• Rifle Regiment arriving at Belle Point, 1817. Artwork by Michael Haynes

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

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1851 Colt Navy Revolver

1851 Colt Revolver
NPS Photo

1851 Colt Navy Revolver

Caliber: .36

Barrel length: 7 ½"

Samuel Colt's invention gave the military its first reliable repeating weapon in 1847. This weapon used percussion caps for ignition. Though it was still a muzzleloader, the cylinder could fire six rounds before it needed to be reloaded. It is considered a a single-action since the hammer had to be cocked each time before it was fired. Colt experimented with a double-action design but felt that it was too prone to failure. The 1851 Colt replaced the three versions of dragoon revolvers that came before the 1851, as it was lighter making easier to carry on a man's belt. You could always tell a Colt from the other fake copies by Ormsby's gramograph was used to ward off copyright infringements. The gramograph created a picture all the way around the cylinder. The 1851 Navy had a picture the Texas Navy's victory of the Mexican Fleet in 1843. This was issued most commonly to cavalry and some artillery and was used extensively throughout the Civil War. The 1851 remained in production until 1873 because of its popularity. Even after the cartage firearms were available, Wild Bill chose to carry these as a law enforcement officer in western towns.

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Did You Know?

deputy marshals pose with their rifles for a formal portrait

Fort Smith National Historic Site has records of over 1,770 people employed by the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas from 1872-1896. The majority of these employees were U.S. Deputy Marshals.