Hopkins & Allen / Merwin Hulbert Large Frame 1st Model, Nickel 7” SA Revolver, Horn Grips & Case MFD 1877-78 Antique

Sold For: $ 1,505.00

Make: The revolver was made by Hopkins & Allen for Merwin & Hulbert, who distributed the revolvers.

Model: Large Frame 1st Model Single Action Revolver (per https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2015/7/20/a-look-back-at-merwin-hulbert-revolvers/: the features distinguishing the 1st and 2nd models are that the 2nd model had a shorter cylinder bolt and was made without a sideplate.

Serial Number: 9356

Year of Manufacture: 1877-1878 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merwin_Hulbert)

Caliber: .44 Russian

Action Type: Single Action 6 Shot Revolver with Push Down Loading Gate Side Loading Cylinder and Barrel Assembly That Twists to Remove

Markings: The top of the rib on the barrel is marked “MERWIN HULBERT & CO. NEW YORK U.S.A. Pat. Jan. 24. Apr. 21. Dec. 15. 74. Aug. 3. 75. July 11. 76. Apr. 17. 77. Pat’s Mar. 6. 77.”. The rear face of the barrel lug is marked “A / 6641”, which we take to be an assembly number. The left side of the grip frame is marked “6641” and “R”. The rear face of the cylinder is marked “2816”. The underside of the grip frame is marked “9356”. The left side of the frame under the cylinder window is marked “RUSSIAN MODEL”.

Barrel Length: The barrel is 7” in length with a 2/3 underlug.

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a rounded blade fixed to the top of the barrel. The rear sight is as a small “U” notch at the top of the frame behind the cylinder.

Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are grooved horn on a square butt grip frame. The grips have yellowed with age and show light file marks at the tops of the grips with more defined tool marks on the bottom surfaces of the grips. There are three voids in the bottom surface of the left grip. The inside surfaces of the grips are rounded, and then filled with a putty-like substance to make them flat. The curvature of the grips and the putty filling can be seen on the bottom surfaces of both grips. The grips rate in about Very Good overall condition.

Type of Finish: The finish is nickel plated. The hammer and trigger are blued.

Finish Originality: The finish is not original.

Bore Condition: The bore is gray with moderate wear in the rifling. There is moderate erosion scattered throughout the front half of the bore with light erosion in the rear half.

Overall Condition: This revolver retains about 83% of its current metal finish. There are swirl marks from polishing and slightly dull spots in the barrel, cylinder and the sides of the frame, along with several light handling marks. There is a small area on the left side of the barrel with several tiny spots of solid erosion and three gouges in the left side above the front of the underlug. There are scratches from grinding/sanding under the finish on the sides of the frame and the edges of the recoil shield, with light pitting under the finish of the loading gate and cylinder flutes. There are a few tiny dings in the left sideplate and in the cartridge groove in the right side of the frame. The screw heads are sharp. The barrel markings are clear, but the markings on the left side of the frame are very thin from having been extensively polished before the gun was refinished. Overall, this revolver rates in about Very Good condition as re-finished.

Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The cylinder and barrel lockups both show a small amount of play. There is ¼ cock safety notch in the hammer, but it doesn’t pull the firing pin in the hammer back far enough to clear the front face of the recoil shield, and doesn’t lockout the trigger in any event. We did not fire this handgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.

Box, Paperwork & Accessories: There is a lanyard ring on the bottom of the grip. This revolver comes with an original copy of a 1984 issue of “The Gun Report”, where it describes the attributes of the Large Frame pistols and gives a biography of Joseph Merwin. The revolver also comes with an oak case that has brass furniture and a dark red padded velvet lining on the interior. There are no marks in the lid of the case that we could find, but there are several handling marks in the bottom surface of the case along with a few streaks of paint transfer. The inside of the case shows imprints of the revolver in both the lid and the bottom of the case, but no damage. The case is in about Fine condition.

Our Assessment: Merwin, Hulbert & Co. were not manufacturers or makers of guns. There were a group of New York City gun and sporting goods dealers who had a major interest in Hopkins & Allen Firearms of Connecticut and had Hopkins & Allen make guns for them under their own name. Sometimes they sold guns marked with the Hopkins & Allen name, and some guns were marked with both names, but all were made by Hopkins & Allen in Connecticut. This is a Large Frame 1st Model Single Action revolver chambered in .44 Russian. It differs from the 2nd Model in that the 2nd Model has a shorter cylinder bolt and does not have a sideplate. This is a rare early model that was only made for two years, from 1876-1878, with this pistol made in either 1877 or 1878 (due to its 1877 patent markings on the barrel). The revolver is chambered in .44 Russian as denoted by the “Russian Model” markings on the frame and has bone grips that have turned yellow with age. Unfortunately, the revolver has been refinished in nickel, and the serial number of the cylinder does not match that of the barrel and frame. The revolver is in about Very Good condition as refinished, with about 83% of its current finish remaining. The bore is gray with moderate wear in the rifling and spots of moderate erosion scattered over the front half of the bore. Although revolvers made by Hopkins & Allen were not normally considered high quality, the Large Frame Single Action revolvers were considered to be on a par or better than revolvers made by Smith & Wesson at the time, and the nickel finish that Hopkins & Allen achieved was second to none. The tolerances held in manufacturing these pistols were so tight that loaded cartridges would stay in the cylinder when the barrel was pulled forwards while only the empty cartridges were ejected. Several infamous gunfighters, outlaws and lawmen used Merwin & Hulbert revolvers, including Jesse James, Pat Garret, Pearl Hart, Bob Dalton and Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, attesting to the reliability of these revolvers. This rare revolver is sure to gather a spot in a collection of early American revolvers, and it comes with an oak presentation case.

Hopkins & Allen / Merwin Hulbert Large Frame 1st Model, Nickel 7” SA Revolver, Horn Grips & Case MFD 1877-78 Antique
Hopkins & Allen / Merwin Hulbert Large Frame 1st Model, Nickel 7” SA Revolver, Horn Grips & Case MFD 1877-78 Antique