Original U.S. Cased British Proofed Colt M-1862 Police Pocket .36cal Percussion Revolver with 4 1/2" Barrel made in 1866 - Serial 33828

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Introduced in 1862 as the "Police Pocket Model of 1862 of Navy Caliber (.36)", this 5 shot .36 caliber percussion revolver was often purchased by serving Officers as a reserve handgun carried on the inside of their tunics.

This example is a bit different than most we have seen, as it is marked on the barrel and the cylinder with CROWN / GP "Gunmakers Proof" and CROWN / V "Viewed" markings from the London Gun Company Proof House. We have not had an example of one of a Police Pocket that bore British proofs before, and they seem to be somewhat rare. The British had their own booming firearms industry, and hardly had much need to import guns, but perhaps the large surplus after the Civil War resulted in prices dropping enough that export guns became an attractive purchase.

The revolver also comes complete with a fantastic custom wood case, which measures approximately 10 5/8" x 6 7/8" x 1 7/8", and has different compartments inside, all green velvet lined. There is even an original British market Colt instruction label on the inside, though it is definitely not the one that came with this pistol: the Colt factory in London closed in 1857, almost 10 years before this pistol was manufactured. Inside the case are some great accessories and tools, including a powder flask, an oiler, and even some bullets. The case is in very good condition, though the brass plaque on the top of the lid is missing, and the lock is non-functional.

The revolver itself is a very nice example is in very good gently used condition, and has matching serial number 33828 on most parts, including the barrel, frame, grip, and trigger guard! The barrel wedge and cylinder arbor pin are both marked with shortened number 3828. Only the cylinder is unmarked, as powder burn removed the markings on the back. The serial number indicates production in 1866, according to Colt firearms records, just after the end of the U.S. Civil War. The frame is correctly marked COLTS PATENT, and the left side of the trigger guard is marked 36CAL by the grip.

Top of the barrel still has the original Colt markings clearly visible:


The revolver not only looks great but it is in tight fully functional condition, with a strong hammer pull, and good cycling. We did not notice any major issues in the action, but as with any revolver of this age, it can be finicky at times.

The pistol metalwork retains much bluing, and really is quite lovely. Like most Colt percussion revolvers we see, the plating on the grip frame and trigger has completely worn away, leaving a lovely mustard patina on the brass. The grips are in great shape, looking to have been refinished at some time, and have a lovely color.The the bore still shows clear rifling, with some past oxidation and fouling now cleaned away, leaving a peppery finish overall.

A very interesting and lovely example of a U.S. Percussion pistol, exported to Britain and complete with a lovely custom fitted case. Ready to research and display!


Year of Manufacture: 1866
Caliber: .36cal
Ammunition Type: Cap and Ball
Barrel Length: 4 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 9 3/4 inches
Action: Single Action

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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