Colt 1889 Revolver

The Colt 1889 is a precedent-setting double-action revolver designed before the Smith & Wesson patent. Here’s what you need to know to work on them.

by Mark R. Hollensen

The Colt 1889 was introduced as the first double-action revolver with a swing-out cylinder. What is interesting about this old Colt is that the cylinder rotates counter-clockwise and that the design pre-dates the Smith & Wesson patent by seven years. This new design was purportedly very strong as compared to previous double-action revolvers, being manufactured in the .38 Colt and the .41 Colt in both Short and Long versions. Assorted literature products found tells us that this particular design became the standard for all double-action revolver designs that followed it.

This original design, although strong, had some lockup issues, mainly because the cylinder did not have cylinder lock notches or a locking bolt assembly. The lack of these components made the cylinder prone to rotating when being carried in a pocket or holster – and even while shooting. Later, this design had the cylinder locking lug notches added to the cylinder. With the addition of the bolt and bolt spring the revolver then became known as the Colt New Navy Model of 1889. After the Army adopted and purchased the revolver, the design became known as the Colt New Army & Navy model of 1892.

Colt then made improvements to the…

Read more in the September 2018 issue.

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