Manufactured in 1875 this is a an exceptionally scarce Colt Cavalry Model revolver that was dual sub-inspected by both W. W. Johnson and A. P. Casey. The included John Kopec letter indicates that this revolver was previously listed in their survey and falls between two Artillery Model revolvers, bearing serial numbers 17246 and 17257. Kopec goes on to state that this revolver could not be located in the National Archives records but that it falls between two revolvers issued to the 7th Cavalry, 17128 issued to Troop F and 17403 issued to Troop L. These revolvers would have been issued to the 7th Cavalry that was reformed shortly after George Custer's command was wiped out at the Battle of Little Bighorn and were likely carried through the remainder of the Indian Wars. The disastrous Battle of the Little Bighorn fomented national outrage in both the U.S. Army and public. New recruits eagerly rushed to enlist, and these revolvers were issued to replacement troops known as Custer's Avengers. The 7th Cavalry subsequently fought in the Nez Perce War, Crow War, and Ghost Dance War, including at the infamous Wounded Knee Massacre. He also notes that in analyzing their survey they discovered only fifteen known "C & J" inspected revolvers and that the known number range they are found in only includes approximately 300 serial numbers, making this example incredibly scarce. Kopec states that it is his opinion that the revolver remains completely authentic, with the possibility of some of the screws being later replacements. He notes that the grip is original with "7251" faintly visible in the back strap channel and there is a faint Casey "C" cartouche on the butt. Kopec also states that this particular revolver was likely "liberated", possibly by a deserter, prior to the recall of 1893 and thus escaped being converted to an Artillery Model. The revolver is pictured and identified in Kopec and Fenn's "Cavalry & Artillery Revolvers…a Continuing Study" on pages 40-41 and listed by serial number as a "C & J" inspected example on page 43. The revolver has the early "bullseye" ejector rod head, "cavalry" hammer with bordered elongated knurling on the spur and cone-shaped firing pin. The top of the barrel is roll-stamped with the first style, "script" barrel address "+ COLT"S PT. F.A. MFG. Co. HARTFORD CT. U.S.A. +" with slanted crosses at either end. The left side of the frame is roll-stamped with the Colt, two-date/two-line patent marking followed by a small "U.S." property mark. The assembly number, "958," is stamped on the inside of the loading gate. The small "J" sub-inspection mark used by Johnson is stamped below the serial number on the trigger guard. The "C" inspection marked of Casey are visible on the underside of the barrel, side of the cylinder, rear face of the cylinder, and above the firing pin hole. Colt "G" and "C" inspection marks are stamped below the ejector housing barrel boss. The full serial number, "17251," is stamped on the frame, trigger guard and back strap. The partial serial number "7251" is stamped on the barrel beneath the ejector housing (7 overstamped 5 which Kopec notes as a factory error) and on the side of the cylinder. All of the visible serial numbers match.
Very good plus, retains traces of the original blue finish in sheltered areas of the ejector rod housing with the balance a smooth brown-grey patina, some scattered light surface pitting/rough patches of darker patina, and mostly clear, crisp markings. The grip has minor dings and moderate wear associated with hard use on the frontier. Mechanically excellent. This is an exceptionally rare opportunity to add an exceedingly scarce variant of the Colt Cavalry Model revolver to your collection that was there when the history of the American West was written!
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