Original U.S. Civil War Allen & Wheelock .36cal Navy Center Hammer Percussion Revolver Serial 156 - Circa 1860

Item Description

Original Item: One of a Kind. This is a very nice example of the rare .36cal "Navy" version of the "Center-Hammer" Percussion Revolvers made by Ethan Allen and his brother-in-law Thomas Wheelock in Worcester, Mass. Allen was involved in a series of different partnerships, which makes the firearms relatively easy to place in time. The side of the octagonal barrel on this example is marked (partly faded):

[ALLEN’s PT’s] JAN.13. DEC.15. 1857. SEPT.7.1858

As the "ALLEN & WHEELOCK" trade name was used from 1856 to 1865, this revolver definitely falls right into the civil war period. The revolver is also marked with serial number 156 on the side the barrel, on the back of the cylinder, under the grip frame, and on both wood grip scales. The firm had successfully introduced a large .44cal "Army" version of this revolver, however it is estimated that only around 500 of the Navy model were made. It unfortunately could not compete with the well established Colt 1851 Navy for a market share of Military Contracts. Of course, Colt's own model 1861 Navy wasn't able to compete with the 1851 either.

The "Center-Hammer" revolvers were an improvement of the earlier "Side-Hammer" guns, which had deficiencies with ease of loading, as well as frame strength. Moving the hammer to the center allowed for a stronger frame, which is what the U.S. Army Ordnance Dept was looking for. There were cartridge revolvers at the time, but the U.S. Army was conservative, and only wanted the trusted technology of percussion revolvers. The Center-Hammer did retain one key feature from the side hammer version: the unique combination trigger guard/loading lever.

Our example is in full operating order and has a very pleasant grey metal finish overall. The cylinder lock is strong, and it indexes and cycles properly when cocked. As with any revolver of this age, it can be a bit finicky at times. It still retains its original walnut wood grips, which are in great shape. The bore is a bit rusty, but lands and grooves are still clear. The "Navy" models were available with several barrel lengths, and this is the standard 6" barrel version.

The only example of this type of gun that we've ever had. Unusual and ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: circa 1860-65
Caliber:  .36cal
Ammunition Type: Cap and Ball
Barrel Length: 6 inches
Overall Length: 11 inches
Action: Single Only
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver

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