Original U.S. Civil War Colt M1851 Arsenal Reworked Navy Percussion Revolver Made in 1861 - Serial No 117170
Original Item: Only One Available. The Colt Navy Model 1851 Percussion Revolver in .36 caliber was widely used by both sides in the U.S. Civil War. The Colt Revolving Belt Pistol of Naval Caliber (i.e., .36 cal), later known as the Colt 1851 Navy or Navy Revolver, is a cap and ball revolver that was designed by Samuel Colt between 1847 and 1850. Colt first called this Revolver Ranger model; but the designation Navy quickly took over. It remained in production until 1873, when revolvers using fixed metallic cartridges came into widespread use.
This very nice example features a 7½" barrel and matching serial number 117170 on many parts, including barrel, frame, cylinder, and cylinder axis pin! This indicates these parts were manufactured in 1861. The loading rammer is not matching with 3696 stamped on it, and the trigger guard and grip frame are marked with serial number 123817, indicating 1862 manufacture. The barrel wedge is an unmarked arsenal replacement. This revolver was most likely damaged during the civil war, and then re-worked at arsenal with parts on hand.
Top of the barrel still has a clear original Colt address marking:
- ADDRESS COL. SAML COLT NEW-YORK U.S. AMERICA -
This Colt Navy revolver dates from the very beginning of the civil war, and definitely does look to have seen use. Overall the metal finish is a worn gray patina, with areas of past pitting and rust damage, as shown. The bore shows clear lands and grooves, however also fouling and areas of oxidation. The revolver cycles correctly, though as with any revolver of this age, it can be finicky, as they were when new. The wear on the locking holes of the cylinder are somewhat worn, so the lockup is loose on one chamber.
A very nice arsenal reworked example of a Civil War issued Colt Percussion revolver, most attractive and ready to display!
History of the 1851 Navy Colt Pistol:
The .36 caliber Navy revolver was much lighter than the contemporary Colt Dragoon Revolvers developed from the .44 Walker Colt revolvers of 1847, which, given their size and weight, were generally carried in saddle holsters. It is an enlarged version of the .31 caliber Colt Pocket Percussion Revolvers, that evolved from the earlier Baby Dragoon, and, like them, is a mechanically improved and simplified descendant of the 1836 Paterson revolver. As the factory designation implied, the Navy revolver was suitably sized for carrying in a belt holster. It became very popular in North America at the time of Western expansion. Colt's aggressive promotions distributed the Navy and his other revolvers across Europe, Asia, and Africa. As with many other Colt revolvers, it has a six-round cylinder.
The cylinder of this revolver is engraved with a scene of the victory of the Second Texas Navy at the Battle of Campeche on May 16, 1843. The Texas Navy had purchased the earlier Colt Paterson Revolver, but this was Colt's first major success in the gun trade; the naval theme of the engraved cylinder of the Colt 1851 Navy revolver was Colt's gesture of appreciation. The engraving was provided by Waterman Ormsby. Despite the "Navy" designation, the revolver was chiefly purchased by civilians and military land forces.
The .36 caliber (.375-.380 inch) round lead ball weighs 80 grains and, at a velocity of 1,000 feet per second, is comparable to the modern .380 pistol cartridge in power. Loads consist of loose powder and ball or bullet, metallic foil cartridges (early), and combustible paper cartridges (Civil War era), all combinations being ignited by a fulminate percussion cap applied to the nipples at the rear of the chamber.
Famous "Navy" users included Wild Bill Hickok, John Henry "Doc" Holliday, Richard Francis Burton, Ned Kelly, Bully Hayes, Richard H. Barter, Robert E. Lee, Nathan B. Forrest, John O'Neill, Frank Gardiner, Quantrill's Raiders, John Coffee "Jack" Hays, "Bigfoot" Wallace, Ben McCulloch, Addison Gillespie, John "Rip" Ford, "Sul" Ross and most Texas Rangers prior to the Civil War and (fictionally) Rooster Cogburn. Use continued long after more modern cartridge revolvers were introduced.
Year of Manufacture: 1861 and 1862
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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