1851 Colt


March 11, 2010, 12:02 PM
I have a 1851 colt navy first model second generation that has the serial number 48xx with a "O" under it. I know they used a "C" but this one is definitly an O. Stamped deep and clear. Is this just a stamping error? Or did the O have a meaning?

This gun was bought in 1971. Very tight well fitted gun. Very smooth action.

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Fingers McGee
March 11, 2010, 12:29 PM
From Dennis Russel's book "Percussion Colt Revolvers - The Second Generation - Collectors Handbook and Price Guide #5", page 7.

"Before I move on to the Third Model Dragoon, I think it is important that I address a question that is constantly asked regarding the significance of the cipher that appears centered on the frame just under the serial number of early 2nd Gen 1851 Navies. The serial number range is from 4201 to approximately 11000 and is one of the true mysteries (and there are many) of the Colt Second Generation Percussion series."

"To date, I have encountered four potential explanations for the mysterious cipher. There is probably a kernal of truth in each of these explanantions. However, I offer none of them as the definitive answer. The explanations are as follows:"

"1. During the early production days, Colt's experienced quality control problems with frames. In this scenario, the cipher was used as an acceptance mark to identify those frames satisfactory for standard production."

"2. Manufacture of the standard production Model C1121 was taking place at the same time as Grant - Lee Commemorative models. In this scenario, the cipher may have been used to identify those frames destined for use as a standard production Model C1121. It should be noted that Grant - Lee revolver frames do not have the cipher."

"3. Prominent collectors and members of the Colt Commemorative Committee were insistent that Colt's use some means to identify "new" production guns from original models - especially since new production would begin at serial number 4201. Therefore, the early guns (up to around serial number 11000) carried the cipher. This allowed time for the collecting and shooting public to absorb the fact that the 1851 Navy was back in production - thus reducing the potential of fakery."

"4. The cipher mark was discontinued when Colt's changed frame suppliers in 1973."

"I personally think that explanation number 3 is the most plausable. However, it seems possible that a combination of explanations three and four could also be valid."


March 11, 2010, 05:36 PM
So when a lot of people call the early versions from 1971 to 76 The "C series" that C doesn't really stand for a series of guns. Since mine has a 0 on it. Even Store bluebook . com's colt history calls the first run the C series. They must not have all the info either about these guns.
Not for sure if it is an 0 number or an O letter. Looks more like a number to me.

Fingers McGee
March 11, 2010, 07:00 PM
No, the 1971 through 1976 Colt's are C series guns. All the model numbers begin with a C prefix. After 1976, all the model numbers began with an F prefix, making them F series guns.

C series 1851 Navies ran from SN 4201 through SN 25099

March 11, 2010, 08:08 PM
Thanks much for the info you have given.
But I have to say I'm sorry I don't under stand what the model number is. It apearntly isn't on the gun.
There is no C of any kind marked on my gun. And no model no. Only serial no's.

Fingers McGee
March 11, 2010, 11:35 PM
There is no C of any kind marked on my gun. And no model no. Only serial no's.
You are correct. The model number isn't marked anywhere on the gun. Only markings are SNs, barrel address and Colts Patent on the frame. When sold, the gun you have was identified as a Model C1121 1851 Navy. When the C series Colts were made, there were 11 different 1851 Navy and 3rd Model Dragoon revolvers that had the C series Model numbers. The C series revolvers, and dates of manufacture can be determined from the revolver's serial number. There is a chart in Wilson's "Colt - An American Legend" that shows manufacture date serial number ranges for the 2nd Gen Colt Percussion Revolvers.

March 12, 2010, 12:06 AM
After having this gun for almost 39 years I finally have learned some more about it.

Thanks for taking the time to help out Fingers.

I did have the box and papers it came with when I bought it but Didn't save them. I just bought the gun to use and never thought about ever wanting the box. And it was cheap to buy at the time too.
I have had a ton of fun with it through all the years and it has held up very well.
I suppose that model number might have been on the box.

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