Original U.S. Civil War Era Colt Model 1851 Navy .36cal Percussion Revolver made in 1865 – Serial 193096
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 standard 7 1/2″ barrel and mostly matching serial number 193096 on many parts including the barrel, frame, and trigger guard! The grip frame is marked with shortened number 19309, and the cylinder with 3096, while the loading rammer and barrel wedge are both unmarked. These may have had the makings worn away, or may be arsenal replacements. Colt records indicate that this revolver was produced in 1865, right at the end of the Civil War, so it possibly saw service during the conflict.
The cylinder “Naval Engagement Scene” is still faintly present, and COLT’S PATENT No. next to the cylinder serial is still clearly visible. The top of the barrel still has the full Colt “New York” address marking:
ADDRESS. COL. SAML COLT NEW-YORK U.S. AMERICA. –
The revolver looks to have seen some service after the war, and there are areas of light rust peppering on the exterior. It does not look to have been refinished at any point, and the markings are still crisp. The COLTS PATENT marking is still visible on the left side of the frame, and the trigger guard and grip frame have a lovely mustard patina.
The bore shows clear lands and grooves, with a partly bright finish. There is just a little bit of fouling and oxidation in the grooves, and the expected wear. The revolver cycles correctly, with good indexing and cylinder lock up, and the mainspring is strong. The cap nipples are all intact and clear on the cylinder.
The grip scales are in very good condition, with a lovely oiled finish and color. They also have some lovely frontier personalization, with a silver strap inlaid on the left grip, and notches carved into the bottom of the right grip. Whether these are a “kill count” or just for a better grip is something the new owner will need to decide for themselves.
A very nice example of a late Civil War issued Colt Percussion revolver, most attractive and ready to display!
Year of Manufacture: 1865
Ammunition Type: Cap and Ball
Barrel Length: 7 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 13 inches
Action: Single Action
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver
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.
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