When Smith & Wesson’s patent on the bored-through cylinder expired in 1869, manufacturers were free to adopt that design pattern into their own pistols. Like everyone else, Colt did this with reckless abandon, and one of the pistols to emerge from this was the “Cloverleaf.”
Aptly nicknamed for its cylinder that had a cloverleaf profile, these odd and rather clunky revolvers were manufactured from 1871 to 1876. It chambered the .41 rimfire cartridge, whose snubby dimensions make it a source of fascination for some gun collectors.
The gun had its own odd dimensions that didn’t quite mimic anything on the market. The cylinder pin could be removed and used as a manual extractor, akin to the Rollin White Arms Co. pocket revolver.
Colt made 9,952 of these little guns before discontinuing them in 1876—almost certainly to free up production resources for the Lightning pistols, which proved to be much more competitive and successful.
Nonetheless, the Cloverleaf remains an interesting Colt collecting oddity, and one that novice collectors will find more affordable than some of the company’s earlier percussion revolvers.