The most famous and easily recognized revolver manufactured by Eli Whitney, Jr . was his Navy Model. This revolver came on the scene just prior to the War Between the States. An improved second model was developed as the War began and sales increased as Whitney worked to market his revolver. The Navy Model is 36 caliber with a standard barrel length of 7 5/8 inches. The term “Navy” referred to the caliber and size of the revolver. These revolvers were purchased by both the US Army and Navy.
Approximately 35,500 Whitney Navy revolvers were manufactured, including about 1,500 of the First Model and approximately 34,000 of the Second Model. Both models went through a few improvements, resulting in four “types” of the First Model; and five “types” of the Second Model. As data was collected for our book, The Whitney Navy Revolver, we documented each of the models and types of these unique weapons, and were able to obtain at least one photograph for all models and types.
Whitney used a unique cylinder scene that included a Shield with half of it being the US Stars & Stripes and half being the English Coat of Arms. Facing the shield on either side was an American Eagle and England’s Trafalgar Lion. This scene covered one side of the cylinder and was duplicated on the other side. Later, one side of the cylinder was replaced with a Naval scene with an American Shield with a ribbon across the shield. On the ribbon is written “Whitneyville”.
Whitney obtained a contract with the US Army in 1862, and provided about 7,602 revolvers through 1863. The Army also obtained Whitney revolvers through other private vendors as well, resulting in over 10,000 Whitney Navy revolvers being used by the Army. The US Navy purchased 6,226 Whitney revolvers during 1863-1865. About 50% of the 34,000 Second Models were purchased by Army & Navy.
Our book provides details of the various features of the Whitney Navy revolver and the changes that occurred with each model and type. Also the serial number ranges at which changes occurred are noted. The various martial markings used by the Army and Navy are documented with photographs .
We also included information on the use of Whitney revolvers by the Confederacy, conversion revolvers, engraved revolvers and revolvers used in other countries.
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We began our survey of Whitney Navy Revolvers in 2009. As of December 2020, we have over 875 revolvers in our database. We appreciate everyone who has participated in this study.
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