1851 Navy Colt
The Colt 1851 Navy revolver, one of the most famous guns of the old west, second only to the Colt Peacemaker, was a .36 caliber black powder pistol designed by Samuel Colt between the years 1847 and 1850. Because of its popularity, it remained in production for 22 years from 1851 to 1873 and was Samuel Colt’s first big success. More than 250,000 Navy Colts were manufactured, many of them with an engraving on the cylinder depicting a scene of the Texas Navy during the Battle of Campeche which occurred on May 16th, 1843.
These weapons remained extremely popular until the invention of the cartridge bullet, which the Peacemaker, as well as modern firearms, use.
The list of famous people who carried the 1851 Colt Navy is long, but here are a few of the more notable ones:
• Doc Holiday
• Both the Confederate and Union armies of the Civil War
• General Robert E. Lee
• Jefferson Davis
• Captain Jack Hays of the Texas Rangers
• Wild Bill Hickock, who famously killed Dave Tutt on July 21st, 1865, with his Navy Colt during a shootout in the town square of Springfield, Missouri. This event became the inspiration behind nearly every old western shoot out depicted in Hollywood movies.
The 1851 black powder revolver has, in modern times, been proven to be every bit as equal to the performance and accuracy of many modern day semiautomatic pistols in .380 caliber. It was also the first gun to be manufactured as a replica and was copied, exactly, from an original production revolver.
This pistol is a cap and ball revolver, otherwise known as a percussion revolver. When the trigger is pulled, the hammer strikes a cap which ignites the powder. Because the rotation of the chamber always terminates with one of the six nipples lined up with the hammer, it was common practice to load only five of the six chambers and allow the hammer to rest on the nipple of the empty chamber. This was to prevent accidental discharges, which could happen if a person were to merely bump a hammer that was resting on a loaded and capped chamber.
Cabela’s offers a fully functional replica of the Colt 1851 Navy made by Pietta. It comes with a brass backstrap and trigger guard, octagonal barrel and walnut grips in .36 caliber. Barrel length: 7-1/2″. Overall length: 13-1/2″. Weight: 2 lbs. 9 oz.
Bass Pro Shops offers the Colt 1851 Navy Revolver replica by Traditions Performance Firearms. This one is a .44 caliber percussion with an octagon barrel, brass frame, single action, rear hammer sight and post front sight. 2 lb. 8 oz., 7-1/2” barrel.