Colt 1853 Sidehammer


The gun pictured below is a Colt Side hammer 1853, second model.  About 24.500 have been made between 1855 and 1859.

It was classified by collectors into 7 different models, the main differences being two calibres (.28 and .31) and two different barrel shapes. The 28 calibre guns have the octagonal barrel, the 31 calibre ones have a round barrel.

It is interesting to notice the number of superlatives gathered in this one model:

- It is the only revolver produced during Colt's lifetime, which was not patented by Samuel Colt himself. The gun is patented by Elisha K. Root, from whom Colt bought the rights when he persuaded Root to join his company. Root , an engineer and genius inventor, has conceived a great number of machine-tools, of which the basic principles are still used today (There's much more to tell, but let's get back to the revolver).

- It is the only Colt revolver that has the nipples integral with the cylinder (.28 calibre)

- It is the very first Colt revolver featuring a solid frame and a screw-in barrel

- It is the first percussion Colt featuring a creeping type loading lever

- It is the less powerful of all Colt guns

- It is the only Colt model made in more than one calibre

- It is the only Colt revolver featuring a side hammer and a cylinder axis entering from the rear.

- It is the ugliest of all Colt revolvers

- It is the only known Colt firearm that has been put into production without correction of what appears to be a misconception: the calibre originally meant as .28, is actually a .265. One believes that a mistake has been made somewhere in Root's plans and has never been corrected.

Colt also issued different rifles, carbines and shotguns on this pattern, in a large number of different calibres. These guns never reached the expected success, probably due to the discomfort caused by the vicinity of the cylinder to the shooter's face and the real danger of simultaneous detonation.

The revolvers had some success among the soldiers, who bought them at own expenses and used them as "last chance gun".

Patented in 1853, the Side hammer Pocket did not come into production until 1855.

When Colt deceased in 1862, his widow insisted to persuade Root to succeed him as the company superintendent. Root remained at this post until his own death in 1865, at the end of the Civil War.

The gun pictured here is in my collection. It is the second model, first year of production, serial number 4090. The first model is extremely scarce (only 300 made) and shows only minor differences. On the second model, the barrel markings also show a hand pointing towards the name "Colonel Colt".


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