Civil War Era DA Revolver: Cooper Pocket Model

The Cooper Pocket Model is an interesting and rare revolver, and this high condition example displays the generally attractive lines of the firearm. It adopts much Colt design language, but introduces a large trigger guard and double-action trigger.


It’s rare in any condition. This one is in incredible condition. It’s for sale by James Cohen & Son Antiques, on Royal Street in New Orleans, and is only one of very many high-condition rare antique firearms in their inventory. (We mean to write about the shop more generally soon).cooper-pocket-model

Cohen’s web site does not do their inventory justice, but several of the firearms that struck us were on it, including this Cooper. They post minimal information about the gun; our references tell us that most of these Coopers were made in the second half of the 1860s. Collectors distinguish among variations.

Cooper Pocket Model
.36 caliber double action, five shot
Manufactured circa 1864
Serial No. 2081
British proof-marked on barrel and cylinder
Original blue finish

The British proof marks suggest it was exported to England or somewhere in the Empire, but it was made in Frankford, a Philadelphia suburb.


While the pistol is rare and, as an early American double-action revolver, a historic curiosity, it’s not as generally sought-after as more common Colts or Remingtons of similar vintage. That said, condition is everything to collectors. Cohen is asking an eye-watering $5,500 for this pistol, and another dealer sold one that was intact but rattly, with all bluing long gone, and faded to gray-brown overall, for $650.


That dealer, The Horse Soldier, also has an interesting site, and like Cohen, sells other Civil War memorabilia like documents and currency as well as antique firearms (neither sells modern firearms; “antique” a term of art in American law meaning pre-1898 arms, or exact reproductions of pre-1898 muzzle loaders). The Horse Soldier posted a little more Cooper history and detail, which we’ll shamelessly crib from him:

Presented here is a Civil War secondary martial sidearm produced by the J. M. Cooper Company of Pittsburgh, PA. Known as a Second Model Pocket Revolver, this specimen was one of the handguns produced by the company’s Philadelphia facility between 1864 and 1869 and it closely resembles the Colt Model 1849 Pocket. In very good overall condition with even wear, this Cooper sidearm is a double-action, .31 caliber model with a three-screw frame and a 5-shot rebated cylinder matched to a 4” long, octagonal barrel. Cylinder is plain with no engraving but has the five rectangular safety notches. Revolver retains just scant traces of original bluing in protected areas. Serial number “1135”marked on the brass butt strap, cylinder, barrel, loading lever, and frame. A large, brass trigger guard fits the frame.

The revolver’s grips are one-piece unvarnished walnut in good condition with minor chipping at the butt edge and at the frame point. Shows smooth even wear. Barrel address marking of “COOPER FIREARMS MFG CO FRANKFORD PHILA, PA. / PAT. JAN 7, 1851 APR 25, 1854 SEP 4, 1860 / SEP 1, 1863 SEP 22, 1863”. Mechanics loose. Revolver wears a dark gray patina overall. Exterior metal surfaces show just scattered light pitting and consistent wear. All screws are in good condition, not buggered. This Cooper .31 caliber Pocket Model DA revolver is priced right, and would add to any military sidearm collection.

Examples of this gun are out there. The Horse Soldier sold another, nicer condition example (SN 13532; they say Cooper made a total of about 11,000 revolvers) for $1,375. Dixie Gun Works has one in stock, in about the same condition as The Horse Soldier’s $1,375 example, asking $1450. Gunderson Militaria has a worn and broken (mainspring) example, SN 380, for $950.

The clean lines and attractive condition of the Cohen example caught our eye. It’s a really attractive old gun. Do we want it? Sure, but not enough to drop five-and-a-half large on it. Gun blogging doesn’t pay that well… we should have taken up rap or something.

We jus’ rap ’cause we can’ sing
We can’ hole a job or anyfing
We jus’ hangin’ out ’cause we don’ care
That wiffout a doubt, our momma on weffare….

OK, maybe not rap.


8 thoughts on “Civil War Era DA Revolver: Cooper Pocket Model

  1. 2hotel9

    Wow, liking you more and more! You just mentioned two of my favorite places, J Cohen&Sons and Horse Soldier. Gettysburg Diorama is just a short walk away and anytime I get to NO I make it a priority to go down Rue Royale before heading to the WWII Museum.

    Nice looking revolver, just a bit pricey for me.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Cohen’s prices are all high. I stumbled across the shop by sheer happenstance, shuffling down Royale trying to decide on a lunch place. We came back after lunch and I had a nice but brief talk with one of the salesmen. The last time I saw as many high condition Springfield rifle-muskets was in the Springfield Armory museum.

  2. James

    Those revolvers both look nice,that said,me pocket only allows replica old school revolvers(enjoy the hell out of em!).

    I am sad that Sig having these issues,the German ones I have used always seemed good,come on folks,get your act together,your giving Hampster a bad name!I recently read that some had MIM parts,if true,perhaps part of the issue,only read one article about MIM so not sure if prevalent.

    OK vets,get a good alt plan for VA and present to the new administration coming in,disband and hand out use anywhere cards/complete revamp of system/how to transition ect.Trump said he cared about the vets and services they do(or do not) get, so,get off your asses,get a plan,present ,ask the voters for their support,the public knows of the problems,we need answers to a better way and then public can get off it’s ass.

    Side note,Hog,you mentioned what you saw as great ethnicity relations in Orleans,actually,believe that is true in most of country,just doesn’t make “good press”.I will say protesters(and the vermin rioters)had a pretty good ethnicity mix so I see no huge racial divides!

  3. John M.

    “we should have taken up rap or something.”

    Does this qualify you as an “aspiring rapper?”

    -John M.

  4. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

    Neat revolver. Steel being what it was then I’d bet the innards were a little delicate and prone to wearing out pretty quick. I built a 1851 replica from a CVA kit when I was a kid and tried to wear it out dry firing it for a coupl years before swapping it to a buddy who rehabbed it and shot the piss out of it. I keep looking for a ’49 but they never pop up when I have the cash.
    Thise old guns, ’51, ’60s and such just point so well. Keeping an eye out for one of the cartridge conversions too.

  5. Keith

    I (briefly) looked at Civil War reenactment back in the 1990’s. Through Navy Arms I did get a 1858 Remington New Model Army revolver. I have fired it and it is fun. Lots of smoke clouds. Of course then you have to wash it in hot soap and water and bake it in the oven to dry it. Fun times. I’ve always wanted to get a Le Mat reproduction but never had the money for it.

  6. jim h

    Hog, I’m coming in late on this. I’ve got one similar to it, but it’s just different that I can’t directly place it. care to take a look and see what you might know about it?

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