PETTENGILL ARMY REVOLVER

$3,450.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 1142-114

Just 2,001 Pettengill .44 Caliber Double Action Army Revolvers were supplied by Rogers and Spencer of Willowville, NY, to the U.S. government, but they were issued in a number of cavalry regiments: the 3rd Michigan, 3rd Missouri State Militia, 5th Missouri State Militia, 1st Arkansas, 3rd Illinois, 3rd Kentucky, and 3rd Missouri Volunteers.  About 3,400 were made in total, with serial numbers starting about 1,300 where their earlier .34 caliber Navy versions left off. This one is serial numbered 4578 on the butt and cylinder, with the number matching under the grips.

The markings on the top of the frame is stamped on the right side of the sight groove “PETTENGILL’S / PATENT 1856” and on the left side, “PATENT JULY 22 1856 / & JULY 27, 1858,” which is correct for a later production gun, reflecting C.S. Pettengill’s patent and an improvement by Raymond and Robitaille, along with “PATENTED / NOV 4, 1862” on the bottom of the frame, reflecting an improvement by Henry S. Rogers. There are also small “WW” subinspector initials on the frame, barrel, cylinder, etc.

The pistol rates very good for condition. The metal is generally smooth with just a hint of salt and peppering around the muzzle, but with 30 percent or better of thin faded blue finish on the barrel and stronger color on the loading lever and rammer with some faint case color on the hinge and frame showing as a mottled thin brown, gray and faint blue, with brown stronger at the rear. The top of the frame shows some darker staining toward the front and a little roughness on the right of the sighting groove affecting the word “patent.” The grips have a tight fit and warm brown color. The grips are very good on the right. There are two scratches above the screw escutcheon on the left, but there is a very visible inspector’s cartouche just below it. The bottom of the grips show some small dings and just a little roughness around the edge. The thumbscrew to release the loading lever and cylinder arbor is in place. The nipples are not battered. The mechanics are good.

The initial December 1861 contract called for 5,000 of the double action .44 caliber revolvers with deliveries starting in 90 days, which probably seemed feasible since they had already produced a .34 caliber Navy or belt version. Tooling up and production problems delayed delivery even of a sample revolver until April and tests in May revealed problems: the double action considered slow and the revolver fouled easily, entirely locking it up. Improvements were made, but the Army reduced the order to 2,000 guns, plus the one sample. All 2,000 were delivered between October 20, 1862, and January 17, 1863, but only after taking into account about a 15 percent rejection rate. The Army turned down a chance to purchase more of them in March 1863 and then changed its mind offering a new contract in April for 10,000, which was signed in May. The pistol had already cost Rogers and Spencer a rifle musket contract, however, and they apparently had second thoughts, making no deliveries and focusing on their own .44 single action revolver.

This is an Army issued revolver that is tough to come by. It would fill a spot in a display of cavalry sidearms, especially one concentrating on units fighting in the west.  [sr] [ph:m]

DISCLAIMER: All firearms are sold as collector's items only - we do not accept responsibility as to the shooting safety or reliability of any antique firearm. All firearms are described as accurately as possible, given the restraints of a catalog listing length. We want satisfied customers & often "under" describe the weapons. Any city or state regulations regarding owning antique firearms are the responsibility of the purchaser. All firearms are "mechanically perfect" unless noted, but again, are NOT warranted as safe to fire!

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