Adams M1851 Dragoon 38 Bore revolver s/n 1419
This is a very good and really quite rare Adams M1851 Dragoon revolver, serial number 1419, chambered in the massive 38 bore and probably manufactured in 1852 with the earlier barrel address.
During the mid 1840's there was surge in firearms development, spurred on by the breathtaking technological advances of the Industrial revolution, that was reaching its peak in the mid 19th Century. Robert Adams was a man of his time, a bright and gifted engineer, he had used Colts revolvers and realised there was some room for improvement.
Like Remington, with their Old Model Army, he identified that the revolver could be made simpler and more robustly by producing a solid frame with with an integral top strap. However Robert Adams took the process further in three very important regards, he made the Barrel and frame in one incredibly strong unit, he made the revolver 'Self Cocking' ie, double action in today's terminology and added a simple but effective sprung side lever safety that physically blocked the hammer from contacting the nipple when pushed forward with the hammer back fractionally.
The latter two functions were squarely aimed at the military market, though the patented double trigger mechanism undoubtedly effected accuracy, due to its rather heavy pull.
Accuracy is all rather subjective however, as most revolver engagements of the time were inside about 15 yards, with 25 yards considered the effective maximum accurate range.
With this in mind, you wouldn't win a target shooting competition, but a well practised individual would hit a man sized target repeatedly!
The main advantage of double action was clear, a soldier could draw his Adams, with the safety engaged and by simply pulling the trigger repeatedly, he could disengage the safety and fire 5 rounds in rapid succession, something simply not possible with Colt, Remington and Whitney revolvers of the period.
By virtue of its construction, the Adams was an immensity strong and popular revolver, used to good effect in the Crimean war, various Indian and North West frontier skirmishes and in small numbers during the US Civil War, where individuals used their privately purchased Adams revolvers during savage fighting, many attributing their survival to the Adams and its double action.
The initial models were available, chambered in 38 bore (.50 calibre), 54 bore (.442 calibre), 80 bore (.38 calibre) and 120 Bore (.31 calibre).
The standout calibre among these is .38 bore, a quite astonishing .50 cal Dragoon man stopper!
This 38 bore Dragoon, s/n 1419, is a rare survivor of these massive revolvers. The barrel address reads:
Deane, Adams & Deane (Makers To H.R.H. Prince Albert), 30 King William St.t, London Bridge
Overall: I would classify s/n 1419 in (NRA standard) Very Good condition, full matching numbers, with 70 % original finish surviving.
The engraved action screws are all in good order. The revolver operates perfectly, both indexing and lock up are absolutely solid, suggesting a revolver that's been well cared for and seen comparatively little use.
Body and Hammer assembly:
The Barrel has 70% original finish, with a clear Adams address address and a foresight that appears to be of a different lower profile than the standard high and swept back type, commonly encountered on the Dragoon model.
The frame has the S/N N1419 and 'Adams Patent', (this patent relates to his double action and single piece construction).
The front grip strap repeats the S/N, with an R suffix. This was used to designate a revolver manufactured by Adams and Deane. The design was in fact licensed to the trade, with many being produced by the prolific Belgium gun trade and Liege proofed.
The heel of the grip contains the characteristic clam shell engraved decorated trap, the compartment still containing the spare nipple.
The walnut grips are in very good condition, with clear hand cut chequering and appear to have a repaired deliberate hole through the centre. Its possible to hypothesise that this might have been to feed through a lanyard rope, a very common practice in the 19th Century. It would certainly suggest that this Dragoon saw active military service.
The bore is evenly corroded to a consistent patina commensurate with age and use, but with with clear lands and grooves still evident. Given the excellent general condition of the rest of revolver, I would imagine that this historic corrosion was probably down to the revolver being stored without the bore being inhibited with oil.
The attached arbour Pin displays a bright steel finish finish and is in excellent serviceable condition.
Overall The Frame barrel and Hammer are in very good order, displaying much original finish.
The cylinder is in generally very good order, mechanically excellent, with good nipples, with very few signs of black powder and percussion cap induced erosion. The cylinder exterior is clearly marked with London Proof Markings.
This example has the last three digits of the serial number on the Cylinders rear, '419', along with the factory final inspectors number '2'.
This example still displays large areas of thin finish to the exterior of the cylinder, showing that this revolver has certainly been cared for.
The scroll engraved trigger guard is in good order, complete with its burr free stamp engraved screws.
More information and bore video can be seen here.
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