The First Russian Revolvers

A russian copy of the Colt by Fyadorov
A Russian copy of the Colt 1851 Navy revolver

This page is still very incomplete, but I am trying to get the pictures up and will add the text as soon as I can.
Joe

Pistols with rotating cylinders, or revolvers were produced in Imperial Russia as curiosities in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Russian Master Ivan Polin who had worked in England produced examples of early flintlock revolvers.

1801 dated Polin Flintlock revolver
An 1801 dated example of a flintlock revolver by Ivan Polin (Иван Полин)

In the mid-19th century, with development of the percussion ignition system, production of relaible revolvers finally became possible, and the most famous revolvers of the time were those of the American businessman, Samuel Colt. Colt’s revolvers were great improvement over the contemporary muzzle loading percussion pistols and won wide popularity in Europe as well as the United States. Colt’s revolvers were simple, reliable and could be manufactured in large numbers using “the American System of Manufacturing”.

Russian armament in 1848-54

During the first half of the 19th Century the arms used by the Russian Army had lagged behind those used by the armies of most European countries, including the development and adoption of new types of side arms. Only at the beginning of the 1850s did the Russians seriously begin to concern themselves with the increasing rates of fire of side arms. It was decided to replace the 7 line (.70 caliber) flintlock pistols then in service with percussion models in the same caliber, and in 1848 they accepted a smoothbore percussion pistol as a soldier’s weapon, a rifled cavalry officer’s model and a smoothbore infantry officer’s model in 1854 These would be the last muzzle loading pistols adopted into the Russian Army, but would be the ones in official service during the Crimean War 1853-56. However these obsolete designs were so unpopular with the troops, that, in spite of the orders, it was preferable to carry nothing rather than these models. Therefore the Defense Minister ordered that the newest foreign models of revolvers be obtained and subject them to the examination of the Weapons Commission of the Artillery Committee.

Тульскихъ оружейниковъ (Tula Weapons Makers)

In 1854 Master of the Николай Захав Nikolai Zakhav presented the Tsar with a model 1851
The tag has written on it:
"№ 1 Пистолетъ Revolver / Револверъ система Америкнская с ящиком и сприборомъ, пятьдесятъ девять рублей сереб. Съ ручательствомъ за доброкачественность."

Tula Gun Makers presentation
Presentation Colt from the Tula Weapons makers
Hermitage Inv. No. 30 5286
Picture from Boarding Weapons A

The first copies made by the Tula Weapons makers appear to have been exact copies of the American Navys.

Early TOZ 1851
Top: A Colt Navy made at Hartford, Bottom: An Early Navy made at the Tula Factory. Note that the screws on both revolvers come in from the left side of the frame. Hartford manufactured revolver from the collection of Fritz Baehr, TOZ revolver from the Central Naval Museum, St. Petersburg A
Early TOZ 1851
Top: A Colt Navy made at Hartford, Bottom: An Early Navy made at the Tula Factory. The symbol to the left of the mark on the top of the TOZ revolver is the symbol of the city of Tula under the Imperial crown.
Hartford manufactured revolver from the collection of Fritz Baehr, TOZ revolver from the Central Naval Museum, St. Petersburg A

The Russians altered the revolvers slightly. Here is another TOZ 1851 but this time the screws come in from the right side of the revolver like later production from most other Russian makers.


Top: Tula manufactured 1851 with screws coming in from the left side dated to 1855. Bottom a Colt Manufactured 1851 (middle 3rd model) which would also date to 1855.
Revolvers from the Central Naval Museum, St. Petersburg A

An even later example of a Tula Weapons Makers 1851. This one has seen hard service and the barrel has been shortened. The hammer shows more of the upright "swoop" characteristic od Russian Colts, and has an altered grip shape, but not the swooped out shape associated with Russian production.


Very tired TOZ manufactured 1851 with screws coming in from the right side.

What's left of the inscription on top of the barrel. The city symbol and crown are too the left and the words "Тульскихъ оружейниковъ" can barely be seen.

Никоай Гольтяковъ въ Тулђ (Nikolai Goltyakov of Tula)

Goltyakov with shoulder stock Goltyakov with shoulder stock
Presentation Colt with shoulder stock by Master Nickolai Goltyakov
Inscription on top of the barrel "Тульскихъ оружейниковъ"
Hermitage Museum A
Goltyakov 1851 Goltyakov 1851
An 1851 Navy made by N. Goltyakov of Tula

Inscription on the top of the barrel of the 1851 Navy by Goltyakov
Никоай Гольтяковъ въ Тулђ

Ф.И.Фидоровъ въ Тулђ (F. I. Fiderov of Tula)



Inscription on the top of the barrel Ф.И. Фидоровъ въ Тулђ (F.I. Fiderov in Tula)

П. Денисовъ (P. Denisov)



Бр. Пастуховы в тулђ (Brothers Pastukhov)


AFrom "Boarding Weapons" by I.P. Cykhanov St. Petersburg 2012

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