Handguns Colt 1851 Navy

jerryaustin

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Jul 12, 2021
I thought I would share with the group the gun that I have been fascinated with since I was a little boy, after seeing the 1967 movie "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly". Clint Eastwood, and several other characters in the film, used the Colt 1851 Navy. In my humble opinion, this is the most beautiful handgun ever designed. It is elegant and lethal. It is a mixture of beauty and impeccable design. I bought the original Navy shown in the photos a few years ago. It was manufactured in 1861. It is in wonderful condition and I have fired it many times with both balls and conical bullets. It performed flawlessly. This particular gun has the initials KM with the number 63 on the brass back strap. I believe this to be a one time owner's initials from the year 1863. Feel free to weigh in on that one if you like. Any and all comments are welcome. Thanks.

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Joined
Nov 1, 2018
They are indeed beautiful guns...I think I fell in love with them watching the same movie. Of course, the movie was historically inaccurate in that Clint (Blondie) and everyone else was using metallic cartridges. The pace of any gunfight would have been slowed considerably if all the characters were loading paper cartridges, ramming them into the cylinder, fitting percussion caps....kinda ruins the flow in a movie gunfight.

I don't want to start picking on all the inaccuracies, but re the Civil War scene at the bridge, it seemed absurd that the Union Captain would be in command of what seemed to be at least a thousand men.

An amazing movie in all other respects.

You have a nice looking specimen. When you said it had KM 63 on the backstrap, I was surprised to see they were stamped. I wonder what other members here will infer from that.
 

jerryaustin

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Jul 12, 2021
They are indeed beautiful guns...I think I fell in love with them watching the same movie. Of course, the movie was historically inaccurate in that Clint (Blondie) and everyone else was using metallic cartridges. The pace of any gunfight would have been slowed considerably if all the characters were loading paper cartridges, ramming them into the cylinder, fitting percussion caps....kinda ruins the flow in a movie gunfight.

I don't want to start picking on all the inaccuracies, but re the Civil War scene at the bridge, it seemed absurd that the Union Captain would be in command of what seemed to be at least a thousand men.

An amazing movie in all other respects.

You have a nice looking specimen. When you said it had KM 63 on the backstrap, I was surprised to see they were stamped. I wonder what other members here will infer from that.
I too noticed the inaccuracies. Especially the one you pointed out about metallic cartridges. That was the most glaring one.
 

jerryaustin

Private
Joined
Jul 12, 2021
I too noticed the inaccuracies. Especially the one you pointed out about metallic cartridges. That was the most glaring one.
A clarification. I believe that there were Colt 1851 metallic cartridge conversions. However, not sure the movie timeframe coincided with those conversions. The biggest issue was that you could see the percussion nipples on the movie guns, but they were being loaded as if they used metallic cartridges.
 
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May 1, 2015
Location
Upstate N.Y.
Very nice condition Colt. I might be off base, but I don't believe the KM to be a soldiers initials. What I do believe is the "KM 63" just might very well be a mark of the Prussian Royal Navy, the Königliche Marine. Take a look at Tim Prince's site https://collegehillarsenal.com/Foreign Arms/Scarce-Colt-KM-Marked-Prussian-Naval-Pistol-Flask. Could very well be part of the intercepted shipment of 3000 going to Russia. Could put a whole new history on this Colt's life.
 
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DixieRifles

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I thought I would share with the group the gun that I have been fascinated with since I was a little boy, after seeing the 1967 movie "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly". Clint Eastwood, and several other characters in the film, used the Colt 1851 Navy.
You are a man after my own heart.
My MainManClint actually used a Colt Navy modified for cartridges. So did “The Ugly”.

Great looking gun. Love that stsnd with the bullets.
 

111thNYSV

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Jul 23, 2019
Location
Rochester NY
Nice revolver. How'd it shoot? Any discernable difference in accuracy between round balls and conical? I have a few but no navies and no originals. Closest I have is a 3rd model dragoon that was finished by Doug Turnbull who is world renowned for his color case hardening and other finishes.
 

jerryaustin

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Joined
Jul 12, 2021
Very nice condition Colt. I might be off base, but I don't believe the KM to be a soldiers initials. What I do believe is the "KM 63" just might very well be a mark of the Prussian Royal Navy, the Königliche Marine. Take a look at Tim Prince's site https://collegehillarsenal.com/Foreign Arms/Scarce-Colt-KM-Marked-Prussian-Naval-Pistol-Flask. Could very well be part of the intercepted shipment of 3000 going to Russia. Could put a whole new history on this Colt's life.
I did run into this angle when I was researching the Colt. Now, I might try to find out some additional information. Thanks for the link.
 

James N.

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A clarification. I believe that there were Colt 1851 metallic cartridge conversions. However, not sure the movie timeframe coincided with those conversions. The biggest issue was that you could see the percussion nipples on the movie guns, but they were being loaded as if they used metallic cartridges.
It doesn't - they don't appear until after the war in order for Colt to compete with the Smith & Wesson and other metallic cartridge handguns.
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
The metallic conversion for the Colt did indeed come after the Civil War.

Some historical inacuracies aside, Sergio Leone did a fantastic job of using the Civil War as the backdrop to the movie. He captured the "feel" of it quite well (and in what other movie have you ever seen the train with the mortar mounted on it, Civil War prison camps, etc.). He was fascinated by the American West. He did a great job in capturing that other epic event in the West....the building of the transcontinental railroad, which is the backdrop for the movie "Once Upon A Time In The West" (Henry Fonda deserved an academy award for his portrayal as a ruthless psychopathic killer with icy blue eyes...but Hollywood never took the Spaghetti Westerns seriously; some hokie moments in the film, yes (that damned harmonica), but there is a great plot woven into the railroad backdrop, and Henry Fonda sends chills down your spine). Sorry to digress a bit from the main theme (your 1851 Navy)....oops!
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Nice revolver. How'd it shoot? Any discernable difference in accuracy between round balls and conical? I have a few but no navies and no originals. Closest I have is a 3rd model dragoon that was finished by Doug Turnbull who is world renowned for his color case hardening and other finishes.
I shoot my original Navy and Army. Never tested the accuracy scrupulously re ball vs conical, but I do know the conical shoots higher despite its heavier weight. Seems counterintuitive, but the conical either provides a tighter gas seal and/or more powder burns before it gets ejected from the barrel due to the initially higher inertia of the conical. I have seen this repeatedly, so I know the conical shoots higher.
 

jerryaustin

Private
Joined
Jul 12, 2021
Nice revolver. How'd it shoot? Any discernable difference in accuracy between round balls and conical? I have a few but no navies and no originals. Closest I have is a 3rd model dragoon that was finished by Doug Turnbull who is world renowned for his color case hardening and other finishes.
It performed flawlessly. While I shot both balls and conical bullets, I did not do a detailed analysis to determine which performed better. As you know, the sights on the 1851 are rudimentary at best. I basically just wanted to see if it worked, which it did.
 

jerryaustin

Private
Joined
Jul 12, 2021
I thought the early Navy records were destroyed by that 1863 fire?
C lot Archives? Do you mean Colt archives? If you could provide an address, I would love to contact Colt to see if they could shed any light on this revolver.
 
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