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MODEL 1851 COLT NAVY REVOLVER- “US” MARKED MARTIAL VERSION MANUFACTURED IN 1857:  This Model 1851 Colt Navy Revolver was manufactured in 1857 under contract to the US Army and features all of the characteristics one expects to see on these “US Martial" Colt Navy's.      

This gun features matching serial numbers - 69812 -on the grip, frame, cylinder spindle, barrel and loading lever. The cylinder serial number is no longer legible, however the outline of the Colt Patent block is still partially visible and the face of the cylinder is stamped with asterisk mark described on page 83 of ’51 COLT NAVIES by Swayze, indicating a cylinder inspected under the Army’s contract.  The cylinder matches the balance of the pistol in color and condition and from all appearances is original to the pistol.  The barrel wedge is an original, but is serial numbered to a different Navy – a commonly encountered situation due to the soldiers or ordnance personal mixing parts while cleaning or servicing the pistols.  The grips are original with the outline of the cartouche visible on the left side, an inspector’s initial on the left side of the grip butt, and a partially legible serial number written in the backstrap mortise, beginning with “9” and the second digit appears to be an “8”.  The numbers written in the backstrap mortise were characteristically the last four digits of the serial number, in this case “9812”, and the visible numbers indicate the grips are original to this pistol.      

The left side of the frame is stamped “US”, indicating this pistol was originally manufactured in the series of Colt Navy’s produced for the U.S. Army.  Inspector’s initials are present on the trigger guard on the left side and immediately above the ear arc of the bow, on the back strap immediately behind the hammer, and on the top flat of the barrel between the end of the address and the forcing cone – all consistent with known inspector stamp locations on US Army Model 1851 Colt Navy’s.   The barrel address is partially legible as shown in the photographs below.  

All of the serial numbers, inspector marks and Colt stampings as noted above are present and legible.  The overall surfaces of the brass furniture are smooth with no obvious signs of heavy wear or abuse.  The surface of the iron has an even aged gray finish, with some traces of the color remaining on the frame.  The bore is quite bright with distinct rifling, with one small spot of pitting just inside the muzzle.  The exterior iron surfaces have some light pitting, but there is no heavy, deep pitting or significant wear.  The pistol is mechanically “tight” with no wiggle between the barrel and frame, the cylinder indexes properly and locks up tight at full cock, and the trigger-hammer function is very crisp.  The cylinder chambers are clear and while all six cones are present the tips of two of them have been worn down by dry firing through the years – have lost count of the number of stories I’ve heard that so many of these old Colts were handed off to the kids to play "Cowboys and Indians" in the yard...just makes you shudder.     

The grips fit very well with minimal wear on the corners and no shrinkage.  The wood has a nice color, a smooth surface and the cartouche as noted above and visible in the photos below, is present and partially legible – a real added value to these martial Navy’s.   

This is a very respectable US Martial Colt Navy with all of the features one looks for in one of these fairly scarce pistols.  Given their early issue to the Cavalry on the antebellum frontier and their continued use through the Civil War and in the years that followed, it is a wonder that many survive at all, in any condition – much less in the complete unmodified condition of this example.  $3200

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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