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Original U.S. Merwin & Hulbert 1876 Frontier Army 2nd Model Open Frame Revolver with Period Holster c. 1880

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. To some this is one of the most beautiful Revolvers ever made. Wonderful design, great workmanship and so easy on the eye. Merwin, Hulbert, & Co. or Merwin & Hulbert was an American firearms designer and marketer based in New York City which produced revolvers and rifles from 1874 through 1916. The firearms were manufactured by a subsidiary company, Hopkins & Allen of Norwich, Connecticut.

Their famous line of revolvers began with the "Frontier Model" Open Frame cartridge revolver, which took the proprietary .44 Merwin & Hulbert cartridge. This was known as the "1st Model", and was followed in 1878 by the "2nd Model", which made some improvements, but more importantly introduced a version that took the very popular Winchester .44-40 centerfire cartridge, which quickly became the most popular calibre. 

This example retains probably 30-40% of its Nickel plating, and definitely shows quite a bit of wear, most likely from spending quite a bit of time in the leather holster. It does not show any signs of replating, and the markings on the barrel are mostly clear, somewhat obscured by oxidation.  The top of the barrel is marked:

PAT JAN.24 APR.21 DEC.15. 74 AUG.3.75 JULY11.76 APR.17.77 PAT'S MAR.6.77

While the side of the barrel is marked:

[HOPKINS &] ALLEN Manufacturing Co. Norwich. Conn. U.S.A.

Originally this barrel would have measured 7 inches, however it has been shortened to 4 3/4" and also shows its front sight of having been removed PERHAPS indicating that this wonderful single action was intended for Gun Fighting.

It is fitted with the standard orange and black swirl color checkered hard rubber pair of grips, which have almost been worn smooth. The serial number markings on the gun are mismatched, with 158 under the grip scales, and 132 on the bottom of the grip. The rear of the barrel and cylinder on the other hand are marked with serial number 5780. It's possible that parts were swapped when it was shortened, or maybe the grip serial number wore off. Definitely an interesting research project.

Made in single action only, it was hoped to be accepted by the U.S. Government, however by this date Colt had most all of the Government Contracts in its pocket. There was stiff competition from Remington, Smith & Wesson and Forehand & Wadsworth, however Mervin and Hulbert did succeed in getting some Police Contracts.

The left side of the frame has no caliber marking under the cylinder, indicating the pistol is chambered for the .44 Merwin & Hulbert cartridge. The revolvers chambered for .44 Russian were marked "Russian Model" and the ones chambered in .44-40 were marked "Caliber / Winchester 1873". The .44 Merwin & Hulbert cartridge was comparable to Smith & Wesson's "44 American" cartridge, but had a slightly longer case.

The revolver functions well, though as with any revolver of this age it can be finicky at at times due to wear on the internal components. The barrel rotates and pulls away correctly for spent cartridge removal, and can then be removed entirely if needed. Please note that the frame latch will not move unless the trigger is pulled back one click, to make sure that the firing pin is clear of the cylinder.

With an ingenious reloading system it became a favorite with many individuals and even more so with Collectors of today. Merwin died in 1888 whereupon the Company became Hulbert Bros Co.but was liquidated in 1896.

The revolver comes complete with its 1880's leather open top holster, sewn together with leather thonging. in which this revolver has lived for maybe 140 years.

A lovely and rare large Single Action U.S. Revolver.


Years of Manufacture: 1878 to 1882
Caliber: .44 Merwin & Hulbert (.44-30)
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 4 3/4 inches
Overall Length: 10 1/2 inches
Action: Single Action
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver

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