Original U.S. Civil War Navy Contract Marked Colt 1851 Navy All-Steel Revolver made in 1856 - Serial No 59179
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 is in good condition, and is a rare "U.S. Navy Navy" revolver, made under a U.S. Navy contract by Colt in 1856. Aside from markings, these had several differences from the standard production, the most noticeable being that the grip frame and and trigger guard are made of steel, not the usual brass seen. There are also certain markings which are different, further indicating that this is indeed a Navy Contract colt.
The revolver still bears its matching serial numbers 59179 on all parts including barrel, frame, grip, trigger guard and cylinder, though unfortunately they are a bit worn, and can be hard to see. This indicates production in 1856, according to Colt firearms records. The original "Naval Engagement Scene" on the cylinder is worn off due to service.
Top of the barrel still has the original Colt markings clearly visible, though they are printed in the opposite direction on the barrel than usual:
- ADDRESS SAML. COLT NEW YORK CITY -
It also has the usual COLTS / PATENT / U.S. on the frame under the cylinder. The underside of the grip frame is clearly stamped U. S. N. over the Government Inspector's Initials of J. I. H., who we were unable to identify.
The revolver not only looks good but it is in tight fully functional condition, though as with any gun this age, it can be finicky. Fully cleaned, ready to cherish and display! Examples like this do not come along very often at all!
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: 1856
Ammunition Type: Cap and Ball
Barrel Length: 6 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 13 inches
Action: Single Action
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver
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