Original U.S. Civil War Colt 1861 Navy .36 Caliber Revolver - Serial No 12971 - Produced in 1863
Original item: Only One Available. This is a nice condition example of a Colt Navy percussion revolver, manufactured in 1863. The 1861 Navy Revolvers have always been hard to find, being much overshadowed by the famous Colt 1851 Navy Model. The 1851 had a 36 caliber Octagonal barrel, and many thousands saw service in the Civil War. The 1861 Navy Model was also in 36 caliber but the barrel was modeled after the 1860 Colt Army model, being totally round. Easier and more economical to produce, the 1861 was designed to replace the model 1851, and should have been a great success. However the 1851 model was so well established that production continued long after the Civil War had ended.
Our example has a Serial Number of 12971, and was actually made in 1863. It is in the expected 36 caliber and was almost certainly used in the Civil War. It shows much use, its finish mostly worn away leaving minor scattered pits. However the revolver is totally original and is still tight in the action, with proper cylinder advance and lockup. Serial number matches on barrel, frame, trigger guard, and grip bottom strap, but is worn and unreadable on the cylinder. Only traces of the original markings on the top of the barrel can be seen, but the action still has a clear COLTS / PATENT on the left side plate.
A very nice genuine example of the rare Colt 1861 Navy Revolver showing battle use: perfect for display in any Civil War Collection.
History of the Colt 1861 Navy
The Colt Model 1861 Navy cap & ball .36-caliber revolver was a six-shot, single-action percussion weapon produced by Colt's Manufacturing Company from 1861 until 1873. It incorporated the "creeping" or ratchet loading lever and round barrel of the .44-caliber Army Model of 1860 but had a barrel one half inch shorter, at 7.5 inches. Total production was 38,000 revolvers.
Like its forerunner, the Colt 1851 Navy Revolver, it saw widespread use in the American Civil War and on the American Western frontier, though far fewer were produced. It has the same general specification as the earlier model, but with a rounded barrel and somewhat different rammer. While similar in design to the Colt Army Model 1860, the lighter recoil of the 1861 Navy's .36 caliber was preferred by some cavalry soldiers.
There were few variations of the Model 1861 Navy Colt. Approximately 100 of the first guns made had fluted cylinders with no cylinder scene. Another 100, made between the serial ranges of 11,000 and 14,000 were cut for a shoulder stock — the lower portion of the recoil shield was milled away and a fourth screw for the stock was added to the frame. With the exception of the first fifty or so of this model, all guns had a capping groove. A brass trigger guard and back strap, silver-plated, were standard.
During the Civil War its main competitor in England was the Adams self-cocking revolver. The Adams fired a .49 caliber bullet and did not require the shooter to pull the hammer back. Colt's revolver was more popular because Colt mass-produced his weapons while Adams' products were handmade by skilled artisans. In the United States, Colt's main rival was the Remington Model 1858 revolver.
The Colt 1861 Navy typically was used with paper cartridges, that is, with a cartridge consisting of nitrated paper, a pre-measured black powder charge, and a bullet that was either a lead round ball or a lead conical bullet. The nitrated paper of the cartridge was completely consumed upon use, and the use of paper cartridges enabled faster re-loading. Alternatively, it was always possible to load with measured powder charges and lead round balls.
Year of Manufacture: 1863
Ammunition Type: Cap and Ball
Barrel Length: 7 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 13 inches
Action: Single Action
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver
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