Colt Prototype “Zig-Zag” Root Revolvers

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The 1855 “Root” pocket revolver was a reasonably successful design for the Colt company, although it was not the best mechanical design. The side hammer design used the cylinder axis to rotate and lock in place instead of using the rear face of the cylinder, which resulted in several small and delicate parts. In an effort to correct these deficiencies, Colt and his factory superintendent Elisha Root experimented with a “zig-zag” design as well, which would use and external cam running in grooves on the cylinder wall to rotate and lock it. Root received a patent (#13,999) for a system using a ring trigger and lug on the bottom of the frame, and these two prototype revolvers demonstrate a similar system with the lug on the top of the frame. This system was not ultimately adopted, and these remain just an interesting look into the experimental workings of the Colt company.


Webley-Fosbery Self-Cocking Revolver:
Colt Sidehammer ”Root” Dragoon:
Mauser 1878 Zig-Zag Revolver:
Colt 1855 Revolving Shotgun:

Hi guys thanks for tuning in to another Video on Forgotten weapons comm I’m Yoon I’m here today at the Rock Island Auction house taking a look at some of The guns they’re going to be selling in Their upcoming December of 2016 premiere Auction what we have here today are a Pair of little tiny experimental or Prototype pocket revolvers now these are Based on the 1855 side hammer style of Colt this is typically often called a Root revolver named after Elijah K root Who was one of Colts managing engineers In fact after Colt died in 1862 root Would take over as president of the Colt Company for a couple years until he also Died however root was a pretty talented Engineer of his own he had a number of Patents in association with Colt and Well it seems he may not have actually Really deserved to have this entire gun Named after him but he did come up with A couple of the elements of it probably Most significantly in the long run is he Came up with the creeping loading lever Which we see on these two guns that was A that was a cool innovation that made It a lot easier to load these guns there Were muzzle loaders and you had to cram A lead ball into the cylinder and what You really wanted to do was get a larger Ball than cylinder and actually swage it Down and create a nice tight seal this Creeping loading lever allowed you to do

That a lot more easily especially on Smaller guns like this where the lever Was shorter anyway the side hammer Design has a number of differences to it From the normal what we think of today Is the normal Colt revolver primarily That it’s actually locking on the Cylinder axis or arbor rather than on The cylinder itself and that resulted in These little pocket guns in a fairly Delicate system they didn’t sell well They were popular and they were very Successful for Colt but they weren’t Mechanically the greatest design what These two are interestingly are a Prototype version of this design that Uses a zigzag type of cylinder instead Of what would come to be used on the 1855 Colt pocket with the normal side Hammer system you end up with some Little bitty parts that are of course Delicate so these are an experiment in a Different method of connecting the Cylinder to the hammer and they are Basically a little connecting rod Running to this sliding bar that bar Runs in these zigzags and of course it’s Physically connected to the hammer so When you pull the hammer back this comes Back forces the cylinder to rotate we Take a look at that up close see when The hammer comes back cylinder rotates When you drop the hammer we’ve got that Is effectively your firing pin that’s

Going to hit a percussion cap and Detonate it and of course this sliding Bar goes forward with the hammer to Index into position so that when you [ __ ] it again it will rotate the Cylinder again what’s happening there of Course is that that bar is traveling Forward in this groove and then it gets Caught in this diagonal groove when Cocked and then that forces the cylinder To come back here and then when the Hammer goes forward it goes in that Straight groove again so this is the Same basic principle as you would find On say a Webley Fosbury or one of the Early mauser revolvers however it’s not Quite identical on those later guns There’d actually be a lug travelling in The bottom of the frame here that would Do this work run in these grooves and Index the cylinder that’s a more elegant System than what colt was experimenting With here much earlier because this has This big exposed rod or rail connecting Rod there where if your frame is big Enough to permit having a piece in the Bottom where it’s actually totally Hollow here that allows it to stay out Of the way it allows the hammer to work Uninterrupted and prevents dirt and grit From getting into the system because It’s much more enclosed now what’s also Interesting is that the one patent that I’ve been able to find for Elisha root

On this system does talk about a zigzag Revolver but it’s actually a little bit Of a different system it doesn’t include This connecting rod what it does instead Is actually have a operating lug in the Bottom and it’s operated by a A circular almost a ring trigger that Cycles back and forth and acts to both Rotate the cylinder and fire the gun When it comes all the way back now You’ll notice both of these revolvers Have this open bottom of the frame and I Wonder if it isn’t possible that these Were both originally made based on that Root patent with these sliding ring Triggers and then modified into this System later as a secondary experiment There’s basically no documentation on These things but that seems to me to be An interesting potential certainly a Plausible thing that could have been Done well we’re here we can also take a Look at this the creeping loading lever There are two different versions here This one actually has gear teeth sort of Cut all the way through the barrel there That of course allows the rod to come Backward as it is engaged this one is a Little bit different in that it just has Round lugs so round holes in the barrel And round lugs on the lever this is a Little bit more of a this is a slightly Later system this is more like what you Would actually get on the production

Revolvers and this system would be used In all the following colt pistols so Primarily the 1860 army’s some Differences at the back as well on the The exact mechanism of the exact manner Of attaching the cylinders and the Cylinder arbors now the only marking on These two pistols is on this particular One which is marked Colts patent up here Thank you guys for watching I hope you Enjoyed the video Very rarely do we get to see Experimental or prototype Colt revolvers And daresay these are two one-of-a-kind Pistols if that’s a thing neat to see The zigzag system as well on an earlier Gun then we would find most of the time The the Mauser revolvers and the Webley Fosbury zall came several decades after These so if you’d like to own one or Both of these yourself they are of Course coming up for auction if you take A look at the description text below You’ll find links to both of their Catalog pages here at Rock Island you Can take a look at Rock Island pictures And description If you’re interested in place bids Online over the phone or live here in Person thanks for watching

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