In 1861, Butterfield received a contract to produce just under 2,300 of the guns for the Ira Harris Guards of New York state, the contract was cancelled for some unknown reason and Butterfield only produced an estimated 640 of the revolvers.
The Butterfield Army revolver was a single action, five shot, .41 caliber pistol is 13.75-inches in length; octagonal barrel is 7-inches and the cylinder is 1-11/16-inches long. It weighs 2 pounds, 10 ounces. The revolver had a unique automatic priming system built into it. Butterfield’s patented priming pellets were inserted into a spring loaded feeding tube that screwed into the bottom of the frame of the revolver, just in front of the trigger guard. The tube would push a primer up against a feeder bar that would push a primer out onto the percussion cone each time the hammer was released by the trigger. This kept the primers safely inside the frame of the pistol until the trigger was pulled. The mechanism was quite similar to the sliding primer bar system that feeds primers into a progressive reloading press today. The intent of the design is to save time whereas one did not have to manually put percussion caps on the nipples or remove them after firing.
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