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Ddedicated to the memory of De Witt Pourie  May 10, 1915 - February 7, 2001

 

COLT'S NAVIES - A DECADE APART

 

A TWO PART LOOK AT THE 1851 4TH MODEL AND 1861 MODEL .36 CALIBER PERCUSSION COLT REVOLVERS

 

1851 4TH MODEL AND 1861 MODEL .36 CALIBER PERCUSSION COLT REVOLVERS
TOP - MODEL 1861 PERCUSSION REVOLVER
BOTTOM - MODEL 1851 4TH MODEL PERCUSSION REVOLVER

 

 

PART 2
COLT MODEL 1861 PERCUSSION NAVY REVOLVER

 

MODEL 1861 MODEL COLT "NAVY" REVOLVER
MODEL 1861 MODEL COLT "NAVY" REVOLVER

 

Single action - Caliber .36, rifled with 7 grooves having a left-hand twist.  Overall length, straight line from tip of butt to muzzle - 13-13/16".  7-1/2" round Barrel.  Frame - 2-29/32".  Cylinder - 1-11/16". Brass trigger guard and back strap - Weight, 2 pounds, 10 ounces.

 


 

THE MODEL 1861 READY FOR LOADING
THE MODEL 1861 READY FOR LOADING

 

Top: Barrel and loading lever assembly.  Left: CYLINDER.  RIGHT: Frame, grip and hammer assembly.

 


 

     The Model 1861 Colt was manufactured at Colt's Hartford, Conn. factory.  A total of 38,843 were produced from 1861 to 1873.   The barrel marking over the entire period of production was - ADDRESS COL. SAML COLT NEW-YORK U.S. AMERICA - .  The left front side of the frame is marked: "COLTS/PATENT" in two lines. The caliber marking " 36 CAL" is stamped on the left rear side of the trigger guard.  This model, like the Model 1851,  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 that 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, "2563", of the serial number "12563".

 

Top Barrel Flat
Top of Barrel

 Marked: - ADDRESS COL. SAML COLT NEW-YORK U.S. AMERICA -

 

Left Front Side Of Frame
Left Front Side Of Frame
Marked: COLTS PATENT

 


Left Side Trigger Guard (rear)
Marked: 36 CAL

 

CYLINDER
CYLINDER
Marked COLTS PATENT No. 2563

 


 

     There were few variations of the 61 Colt Navy.  Approximately 100 of the first guns made had fluted cylinders with no cylinder scene.  Another 100,  between the serial ranges of 11,000 and 14,000 were cut for a shoulder stock. The lower portion of  the recoil shield was milled away on those guns.  A fourth stud or screw for the stock was added to the frame.  With the exception of the first fifty or so of this model, all revolvers have a capping channel in the center of the capping groove.  With the exception of London marked specimens fitted with iron grip straps,  a brass trigger guard and back strap were standard on the 61 Model Colt Navy.  Those purchased by the Navy ( approximately 650) are  marked with a "U.S.N." on the butt strap and "U.S." beneath the "COLTS/PATENT" on the frame.   All have German silver blade type front sights. Grips are of varnished black walnut with those purchased by the government bearing inspector's initials.  The frame,  hammer and loading lever are cased hardened, the remainder blued.  The creeping style loading lever is standard on this model,  The various serial number and factory inspector or code stampings found on the pictured revolver are shown below as is the rear of the cylinder.

 

Bottom Front Of Cylinder Arbor
Bottom Front of Cylinder Arbor
Stamped 2563

 

Bottom Of Barrel Wedge
Bottom Of Barrel Wedge
Stamped 2563

 

Barrel, Frame And Trigger Guard Stampings
Barrel, Frame And Trigger Guard Stampings
At Bottom Front Of Frame All Stamped 12563 & "L"

 

Butt Strap Stampings
Butt Strap Stampings
12563 & "L"

 

Creeping style loading lever
Creeping Style Loading Lever 

 


Back Of Cylinder 

 


 

     Only 4,000 of the 38,843 Model 1861 are recorded as being purchased by the government. Only about 650 of that number went to the Navy Department.  However, a considerable number of these revolvers saw service during the Civil War through private and state purchase.  It is surmised that many saw active service on the battlefield. 

 

     A streamlined version of the Model 1851 Navy, it is one of the most attractive and perhaps finest of all Colt percussion handguns.   It was one of the last military style percussion pistols.  This, in combination with the termination of the Colt government contracts in 1863 and the burning of the Hartford pistol factory in 1864, limited  the production of this excellent revolver.  It is among the most popular guns in arms collections. The 1861 Model Navy revolver featured here was made in 1863, a year earlier than the 1851 Model Navy featured last week.  A view of the right side of both models follow.

 


TOP - MODEL 1861 PERCUSSION REVOLVER
BOTTOM - MODEL 1851 4TH MODEL PERCUSSION REVOLVER

 


 

     Again, 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. My son and webmaster, Reed,  must also be recognized for his weekly efforts at successfully posting the pictures and text for these entries . This weeks posting, like last weeks, is dedicated to the memory of  De Witt Pourie (May 10, 1915 - February 7, 2001).

 

     The topic for next weeks posting has not been determined as of this writing.  But we will be back with something of interest for the collector and history buff.  Please plan to visit with us again.

 

Dave Radcliffe