The M1851 Navy revolver was one of Colt's most popular percussion revolvers; surpassed only by the M1849 Pocket. The M1851 Navy model was revolutionary for its time. It was the first full size revolver that could be carried comfortably on one's hip. Previous Colt Models had weighed as much as 4 1/2 pounds, relegating them to pommel holsters mounted on horse saddles. The M1851 weighed half as much as its predecessors but was still very lethal. The benefits of being able to carry a simple, reliable, and powerful repeating pistol on one's person rather than on his horse, were immediately obvious to Colts customers, and sales of the Navy exploded. Colt produced more than 250,000 M1851 Navies from 1851 to 1873. The pistol was so well liked, that it remained in production well after the self contained cartridge had rendered the percussion cap obsolete. The 1851 Navy cemented Colt's Patent Firearms Company's legacy. It was the official sidearm of Confederacy and was used extensively by both the North and the South during the Civil War and was carried by some of the "Old West's" most famous characters; including Wild Bill Hickock.
This particular M1851 Navy is in excellent shootable condition and was among the very first M1851's produced by Colt. That's right, this pistol was produced in 1851; the very first year that Colt began to produce the pistol that would make them an American legend.
This gun features all the correct "earmarks" of a first year M51. It has the small "squared" trigger guard, wide walnut grips, and the early "COLT' PATENT" stamp done in simple san serif letters. It is all matchig with the exception of a replaced cylinder, which bares a different serial number than the rest of the piece. Ironically, the cylinder serial number (#5158) is actually lower than the gun's serial numbers (#5363), meaning the cylinder swap likely took place almost immediately after the gun was purchased by its original owner.
The pistol's action is wonderfully smooth with positive half and full cock. The cylinder is timed perfectly; as evidenced by the lack of drag marks that are so often seen on the cylinder of of other original Colts. The cylinder spins freely on half cock and locks up with minimal wobble on full cock; just like it should. The cylinder itself is in very good condition with a lot of it's original naval battle scene remaining. The chambers are cleaning with only minor frost pitting.
The barrel is full length and features some beautiful holster wear at the muzzle; a feature that only develops after years of riding faithfully in a holster. It's clear this pistol served its former owner very faithfully. If only this gun could talk! The bore is good with strong rifling and some light scattered pitting. The post-style front sight is intact but has been worn almost flush to the barrel after riding so long in a holster.
There is no wobble between the barrel and the frame.
This pistol is sure to be the crown jewel of anyone's collection!