This rifle is one of 101 first contract delivered Model 1855 rifles originally purchased by the U.S. Government in mid-1857 and known to fall in the 1-301 serial number range. These Colt revolving rifles were the first repeating rifles used by the U.S. military, and according to R.L. Wilson on page 194 of "The Book of Colt Firearms" are "considered rarest of Hartford contract arms." Some of the pre-war examples like this one ended up in Confederate hands at the beginning of the war. 4,712 additional larger caliber revolving rifles and carbines were purchased for use by Union forces during the Civil War. This is also one of approximately 400 Model 1855 military rifles in this caliber and barrel length. It has a fixed blade front sight that doubles as a socket bayonet lug, brass forend cap, three leaf rear sight graduated for 100, 300 and 600 yards, a smooth stock and forearm with a modern replacement cleaning rod under the barrel, and sling swivels on the rear band and buttstock. "C COLTS/PATENT/U.S." marked on the upper tang. Matching serial number "85" marked on the underside of the barrel, underside of the frame, lower tang, and bottom of the buttplate. A re-traced circled script "WAT" (William A. Thornton) inspection cartouche is marked on the right of the stock wrist. "GDM" (George D. Moller) collection initials marked at the toe of the stock. Includes a period Watervliet Arsenal leather sling and cleaning rod contained inside the trapdoor butt compartment. Provenance: The George Moller Collection
About good with smooth gray patina and scattered light pitting overall with some dings and wear from period use. Wood is good as lightly sanded and re-oiled with some scattered dings and chips, a re-traced cartouche at the wrist as mentioned above, a repaired split at the wrist, a filled in circular section on either side of the wrist, and a crack on the right of the buttstock. Mechanically fine. Included sling is very good with some light age related wear. First contract Colt 1855 military rifles are an extreme rarity in any condition and this example would make an excellent addition to any Colt or U.S. Martial collection!
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