American Rifleman - July 2014 - 88

TECHNICAL

I HAVE THIS OLD GUN

...

Colt 3 Generation
"Signature Series" 1851 Navy
RD

GUN: COLT 1851 NAVY-3RD GENERATION (SIGNATURE SERIES)
CALIBER: .36 PERCUSSION CAP AND BALL
SERIAL NO: XX735
MANUFACTURED: 1998
CONDITION: 99 PERCENT-NRA PERFECT (MODERN GUN STANDARDS)
VALUE: $650 TO $800

T

he "Colt Revolving Belt
Pistol of Naval Caliber," as
the 1851 Navy was originally
called, was Colt's first practical
revolver, coming after its 4-lb.,
8-oz., .44-cal. Dragoon and the
less-powerful .31-cal. Pocket
Models. The well-balanced
.36-cal. '51 Navy packed an impressive punch and was a favorite of
such diverse pistoleros as "Wild
Bill" Hickok and Frank James.
With its plow-handle grip, 7½"
octagon barrel, case-hardened
hammer, rammer and frame, and
six-shot cylinder roll-marked with
William Ormsby's engraving of the
Texas Navy's victorious May 16,
1843, Battle of Campeche, the '51
Navy was the second most popular revolver of the Civil War (only
slightly behind the 1860 Army).
It also played a major role in the
post-war western expansion and

88 J

ULY

2014

AMERICANRIFLEMAN.ORG

saw use well into the cartridge era.
Not surprisingly, the late Val
Forgett, Jr., chose this gun to replicate when he started Navy Arms
Company in 1956. Working with
Aldo Uberti in Italy, he selected
the Third Model Navy, with its
round trigger guard. Soon other
companies were copying the '51
Navy-but not Colt. Finally, in 1971
Colt began buying Uberti parts
from Forgett to produce the first
run of 2ND Generation Colt Navys
in the Hartford plant. These slightly
undersized guns, featuring early
square-backed trigger guards and
authentic Colt stampings, were
made until 1973.
From 1974 to 1976 Colt obtained
parts from one of its distributors,
Lou Imperato. These re-issues (as
Colts they aren't really replicas)
are known as C Series guns. From
1979 to 1982, Imperato made

the entire gun in his New Jersey
factory as "The Authentic Colt
Blackpowder Series." Using Italian
parts, finished and assembled in
the United States with Colt performing final inspection, these
guns are known as the F Series.
From 1994 to 2002, 3RD
Generation Colt-licensed '51
Navys were made by Imperato's
renamed Colt Blackpowder Arms
Co. Imperato's son, Anthony, was
involved with producing the
finest Navys yet, the Signature
Series, featuring Sam Colt's
signature on the nickel-plated
backstrap. Using Italian parts, all
finishing and fitting was done in
the United States by CBAC.
The 3RD Generation Signature
Series gun shown here has never
been fired. Unfortunately, the original cardboard box with foam insert
is missing. Nonetheless, it is worth
$650-$800, its value being in its
cachet as an authentic Colt. Thus, it
is substantially more valuable than
a non-Colt replica of the same gun
in similar condition.
-RICK HACKER, FIELD EDITOR
Photos by author


http://www.AMERICANRIFLEMAN.ORG

American Rifleman - July 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - July 2014

Contents
American Rifleman - July 2014 - Cover1
American Rifleman - July 2014 - Cover2
American Rifleman - July 2014 - 1
American Rifleman - July 2014 - Contents
American Rifleman - July 2014 - 3
American Rifleman - July 2014 - 4
American Rifleman - July 2014 - 5
American Rifleman - July 2014 - 6
American Rifleman - July 2014 - 7
American Rifleman - July 2014 - 8
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American Rifleman - July 2014 - 16
American Rifleman - July 2014 - 17
American Rifleman - July 2014 - 18
American Rifleman - July 2014 - 19
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American Rifleman - July 2014 - 21
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American Rifleman - July 2014 - 33
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American Rifleman - July 2014 - 37
American Rifleman - July 2014 - 38
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American Rifleman - July 2014 - 40
American Rifleman - July 2014 - 41
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American Rifleman - July 2014 - 49
American Rifleman - July 2014 - 50
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