The Colt Model 1862 Pocket Police percussion revolver was originally designed in 1860 alongside the famous Civil War veteran, the Model 1860 Army. The Model 1862 Pocket Police was a smaller scale revolver made to be conveniently carried in a jacket pocket.
These revolvers were quite popular among Union officers during the Civil War and afterwards, prior to cartridge revolvers becoming dominant in the mid-1870’s.
- The Colt Model 1862 Pocket Police percussion revolver was designed in 1860 alongside its larger sibling, the Colt Model 1860 Army. So both revolvers share the same style.
- These were among the last Colt revolvers created before the death of Samuel Colt in January 1862.
- The Model 1862 Pocket Police was based on the older Colt Model 1849 Pocket model. The advent of a stronger type of steel with which to make the revolver frame meant that Colt’s engineers could adapt the Model 1849 frame, which was suited to .31″ calibre, to be able to comfortably withstand the additional loads imposed by the larger .36″ calibre.
- An original Colt Model 1862 Pocket Police is coming up for sale by Rock Island Auction at the Premier auction to be held on December 8th, 2023.
The Colt Model 1862 was one of the last of the Colt revolvers designed and brought into production prior to Samuel Colt’s death in January 1862.
Although designated the Pocket Police Model of 1862 production of these revolvers actually began in 1861.
The design of the 1862 Pocket Police owes its parentage to the Colt Model 1849 Pocket model, which was made in .31″ calibre.
Colt’s engineers discovered that a newly available type of steel possessed greater strength than that which they used for the Model 1849, and this paved the way for them to use the same frame design, but make it with the new type of steel, and thus adapt it to the more powerful .36″ calibre.
In order to use a .36″ calibre cylinder in the .31″ calibre frame the engineers kept the rear part of the revolver cylinder at its original .31″ calibre dimensions, but rebated (i.e. cut away) the frame just enough to accommodate a five shot .36″ calibre forward part of the cylinder.
So the cylinder was stepped, and the frame cut to accommodate it.
Onto that modified frame the engineers then designed a round profile barrel and rather pretty new style “creeping” loading lever integrated into a streamlined, rounded assembly to complete the front part of the revolver.
Colt had essentially applied the same design strategies and design ideas to create their larger 1860 Army Model. so their new Model 1862 Pocket Police revolver looked like the petite brother of the 1860 Army: and both were designed in 1860.
The 1862 Pocket Police revolver is petite indeed. If you have only seen one in pictures you may well imagine a revolver a bit smaller than the 1860 Army, but as I first found out many years ago, when you have one in your hands for the first time the small size comes as a bit of a surprise.
Colt Model 1862 Pocket Police For Sale
A rather nice Colt Model 1862 Pocket Police revolver is coming up for sale by Rock Island Auction at their Premier Auction on December 8th, 2023.
This revolver was made in 1861 and is fitted with the 6½” barrel with a cone style front sight. It features attractive factory engraving and comes in a fitted case with a few balls, a key, a blued “36 P” marked Colt bullet/ball mold, cap tin, cartridge pack, and an eagle pattern pocket flask.
The engraving is a classic scroll and floral style with finely beaded backgrounds. The hammer has a wolf head motif and a series of five dots ahead of the knurling which is thought to represent the number of days that were required to complete the engraving.
Rock Island Auction describe the condition of this original Civil War era revolver as follows:-
“Fine. The engraving remains crisp. The barrel retains 70% plus bright original high polish blue finish and has smooth gray patina on the balance which is mainly in the engraved section at the breech. The cylinder retains 30% of the original blue, mostly in the protected areas, but mostly display attractive smooth gray/brown patina. 80% plus of the original cases colors remain, and the colors are particularly vivid on the loading lever arm. The frame retains 60% of the original, age darkened silver plating, and there is a patch of exposed brass with natural aged patina mainly on the heel section of the back strap. The grip is also fine and has some mild dings and scrapes, mild lower edge wear, and the vast majority of the original finish. Mechanically excellent. The case is fine aside from a crack across the lid and has mild age and storage related wear. The accessories are very fine and have minor wear mainly from age, and the flask and mold retain considerable original finish. Overall this is a very attractive cased factory engraved Colt Model 1862 Police from early in the Civil War and would have made an excellent presentation piece for a Union officer.”
Provenance: The Norm Vegely Collection
Picture credits: All pictures courtesy Rock Island Auction.
Footnote: For those interested in obtaining a modern manufacture replica of the Colt Model 1862 Pocket Police you will find that Uberti make one which is available with barrel lengths of 4½”, 5½”, and 6½”.
Jon Branch is the founder and senior editor of Revivaler and has written a significant number of articles for various publications including official Buying Guides for eBay, classic car articles for Hagerty, magazine articles for both the Australian Shooters Journal and the Australian Shooter, and he’s a long time contributor to Silodrome.
Jon has done radio, television, magazine and newspaper interviews on various issues, and has traveled extensively, having lived in Britain, Australia, China and Hong Kong. His travels have taken him to Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan and a number of other countries. He has studied the Japanese sword arts and has a long history of involvement in the shooting sports, which has included authoring submissions to government on various firearms related issues and assisting in the design and establishment of shooting ranges.