Remington produced their similar Model 1861 Navy based on the successful and well-liked Model 1861 Army revolvers. The Army revolvers forged the revolver pattern for all future Remington designs and the Navy version was no different. Dimensionally, the Navy model was and overall smaller design, making it more compact to an extent. Key to the Remington design (over that of the competing Colt offerings) was the connecting bridge across the top of the ammunition cylinder which made for a more robust sidearm in the field. This made Remington revolvers a very popular commodity for both sides of the American Civil War. Production was limited, however, estimated as just 7,000 examples out of the Remington Armory of Ilion and Utica, New York. Production began and ended in 1862 and nearly all of these revolvers were produced solely to fulfill US government contracts. In comparison, the Remington Model 1861 Army was produced to the tune of some 147,000 examples.
Design of the Remington Model 1861 Navy was consistent with the Remington design approach. The handgrip was of walnut and sloped downwards from the rear of the frame, the assembly flared at the bottom. The curved trigger sat protected in a thin brass trigger ring. The ammunition cylinder was smooth-sided and accepted six .36 Cap & Ball lead spheres. The firing operation was the accepted standard of utilizing percussion caps, a method that replaced flintlock domination and the action was single, requiring the operator to both cock and pull the trigger to fire a single shot - repeating the process for the next. The hammer sported a high spur and was of case-hardened metal. The barrel was rounded and over 7 inches in length. A small fixed post atop the muzzle was used for accurized aiming at longer distances. The loading lever was held under the barrel.
Despite its limited availability, Confederate forces likened the Remington Model 1861 Navy over the Model 1861 Army, to which the Northern Union forces favored. To the South, the lower-caliber .36 chambering was the major reason, producing a lower recoil that was more manageable in close ranges and when fired on horseback. The North, however, enjoyed the inherent firepower of their .44 caliber man-stopping Remington Model 1861 Army revolvers for good reason.
The Remington Model 1861 Navy is also known by the name of "Old Model Navy".