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Colt 1861

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Colt 1861 Navy Military

 

The Colt Model 1861 Navy Revolver was a streamlined version of the Model 1851 Navy. It was manufactured from 1861 through to circa 1873 in a serial range from 1 through to approx. 38843.. It came in 36 caliber with a six shot cylinder and 7½ inch round barrel with a creeping style loading lever. The grips were normally one-piece varnished walnut. It had a casehardened frame, hammer and lever with the remainder blued. The brass backstrap and triggerguard were silver-plated. The Barrel address was: ‘- ADDRESS COL. SAM' COLT NEW-YORK U.S. AMERICA.-‘ with COLTS/PATENT stamped on the left side of the frame. Also 36 CAL was stamped on the left shoulder of the trigger-guard. The cylinder scene shows the battle between the Texas Navy and the Mexico Navy.

The main variations are as follows:

The first one hundred manufactured had fluted cylinders with no cylinder scene. They were stamped PAT. SEPT 10TH 1850 within one of the flutes. Examples with the third type shoulder stocks are found only in the serial range from 11000 and 14000. Only about one hundred were produced with four screw frames with the recoil shield cut for engaging the stock yoke. It is rare to find a canteen shoulder stock with this model. Several hundred 1861 Navies were sold to the Army and Navy during the Civil War with many showing no inspector markings. When present they appear as cartouches on the grips and single letters on various parts of the metalwork.

Some 1861 Navies were shipped to the London Pall Mall Agency from the Hartford factory with iron grip-straps. A very few of these feature the ultra rare barrel address of ‘-ADDRESS COL. COLT LONDON’.

Only a few hundred Colt Model 1861 .36 Navy Revolvers were ordered by the United States Government for the Army and Navy during the Civil War.

 

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

 

 
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

 

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

 

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".

 

 
 

 

 
 

 


 

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.

 

   
   
   

 

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

 


 

 

 

Dave Radcliffe