ID'd Martial Savage Navy with Original Holster
- Product Code: FHG-1544-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
The Savage “Navy” self-cocking revolver is one of the weirdest, most recognizable and possibly most ungainly handguns of the Civil War era. The .36 caliber, 6-shot revolver had a 7” octagon barrel and a unique action. The gun featured a unique ring shaped cocking lever inside, the heart shaped trigger guard, which was used to advance the cylinder and cock the hammer. The shooter could then fire the gun with the traditional trigger. The gun was the final version of a family of self-cocking revolvers that were built upon the “Figure-8” design of JS North. Beyond its unique action, the gun was revolutionary in that is was a “gas seal” revolver. The cylinder moved forward when the action cocked, and a recess in the chamber mouth engaged a tapered forcing cone at the rear of the barrel. The effect was a gas seal between the chamber and the barrel, which practically eliminated the loss of gas and pressure from the usual gap between the barrel and cylinder. This meant that the gas from power charge was more effectively converted into propulsion for the bullet and increased its velocity for a given powder charge, over convectional revolver designs. This innovative design would not be revisited on a widespread basic for a military revolver until the adoption of the M1895 Nagant by the Russian military. From the very beginning the revolver had been intended as a martial arm by its inventors and manufacturers, and significant effort was put forth in the years preceding the war to obtain a US military contract for the innovative, if somewhat cumbersome revolvers. With the coming of the Civil War, the need for revolvers outweighed any misgivings that the military may have had about the design, and the coveted contracts were almost immediately forthcoming. The state of Massachusetts procured 285 of the Savage revolvers early in the conflict. Additional arms were sold to military outfitters and arms retailers like Schuyler, Hartley & Graham and William Syms & Brothers. Both of these companies sold Savage Navy revolvers to the US government during early 1862, for as much as $25 per gun. The Savage Revolving Firearms Company secured the first US military contract, directly with the US government on October 16, 1861. This contract called for Savage to deliver 5,000 pistols between October 1861 and March 1862 at the price of $20 per revolver. Another contract was received from the government in November of 1861 to supply an additional 5,000 revolvers, at $20 each, between November 1861 and May of 1862. Savage completed their initial contract in a timely fashion, but had trouble delivering the guns from the second contract on the agreed to schedule. The second contract was temporarily voided by the Ordnance Department, but after negotiating with Savage, an agreement was reached where the 4,500 outstanding guns from that contract would be delivered at the lower rate of $19.00 per pistol. The deliveries under the second contract were completed by July of 1862. Of the approximately 20,000 Savage “Navy” models produced during the Civil War the US Ordnance Department took delivery of 11,384 of the guns, and the Navy took delivery of 1,126. The balance of approximately 8,500 guns were offered for civilian sale, although most those revolvers no doubt ended up seeing action during the war as well. The pistols saw significant field service during the war, and were issued to at least 26 US cavalry regiments and were listed among the arms of some half dozen or more Confederate cavalry regiments. US volunteer cavalry regiments that were issued Savage Navy revolvers included the 6th, 10th & 13th Illinois, the 5th & 15th Kansas, 11th Kentucky, the 3rd, 4th & 7th Missouri, 7th New York 3rd Ohio, 7th Pennsylvania, 1st & 2nd Wisconsin, 1st Vermont and the Potomac Brigade. The revolvers were also issued to the 1st through 9th Missouri State Militia Cavalry. The two regiments who carried the most Savages on their ordnance rolls were the 4th Missouri State Militia Cavalry with 714 and the 2nd Wisconsin with 400. Confederate cavalry units that listed the Savage Navy among their arms were the 11th Texas, 7th Virginia, and the 34th & 35th Virginia Cavalry Battalions. After the war the Ordnance Department disposed of the Savage Navy revolvers rather quickly. They sold some 773 during 1866 at prices varying from $1.50 to $3.45 each. During 1875 they sold some 3,951 for prices as low as $0.35 to as high as $.058 each; a far cry from the $19 to $25 each they paid during the war years.
This gun is in VERY FINE condition overall. It is wonderfully crisp, martially marked example and is accompanied by a very scarce, original military holster. Inside the flap of the holster is the name of the man who carried the revolver. Unfortunately it is not completely legible. The interior of the flap appears to reads:
T * D PEnder
CO * C * “ B
I’m not sure that I have deciphered the last name correctly due to wear and the combination of upper and lower case letters in the last name. The unit designation is even more worn, although the “CO * C” seems clear enough. The last part is illegible and ends with either an “8” or a “B”. There are only a handful of men named “T Pender” who served in either the US or CS cavalry during the American Civil War. The most likely candidates are Thomas Pender of Company A, 8th Illinois Cavalry, Thomas Pender of Company D, Berry’s Missouri Cavalry Battalion and Thaddeus Pender of Company I of the 7th Battalion of Confederate Cavalry. None had service in a Company “C” that I can find, although the records are sometimes incomplete or simply incorrect. I may also have the last name wrong. One way or another, this would be a wonderful research project for someone with time and ambition to determine exactly what the name is. The definitive identity of the man who carried the gun might be discovered with some digging and research. It is possible that the gun might have belonged to the Thomas Pender of Berry’s Missouri Cavalry, as he was noted as having deserted.
As previously noted, the Savage Revolving Firearms Company “Navy” revolver offered here is in VERY FINE condition and retains its very rare, US military flap holster. Savage Navy revolvers have a reputation for being difficult to find with any amount of original finish, or with grips that are not in rough shape. This gun retains a significant amount of original blue and has a truly wonderful set of original, martially inspected grips. These .36, six shot revolvers also had a reputation for being very temperamental mechanically during the period of use, and finding one that is in perfect mechanical working order today is quite difficult. This pistol is mechanically excellent and functions exactly as it should in every way. As is typical of Savage Navy revolvers, the gun is serial numbered on the frame, under the grips. In this case the serial number is under the right grip, on the right grip frame and is 13138. The matching serial number is present on the bottom of the barrel (this requires the removal of the cylinder arbor pin and loading mechanism to see), and is also lightly penciled on the interior of both grip panels. The top strap of the revolver is clearly marked in three lines:
SAVAGE R.F.A. Co. MIDDLETOWN, CT
H.S. NORTH PATENTED JUNE 17 1856
JANUARY 10 1859. MAY 15 1860
The markings are often light on these revolvers, so it is nice to see one where they are deep and very clear. As has already been mentioned, the action of the revolver works perfectly, with a pull of the ring handle beneath the trigger indexing the cylinder to the rear, rotating it and locking it into position and cocking the hammer. A single pull of this lever prepares the six shot, .36-caliber (hence the name “Navy”) revolver, to fire. The gun retains about 30%+ thinning blue on the octagon barrel, about 40%+ on the cylinder and about 5%-10% on the frame. The case hardened hammer retails about 40% dulled mottling, mixed with a smoky gray patina, and the triggerguard and ring mechanism retain about 10%-20% dulled case coloring that has faded to the same smoky gray color with a hint brown. The balance of the frame, cylinder and barrel where the bluing has worn or faded, has a smooth brownish gray patina, with some scattered areas of thin brown surface oxidation The metal is almost entirely smooth and with only some light scattered areas of very minor pinpricking and peppering, most of which is located on the cylinder around the cone seats and on the top strap around the hole through which the centrally slung hammer engages the percussion caps. The cones (nipples) are all in wonderfully crisp condition and show none of the battering that is typically encountered on these pistols. The gun also retains the original tall brass cone shaped front sight, which is still full height. This is nice as the sight is typically worn down to a bead or missing completely. All of the edges of the metal are still very sharp and crisp and the bore is in about FINE overall condition. It is mostly bright, with crisp rifling and only some light scattered pitting along its length. The only issue worth noting is a small period repair to the tip of the loading lever rammer. This area is notoriously weak, and apparently the area cracked. It was repaired with a small metal sleeve, which reinforces the loading lever tip. The lever and the catch functions perfectly and other than this minor period repair is completely original and unaltered. The gun is marked profusely with US military sub-inspector mark H. It appears repeatedly on the frame, cylinder, barrel and even on the bottoms of the two grip panels. The two piece grips rate about VERY FINE+ to NEAR EXCELLENT overall, and may be the best set of original Savage Navy grips that I have ever seen. They show only the most minor wear and handling marks and are free of any breaks, cracks or repairs. The thin panels are often severely cracked, damaged, repaired or even replaced. These grips are simply in fantastic condition and have a wonderful cartouche on the left panel. A script NW appears there, for armory sub-inspector Nathan Whiting. The original US military holster accompanies the pistol. Holsters for Savage revolvers are incredibly scarce and are rarely found for sale. This one is in about NEAR VERY GOOD condition. All of the stitching appears to be original and remains tight and in tact. The toe plug of the holster is missing, which is common on US military holsters from the era. The leather remains soft and supple and retains a good amount of its original finish, but does show moderate finish flaking on the front surfaces and the flap, with less flaking on the rear. The belt loop is in tact and is fully functional. Even the original closure tab is in place on the holster flap, and remains functional, with only a minor tear at its end. The holster appears to be unmarked as to maker, but as noted above is well marked on the interior with the name and unit information of the man who carried the gun.
Overall this is simply an outstanding condition example of a scarce martially marked Savage Navy revolver, complete with its holster and a period identification. Finding any Savage Navy with original finish is very difficult, and finding a martially marked example this crisp with such wonderful grips and a great original military holster is a real rarity. The fact that the holster has a wonderful period identification inside the flap is a real bonus. The pistol is mechanically excellent and displays wonderfully. With a little effort and research the name of the man who carried the gun can probably be determined and a concrete connection with the solider established. This is a great gun with a great holster and period identification that will be a wonderful addition to any significant Civil War collection.SOLD