Spanish 1864 Navy Kerr Revolver

  • Country: Spain
  • Ignition System: Percussion
  • Calibre: .44 (54 Bore) Ball

The Spanish 1864 percussion revolver is a copy of the Kerr revolver developed by James Kerr, one of the founding investors in the London Armoury Company (LAC).

The revolver is immediately recognisable in comparison to its contemporaries like the Colt, Remington and Beaumont-Adams percussion revolvers by two features:
– The back action side lock on the right side. The idea behind this type of lock being that any armourer or gunsmith could easily remove and repair such a lock anywhere which basic tooling, remembering that this was still the era of percussion rifles which used much the same lock.

– The cylinder arbour pin is at the rear of the revolver and is pulled backwards to release the cylinder.

One peculiar feature of the lock is the pin on the tumbler, this pin in fact interacts with a hook connected to the trigger. When the hammer is cocked, the pin on the tumbler pulls the hook rearwards, which in turn pulls the trigger is pulled rearwards closer to the sear. This reduces the trigger pull length to fire the shot. This principle is found on many single action pistols, but due to the use of a side-lock, the arrangement is very unique.

The Spanish adopted the Kerr due to a shortage of Lefaucheux type pinfire revolvers ordered to arm their navy. The first model adopted was the model 1862 but due to unspecified problems it was subject to (unknown) modifications and readopted as the model 1864. This revolver, was produced at the Fabrica de Durango, who produced 1500 revolvers in total.

A further 4000 revolvers were also produced by the company Orbea Hermanos, Eibar. The lock and top strap have the naval inspection mark (A anchor O), a serial number, and what I presume is a rack number on the grip (198). Most of the parts are stamped with an inspection mark of an O overlaying an anchor.

For reloading, it would have been to the norm to ram pre-prepared cartridges containing powder and bullet into each chamber of the cylinder rather than individually charge each chamber with powder and ball manually. A separate percussion cap still needed to be placed on each nipple.

The term “copy” is often used to indicate these revolvers which insinuates an item produced in some backwater without license and of inferior quality, however in this case, the Spanish Kerr is technically a legal copy, as Mr Kerr had no patent rights to his revolver in Spain thus no license for its production was required and it was produced by legitimate gun-making establishments to an excellent quality as shown in the pictures.

The only other major consumer of the Kerr revolver was the confederate army, who ordered directly from the LAC. From research it appears that European countries did not adopt percussion revolvers on a grand scale, with only small numbers being adopted for officers and elite units. For the most part there was a direct transition from single-shot percussion pistols to breechloading revolvers.