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Original Starr double action revolver. 44 caliber. Action works well and gun cycles like it should. The return spring is weak and the cylinder is heavily damaged with two destroyed chambers. It appears that part of the cylinder has been cut away, perhaps to make a display. Otherwise, the action functions correctly. The cylinder locks with only light play on each chamber. The gun’s cylinder can be removed by unscrewing a knob at the rear end of the frame and tipping the barrel assembly forward. This is one of the first double-action handguns ever developed and it is not simple to use. What appears to be the pistol’s “trigger” is actually a lever that controls the hammer with the sear situated at the back of the trigger guard. The double action involves pulling the “trigger” back until it strikes the sear. Unfortunately, since this revolver’s return spring is weak and the “trigger” has to be manually reset after each depression. The rear end of the “trigger” has a notch that can be slid down, when this is done it will prevent the double-action from engaging when the “trigger” is engaged. Thus you can operate this handgun as a single action revolver as well by using the sear as a single action trigger after you have cocked the hammer. To return the revolver to its double action setting simply slide the notch up.
The revolver does not have any surviving cartouches on the grip and lacks any inspector’s markings, indicating that the gun was likely privately purchased and not a military issued firearm. The top-strap assembly does not have any visible serialization, but otherwise all the parts match. The top strap is slightly bowed but could be straightened. The grips are in good shape. The left grip has some indentions in the wood but is solid overall.
This is a Civil War-era Starr Model 1858 Army Revolver which is the brainchild of Ebenezer Townsend Starr. Starr established “Starr Arms Co” of New York in the late 1850s. In 1861, following the outbreak of the Civil War, Starr provided the Federal Government with tens of thousands of both single and double action revolvers. Starr’s company provided the Union with its third largest order of revolvers with over 47,000 manufactured, his company was only surpassed by Colt and Remington. This particular specimen is a Model 1858 Army Revolver, an early double-action design. As one of the first double-action handguns to be developed, the action is a bit difficult to master and Union troops were definitely frustrated by this. Thus, Starr developed his Model 1863 which was a single-action revolver that proved more simple to use than the M1858. Starr’s company had come to rely on military contracts and went under two years after the end of the war.
This revolver would be a nice display piece as is with the cutaway cylinder or could be brought back to its rightful appearance by replacing the damaged cylinder with a complete one.