Very Fine 1863 Production Colt Model 1849 Pocket Revolver
- Product Code: FHG-B175
- Availability: In Stock
This is a fine condition example of a 4” barreled Colt Model 1849 Pocket Revolver with the one-line New York barrel address. The Model 1849 Colt Pocket was the most successful percussion handgun ever produced by Colt, with more than 325,000 being manufactured in the United States between 1850 and 1873, and another 11,000 or so being produced at Colt’s short-lived London manufactory.
The Model 1849 Pocket was an improved version of the Model 1848 Pocket Revolver, better known to collectors as the “Baby Dragoon”, which had first been introduced in 1847 and remained in production through 1850, when the Model 1849 Pocket Revolver superseded it. The “Baby Dragoon” had found a ready market among those who were taking part in the rapid westward expansion of the United States and were prized possessions in the California gold fields of the 1849 Gold Rush. The relatively short barrel length (typically 3” to 6”), the compact 5-shot cylinder and the small .31 caliber chambering all combined to make a relatively light weight (around 22 ounces or 1 pound 6 ounces with a 5” barrel) and compact revolver that could easily be carried covertly in a jacket or trouser pocket. The “Baby” did have some drawbacks, the most obvious being the lack of an attached loading lever on the majority of the production run. The other issue was the square backed triggerguard, which could be caught on the edge of a pocket when the gun was pulled from hiding. The improved version, the Model 1849 Pocket included a loading lever on all but the shortest barreled versions and a rounded trigger guard. Other changes from the early production “Baby Dragoons” that were standard on the 1849 had appeared as improvements on later production 1848 revolvers. These included an improved action with a roller on the bottom of the hammer, grease grooves on the cylinder arbor pin, and rectangular cylinder stop slots with a rounded concave profile lead-in groove along their leading edge. This particular improvement, which had been patented by Colt in 1850, was incorporated in all of their future percussion revolver designs and is still a feature found on nearly every revolver in production today. The 1849 Pocket also incorporated the iconic roll engraved “Stagecoach Hold Up” cylinder scene that had been introduced during the latter part of Baby Dragoon production.
The Colt Pocket went into production in 1850, concurrently with the Baby Dragoon, and both models continued in production simultaneously for some months and utilizing the same serial number range. This means that much some of the production during the first part of 1850, which started around number 12,000, contained a mixture of “Baby” and “Pocket” revolvers with the numbers overlapping within the same series. The “Pocket” finally becoming the only handgun in that serial number range towards the end of 1850, somewhere in serial number range of 14,000-15,000. The Colt Model 1849 Pocket was produced in more variations than any other Colt revolver and it is generally estimated that a collection of about two hundred Model 1849s would be necessary to cover all of the variants. Due to the wide variety of features available, a “standard” Model 1849 is hard to define, but in general a typical 1849 Pocket was a 5 or 6 shot .31 caliber single action percussion revolver with an octagonal barrel that was typically 3”, 4”, 5” or 6” in length, and usually had an attached loading lever. During the latter part of production, particularly during the production of the “one-line New York address” guns, 4” appears to have been standard with 5” and 6” guns less common and 3” guns no longer offered. The backstrap, gripstrap and triggerguard were usually of silver-plated brass, although this went away towards the end of production. The revolver was typically blued with a color case hardened frame, hammer and loading lever. Standard grips were varnished one-piece walnut. The revolvers were, however, available with a dizzying array of finishes, barrel lengths, grip options, and engraving. A dovetailed blade front sight was even a factory available option.
The Colt Model 1849 Pocket Revolver offered here is a very fine condition example with a one-line New York address on the popular 4” barrel and a serial number indicating that it was produced in mid-1863, at the height of the American Civil War. It is probable that more Colt Pocket models went off to war with the average northern or southern solider in the spring of 1861 than any other handgun of the era. In fact, by January of 1861 Colt had produced some 184,000 pocket models, including about 15,000 of the earlier Baby Dragoon revolvers, and Colt Pocket serial numbers had probably reached somewhere between 188,000 and 189,000 when Fort Sumter was fired upon on April 12, 1861. That production figure for a single series of pocket handguns exceeds many of the 19th century American firearms manufactures total output during their entire time in business!
The revolver is in VERY FINE overall condition and has the six-shot cylinder that became more common during the later production period. The serial number 229375 is clearly stamped on the bottom of the barrel web, the frame, the triggerguard and on the butt of the revolver. The cylinder has only last five digits of the serial number, 29375 and the cylinder arbor, loading lever and grips have the last four digits of the serial number 9375 on them, while the wedge has the last five numbers, 29375. All the serial numbers are matching throughout the revolver.
The revolver remains very crisp and sharp throughout. The barrel is marked with the one-line New York address which reads:
- ADDRESS COL. SAML COLT NEW-YORK U.S. AMERICA -
The cylinder has the usual COLTS PATENT panel box, over the box containing the serial number NO 29375. The revolver is crisply and clearly marked on the lower left side of the frame: COLTS / PATENT in two lines and there is no caliber mark on the rear left web of the triggerguard, although a factory inspector 4 mark is present there. The gun is in really lovely condition. It retains about 75%+ of its original bright blued finish on the barrel. Much of the loss is due to wear and flaking, on the right side of the gun, possibly from storage in a case where the revolver laid on that side. The sharp edges show some wear and loss as well, and there are some scattered light finish scratches on the barrel as well. The barrel is free of any real pitting, but there is some moderate pinpricking on the face of the muzzle, along with moderately oxidized freckling. There is also some scattered oxidized freckling here and there on the barrel, as well as some freckled patches of minor surface roughness, mostly on the right side of the barrel near the muzzle. The areas where the bluing on the barrel has thinned or worn have developed a pleasing dove gray patina, with some brownish and bluish tones. The pistol shows the some of the usual minor impact marks on the right side of the barrel web where the wedge has been knocked out of the pistol during its service life, but significantly fewer than on many Colt revolvers that I have seen over the years. There are just enough marks to let you know that the gun did see some real use. The loading lever retains about 30%+ of its original vivid case coloring, mostly around the knuckle and web of the lever’s joint. The loading lever moves smoothly and operates correctly, locking tightly into place, as it should. The frame of the revolver retains about 50%+ of its original vivid case coloring, which has faded and dulled somewhat and with the most vivid color in the protected areas closer to the recoil shield, leaving a mottled blueish gray and plum patina on the areas of the frame where the vivid color has faded and worn. The frame is smooth, with crisp edges and very clear markings. The cylinder retains about 20% of its original blue finish. This is quite thin and has blended with a bluish-gray patina, mixed with scattered surface oxidation, discoloration, and some tiny patches of minor corrosion. The cylinder is extremely sharp and crisp and retains roughly of 85%+ of the roll engraved scene. The Stagecoach Holdup scene roll engraved on the cylinder rates VERY FINE and is extremely clear, with only some light wear and some patches of scattered surface oxidation that obscures part of the scene. All the cones (nipples) in the cylinder are original and they are very crisp, but do show use, with pinpricking and light to moderate surface oxidation visible in their recesses. There is also some light pinpricking on the face of the cylinder from firing and use. All the safety pins on the rear face of the cylinder are at least partially intact, although most show at least some light damage and others significantly more. The brass grip frame, grip strap and trigger guard retain some minute traces of their thinning original silver-plating, mostly in the protected areas. The action of the revolver is excellent, and the gun functions correctly, timing, indexing, and locking up very tightly. The action of the pistol is extremely crisp. All the screws are original, and most are quite crisp, with only a couple showing any noticeable slot-wear. All the screws retain some traces of their fire-blued finish, with a couple of the screws retaining some very bright blue, but most showing moderate fading and dulling from age. The bore of the revolver is in about VERY GOOD condition and is mostly bright with crisp rifling its entire length. There is moderately scattered pitting along the entire length of the bore, with some patches of moderate oxidation and discoloration. The grip remains in FINE condition and fits the frame of the gun perfectly. The grip retains 70%+ of its original varnish and is really attractive. The majority of the varnish loss on the bottom portion of the grip edges, where it has worn from carry and use. Both the lower side edges show some minor wear from the rubbing action of carry and use and there is a moderate bruise on the right side of the grip at about the level of the trigger finger. The grip is solid and complete, and is free of any breaks, cracks, or repairs. The grip remains crisp but does show some scattered bumps, dings and mars from handling and use, as would be expected.
Overall, this is a really attractive example of an extremely nice condition Colt Model 1849 Pocket Revolver produced at the height of the American Civil War. The gun was manufactured mid-1863 and may have even gone off to war with a newly minted Federal officer. This revolver is in very nice condition and is actually nice enough to be cased if the new owner would like to display it that way. The gun would be a great addition to any collection of Colt revolvers or Civil War era pistols, and I am quite sure that you will be very pleased with this very attractive Colt Pocket Revolver.