Revolver “Savage”: a real competitor of the Kolt revolvers

Revolver “Savage”. The photo clearly shows all the features of its design: the presence of a traditional lever for tight bullets under the barrel, as well as a lever combined with a trigger located inside an extra-large bracket. Brandtubes come out to the outside of the drum

Military affairs at the turn of the eras. Any product, be it a crust of bread or a revolver, must necessarily have a USP – a unique selling proposition. That is, to carry something that distinguishes him from all others, and allows a person to exercise the right to choose given to him by God and nature. But USP is different. Moreover, it was especially difficult (both in the past and even now) to create such a commercial device that would have serious technical differences from its counterparts. But there were smart people who succeeded in this. Today we will tell you about two such “smart guys”.

Colt’s naval opponent

And it so happened that in the middle of the 19th century in the United States, the Colt company dominated the market for handguns in all respects. She had few competitors. These are, first of all, the Smith & Wesson company, which launched the production of cartridge revolvers No. 1 and 2, and the Remington company, which produced a revolver with a closed frame, which looked purely visually stronger than the Kolt ones, and even had a replaceable drum. It was very risky to deal with them, but there were two people who decided to do this. They were Henry S. North and Edward Savage from Middletown, Connecticut.


This photo clearly shows that the revolver has a closed frame, in which there is a hole for the trigger, which hits the primer on the brand tube.

They owned a North & Savage firm, which they renamed the Savage Revolving Firearms Company in 1860. And already on May 7, 1861, they managed to sign a contract with the US government to supply the army with 5,500 revolvers of their own design at a price of $ 20 apiece. However, in the first two years of the war alone, the government purchased 11,284 such revolvers from them at an average price of $ 19. By June 1862, the company had supplied more than 10,000 revolvers to the troops. In addition, she had a separate contract with the Navy for 1,100 revolvers, also at a price of $ 20 each.

Since the Navy was the first to order these revolvers from the firm, the 1861 model was named Navy. But they were also used by the following US Army regiments: the 1st Wisconsin US Volunteer Cavalry, the 2nd Wisconsin US Volunteer Cavalry, the 5th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, and the 7th New York Cavalry Regiment.


Savage 1861 Marine. Rear right view

Confederate States Army regiments used them as well. These were the 34th Virginia Cavalry, 35th Virginia Cavalry, 11th Texas Cavalry, 7th Virginia Cavalry, and 7th Missouri Cavalry.


Savage 1861 Marine. Left rear view

And so the question arises: “What was it about this revolver that the government ordered it in such quantities? After all, it cost more than the same time-tested Kolt revolvers? “

Based on the markings, North and Savage began work on this revolver as early as 1856 and received patents for it in 1856, 1859 and 1860. Like the Colt, it was a .36 caliber six-shooter primer revolver weighing 3 lb 6 oz. The barrel, which could be 6-7 / 8 inches long, had 5 grooves. It seems to be nothing special, but this is only at first glance.


This photo clearly shows the grooves on the drum chambers, with which it was pushed onto the barrel.

Constructive safety

Unlike Colt revolvers, in which the hammer was cocked manually (which is why they all have such a small trigger stroke!), The Savage had a separate cocking lever or trigger ring, which, when pulled back, cocked the hammer, turned the drum and at the same time took him back from the trunk. When the ring was released, the cylinder moved forward and slid onto the tapered barrel, forming a gas tight connection. So the designers paid great attention to the shooter’s safety. After all, one of the problems of the then revolvers was the dangerous possibility of explosion of the drum due to the breakthrough of gases when fired from the barrel into its neighboring chambers.


Drum back with brandtubes

It would seem that this should not have happened. After all, all chamber revolvers under the barrel (or on the barrel!) Had a lever with a piston for tight bullet driving. This means that it fit quite tightly into the chamber and … served as a “plug” for the powder charge. It happened that paper cartridges were inserted entirely into the chambers, so that there was also paper between the bullet and the gunpowder. But … and that was not enough. Therefore, after loading, all owners of chamber revolvers were advised not to risk it, and to cover up the space between the bullet and the chamber walls with the so-called “cannon itself”, a mixture of lard with paraffin or wax. Only in this case, the owner of such a revolver was guaranteed against bursting the revolver in his hand.


“Savage” 1861 “Marine” with a holster

That is, the revolver had, firstly, a movable cylinder, which increased the safety of using this revolver. Secondly, it was self-cocking, which reduced the pressure on the trigger itself and thereby increased the accuracy of the shots. And thirdly, the brandtubes on it were not at the end of the drum, but on its lateral surface.


The device of the revolver “Savage” 1861. As you can see, there are few details in it, which made it convenient to fabricate.

When this revolver first appeared in 1856, only ten copies of the First Model were sold. Following this, 250 copies of the First Model were sold, but already of the Second Type. Total – 260 revolvers. They had a fully octagonal barrel with the inscription “E SAVAGE. MIDDLETOWN CONN. HS NORTH. Patented June 17, 1856 “.


The inscription on the barrel of the revolver


The specific lever “Savage”, which, when it was pulled back, turned the drum, at the same time pushed it onto the barrel and, in addition, also cocked the hammer. It only remained to press the trigger located above …

Octagonal barrel for $ 35K

Interestingly, very few of them survived in the United States. So even many of the most knowledgeable state gun collectors and dealers have never seen a single instance of it. Although during the Civil War, it was used very widely. And it is clear that the copies that have come down to us are very expensive: from 22,000 to 35,000 dollars.


Captain of the 39th New York Infantry Regiment Schwartz holds a revolver of the Navy “Savage” in 1861

So you can imagine how the sellers praised this revolver. And the frame is one-piece. And the drum is pushed onto the barrel, which eliminates the breakthrough of gases. And his rate of fire is higher than that of others, since the hammer is cocked simultaneously with the rotation of the drum. And the trigger travel is as easy as that of the Colt.

And the result is a whole bunch of beautiful and unique USPs, right?

But as soon as cartridge revolvers appeared, all these “tricks” were immediately unnecessary. Rather, they have ceased to be relevant.

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