Original U.S. Artillery Model Colt Single Action Army Revolver reworked with .32W.C.F. Bisley Barrel- Serial 10441
Original Item: Only One Available. This is every School boy's dream! A real Cowboy six gun! This very nice Colt SAA (Single Action Army) Revolver is one that has definitely had an interesting life! Normally, mismatched serial numbers on a Colt pistol are a reason to look away, however the U.S. stamped on the left side of the frame indicates that this is in fact an "Artillery Model", officially known as an "Altered Model" by the U.S. War department.
In 1895–1896, the U.S. federal government returned 2000 SAA revolvers to Colt to be refurbished; 800 were issued to the New York Militia with the 7 1⁄2-inch barrel and 1,200 were altered to a barrel length of 5 1⁄2 inches. In 1898, 14,900 of the SAA revolvers were altered the same way by Springfield Armory, with 5 1/2 inch barrels.
This was all done because it was felt that the standard issue .38 caliber Colt M 1892 double-action revolver lacked in stopping power. The "Altered" Artillery Model Colt SAA in .45LC was the answer, and had PLENTY of power. The first units to receive these were the Light Artillery, which is probably how the model got its name. They were also received by Infantry, Volunteer Cavalry, and other troops, and would be used in the upcoming conflicts.
The .45 Artillery SAA Revolvers were used successfully by front troops in the Spanish–American War and the Philippine–American War. Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders charged up San Juan Hill wielding the .45 caliber Artillery Model.
However, although this is clearly an artillery model, it isn't in .45cal. It currently is equipped with a 5 1/2" barrel, marked BISLEY MODEL 32 W.C.F. on the left side. All of the Bisley revolvers come from serial number range 156300–331916, however none of the other parts are in that range. It would appear that for some reason this particular model, after being recalled, was instead fitted with a .32-20 W.C.F. barrel and cylinder.
The markings on the top of the barrel are still clearly legible:
COLT'S PT. F. A. MFG. CO. HARTFORD. CT. U.S.A.
The revolver's frame serial number is 10441, which dates production to 1874, making this a VERY early example of this revolver. This also means that the frame is most likely from a very rare and desirable OWA Colt! This refers to the earliest issued Single Action Army guns, which were inspected by Orville W. Ainsworth. Ainsworth was the ordnance sub-inspector at the Colt factory for the first 13 months (October 1873 to November 1874) of the Single Action Army's production. The patent dates on the left side of the frame show dates of 1871 and 1872, but not 1875. The frame itself is definitely from the earliest production, as the serial number indicates. After 1875 all would bear the additional 1875 patent date.
The trigger guard and grip frame both bear serial number 138437 / K, indicating manufacture in 1891. The "K" inspection marking indicates that these were replacement parts, indicating an "official" arsenal replacement.
Mechanically, the action is smooth, with a good cylinder lock up, and good dry fire. The action has all 4 "clicks", though as with any revolver of this age, it can be finicky. The bore is very good, with clear lands and grooves bright finish. The ejector door swings open easily, and the ejector itself works great. The grips are quite worn, but do still have ghosts of the original inspection cartouches, though unfortunately the initials are unclear. Overall this is a great pistol with loads of patina and history.
A classic Artillery model Colt single action army, made in 1874 for the "U.S." Military, and then recalled to arsenal and re-calibered to .32 Colt W.C.F.. Very rare, very unusual and in a great condition!
History of the Colt Single Single Action Army
Bound by the Rollin White patent (#12,648, April 3, 1855) and not wanting to pay a royalty fee to Smith & Wesson, Colt could not begin development of bored-through revolver cylinders for metallic cartridge use until April 4, 1869. For the design, Colt turned to two of its best engineers: William Mason and Charles Brinckerhoff Richards who had developed a number of revolvers and black powder conversions for the company. Their effort was designed for the United States government service revolver trials of 1872 by Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company and adopted as the standard military service revolver. Production began in 1873 with the Single Action Army model 1873, also referred to as the "New Model Army Metallic Cartridge Revolving Pistol".
The very first production Single Action Army, serial number 1, thought lost for many years after its production, was found in a barn in Nashua, New Hampshire in the early 1900s. It was chambered in .45 Colt, a centerfire design containing charges of up to 40 grains (2.6 g) of fine-grained black powder and a 255-grain (16.5 g) blunt roundnosed bullet. Relative to period cartridges and most later handgun rounds, it was quite powerful in its full loading.
The Colt Single Action Army revolver, along with the 1870 and 1875 Smith & Wesson Model 3 "Schofield" revolver, replaced the Colt 1860 Army Percussion revolver. The Colt quickly gained favor over the S&W and remained the primary US military sidearm until 1892 when it was replaced by the .38 Long Colt caliber Colt Model 1892, a double-action revolver with swing-out cylinder. By the end of 1874, serial no. 16,000 was reached; 12,500 Colt Single Action Army revolvers chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge had entered service and the remaining revolvers were sold in the civilian market.
The Colt .45 is a famous piece of American history, known as "The Gun That Won the West". The Single Action army is a very popular firearm, even today, and it continues to be produced in various configurations.
Year of Manufacture: 1874 and 1891 - reworked in 1898
Caliber: .32-20 Winchester Center Fire
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 5 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 11 inches
Action: Single Action
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver
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