Model: 1861 Navy with Centerfire Richards-Mason Conversion
Serial Number: 4321
Year of Manufacture: 1862 (http://proofhouse.com/colt/1851navy.htm), Converted in the mid 1870’s. (http://proofhouse.com/colt/index.html)
Caliber: .38 Long Colt Centerfire
Action Type: 6-Shot, Single Action, Side-Gate Loaded Revolver
Markings: The top of the barrel is marked “ADDRESS SAML COLT NEW.YORK U.S. AMERICA”, the underside is marked with the New York Navy Yard “R.W.M.” and anchor conversion acceptance stamp. The underside of the barrel lug, trigger guard plate, toe of the butt of the grip frame, underside of the cylinder pin, rear of the loading gate and rear of the cylinder are marked with matching serial number “4321”. The serial number on the bottom of the frame is no longer legible, though the last digit is definitely a “1”. The left of the frame is marked “PAT. JULY, 25, 1871 / PAT. JULY, 2, 1872”, which is struck over the original “COLT’S / PATENT” mark, the left of the trigger guard is marked “36 CAL” and “2” on the guard bow. The rear of the cylinder is marked “C”, the outside is marked “COLT’S PATENT No. 2834 / 3808”. The back of the stock’s serial number is no longer legible.
Barrel Length: 7 ½”, Octagonal
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a rounded brass blade, fixed to the barrel. The rear sight is a “V” notch in the hammer.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are a one piece smooth walnut stock. The item has smoothed losses around the frame and butt of the grip frame, the item may have been sanded at some point but the general fit is decent in most areas. The stock has heavy compression and scrape marks but no visible cracks. The grips rate in about Fair overall condition.
Type of Finish: Blue with Case Colored Hammer & Frame
Finish Originality: The frame may have been refinished when it was converted, given the almost completely lost serial number and faded Colt Patent marking, please see our pictures. The other surfaces look to have been cleaned at different intervals but do not appear to have been refinished.
Bore Condition: The bore is dark and the rifling is worn but still defined. There is moderate erosion in the bore, with a few areas of pitting.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 10% of its metal finish seen as some case coloring on the frame and small spots of bluing on the ejector rod head and circumference of the conversion firewall. The surfaces have natural patina with heavier handling and tool marks present throughout. The brass items have darkened orange patina and scattered dings. Some of the metal has deep bruising and pin prick erosion, the right of the frame has a patch of very dark erosion, please see our pictures. The barrel has semi-abrasive marks suggesting it may have been cleaned at different points throughout history. Most of the screw heads are distressed, though a few only have light tooling. The present markings are legible, but for the frame’s serial number. Overall, this handgun rates in about Fair to Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. There is about 1/16” back play and 1/16” side to side play in full lockup of all 6 chambers. The hammer has a strong mainspring. We did not fire this handgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance requirements.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None.
Our Assessment: This revolver started life as an 1861 Navy model in .36 Caliber Ball and was converted sometime in about 1872 to accept .38 Long Colt centerfire cartridges with the Richards-Mason patent. The right of the frame was milled and a loading gate was installed, along with an ejector and rod housing. The revolver has the New York Navy Yard acceptance mark and still has some case coloring left on the frame! The revolver must have seen some very interesting times having been marked for military service during the American Indian Wars, perhaps even having seen some use in the Civil War. According to Proofhouse, only about 2,200 were converted in this manner, making it a collector’s find, especially with the unique “4321” serial number; all parts that are serialized match, but the underside of the frame’s serial number is missing, a trailing “1” is visible, suggesting it may match as well. Please see our pictures and good luck.