Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Small Arms Warships & Submarines Military Ranks Military Pay Chart (2024) Special Forces

Infantry Small Arms / The Warfighter

Whitney Model 1861 Navy

Six-Shot, Single-Action, Percussion Revolver [ 1861 ]

One of the first efficient solid-framed revolvers of the period was the Whitney Navy percussion revolver.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 09/26/2016 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

After Samuel Colt's revolving cylinder firearms patent expired in 1857, a slew of competitors swooped in to claim their share of the emerging military and civilian pistol market. The timing could not have been better for firearms manufactures as the United States was set to enter into a years-long civil war (1861-1865) that would take the lives of 600,000. The Whitney Model 1861 Navy was a product of the period, standing as a percussion revolver of largely conventional design. The Whitney name was related to the famous inventor of the cotton gin, Eli Whitney. Aside from his invention, Whitney also established an arms production business around 1798 and the company went on to manufacture several revolvers and rifles of outside origin.

By the time of the American Civil War, Whitney's son, Eli Whitney, Junior, had taken hold of the arms business. The company had receive considerable experience when manufacturing Colt's .44 revolver during 1847 at a time Colt lacked its own manufacturing capabilities. From this exposure was born an in-house revolver design as the Whitney Model 1861 Navy. The "Navy" title was used to generically designate a .36 caliber revolver as "Army" models were generally in .44 caliber. As such, the Navy name did not mean sole sale to any one naval power of the day. Manufacture of Whitney guns was under the Whitneyville Armory brand label of New Haven, Connecticut and this new gun was developed to compete with the popular Colt Navy revolvers. The guns proved one of the first early notable attempts at a solid-frame revolver - a structural design quality popularly associated with Remingtons of the day.

The Model 1861 was a no-frills revolver design featuring a six-shot revolving cylinder held in a centralized position. Unlike competing Colts - and more like competing Remingtons - the Whitney design utilized a "bridged" frame - a structure running over the cylinder to join the frontal and rear sections of the gun - to promote a more rigid, and thusly robust, end-product. The hammer was exposed and its spur within easy reach of the primary hand. Walnut grips were set along either side of the handle for some basic comfort when firing. The trigger was held within an oblong ring favoring one-handed firing. A loading lever was set under the barrel and used to ram the chamber contents rearward during loading. Loading required the primer and shot to be set within each individual chamber and then rammed home. Percussion caps were set upon awaiting nipples on the rear cylinder edges. As a single-action revolver, the operator was required to manually cock the hammer for each shot, the trigger pull releasing the hammer upon the awaiting percussion cap. The cap provided the ignition to the primer and the resultant pressure sent the projectile bullet down and out of the barrel. The barrel measured 7.5 inches in length and was of an octagonal design with internal rifling that added accuracy. Iron sights were provided (rear notch, front post) as external accuracy assistants though the revolver was a true short-ranged weapon. Overall length was 13 inches with a weight of 2lbs, 7oz.

Some 33,000 Whitney revolvers were produced from late 1858 into the early 1860s. The primary customer became the United States military whose Army and Navy took stocks of the type into inventory (as such they promptly saw service during the American Civil War). The State of New Jersey became another notable purchaser. 200 examples of the First Model, 2nd Type were produced.©MilitaryFactory.com
Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.MilitaryFactory.com. It is the product of many hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, veterans, insiders, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at MilitaryFactory AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.


Whitneyville Armory - USA
United States
Operators National flag of the United States
Service Year
United States
National Origin

Compact design for close-quarters work or general self-defense.

330 mm
(12.99 inches)
Overall Length
190 mm
(7.48 inches)
Barrel Length
2.43 lb
(1.10 kg)
Empty Weight
Single-Action; Revolving Cylinder; Percussion Cap
Utilizes the percussion cap system of operation to actuate ignition of propellant; much like a child's cap gun, small explosive caps are set upon nipples and these are actuated by a falling hammer previously cocked.
.36 Cap-and-Ball
May not represent an exhuastive list; Calibers may be model-specific dependent; Always consult official manufacturer sources.
Six-Shot Revolving Cylinder
Iron Front and Rear

Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information.

40 feet
(12 meters | 13 yards)
Max Effective Range

Model 1861 Navy - Base Series Designation

Military lapel ribbon for the American Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon representing special forces
Military lapel ribbon for the Ukranian-Russian War
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Chart Military Ranks DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content; site is 100% curated by humans.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org (World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft), WDMMW.org (World Directory of Modern Military Warships), SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane, and MilitaryRibbons.info, cataloguing military medals and ribbons. Special Interest: RailRoad Junction, the locomotive encyclopedia.

©2023 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2023 (20yrs)