Model: 1861 Navy with Centerfire Richards-Mason Conversion
Serial Number: 7960
Year of Manufacture: From http://proofhouse.com/colt/conversions.htm#1861navy “Circa 1872-1878. Calibers .38 rim fire & center fire, serials from 1-3300, shared with 1851 Navy conversions, and range of percussion arms below number 10356. Mostly center fire. Total production about 2,200.” Since this item is in .38 Long Colt, the date of manufacture is narrowed from 1875-1878.
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, frame, toe of the butt of the grip frame and rear of the wood stock are marked with serial number “7960”; we attempted to disassemble the barrel from the frame but it would not budge and to preserve its current condition, we did not attempt to force the items apart any further. 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 “9” on the guard bow. The back of the loading gate is marked “113”, the right of the front strap of the grip frame is marked “5”. The cylinder is marked “COLT’S PATENT No. 048 / 7960”, with faint remnants of the standard Naval Engagement roll engraving.
Barrel Length: The normal length is 7 1/2″, this barrel measures 7 3/8″
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 deep 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, Silver Plated Brass Grip Frame
Finish Originality: All Original
Bore Condition: The bore is semi-bright and the rifling is still highly defined. There are some spots of pitting present, with lighter pin prick erosion on the outer edges of said areas.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 10% of its metal finish seen as some case coloring on the frame, especially in protected areas such as the loading gate cutout. The surfaces have natural dark 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, please see our pictures. The barrel has semi-abrasive marks suggesting it may have been cleaned at different points throughout history. The screw heads range from light to moderately tooled. The markings are legible, most are faded. Overall, this handgun rates in about Fair to Good condition.
Mechanics: 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. According to Proofhouse, only about 2,200 were converted in this manner, making it a collector’s find. .38 Long Colt was an improvement on the previous ‘Short’ cartridge and was a hell of a lot faster to load than cap and ball items during the same time period. The utilization of self contained metallic cartridges continues to this day in military service. This item represents a transition from the old to new world and will shine in any collection. Please see our pictures and good luck.