There were no such claims made when these were actually being manufactured and sold. It seems, with all due respect, to be a modern myth.
There IS, to be sure, a continuation of the same corporate chain of manufacturers as they expanded and contracted for 100 years in Belgium from the original licensed manufacturers and the firm that actually manufactuired the Centaure, so... like Colt's Second Generation, they are certainly made by a corporation that at one time held and used Colt patents under license to produce revolvers. That's an interesting enough bit of trivia to stand on it's own merits.
And that's from someone who loves these, collects them, and studies them in detail. There are frame contours that are not perfectly identical to the original Colts, or to any of the older Belgian Colt copies.
The nipples are SAE threads, BTW.
"I'm reading where this Belgium made revolver uses hard steels and closer tolerances than the Italians did or do currently, is this correct?"
Well, the arbor lengths are set correctly, which is a huge improvement. Timing, fit, finish, wood quality is all far better than any of the Italian repros.
"And wasn't original Colt machinery sent over to Belgium during the 1800's and used by Centennial Arms to build this Colt?"
Since the best machine tools in the world were at that time made in England, that's unlikely. And "Centennial Arms" is the US firm that imported them into the USA, not the manufacturer. They were not marked "Centennial Arms" for sale outside of the USA.
"I also read where this revolver uses standard (American) threads, and parts, even nipples are hard to come by"
True. I order my nipples from Germany, from the guy that runs the website that I linked above.
"And, is $795.00 a good price for this Colt?"
No, it's high unless it's new in the original box and has some other unique characteristic. A rarely shot one in good condition without the box is worth about $350, which places it fair and square within a small amount of where Uberti's are listed. They are far nicer than any Uberti.
September 25, 2013, 03:51 PM
If they never produced the 1860s back in the 1860s, how would they have blueprints? Machinery maybe...
I've never seen an 1860 Brevette - several 1851s, though.
And why would they have produced cap and ball 1860s when cartridges were becoming the rage?
There's the myth that the 2nd Generation Colts were produced on Colt machinery that sat idle for a hundred years or so, but that's been disproven.
Anyhoo, it really makes no difference to me. They're good guns and, like I said, they can stand on their own.
September 25, 2013, 04:20 PM
Thanks guys, great information. I would probably only buy a collector model, prestine condition with box and paperwork but I would be hesitant to buy a shooter right now as parts may or may not be as available as they once were. But, what I've read is most people are saying that these revolvers are great shooters.
September 25, 2013, 05:38 PM
Willie, I consider myself suitably chastised, but you were the one (#4) who raised the issue of those guns being made by the same company licensed by Colt in the 1800's. I was pointing out that to my knowledge the ones made at that time were not really "copies" of the Colt and that it seems unlikely that the Belgian makers in the 1960's were simply resuming production using machinery and blueprints provided by Sam Colt.
September 25, 2013, 06:04 PM
No worries, we're on the same page 100%. I just wanted to mention both sides of the debate, noting that there are people who firmly believe both sides. I'm on the "these are really nice copies with a *very thin* possible historical connection to the old license built manufacturers" but I am most certainly not in the "these are made using the same drawings and machinery as the ones built in the 1800's" camp. However I respect the right of others to believe this if they want, in the absence of any sort of definitive proof. Folks believe the tooth-fairy story too when it suits 'em to do so...
As far as being shooters, buy with absolute confidence. They never really need parts, and in the VERY rare instance of needing a mainspring, for example, springs from any of a variety of sources can be fitted with ease. I mean really... do you think you would ever need a rammer, cylinder, or barrel? Nipples and springs are all that you really might ever need, and even then... probably not.
September 25, 2013, 09:33 PM
After thousands of shots the trigger spring broke and I just made a new one from a clock spring.
I wasn't smart enough at the time to make one from a safety pin.
Mine had a silver plated trigger gaurd and the best finish of any pistol I have ever owned.
September 25, 2013, 10:05 PM
If you read somewhere that old machinery and tooling was used, you need to stop reading for someone that wrote it has no idea what was done. No one would want the old stuff.
To start with if you needed a milling machine to make some of the parts of a 1851 colt in that year, Then you will need a milling machine to make it today. A company would not need or even want a machine built in 1851.
In the 70's they were using NC mills and now CNC mills.
Same thing goes for lathes, shapers, drills boring machines, rifling machine and etc.
This is and has always been a consumible. Now throw away. There never would be a need to use old tooling nor would anyone want to. In the old days they used hardened iron bits and inserts. Then came high speed steel now ceramic and diamond.
The only thing useful from the past might be fixtures and jigs. But even those would be way out dated. Any modern company would not need or want them. They could make all fixtures needed for a model of revolver in 2 or three days or maybe even less.
Today blueprints would not be needed either. From an original gun, Digitizers, electronic measuring tools copy the original parts and send info to cad/cam software then to the machine to make the part.
Unless I missed it, the ad doesn't name the gun maker or firm who made the Colt Brevettes.
And look at the line above: "Full line of Civil War REPLICA arms." Are they replicas or true 2nd generation Colts?
Has anyone ever seen an 1860 Colt Brevette?
I do agree with the line: "Quality gun made in Belgium." The Belgians do make really good guns.
Check out this book:
September 26, 2013, 12:47 AM
Well, provinance or not, I had mine engraved I liked it so much. Yes It needed some work, but I was the 2nd or 3rd owner so I don't know what all was done to it before. And yes, it is a shooter
September 26, 2013, 09:15 AM
Nice original ad for the Centennial. First time I've seen the manufacturing claim in print, which is interesting. Reading between the lines, manufacture is claimed to be done by "This same Firm" (note it's "this firm", not "the firm": since many firms built Brevete revolvers) that made Brevete revolvers in the 1800's. That's whatever was left of "A Firm" after two world wars, about 100 corporate changes, and Nazi's literally co-opting every arms factory in Belgium, bearing in mind that the gun manufacturing industry in Liege in the 1800's was pretty much like the one in Gardone, Italy: Each had about 1000 tiny shops each making handfuls of small parts that were assembled more or less randomly by whoever had an order at the time. "Hey Pierre, send me some hammers, I need to make up some 1851's for an order I need to send to Denver". "Ok, Phillippe... I'll have the boy make them tomorrow, I'm making some springs for Jaques today and the boy is in Brussels buying walnut"... This was the size of the "Firms".
So we have the same firm that made the Brevete revolvers in the 1800's making them in the 1960's? Maybe in some uninterrupted trail of company registry in the locaal business registry. A "firm" is a piece of paper registering a business. But we claim that Centaures were made by *exactly* the same company and with magical thinking then believe it was made in the *same factory* with some sort of corporate knowlage based on the experience of the old gunsmiths that made the Brevete Colts in the 1850's... Uhh..... OK...
Yes, it's probably true that the company registry of the maker can be traced back to the 1800's and has a paper connection to the manufacture of Brevete revolvers. And it's likely that the workshop was then flattened by a V-2 rocket (check history to see how Liege came out at the end of WW-II).
^^^ Engraving: You showed that in process at TFL when you were having it done, it's still as pretty now as it was then. I'm in the middle of selecting a suitable example from my collection to send to the same engraver (Charlie). He really does beautiful work and the Centaure is exactly the right revolver to invest this work into. Nobody would waste that work on a Pietta or Uberti.
Pohill: I've never seen any Brevete designs later than the 1851, but maybe only because I never looked. I'm going to do some searching now that the question has been asked. "I don't think so" is the answer for now, but... you never know.
As far as the subtle difference between the term "replica" and "second generation", even the Colt "Second Generation" revolvers are replicas, with major components made in Italy. Only the fact that final assembly and finishing was done in the USA (in New Jersey, of all places) allows them to not be marked "Made in Italy". There's nothing "Colt Hartford" about them. A well finished Uberti by any name is still really a Uberti.
September 26, 2013, 09:27 AM
Beautiful revolver Sltm1!!!! Also, check out these people and their parts which may be useful. Standard threads and replacement for originals may work for your Centennial. Real nice people also.
September 26, 2013, 09:31 AM
You'll have to admit Will that the people who are selling these things are really pushing that "Direct line back to the original Colt factory." and "The REAL second generation Colts." Interesting discussion even if the lines are blurred. But they are asking for some serious change when they're being sold and the reason they're asking for that serious change is the line back to Colt, regardless how blurred it is.
However, great information on a good shooting revolver that most have never noticed before.
September 26, 2013, 09:45 AM
Will, you'll have to show us some pics of your engraved revolver after its done. please!!!!:)
September 26, 2013, 09:50 AM
"You'll have to admit Will that the people who are selling these things are really pushing that "Direct line back to the original Colt factory."
^^ Agree 100%
Here's Willie's opinions, worth what you pay to read them:
These are GREAT revolvers.
There is some historical precident to show that there is a long tradition of making very high quality licenced copies of the Colts in the area where they were built, and that Belgium was/is very capable of building firearms to a high standard of quality. These follow on that tradition and in fact the company that produced them has a corporate lineage dating back to the original licensed copies.
I rate them BETTER as shooters than the "Second Generation Colts".
They are FAR NICER than any of the Italian copies.
They are, in fact, about the best choice you can make if you don't want to shoot an original.
They are (or ought to be) worth more than any Italian copy based on their own quality merits, and worth more to a shooter but less to a collector than the Second Generation Colts, and can stand on their own merit without making any additional claims.
Average selling price for a shooter grade one is about $350, so they are not *that* expensive.
September 26, 2013, 10:21 AM
My Colt 1851 .36 in action (made in 1862). Cost: $450.00. Good deals are out there.
September 26, 2013, 11:33 AM
I agree Will for that price you are getting a great revolver.
Ending price for that one Will on Gunbroker, $636.00 with 12 bidders.
September 30, 2013, 04:43 PM
^^^ Well.... there's folks then who know what they want! And are willing to pay more than Colt 2-Gen prices for similar condition pieces. Not surprising if you appreciate what you are buying.
October 3, 2013, 11:17 AM
Here's another one up for sale recently, looks good and at an affordable price. Don't know exactly what the seller is talking about when he writes about Shore Galleries in Chicago, but who knows, but there are a lot of people who are very impressed with this revolver.
Pard Crawdad, you did good: That's one that I was missing in my collection (silver plated trigger guard and straps). These are not as common as the blue finish on the usual ones.
Paid for and in the mail.
When I get home in the spring, I'm going to sort thru my Centaur's and thin out the herd a little. I'll give you first dibs on a good shooter grade one if you'll be patient.
October 4, 2013, 09:47 AM
Good on ya Will, I'm glad to be of some assistance and glad you got the chance to buy it because that revolver is going to someone who can appreciate it and knows what he's doing!!
And I'll keep an eye out waiting for spring!!!
October 4, 2013, 10:44 AM
Will and others that own these revolvers are the parts from Lodgewood MFG any help?
Here is their site and parts;
October 4, 2013, 12:27 PM
^^ No clue, most of the parts are ones needed to restore an original but none are needed to keep a modern one shootin'. That's except for nipples. And seein' as how I need a set of nipples for a nipple-less Centaure, mebbe it's time to order a set and see.
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