RARE SECOND MODEL SQUAREBACK COLT MODEL 1851 NAVY PERCUSSION REVOLVER. SN 1348. Cal. 36. This is a fine example of one of the rarest Colt M1851 Navy percussion revolvers (numerically equivalent to the Walker Model). This is a bona fide pure 2nd Model and all matching (wedge has no number on these) with the wedge screw over the wedge slot and it has not been altered in any way. This Navy has a standard configuration with a 7-1/2″ octagonal barrel, brass pin front sight and 1-line New York City address with dashes. The left side frame marked “COLT’S PATENT” and the squareback silver plated trigger guard and backstrap contain a varnished 1-pc walnut grip with the serial number very lightly stamped in the backstrap channel. In the book ’51 Colt Navies, by Nathan Swayze, he refers to these Second Model Navys as “drop back” models.
The 1st and 2nd Model Navys only numbered a grand total of approximately 4,000 revolvers at the beginning of production in mid 1850. The ’51 Navy was an immediate success and the US government purchased virtually ALL of them, many of which saw service on the frontier, throughout the entirety of the Civil War and later during the era of westward expansion. A large number of them were issued to the 1st and 2nd US Dragoons, hence the nickname, “Ranger Model.” Many of these saw action in Texas from 1851 until 1860. Prior to the Civil War, these venerable revolvers were present in United States mounted cavalry and dragoon units, the gold camps out west, the Canadian Northwest territories, on cattle drives and were involved in about any other facet of daily life and were deemed one of the most reliable and potent revolvers ever made.
CONDITION: Very Good to Fine overall. The barrel retains slight traces of bright blued finish with much of balance turning grayish-plum. Other areas are gray/brown with scattered staining and pitting. The frame and hammer retain small areas of muted case color with the balance being dark silver/gray. The engraved cylinder retains traces of original finish and retains about 30% of the original signed “Ormsby” Naval battle scene. The trigger guard and backstrap assemblies are mostly smooth with generous amounts of original silver plate. The oiled walnut grip is very good overall and shows honest use and wear with scattered small scratches, nicks and dings and has FOUR notches carved in the right side–what a story that could tell! The mechanics are fine and strong and the barrel is mostly crisp and shiny. All screws appear original and several have traces of original finish.
This is a true beauty and pure investment and museum grade–and a vital part of American history. There are far many more SPURIOUS examples of this rare model of Colt revolver than originals on the market today!