- Range of serial numbers: 1 – 200
- Date of manufacture: 1837 to 1838
- Total production: 200
- Length of barrel: 32 inches or shorter.
Caliber: .34, .36, .38, .40, and .44. Eight or ten shot cylinders.
- Address: ‘Colt’s Patent Patent Arms Man’g. Co., Paterson N.Jersey.’ with finials at either end.
- Weight: 8 pounds 6 ounces depending on barrel length and with or without loading lever assembly.
Colt Paterson First Model Ring Lever Percussion Rifle
The Colt First Model Ring Lever Rifle was manufactured circa 1837 to 1838 in Paterson, New Jersey. It was Colt’s first production firearm before he started manufacturing his pistols a few months later. A total of approximately only 200 First models were manufactured and serial numbered in their own range from 1 through to 200. It has a top-strap over the cylinder. To cock the rifle you had to pull the ring lever and turn the cylinder for each shot. The standard Model is identified as follows:
Chambered in several calibers including .34, .36, .38, .40 and .44. Eight and ten shot (very rare) cylinder with standard 32 inch octagonal barrel (a limited number were manufactured with shorter barrels including carbine length) with or without loading lever. The cylinder roll scene depicts a horsemen and a centaur hunting a deer; the word COLT is also present. The barrels were marked on the top: ‘Colt’s Patent Patent Arms Man’g. Co., Paterson, N. Jersey’. Varnished walnut stock with cheek-piece inlaid with the Colt four-horse-head trademark. All metal parts are blued except the barrel which is browned. Serial numbers appear on various parts, most of them visible only when the rifle has been disassembled. The standard model is without loading lever and no capping channel in the recoil shield. Also cylinders have a square-back configuration. Weight 8 pounds 8 ounces with thirty inch barrel with loading lever. The improved model is Factory fitted with loading lever attached and also a spring held detent underneath trigger guard to permit the cylinder to be revolved while loading (instead of removing cylinder for loading), locking the ring lever to permit this. The addition of a capping groove on the recoil shield and the rounding of the back of the cylinder were also factory improvements and came before the loading lever became permanent.
As with most Colt firearms there are always exceptions to the rule with some engraved examples known. Coverage is mainly to the frame, trigger-guard and tangs. Also inlay and overlay of silver on stocks has been observed. Values depend on condition, rarity and provenance. Cases were advertised for $4 but seldom seen.
For in-depth reference on Paterson longarms see ‘The Paterson Colt Book featuring the Dennis A. Levett Collection’ by R.L. Wilson.
More Paterson Percussion Longarms
The Colt First Model Ring Lever Rifle was manufactured circa 1837 to 1838 in Paterson, New Jersey. It was Colt’s first production firearm before he started manufacturing his pistols a few months later.