Friday, January 21, 2011

Colt New Army & Navy Revolver

One of the things I've been doing while home on leave is cataloging my gun collection. One of the older pieces I have is this this Colt New Army & Navy Revolver. These have a rich, although not particularly successful history.

This revolver had a counter-clockwise rotating cylinder, opened for loading and ejection by pulling back on the release mounted on the left side of the frame behind the recoil shield. Rounds or empties were extracted by pushing the ejector rod to activate a star extractor. Reloading was accomplished by the method common to most modern revolvers. Sights, as seen above, were a basic rounded front blade and notched topstrap. Sources I've read note thant the finish on all military revolvers was blue, with civilian guns having a nickeled finish as an option.

The revolver became known as the New Army and Navy after acceptance by the Army in 1892. User feedback resulted in a series of improvements over the years. Although apparently revolvers intended for the civilian market retained the name through the refinements, the military continually updated the designations resulting in the Models 1892, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1901, 1903, and the Model 1905 Marine Corps revolver.

In the case of my pistol, it's evident that the cylinder was blued. I strongly suspect someone decided spend several hours with a polishing wheel on the rest of the revolver, rather than being a nickel finish. If so, the value on this gun is severely diminished, as well as the very worn condition of the cylinder. This leads me to consider possible re-bluing this gun. I normally stay away from refinishing guns, as I tend to look at things from a collecting point of view, rather than a utility or attractiveness perspective. But in this case, if the value is truly minimal, this piece may be best refinished, and placed in a shadow box on the wall. To me, it essentially comes down to what would be the most correct finish; if it's been "unofficially" altered by a someone with a power tool fetish, why not take it back to facsimile of it's original appearance. If it's simply had the cylinder swapped out at some point, it'll probably go up on the wall as is.



Montana said...

That sure doesn't look like a nickel finish to me. I'd reblue it, but I always buy guns to shoot. I've never considered collecting guns for their value as a collection and hence I have no understanding of that market.

Papa Whiskey said...

If you want a real restoration of the finish (and don't mind spending money on it), try Doug Turnbull. What I would do instead is just get a sandblast blue job or maybe have it parkerized.

"... a rich, though not particularly successful history." That's putting it politely. This is the gun that failed so spectacularly against the Moro tribesmen during the Philippine insurrection; its 150-grain bullet at 770 fps ballistics enabling the barong-wielding Muslims to continue their slashing assaults on US troops even after sustaining several hits. This prompted the Army to exhume its leftover Colt SAAs from mothballs, and later insist on a .45 cartridge for its new autopistol.

MauserMedic said...


Looking closer, I note that there is still bluing around the forcing cone area of the barrel. Thus, it's been properly butchered by someone.


"This prompted the Army to exhume its leftover Colt SAAs from mothballs, and later insist on a .45 cartridge for its new autopistol"; the one good thing about it: it led to one of the most successful cartridge/handgun combination in military history. But then, I'm biased.

I'm leaning towards rebluing now, given that I'm now sure it was power-buffed. I believe the collecter value is destroyed, and mechanically, it's unsafe to shoot. The cylinder lock-up is beyond loose to the point I wouldn't fire it in single action with last moment manual alignmet of the cylinder. But perhaps I can somewhat restore it to its original appearance, so that it will be enjoyable to look at.

Papa Whiskey said...

Probably needs a new hand. That's a part that always seems to be worn on those old Colts.

I'm glad this thing's failures led to the .45 ACP too, but it's a pity a bunch of U.S. troops had to get sliced up for that to happen.

Alex Galletti said...

Being a lover of revolvers due to its mechanism and their influence in the western film world in the past, my fascination has been there for a very long time. Refinishing will always affect the value of the gun but, as you've said, if you can make it more look like the original, then why not?