Susat Civil War Antiques


    Colt 1851 Navy Martial

    In 1850 Colt started production of a large frame revolver that would be known as the 1851 Navy.  With a total production of 215,348 it became Colt’s second highest produced percussion pistol.  They were very popular and saw use in the California gold fields, all over the west and in the hands of US Army Soldiers.  Colt was already selling the larger Dragoon pistol to the army and sought military contracts for the Belt pistol.  The first contract came in 1855 with an order for 500 pistols.  Over the next three years, in a total of 14 contracts, the Army purchased 16,778 - 1851 Navy pistols.  Pistols purchased through contracts went through the ordinance department inspection process.  Many of the early deliveries were used to equip the newly formed 1st and 2nd US Cavalry regiments, who saw active service on the frontier in the 1850’s.  The army participated in many active campaigns in the late 1850's on the frontier.  Also, while military purchased pistols were intended for arming the enlisted soldiers, there are numerous records and letters indicating that officers were able to purchase contract weapons for their use.   By the end of Fiscal year 1859 the army had issued 7,800 1851 Navies to troops.  Also, 2000 1851 Navies had been issued to the states under the Militia act of 1808.  The three largest distributions were to: Indiana 250 in Sept 1857; New Hampshire 300 in October 1857; and Texas 368 in August 1858.   

     With the start of the war in 1861, the 1851 navies in army facilities were issued quickly to new regiments

    This example was made in 1856.  The metal is a grey patina with a few areas of light pitting.  The serial numbers match on the barrel, loading lever, frame, cylinder, trigger guard and backstrap.  The wood grips have visible cartouches on each side.  The right grip is WAT for William A. Thornton.  There is some cylinder scene remaining on the cylinder.  And some case colors remain on the loading lever.