Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Featured Gun: Merwin-Hulbert Pocket Army 2nd Model

The story of the Merwin - Hulbert revolvers starts with the man who designed them.

Joseph Merwin had been involved in the firearms trade as early as 1856.
Records indicate that he opened his first gun store with his partner Edward Bray in New York City in 1859.

During the Civil War Merwin & Bray imported and represented guns made by a variety of manufacturers and also marketed guns that were designed by Merwin, but manufactured by Eagle Arms Company

Edward Bray left the partnership in 1866 and the next year Merwin brought in Charles H. Simkins as partner. A short time later Charles Taylor invested in the operation, now called Merwin, Taylor & Simkins.
After a year or so the enterprise fell apart and Merwin was back looking for investors in his gun business.
Sometime in 1869 Merwin entered into a partnership with William A. Hulbert and his brother Milan Hulbert.

The Hulbert brothers were in the Sporting Goods business and had acquired a 50% stake in the Hopkins and Allen Company of Norwich CT.

The company almost went bankrupt more than once. One of their subsidiaries: Evans Rifle Company went under, costing the operation more than $100K, then there were shipments of guns to Russia, that Russia refused to pay on, then an employee absconded with their operating capital.

The company remained afloat and designed several revolvers that were produced at the Hopkins and Allen factory including the one we discuss here.

Some of the models they produced throughout the 1860s and 1870s

The design for loading and unloading was unique. The 1st Model Pocket Army revolver below was supposedly owned by Jesse James

Note the grip frame, a modified birds head that the company entitled a "crest handle".

The "Pocket Army" 2nd Model was produced between 1880 and 1883, it is most often seen in nickel plating, but a blued version was offered, along with factory engraving and pearl and ivory grip panels. The ad below shows the options and prices. 

By way of comparison A Colt Single Action Army Calvary model (7.5" barrel) would have cost upwards of $17 in 1880, the M-H 7" Pocket Army was priced at $12 which was nearly 30% less

The pictures below show how the gun comes apart

As with most of my Featured Gun articles they were inspired by guns that I own or have owned. 
I purchased this Pocket Army 2nd Model as part of an estate (50 guns total).

The barrel, marked with Hopkins and Allen name, something that many believe hindered the sales of these guns

Three notches in the grip, they look intentional, perhaps this gun was owned by a lawman who took three lives with it??

The caliber is 1873 Winchester, which is the .44 WCF or .44-40

The photo below shows the loading gate open


The 2nd Model was produced approximately 1880-1883.[4]