in Firearm History
Frequently Asked Questions
(From the Cody Firearms Museum)
Links to Forums
At Other Sites
History of a Gun
by Jim Supica
And Military Records
Museums With Arms Exhibits
U.S. Military Arms
And Military Records
M1917 Enfield Parts
Enfield Sling Instructions
Garand Disassembly and Parts
Cartridge Research Association
of American Bayonet Collectors
(From Empire Arms. Use at own risk.)
(& Factory Letters)
Codes & Markings
Antiques Roadshow Advice
Article by Jim Supica
Article by David Kopel
Care & Records
(Preservation tips, inventory software, insurance)
Arms / Gun Show Listings
At Arms List
(Info coming soon)
for Uniform Display
Make them yourself!
to the memory of De Witt Pourie May 10, 1915 - February 7,
NAVIES - A DECADE APART
PART LOOK AT THE 1851 4TH MODEL AND 1861 MODEL .36 CALIBER PERCUSSION
TOP - MODEL
1851 4TH MODEL PERCUSSION REVOLVER
BOTTOM - MODEL
1861 PERCUSSION REVOLVER
MODEL 1851 PERCUSSION NAVY REVOLVER, 4TH MODEL
4TH MODEL COLT "NAVY" REVOLVER
- Caliber .36, rifled with 7 grooves having a left-hand twist.
Overall length, straight line from tip of butt to muzzle - 14".
7-1/2" octagonal barrel. Frame - 2-15/16". Cylinder
- 1-11/16". Brass trigger guard and back strap - Weight, 2
pounds, 10 ounces.
1851 READY FOR LOADING
Top: Barrel and
loading lever assembly. Left: Frame, grip and hammer assembly.
The Model 1851 Colt was first manufactured in 1850 and was kept in
production until 1873. 215,348 were made at Colt's Hartford,
Conn. plant. Another 42,000 were turned out by Colt's London
Factory. The Hartford guns were serial numbered from 1 through 215,348.
There were 3 different barrel addresses utilized over the course of
production. They were, along with the approximate serial number ranges;
"-ADDRESS SAML COLT NEW-YORK CITY- ( SN 1-74,000);
- ADDRESS SAML COLT HARTFORD CT. - (74,000 -101,000); -
ADDRESS COL. SAML COLT NEW-YORK U.S. AMERICA - (101,000
- 215,348). The left front side of the frame is marked: "COLTS/PATENT"
in two lines on all models. All models also had a rolled engraved
cylinder scene depicting a battle between the Texas and Mexican navies,
including the wording along the front edge of the cylinder; "ENGAGED
16 MAY 1843" which commemorates the date of the battle. Also stamped
on the cylinder is "COLTS PATENT No", with all or part of the individual
gun's serial number following it. On the weapon pictured, it is the
last 4 digits, "5685", of the serial number "175685". On revolvers
made in or after 1860, the caliber marking " 36 CAL" is stamped on
the left side of the trigger guard to the rear. This was done
concurrent with the issuance of the 1860, .44 caliber "Army" revolver.
- ADDRESS COL. SAML COLT NEW-YORK U.S. AMERICA -
Side Of Frame
Trigger Guard (rear)
Marked: 36 CAL
PATENT No. 5685
There were many variations of the Colt Navy. The trigger guard and
back strap on the 4th Model Navy are usually silver plated brass,
but in some instances a combination of iron and brass will be found,
both silver plated. Some guns, mostly those found with "U.S." markings
will have both parts of iron and adapted to be used with a detachable
shoulder stock. The "U.S." markings will generally be found under
"COLTS/PATENT" at the left front side of the frame. Those purchased
by the Navy are sometimes marked with a "U.S.N." on the butt strap.
Specimens will also be found with and without the capping channel
in the right recoil shield. Additionally, the front sight on earlier
production guns was a brass post sight while later models will have
brass or even German silver blade type front sights. Grips are of
varnished walnut. The frame, hammer and loading lever are cased
hardened, the remainder blued. The various serial number and factory
inspector or code stampings found on the pictured revolver are pictured
below as is the rear of the cylinder showing the six locking pins.
Of Cylinder Arbor
Bottom Of Barrel
And Trigger Guard Stampings
At Bottom Front
Of Frame All Stamped 175685
Butt Strap Stampings
Small "Y" Stamp
- Upper Right - Plus 175685
Right Side Front
Back Of Cylinder
Note Locking Pins
Of the 215,000 Model 1851 Navies produced at Hartford, the 4th model
comprised over half that total with an estimated 125,000 being manufactured.
The London armory turned out another 42,000 or so. Not counting fraudulent
voter registrations, that equals the entire population of St. Louis
city. Records detailing official and open market purchases show only
about 35,000 Model 1851 Colt revolvers being purchased by both the
Army and Navy during the Civil War. The Army purchased 20,000 of that
number. The contract models carry martial marking as discussed herein.
However, the 4th Model Navy was immensely popular during that conflict
and many additional thousands were purchased by the individual states
or for private usage. Many were sold after the war and the stock was
not depleted until 1879! It is today one of the most popular guns
in the arms collecting field. There are many variations and a collector
could spend his life and fortune just finding and buying one of each.
The revolver featured here was made in 1864. The 1861 "Round Barrel"
Model Navy which will be featured next week was made in 1863. It was
developed 10 years after it's predecessor but it is one year older.
Credits for the information in this posting go to FLAYDERMAN'S GUIDE
TO ANTIQUE AMERICAN FIREARMS... AND THEIR VALUES, by Norm Flayderman
and to U.S. MILITARY SMALL ARMS 1816-1865 by Robert M. Reilly. No
small amount of credit should go to De Witt Pourie of Villa Ridge,
MO whose guidance, influence and encouragement has resulted in 30
plus years of collecting for the author of this page and who is one
of those individuals directly responsible for it's inspiration. De
died a week ago today at the age of 85, but he was really 85 going
on 60 or less. He was still going to school... on computers, still
attending gun shows and still standing as a mentor to the younger
collector. He was an officer in WWII, an engineer, an arms collector
of note, an avid reader, a photographer with professional status,
a loving and care giving husband to his wife Eve and a very human
being. He was, without doubt, the most honest and ethical individual
that I have ever known. He was in fact, one of God's noble men.
My thanks also goes to my son Reed, who is the webmaster for this
page. One would not be reading this if it was not for him.