Still Another M.1849 Colt Pocket Revolver!

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James N.

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If my old collecting mentor Robert Justice was correct that a collection of anything has to consist at the minimum of at least three examples, the corollary should probably be that three examples of any object also constitutes a collection. Assuming this admittedly twisted logic to be correct, then I suppose by extension that I have inadvertently become a collector of Colt M.1849 .31 Pocket Revolvers since I now own three of these little pistols! The M.1849 was the model produced in the greatest numbers of any Colt - over 300,000 were made between the years 1849-1872 before production ended, mainly due to the increasing popularity of cartridge revolvers. It was never a truly military weapon since it wasn't purchased under any government contract; however, they remained popular private-purchase sidearms for both officers and enlisted men. My three illustrate the principal variations in these, namely the capacity and barrel lengths.

From top-to-bottom: A five-shot version with a 6" barrel, a put-together I have featured before https://civilwartalk.com/threads/my-new-m-1849-colt-pocket-pistol.138468/ whose serial number 188382 shows it - or most of it at least; the barrel and loading lever have different lower numbers and the wedge and cylinder are now unmarked - was made in 1861. Next, my most recent purchase, a six-shooter with a 5" barrel, more pictures of which below. And at bottom, another six-shot but having a stubby 4" barrel featured here https://civilwartalk.com/threads/another-m-1849-colt-pocket-pistol.139189/ with a serial number 229720 dating it to 1863.

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All of them look somewhat better in person, appearing "washed-out" in the early morning diffused light on my deck. When I got it, it was grimy overall with a little light surface rust in crevices, especially the chambers and around the nipples, making a light cleaning and oiling a must. Contrary to appearances, the brass bead front sight IS there, just cut off or more likely worn to a proverbial nub. The action is very smooth and works better than either of my other two.

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The all-matching serial numbers 280787 indicate it was made postwar in 1866 - that is, unless you go by the "official" U. S. Government's date of The War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866! Barrel, frame, trigger guard, backstrap, wedge, and cylinder all match, though some are abbreviated, lacking the first or first and second digits like on the cylinder below - for some reason the loading lever appears to have never been marked.

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The usual Stagecoach Holdup cylinder scene is worn but not as badly as on my other two; the screws are so un-boogered it makes me wonder if they have been replaced? Note also the usual tiny markings COLT"S PATENT and 31 CAL.

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It's hard to tell here but the top of the 5" barrel has the usual Colt marking with the New York address; note the nub of the brass front sight.
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sourdough

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Several years ago I had a repro Replica Arms El Paso Texas 1848 Pocket Squareback Trigger Guard 5 shot 6" barrel that shot just fine. My fingers are just too long to comfortably shoot the gun. 1851 Navies are my choice.

Nice collection, sir!

Jim
 
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I'm a huge fan of the Pockets. I am one short of a "collection". A few months ago I was three short of a "collection". ;-)

One question...which barrel length is your favorite based on looks alone?
 

Jobe Holiday

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The reference to "three like items make a collection" is not an "off the cuff" remark and has more substance than you may think. Legally three items of the same type are recognized as a collection for insurance purposes. So quoth my insurance agent. So, yes James N., you have a legitimate collection!
J.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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I've always liked those longer barreled '49 Pockets. Colt's hand a winner with that gun, but while I like them, on the pocket guns I prefer the 1849 "Baby Dragoon".

Very nice trio of Colt 1849's!
 
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Ramair

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Love your pocket pistol collection, seems to be many variants as far as barrel lengths.
 
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sourdough

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IIRC, the factory barrel lengths were 3", 4", 5", and 6".

Colt also made a 6-shot model primarily with the 6" barrel. The OP's gun is a 6-shot 5".

Jim
 
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JPChurch

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I'm glad I don't have a collection of ex-wives. One was enough and I never re-married.

Nice pistols James N. When I visited that antique firearms shop in Upperville VA a few weekends ago, there were several Colt pockets for sale. They all looked to be in real nice condition but I didn't ask to see any of them as they were all in glass cases. The sticker/price tag shock prevented any further examination on my part.

When it comes to Colt pockets, I'm always reminded of Gregory Peck in "How the West Was Won." Out of money at the gambling table, he pulls out a Colt Pocket revolver to add to his wager. He described it as "this fine revolver, London made" as he laid it on the table to bolster his bet. Well, it sure looked like a Colt Pocket to me......
 
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James N.

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I'm a huge fan of the Pockets. I am one short of a "collection". A few months ago I was three short of a "collection". ;-)

One question...which barrel length is your favorite based on looks alone?
Personally, I think the "new" 5" barrel has the best proportion overall. The 6" barrel is too unwieldy to be a "pocket pistol" and too small to be a serious sidearm; while the 4" barrel makes for the best concealed carry but is definitely stubby-looking.
 
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James N.

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IIRC, the factory barrel lengths were 3", 4", 5", and 6".

Colt also made a 6-shot model primarily with the 6" barrel. The OP's gun is a 6-shot 5".

Jim
Oh, NO - does that mean I have yet another one to look for!?
 

James N.

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I'm glad I don't have a collection of ex-wives. One was enough and I never re-married.

Nice pistols James N. When I visited that antique firearms shop in Upperville VA a few weekends ago, there were several Colt pockets for sale. They all looked to be in real nice condition but I didn't ask to see any of them as they were all in glass cases. The sticker/price tag shock prevented any further examination on my part.

When it comes to Colt pockets, I'm always reminded of Gregory Peck in "How the West Was Won." Out of money at the gambling table, he pulls out a Colt Pocket revolver to add to his wager. He described it as "this fine revolver, London made" as he laid it on the table to bolster his bet. Well, it sure looked like a Colt Pocket to me......
I don't remember the scene - I may have to rewatch my DVD! - but since the M.'49 was the most-produced of all the Colt percussion models, I think I remember that they were made by Colt in London as well.

As for the wives situation, your description fits my own experience to a "T."
 

JPChurch

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I don't remember the scene - I may have to rewatch my DVD! - but since the M.'49 was the most-produced of all the Colt percussion models, I think I remember that they were made by Colt in London as well.

As for the wives situation, your description fits my own experience to a "T."
 
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