The most popular personal weapon in the 1850's was the .32 caliber five or six shot Colt revolver. 150,000 were made during the decade. (The runner-up is the 1851 Navy with 93,000.) This article will tear down a relic example of this revolver along with a modern reproduction.
More gold rush and civil war era firearms are in our Virtual Museum, at this link.
The Colt Wells Fargo pocket revolver was the best-selling gun of its time. It was available in 5 and 6 shot versions with three lengths of barrel. This example is a marriage of three different weapons from the early 1850's.Click any image for a closer look.
|That the parts of different weapons were combined to make this example is shown by the poor fit of the grip to the lower grip strap, and of the grip strap to the frame. The upper strap, grip, frame, and cylinder were all from one gun. The barrel and loading leaver from another, and the lower grip strap/trigger guard from the third.|
|The mis-matched serial numbers confirm that the frame and barrel are from different guns. Frame is from 1856, and barrel from 1852. The wedge is a modern replacement.|
|The grip is from 1852, but from another gun.|
|The New York mark of Sam Colt.|
Next - the modern reproduction.