Colt House Revolver

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A view of a Cloverleaf Model Revolver

The Colt House Revolver (and its alternate 4-round capacity model, the Cloverleaf) was one of the first metallic cartridge rear-loading revolvers to be produced by the Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company, back in 1871. The same year, Colt's also patented the Colt Open Top, another metallic cartridge rear-loader, but in fact the Open Top production didn't start until 1872, although a pocket version of the Open Top, a completely different design, went on sales as of 1871, the Colt Open Top Pocket Model Revolver.[1]

The Colt House Revolver was manufactured from 1871 to 1876 in two different models: the Colt House Model itself and the Colt Cloverleaf Model, the latter being the most produced of both.[1] The House Model is also known among collectors as the Jim Fisk model or the Jim Fisk pistol, since it reached the sad popularity of being the gun used in the assassination of James Fisk in January 1872.[2]

Anatomy and specifications[edit]

Both models, House and Cloverleaf, were built around a solid spur-trigger frame, a weapon architecture inherited by another Colt gun, the Colt Sidehammer (1855). That shape of frame and trigger was anyway already in use in other handguns manufacturers, like in the vast numbers of Derringers made during the 19th century. The Sidehammer had a flat-ended grip, while the House and Cloverleaf models had all of them a recognizable bird's head grip, but that wasn't either an innovation, it was common, for example, in Derringers or other handguns of the time.

Finally, both models, House and Cloverleaf, were chambered with .41 rimfire cartridges, long or short. The main differences between the two models were the following:[1]


  • The House Model, also called the Jim Fisk Model, had a five rounds straight non-fluted cylinder.
  • The Cloverleaf Model had a four rounds fluted cylinder. When looking at it from front or rear the cylinder looked like a four-leaf clover and that's why the gun was called the Cloverleaf.


  • The House Model was less produced by far and had no variant development. It was produced in a single item product with a 2-5/8" barrel.
  • The Cloverleaf Model was the more produced by far and knew two different variants, depending on the barrel length: 1-1/2" and 3". The 1-1/2" barrel length variant had and ejector rod contained within the center pin of the cylinder, allowing to reload while keeping the cylinder in the gun. The 3" barrel length variant of the Cloverleaf had the ejector in the same axis of the cylinder center pin and, thus, the cylinder needed to be removed from the frame when loading.

Influences in later Colt firearms[edit]

The Colt New Line (1873) inherited the general shape of the Colt House: a bird's head grip and a solid spur-trigger frame.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Flayderman, Norm (2007). Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Firearms and Their Values. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. pp. 103–105. ISBN 1-4402-2651-2. 
  2. ^ Chapel, Charles Edward (19 September 2013). Guns of the Old West: An Illustrated Guide. Courier Dover Publications. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-486-42161-2. 
  3. ^ Sapp, Rick (2007). Standard Catalog of Colt Firearms. Iola, Wisconsin: F+W Media, Inc. pp. 64–66. ISBN 0-89689-534-3.