Colt “Cloverleaf” House Revolver at RIA

The Colt House revolver, better known as the Cloverleaf (and sometimes as the Jim Fisk Model) was the first revolver Colt designed from the ground up for rimfire ammunition. It entered the market in 1871, and was only made for about 5 years. It’s colloquial name came from its unusual 4-chamber, .41 caliber cylinder.

The Jim Fisk moniker came when the larger-than-life robber baron “Jublilee Jim” Fisk was murdered by Ned Stokes with one of these revolvers over a love triangle gone bad. You can read about the events and the man at Murder By Gaslight, or pick up H.W. Brands’ book for more detail:


  1. “its unusual 4-chamber, .41 caliber cylinder”
    Is that type cylinder noticeable lighter than classic “full” cylinder? Or it is rather brand-recognition feature?

    “The Jim Fisk moniker”
    Was any other fire-arm named after person which was killed with it?

  2. In the mid-6o’s (at least at some point before the passage of the ’68 GCA) a particularly insensitive mail-order dealer inset Kennedy silver dollars into the buttstocks of ’91 Caracanos and sold them as “Kennedy commemoratives.” It was a pretty low moment in the history of industry public relations; the media made a bit of a stink over it.

  3. Clever little design. Rather underpowered, but “four for sure” safely carried in a coat pocket would’ve done nicely.

  4. According to Barnes, the .41 Long rimfire load varied with manufacturer, but most commonly had a 163-grain bullet in front of 13 to 15 grains of black powder. AFAIK, there was never a smokeless loading of this cartridge, because it was replaced in 1877 by the .41 Long Colt centerfire as used in the Colt double-action “Lightning” aka “Thunderer” revolver of Billy the Kid (in)fame.

    In terms of muzzle energy, it approximated the .38 S&W centerfire black-powder loading that was also introduced in 1877, with a 145-grain bullet @ 700 for 173 FPE. This works out to a MV of about 680-690 F/S. No magnum, but hardly a weak sister. Four rounds could reasonably be expected to hurt.

    BTW, the .41 CF launched a 200-grain bullet at 730 for 231 FPE, so it was more powerful than either of them. Almost as powerful as a .38 Special, in fact.

    I suspect the Kid’s supposed score may have had less to do with power than accuracy. Two of Elmer Keith’s axioms come to mind;

    1. Beware the man who only has one gun. He probably knows what to do with it.

    2. Be doubly concerned about the man who only uses one load. He probably knows where it hits.



    • Never quick-draw if you can’t get your gun out of your holster and cock on the draw with your thumb at the same time. And as for the number of shots, does the Chinese superstition “four is death” count here? I saw a trick where a guy pretended his revolver was empty and fooled the other guy into getting in point blank range-the only shot the hero had was in the fourth chamber. The bad guy got shot through the mouth in a very ugly way and was then shoved off a cliff because he wasn’t dead yet…

      • The problem with a revolver is that it’s hard to bluff with an empty cylinder, because the other guy can see that it’s empty. The one exception is when you have the hammer cocked and the last live round under it.

        With an automatic, he’s never sure how many rounds you have unless the slide is locked back on an empty chamber and magazine. Even if he’s a would-be Einstein who was counting your shots.

        One trick with my old friend the P-35 is to use a 15-shot Beretta M9 magazine. You need to cut an extra notch in the Beretta magazine for the P-35′ magazine catch. (Yes, the magazine can still be used in an M9 with the modification.)

        He counts “thirteen”, and when he sticks his head up, you give him No.14 and No.15.



        • I wonder, if anyone has actually taken advantage of counting shots in a real life gunfight, or is it just another Wild West dime novel and later Hollywood myth? I suppose it could work with something like a double barrel shotgun, where it’s easy to count the shots, but even with a revolver, I doubt it would be practical. One reason is that you can’t really know if the other guy had loaded six or five in his single action revolver. Unless you can see him (and his gun) clearly and he had only loaded five, he has a chance to reload his gun while you think he still has one shot left. But, for obvious reasons, you can’t really assume that he only loaded five, either…

          • “I know that you know that I know somebody is not low on ammunition around here!”

            Sounds like most people also assume that all bolt-action rifles with box magazines other than the Lee-Enfield will have only five shots. Said dimwits would get killed by a Carcano’s sixth shot…

          • There’s also the possibility they have a ‘New York Reload’, another gun fully loaded and ready to be shot at you. All in all, it’s a fairly stupid gamble where you can’t know the odds until after you’ve staked your life on it. Better to assume they’ll always have at least one bullet available and act accordingly.

  5. I have watched this one a few times it is just so entertaining. It is so crazy huge it looks like something out of a cartoon, but it was a very real and very very serious piece of hardware. I have an exact replica of the old Walker Colt made by Uberti and it is absolutely beautiful with absolutely stunning color case hardening (it can be hit or miss sometimes).

    No gun can possibly give you a bigger joy than to see the look on people’s faces when you pull this Lone Star Monstrosity out at the range. The response I got from several lanes down from another range patron was “Holy S**t! What the hell is that?” Then they all gather round when you touch those charges off. Ahhh I love the smell of Black Powder in the morning!

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