This is a scarce little gun! Many collectors (me included) at first glance will identify this gun as a Colt Model 1862 Pocket Police Revolver but it's NOT. While it's nearly identical to the Colt 1862 Pocket Police Revolver, it was actually produced by the Metropolitan Arms Company of New York City during the latter half of the Civil War. How this revolver came to exist was by unfortunate circumstances. It all started on February 4, 1864 when almost the entire Colt manufacturing plant in Hartford, CT burnt to the ground. Theories abound as to the cause of the fire. Was it an accident or sabotage from Confederate sympathizers, etc. Whatever the cause, the conflagration left Colt's main building in ruins with its steam engines, parts, patterns, and tools belonging to various contractors destroyed. Millions of dollars were lost and thousands of employees put out of work. To make matters worse, the plant was only partially insured. Sam Colt's widow vowed to rebuild but it would be quite some time before the company was back on its feet and could once again claim its market share of the revolver business.
The Metropolitan Arms Company: With the worst year of the Civil War still laying ahead and the demand for revolvers still high, Colt's sudden departure left a giant hole in the market for competitors to fill. This seems to be exactly when the Metropolitan Arms Company appeared on the scene. The company, located in New York, took full advantage of Colt's missing product line by producing near-identical copies of the Model 1851 Navy Revolver, the 1861 Navy Revolver, and the 1862 Model Pocket Police from 1864 until 1866...which coincidentally is the year Colt resumed full production. During that two year period, the company manufactured approximately 6,000 copies of the 1851 Navy, fewer than fifty of the 1861 Navy, and 2,750 of the Pocket Police Model. It's been about five years since we've had a Metropolitan, a Navy Model around the year 2005-2006:
This "Police Model" is marked "METROPOLITAN ARM CO. NEW-YORK" on the top of the barrel. Like the Colt 1862 Police, it has a five-shot, half-fluted cylinder in .36 caliber with a 4-1/2" barrel. The only noticeable difference between the two is that the loading lever of the Metropolitan is non-ratcheting. Instead, it pivots from a fixed fulcrum...hence the small screw located at the front edge of the fluted barrel lug. The contours of this little revolver are very close to that of the Colt with slight differences. For example, the trigger guard is a bit larger and thinner, the sides of the grips just a bit flatter, and the little tabs on the backstrap where it secures to the frame appear just a bit more sloped and elongated. Then there are small but interesting departures from Colt design like the hammer safety. Normally Colt used small pins or cleats located on the back of the lugs between the chambers...where the hammer could be rested and the pin or "safety pin" kept the hammer from contacting the caps on the loaded chambers. This Metropolitan does exactly the opposite...where the face of the hammer has an oval protrusion...somewhat in the shape of the heel of the back of a man's dress shoe. In turn, the lugs on the back of the cylinder have these same "heel-shapes" only in a mirror image slotted into the lugs. Once in place, the hammer can go nowhere...and it's even a better idea than the Colt safety pin as these broke, wore away, or were mashed down by the hammer over time. The parts appear to all be hand-fit and go very tightly together...even snugger than the Colt...but really to a fault. Popping the wedge to release the barrel and cylinder for loading takes exertion...whereas Colt's would stay snug but once the wedge is popped loose, you can usually get things apart with your fingers. Not this Metropolitan; it's almost too tight. In essence, it's a very close interpretation of the 1862 Colt, very well-made, and the parts appear to be mostly hand-fit than gauged like the Colt. The serial number is in the high 1,700 range with all matching numbers throughout (see photos) including the little stuff like the barrel wedge. Unlike the Colt 1862, there are even numbers on the bottom of the loading lever.
Overall condition is NRA Antique Very Good Plus to Fine. Cylinder shows 35% original blue mostly in the flutes and behind the rebate. The barrel is quite good with 30-35% original blue on the barrel that's freckling with the balance turned to a brown patina...one small spot of pitting just to the side of the barrel address (see photo). The frame has mostly aged to a brown patina with a bit of mottled gray where the case colors faded peeking through in places. The grips are fantastic...nice straight-grained walnut with 80% original varnish intact. Pefect wood-to-metal fit with no chips, cracks, or repairs. As stated earlier, all the parts have matching numbers. The hammer and the wedge screw appear to be old replacements. The action works perfectly and the bore is in Fine Condition. All in all, a very solid and respectable example of a rare Civil War handgun that was built upon the misfortunes of Colt in 1864.