Welcome to College Hill Arsenal
Mass Arms .36 Adams Revolver - VERY FINE

Mass Arms .36 Adams Revolver - VERY FINE

  • Product Code: FHG-1329-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

The story of the Adams Patent Revolvers as produced by the Massachusetts Arms Company is a very interesting one. Robert Adam’s “self cocking” or “double action” revolver was originally patented in England in 1851, with the primary patent covering his one piece, solid frame and barrel forging. The frame was considerably stronger than the open top, two-piece, wedge retained frame and barrel system used by Colt. Adams instantly found success selling his guns in England, and in 1854 Lt. F.B.E. Beaumont developed an improvement to the lock work, which allowed the pistol to operate in both conventional single action and double action modes. It was this variation of the Adams revolver (the M-1854 or “Beaumont-Adams”) that was produced under license by the Massachusetts Arms Company of Chicopee Falls, MA. In 1857 Massachusetts Arms entered into an agreement to provide 500 of the “belt” sized (.36 caliber), Beaumont-Adams Patent revolvers to the US Ordnance Department. Ordnance Department Head Colonel H.K. Craig had purchased 100 of the English made Beaumont-Adams revolvers the previous year, in .36 caliber, since it was the caliber of the Colt revolvers (M-1851 “Navy” revolvers) most in use by the US military at that time. After issue and use in the field during 1856, Craig wrote to the Secretary of War “I think very favourably (sic) of the arm”.as being well adapted to Military use, and as the price is considerably less than”.the Colt Pistol, to which it is quite equal and, in some respects, in my opinion superior.” Craig was no doubt referring to the robust solid frame of the guns, when calling them “superior” to the Colt. On July 24, 1858 The Massachusetts Arms Company delivered the first 250 of the Beaumont-Adams revolvers to the Ordnance Department, and delivered another 150 on August 17 and the last 100 on September 4 of the same year. Massachusetts Arms saw only limited civilian sales of the revolvers during that period, and it is believed that the highest serial number delivered to the US Ordnance Department was 609, indicating that 100 or so were manufactured for private sale during that period, or rejected by the Ordnance Department. While total Mass Arms production of the revolvers is estimated at 1,000 (500 to the Ordnance Department and the rest for commercial sales), in reality at least 1,500 must have been produced, as the State of Virginia purchased 1,000 “Deane & Adams’ pistols and the same number of cavalry sabers from the Ames Manufacturing Company (also of Chicopee Falls, MA) in May of 1860. These guns were apparently delivered from Massachusetts Arms Company stock on hand. According to noted Adams revolver researchers W.H.J. Chamberlain & A.W.F. Taylerson, some of the guns delivered to Virginia were some of the guns from the original US Ordnance Department order that had been sub-inspected, but never officially “received” by the Master Armorer at Springfield. It is generally held that the Mass Arms Adams that are devoid of any US martial markings, and are numbered above about 500 would have likely been part of the Virginia State purchase.

The Massachusetts Arms Company Adams Patent Revolver offered here is one of the guns that was delivered to the State of Virginia in 1860. The gun is serial number 760 and is so marked on the frame (forward of the cylinder) and on the cylinder itself. The lower right side of the frame is marked in two horizontal lines: PATENT / JUNE 3, 1856 and the lower left side of the frame is marked ADAMS, PATENT / MAY 3, 1853. The top strap is marked: MANUFACTURED BY / MASS. ARMS CO. / CHICOPEE FALLS. in three lines. The gun is in about VERY FINE condition, and retains a significant amount of original blued finish, mixed with a smooth plum-brown patina over all of the metal components. There are some small, scattered patches of minor peppering and pinpricking on the metal. The frame retains between 30%-40% original blue, mixed with the plum-brown patina, and the barrel retains about 50%+ original blue. The cylinder retains only some light traces of original finish, over a mostly brownish patina. As would be expected of a revolver that likely saw cavalry service, there are a handful of minor impact marks present on the frame, cylinder and topstrap. The hammer and cylinder retain some about 30% of their original case colored finish, and there is still a strong amount of the fire-blued finish on the heads of many of the screws. The action of the revolver functions exactly as it should, in both the double action and single action modes. The gun times and locks up well. The original frame mounted sliding safety is present on the right side of the pistol. It retains about 50%+ of its original fire-blued finish and functions correctly. The fragile thumbscrew style cylinder pin retaining screw is still in place on the left side of the frame and functions perfectly The thumbscrew was notoriously weak and subject to breakage and they are often missing from both English and American made Beaumont-Adams revolvers. The original “Kerr’s Patent” loading lever is present on the left side of the frame. The lever is marked in two lines KERR’s PATENT / APRIL 14, 1857 and is also marked with the patent tracking number 1163. This is not a serial number, but rather a method of tracking the royalty payments that Mass Arms owed to Kerr. Since the same patent applied to the loading lever on the .36 caliber belt revolvers and the .31 pocket version, the numbers simply tracked the number consecutively produced under that patent. The number never matches the serial number of the pistol that the levers are attached to. The pistol retains the original spanner style mounting screw, which is often missing as well. The lever functions exactly as it should. The five shot cylinder retains all of the original cones (nipples) and they are in fine condition, retaining sharp edges and much of their original blued finish. The bore of the pistol is in about VERY GOOD condition. It is mostly bright and retains strong, sharp rifling, showing only light scattered pitting. The pitting is mostly confined to the grooves in the last couple of inches of the barrel. The original front sight is dovetailed into the top of the 6” octagon barrel, and the barrel retains sharp edges and good lines. The checkered walnut grips are in about FINE condition, and are free of any breaks, cracks or chips. The checkering shows light to moderate wear from actual use. The original brass ferrules remain at the edges of the lanyard hole that passes through the center of the grip.

Overall this is a very attractive example of a rarely encountered secondary martial percussion revolver of the pre-Civil War and Civil War era. The fact that the gun more than likely saw at least some Confederate service in the hands of a Virginia cavalryman or officer enhances the appeal of the pistol even more. The 1st Virginia Cavalry is well known to have been armed with “Adams’ revolvers, and since they were armed early in the war, they more than likely received a number of these Mass Arms pistols. The gun is significantly better condition than they are normally found in and is truly a very crisp and attractive example of pistol that is getting hard to find on the market with any amount of original finish.


Write a review

Please login or register to review

Tags: Mass, Arms, 36, Adams, Revolver, VERY, FINE