Military Wiki
Colt Model 1889
Type Double-action Revolver
Place of origin United States
Service history
Used by United States Navy, occasionally United States Army
Wars Boxer Rebellion
Philippine–American War
Spanish-American War
Production history
Designer William Mason and Carl J. Ehbets
Designed 1889
Manufacturer Colt

The Colt Model 1889 was a revolver type pistol produced by the Colt Manufacturing Company in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


In the mid 19th century, Colt manufactured revolving pistols for the Army and Navy that were based on a design by William Mason and Carl J. Ehbets. William Mason left Colt in 1882 to work for Winchester, but Ehbets remained at Colt, and continued to refine the design that they had collaborated on. These refinements led to the Model 1889.[1]

Colt was the first manufacturer to produce a revolver using a swing-out cylinder. Smith & Wesson followed suit 7 years later with the Hand Ejector, Model 1896 in .32 S&W Long caliber. This was an improvement over the Colt 1889 design in that it used a combined center-pin and ejector rod to lock the cylinder in position. The 1889 did not use a center pin and was prone to move out of alignment.[1]

Design Features[]

The Colt Model 1889 was the first double-action revolver to utilize a swing-out cylinder, released by a sliding latch. This design had two advantages over previous designs, in that it allowed for fast loading but also maintained the strength of a solid frame. The Model 1889 was chambered for the .41 Long Colt, .38 Long Colt and .38 Short Colt cartridges.[1]

The Navy version was blued, and had a six inch barrel. It was manufactured with walnut grips. Civilian versions had either a blue or nickel finish, and had hard rubber grips.

The Model 1889 differed from earlier Colt revolvers in that its cylinder rotated counterclockwise instead of clockwise. This seems to have originated with U.S. Navy requirements, but the direction of rotation works against the cylinder lock and tends to force the cylinder out of alignment with the barrel. This weakness allowed the cylinder to rotate while holstered or even while the shooter was pulling the trigger.[2]


The Model 1889 and variants were adopted by the United States Military and used prior to the introduction of the M1911 pistol. The Model 1889 was also sold commercially as the Colt New Army and Navy. Approximately 5,000 Colt Model 1889 revolvers were produced.

A Model 1889 revolver was recovered from the USS Maine after it exploded in Havana Harbor in 1898. It was presented to then Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, who would later become President of the United States. Roosevelt brandished this pistol to rally his Rough Riders during the famed charge up San Juan Hill on July 1, 1898.[1] This revolver was on display at Sagamore Hill and was stolen from there in 1963, recovered and then stolen again in 1990. It was recovered in 2006 and returned to Sagamore Hill on June 14, 2006.

Samuel Colt's son, Caldwell, and famed lawman Heck Thomas were both known to carry the Model 1889.

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Kinard, Jeff (2004). Pistols: an illustrated history of their impact. ABC-CLIO. p. 163. ISBN 978-1-85109-470-7. 
  2. Sapp, Rick (2007). Standard Catalog of Colt Firearms. F+W Media, Inc,. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-89689-534-8. 

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