This Colt Model 1851 is one of the few sold to the United States government during the 1850's prior to the Civil War. Most of these saw very hard use during the 1850's and throughout the Civil War. Made in 1856. Serial number is in the 53,000 range. The numbers are all matching except wedge. This particular example is a 3rd Model with the small brass trigger guard. Most 1851 Navy Revolvers were sold on the commercial market and came with silver plating on the brass grip straps. That was not the case with the US military which preferred the brass left plain. If you look closely at the photo of the insides of brass back strap, you'll see that it has zero silver as it was never plated...correct for a "US" gun. Given the hard wear to the corners of the muzzle, slightly rounded front edges of the cylinder, and bottom edges of the grips, there is no question in my mind that this Colt saw a good deal of use on horseback...most likely in the hands of a US Dragoon and/or Union or Confederate cavalry during the Civil War. This gun did turn up here in Georgia but we have zero history with it to substantiate exactly how long it's been here.
Overall, NRA Antique Good Condition. Metal is fairly smooth overall with some scattered pits from being kept in a holster. The cylinder shows 25% of its original roll-engraved scene. Markings are Very Good with a clear barrel address and distinct "U.S." stamped under "COLTS PATENT" on left side of frame. Very Good Screws. Grips are a bit worn but in Good shape and original to the gun. No chips or cracks. The cartouches on the grips have vanished from chafing in some cavalryman's or dragoon's holster...although I'd like to say there may be a hint of a cartouche on the lower left panel. The mechanics are in Good shape. Everything works and cylinder indexes. See photos. Bore is surprisingly GOOD...a bit frosty but strong with distinctive rifling. A good overall example of a Colt 1851 Navy that served in the US military.