1851 Navy Colt Revolver
Samuel Colt designed the Colt Revolving Belt Pistol of Naval Caliber (i.e., .36 cal) between 1847 and 1850-the actual year of introduction. It remained in production until 1873 when revolvers using fixed cartridges came into widespread use. Total production numbers were exceeded only by the Colt Pocket models in concurrent development and numbered some 250,000 domestic units and about 22,000 produced in the Colt London Armory. The designation "Colt 1851 Navy" was applied by collectors, though the popular name "Navy Revolver" is of early origin. The Texas Navy had purchased the earlier Colt Paterson Revolver and this was Colt's first major success in the gun trade; the naval battle theme of the engraved cylinder of the Colt 1851 Navy revolver was Colt's gesture of appreciation. Despite the "Navy" designation, the revolver was chiefly purchased by civilians and military land forces.
Famous "Navy" users included Wild Bill Hickok, Richard Francis Burton, and Robert E. Lee. Usage continued long after more modern cartridge revolvers were introduced in 1873.
I picked up a replica of the 1851 Navy Revolver today at a gun show for the meager price of $65 including a holster and belt. What a deal!!! It was built by the Hawes Firearm Company and is pictured above. I just love black powder firearms as they are great fun to shoot and provide a one-two punch with the wonderful cloud of smoke followed by the lovely smell of black powder. For protecting yourself and your family I am all about modern convenience and power but for enjoyment and relaxation nothing beats a day of shooting old west style.