How to Disassemble an 1851 Navy Colt .44

by Edwin Thomas
The 1851 Colt was a common Civil War pistol.

The 1851 Colt was a common Civil War pistol.

Whether it's the genuine article or a replica, the 1851 Navy Colt .44 revolver is a beautiful and historic weapon. An old-fashioned powder-and-ball pistol, its mechanics are very simple, and the weapon was designed to be fieldstripped for cleaning without using extra tools. To completely clean and oil the gun, a little more disassembly is required, and for that you will need some basic tools.

Check that the gun is completely unloaded. First draw back the hammer to half-cock and check underneath, making sure that no percussion cap is set on the firing nipple that is first in line. Check all the other firing nipples on the cylinder. If no percussion caps are set, then check each chamber of the cylinder for either bullets or black powder. The cylinder is the rounded, revolving metal part that holds the gun's loaded ammunition, and each ammunition tube within it is called a chamber. Look over the side to the open ends of the chambers, not down the barrel, as you rotate the cylinder.

Push the barrel wedge out of the pistol, or tap it out with a rubber mallet if necessary. This is the metal wedge located under the barrel, right in front of the cylinder. If you use the mallet, take care that the wedge does not pop off and fall to the ground, where you might lose it.

Pull the barrel off the gun frame. The barrel wedge is the only part holding the barrel on the cylinder and the rest of the gun, so it should slide right off.

Pull off the cylinder. Only the barrel holds the cylinder in place, so it too should slide right off.

Unscrew the loading lever from the barrel. The screw holding the loading lever in place is set right in the hinge of the lever, on the bottom of the barrel.

Items you will need

  • Rubber mallet
  • Small flat-head screwdriver

Photo Credits

  • 0859 - colt de collection (crosse en noyer) image by Michel Bazin from Fotolia.com