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I'm sure someone will be along shortly -post-wise- to perhaps give some information on your questions. I just had to pipe in and say I sure likes the looks of it though.
 

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From the pictures you submitted, this appears to be a correct factory Richards-Mason conversion of the Model 1851 Navy revolver. They were made in 38 rimfire or 38 centerfire. Loading gate had an internal spring ( as yours ) and an external spring. I know of no record of barrel lengths other than 7 1/2 inches, thus I think it may have been altered by a gunsmith. A close-up picture of the muzzle and front sight may answer your question..And yes to your law inforcement officer question, as it would not be unusual for a marshal or sheriff to have it cut down. Jim
 
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