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Colt Model 1839

Revolving Carbine / Shotgun

United States | 1839

"The Cold Model 1839 was an early-form revolving carbine giving the shooter access to six ready-to-fire rounds in the revolving chamber."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 12/26/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The revolver mechanism saw widespread use in firearms throughout the 1800s, making such names of such gunsmiths as Samuel Colt (1814-1862). Colt received a patent for such a weapon in 1836 and established his firearms concern soon after to serially produce the new pistol around the concept. In 1839, a carbine model was introduced as the "Model 1839" which retained the basic principle of the revolver pistol - save for use of a longer barrel (for ranged fire), specific ammunition, and use of a shoulder stock for additional support.

The gun was chambered in .525, utilized a Single-Action (SA) firing system, and fed from/fired from a six-round revolving cylinder set within the frame. All other facets of the gun were consistent with the times - including the aforementioned wooden buttstock, extended barrel, and underslung trigger unit. Sights were iron and the hammer protruded from the rear of the frame in the usual way so as to be manually operated by the shooter between shots. The barrel's internals were of smoothbore design which reduced accuracy at-range - though the carbine classification of the weapon meant this long gun was more portable than a typical rifle of the day.

Despite its seemingly obvious value, fewer than 1,000 units of the Model 1839 carbine were completed before the end with total production ending around 950 units. Manufacture was handled under the Colt's Patent Arms Manufacturing Company brand label and occurred between 1839 and 1841.

The design's limited availability was primarily due to the per-unit's high procurement cost relative to other designs of the period. Primary customers became the United States military and the Texas' own Army and Navy services but, even then, they were acquired in limited numbers by these parties. Beyond this, there proved issues with the overall, long-term construction of the cylinders used in the guns - which could lead to "chain" firing of the loaded cylinders due to defects emerging over time.

One notable offshoot of the Model 1839 line became a shotgun form chambered in 16-gauge. It retained the same revolving cylinder mechanism with Single-Action (SA) firing but lacked the loading lever of the carbine (which rested along the right side of the body to better access the head of the cylinder). Barrel length of this model could vary between a 24" and 32" assembly depending on customer requirements and the revolving cylinder was naturally longer (3.5") so as to accommodate the shotgun ammunition. Around 250 examples of this weapon went on to be made from 1839 to 1841.

Despite the commercial failure that the Model 1839 may appear to have been, it saw some use in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and during the Wild West period (1783-1920) for a time.

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The physical qualities of the Colt Model 1839. Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
1,100 mm
43.31 in
O/A Length
810 mm
31.89 in
Barrel Length
10.58 lb
4.80 kg
Single-Action (SA); Revolving Cylinder
.525 (Carbine); 16-gauge (Shotgun)
6-Round Revolving Cylinder
Iron Front and Rear.
Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Colt Model 1839. Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
Notable series variants as part of the Colt Model 1839 Revolving Carbine / Shotgun family line.
Model 1839 Carbine - Base Series Designation.
Model 1839 Shotgun - Shotgun form with Damascus barrel assembly; 16-gauge chambering; sans loading lever of Carbine form.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Colt Model 1839. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national small arms listing.

Contractor(s): Patent Arms Manufacturing Company (Colt) - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States ]
Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Colt Model 1839 Revolving Carbine / Shotgun appears in the following collections:
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