SOLD FOR: $7525
Model: 1855, Revolving Carbine
Year of Manufacture: Circa 1857-1864
Caliber: .44 Caliber, Cap & Ball
Action Type: Percussion-ignition Single-Action Revolving Rifle with a fluted 6-chamber Cylinder
Markings: There are no visible markings.
Barrel Length: 18”
Sights/ Optics: The front sight is a german-silver blade fixed to the front of the barrel. The rear sight has one fixed and one slightly taller folding “V”-notch leaves, dovetailed to the barrel in front of the frame.
Stock Configuration & Condition/ Grip: The stock is one-piece smooth walnut with a straight grip, straight comb and iron crescent buttplate. The stock has some scattered light nicks and scratches. There is a thin crack to the right of the bottom tang. The wood is generally shy to the metal. The LOP measures 13 3/4″ from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate has gone to a mottled patina with some scattered nicks, scratches and infrequent minor surface erosion. Overall, the stock is in Very Good-plus condition as refinished Antique.
Type of Finish: Blue
Finish Originality: Refinished
Bore Condition: The bore is dark. The rifling is worn, barely visible. There is erosion and pitting scattered through the bore. In this writer’s opinion, the bore rates 3 out of 10.
Most antique firearms have bores that will show erosion. This is not only due to age but to the use of black powder. When fired, black powder reacts corrosively. NRA Antique Firearm Conditions Standards are quite lenient for bores. In some cases the NRA standards disregarded the bore’s condition for collectors firearms.
Overall Condition: The gun retains about 25% of its current metal finish. The barrel has gone to a light patina. The receiver is mostly worn to white with some scattered patches of finish. The cylinder has some finish in the flutes with most surfaces worn or going to a light patina. There is stronger blue in the trigger guard/tang. There are scattered nicks and scratches with more notable dings in the frame forward of the cylinder and tool marks around the sideplate on the left. There are a few other scattered notable dings and there are scattered spots of surface erosion. The action shows operational wear. The screwheads are tooled but remain serviceable. There are no visible markings. Overall, the gun is in Fair-Good condition as refinished Antique (see Mechanics).
Mechanics: The cylinder does not lock, it can be rotated clockwise unless the hammer is all the way down. The sear engagement is poor, the hammer can be pushed out of half-cock and if it is pulled all the way to the rear and released, it will not catch the sear at full-cock (it will catch if lowered gently to the sear engagement). As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance requirements.
Box Paperwork and Accessories: None.
Our Assessment: The Colt Model 1855 Revolving Rifle was a fascinating arm which was introduced only a few years before the American Civil War broke out. The gun had an action similar to the revolvers that made his company famous, but it was constructed in carbine, rifle and musket variants. In 1857 a small number of these guns were in service with the military (approximately 100), but when the Civil War broke out in 1861 orders for these unorthodox rifles started to roll in and many were commercially acquired by various formations (a common practice at the time). Thousands of these guns would ultimately see service, both sides used the gun but more were supplied to the Union. Afterall, Samuel Colt’s company was situated well above the Mason-Dixon Line, in Connecticut, and Colt was a commissioned officer in the Connecticut State Militia. The gun was used from the opening months of the conflict until the war ended in 1865, it was considered an effective arm by most of its users but the advent of breech-loaded firearms made it largely obsolete by the end of the conflict.
There are a number of different Colt Model 1855 Revolving Rifles that were made. This particular specimen is a .44 caliber carbine with an 18” barrel, a 6-round fluted cylinder and half-stock with crescent buttplate. The gun shows its age, having been refinished with all markings removed and there are some mechanical issues. Still, it is a neat example of a scarce Colt Revolving Carbine and may well have seen use in the most destructive conflict on American soil. This is a great option for historical collectors. Good luck on your bid!
Please forgive any typos, I was educated in California. -Bud