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Original Rare U.S. Indian Wars Colt M-1862 Pocket Navy .38 Rimfire Factory Converted Revolver made in 1872 - Serial 45236

Regular price $2,295.00

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The expiration of Rollin White's patent on revolvers with bored through cylinders in 1869 was a true watershed moment for the U.S. Firearms industry. Now all firearms manufactures would be able to directly manufacture cartridge revolvers without having to risk lawsuits or pay royalties. Colt was no exception, especially considering that Samuel Colt himself had PASSED on the chance to purchase exclusive rights to the patent in the 1850s.

Colt was however still somewhat committed to percussion revolvers, so it wasn't until 1873 that their first purpose-made cartridge revolver, the Single Action Army, was introduced. That did not mean however that this was their only effort, as there was also a fairly large market producing parts and materials for converting percussion revolvers to take rimfire and centerfire cartridges. For designs such as the Remington "New Model" Revolver, this was relatively simple, as the cylinder could be swapped out easily with one that took cartridges. Some would use a back plate, while others would modify the hammer slightly.

Colt revolvers however did not have a solid frame that allowed easy removal of the cylinder, so they required more involved conversions. There were private companies that made conversion kits to supply gunsmiths, and companies that did all work in house as well. Colt also made the decision circa 1873-1874 to use left over parts from percussion revolvers to make some early rimfire cartridge revolvers.

This is an example of a very late production (1872) "Pocket Model of 1862 of Navy Caliber (.36)" revolver, which was then sent back to the factory for conversion to .38 rimfire. Parts such as the grip, grip frame, and trigger guard were left alone, while the frame, trigger, and cylinder required modification. The recoil shield on the right side was machined out and a spacer installed in front. This allowed the cylinder to be loaded from the rear, and a loading gate was also installed. There were extensions added to the hammer to contact the cartridge rims. The rear of the cylinder was machined away, leaving the ratchet but completely removing the cap bolsters.

They may not have had many spare barrels, as they were the most common component to need replacement aside from the barrel wedge. However, this example definitely has an original modified barrel, which had the loading rammer pivot hole filled, as well as part of the inlet for the rammer. It looks then to have been reshaped into a round profile similar to an 1860 Army, and had a spring loaded ejector rod installed on the right side. After this the entire revolver was then Nickel Plated, much of which still remains. The top of the barrel has a partly faded Colt Address marking, mostly clear for the second half, but quite faint in the middle:


This very nice example is in very good condition, and has serial number 45236 on most parts, including the barrel, frame, grip, and trigger guard, with shortened number 5326 present on the cylinder and arbor pin. Only the barrel wedge is non-matching, marked with 32333, which makes this a very nice "Mostly Matching" example. It's very possible that the original wedge was lost during the conversion process. The serial number indicates production in 1872, according to Colt firearms records, right during the Indian wars period, and we assume that it was produced in percussion, and later converted at the factory. In the following years, left over parts from the "Pocket Navy" were used to make rimfire revolvers straight from the factory, which had their own serial number series.

The cylinder is in very good condition, and still has the original COLTS PATENT / No. marking above and next to the serial number, as well as most of the "Stagecoach Holdup" scene still visible. The left side of the frame has early 1870s patent dates marked, which are still clear:

- PAT. JULY. 25. 1871. -
- PAT. JULY. 2.  1872. -

There is also still the 36CAL marking on the trigger guard left over from original production, but this is now incorrect.

The revolver not only looks great but it is in tight fully functional condition, with a strong hammer pull, solid indexing and a firm cylinder lockup. We did not notice any of the usual finicky behavior we often see with revolvers of this age. This is really an extremely "tight" revolver, without the slop you see after years of service. The bore is in very good condition, showing strong lands and grooves with a partly bright finish. There is some oxidation and powder fowling, as expected from a black powder era revolver.

The pistol metalwork still retains much of the nickel plating on the on the action and cylinder, while the barrel only has a bit remaining. There is a bit of oxidation on the areas that have lost the plating, but nothing major. The walnut grip is in very good condition, with a lovely color and the expected patina of age. It looks to have been cleaned over the years, which has removed the original "Piano Varnish" almost completey, with remnants present on the bottom.

A great example of an early Colt Factory Cartridge Converted Revolver, ready to add to your collection and display!


Year of Manufacture: 1872 - Converted Later
Caliber: .38cal
Ammunition Type: Rimfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 4 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 9 1/2 inches
Action: Single Action
Feed System: 5 Shot Revolver

History of the Colt Pocket Percussion Pistols:

The family of Colt Pocket Percussion Revolvers evolved from the earlier commercial revolvers marketed by the Patent Arms Manufacturing Company of Paterson, N.J. The smaller versions of Colt's first revolvers are also called "Baby Patersons" by collectors and were produced first in .24 to .31 caliber, and later in .36 caliber, by means of rebating the frame and adding a "step" to the cylinder to increase diameter. The .31 caliber carried over into Samuel Colt's second venture in the arms trade in the form of the "Baby Dragoon"-a small revolver developed in 1847–48. The "Baby Dragoon" was in parallel development with Colt's other revolvers and, by 1850, it had evolved into the "Colt's Revolving Pocket Pistol" that collectors now name "The Pocket Model of 1849". It is a smaller brother of the more famous "Colt's Revolving Belt Pistol of Naval Caliber" introduced the same year and commonly designated by collectors as the "1851 Navy Model" (and which was a basically a larger, .36 caliber of the Pocket Model, "belt pistol" referring to a weapon sized to fit into a belt holster, as opposed to the saddle holsters generally called for by Colt's larger cavalry combat models). In 1855 Colt introduced another pocket percussion revolver, the Colt 1855 "Sidehammer", designed alongside engineer Elisha K. Root.

The Pocket Model revolvers all have a traditional "Colt-style" frame, generally with brass grip straps and trigger guard, and a case-hardened steel frame. In appearance, the frames are almost identical to the larger 1851 Navy and .44 caliber 1860 Army Models, with the exception of being smaller, and so having a proportionately larger trigger guard. Since they appear so similar to the larger weapons, without an object nearby to give them scale, the Pocket Revolvers tend to give an impression of being larger than they actually are; it is difficult to fit all four fingers onto the slender grip, even for a person with average-sized hands. Except for by noting the relative size of the trigger guard to the frame, it is easy for a casual observer to mistake a .31 caliber Model 1849 for an 1851 Navy (un-rebated frame, slab-sided webbing around a regular pivoting loading lever, octagonal barrel, unfluted cylinder); indeed, the Model 1851 Navy was basically no more than a scaled -up 1849 Pocket Model. Likewise, the larger .36 caliber Pocket Police Models are virtually identical to the 1860 Army Model, with rebated frame and stepped cylinder (to accommodate a size up from .31 to .36, instead of .36 to .44 as with the Army Model), a graceful, flowing webbing surrounding a new style "creeping" loading lever, and a round barrel. The most obvious difference is that the Pocket Police had a fluted 5-shot cylinder, while most Army Models were unfluted, and held six shots. The reason for this close similarity is that all four guns were closely related, and followed similar paths of development; the original .31 caliber Model 1849 was scaled up to create the .36 caliber 1851 Navy Model. Later, the Navy Model was increased in bore size by rebating the frame and enlarging the cylinder, and became the 1860 Army Model. With the success of this project, the .31 caliber of the 1849 Model was similarly increased to .36, using the same method, creating the Pocket Police and Pocket Navy models in 1860.

In 1860, the .36 caliber Police Pocket model was created, after lessons were learned from experimentation aimed at reducing the size of the .44 Colt Holster Pistols (i.e. large cavalry weapons), Colt took advantage of stronger mass-produced steel by rebating the frame of the Navy revolver to hold a larger-diameter 44/100-inch chambered cylinder, basically fitting the power of a large cavalry saddle holster-gun and fitting it into the .36 caliber Navy Model, a gun that could be carried in a belt holster. Previously, it wasn't thought that the smaller frame could handle the power of the .44 round, but the introduction of stronger metals made it possible. Learning the lessons from this, the Colt factory applied the same technology to the .31 caliber Model 1849 Pocket revolvers, using high-strength (for the time) steel for the frame, which allowed them to remove enough material to fit a larger-diameter .36 caliber cylinder which still had five shots (the alternative was to simply retain the original cylinder diameter, and create a 4-shot .36 caliber version. The stronger steels made this sacrifice unnecessary. Other changes including lightweight fluted cylinders, and a round barrel, to offset the added weight, and a "creeping" loading lever as used in the 1861 Army Model; the result was the "Police Pocket Model of 1862", even though production started in 1861. The Pocket Navy was a version similarly up-sized to .36 caliber, but which retained the octagonal barrel and traditional loading lever of the earlier pocket mode. Between 1862 and 1873, Colt records document production of 19,000 of the Pocket Navies and over 20,000 Pocket Police revolvers. Relative to the .31 Pocket Revolvers, the period of manufacture was short and overall numbers were further limited by a fire at the Colt Factory in 1862 and War production concerns.

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