Original U.S. Colt .45cal Nickel-Plated Single Action Army Revolver with Factory Letter & Tooled Leather Holster Rig - Serial 80917 made in 1882

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is every School boy's dream! A real Cowboy six gun! This Nickel Plated Colt SAA (Single Action Army) Revolver has a "gunfighter friendly" original 5 1/2" barrel and lovely worn walnut grips, one of which has a silver MEXICAN coin inlaid into it. This shows the correct Mexican eagle perched on a prickly pear cactus devouring a rattlesnake, the symbol of the REPUBLICA MEXICANA (Mexican Republic.

Even better, it comes with a fantastic period tooled black leather open top holster attached to a tooled leather cartridge gunbelt with 25 cartridge loops. This is secured with a lovely nickel plated steel belt buckle. Just a magnificent "Cowboy" set, sure to delight any "Old West" Americana collector.

The revolver's serial number is 80917, which dates production to 1882. It has matching serial numbers on the frame, trigger guard, and grip frame, while the cylinder serial number has unfortunately worn away. They did not stop marking serial numbers on the cylinders of this model until 1883, so it definitely had one, but we have no doubt that this is the original cylinder even without it. The wear to the finish and metal matches perfectly with the rest of the revolver. There is also assembly number 5684 marked on the loading gate. It is in full working order and condition, showing a gorgeous worn patina of age, sure to delight any "Old West" Americana collector.

The revolver came to us with a printed copy of a Colt Factory letter from the office of the Colt Historian, dated March 31, 2021. It shows that the gun was plated at the factory, and is still in the original configuration, with a 5 1/2" barrel. There is no comment regarding the stocks, which usually means the standard hard rubber configuration. The gun was shipped on August 30, 1882 with 15 other guns of the same type to Hartley & Graham in New York City, a very prestigious outfitter founded in 1854. They may have replaced the grips with wooden ones, as they also offered extensive customization services.

The original single line address marking on the top of the barrel is still fully clear:


The left side of the frame has the Colt patent dates all legible, though there is some marring to the frame:

PAT. SEPT. 19. 1871.
*    JULY. 2. --72.
*   JAN. 19. --75

These are the early pattern markings, and this was made before the "Prancing Pony" logo began appearing on the frame. The markings are all relatively clear, so this revolver does not look to have been refurbished at any time, and it does not look to have been refinished. The caliber marking 45 CAL is partly clear on the trigger guard, and we also have checked the cylinder and barrel with real cartridges to confirm. This revolver is definitely chambered for .45 Colt, also known as .45 "LONG" Colt, one of the most legendary handgun cartridges of the old west. When you hear people talk of a "Colt 45", this model gun is the reason why.

The revolver has the great well-worn look that only years of use on the frontier can give. A lot of the original nickel plating has flaked away or worn, with most that is still present on the barrel and on the bottom of the grip. The frame has some areas of light pitting due to powder burn and use. The original front sight has also been replaced by a much larger one, dovetailed to the front.

Mechanically, the action is smooth, with a good cylinder lock up, and crisp dry fire. The action has all four clicks, and cycles correctly, without any of the finicky behavior we often see with these old west revolvers. The bore is in very good condition, with clear lands and grooves and a mostly bright finish. There are a few areas of oxidation, and some wear, but overall this is definitely a solid barrel that was not shot extensively and kept clean. The ejector door swings open easily, and the ejector itself works great. Overall this is a great pistol!

Pistols such as this are extremely difficult to find today at any reasonable price, especially with period holsters and belts! This example is just ideal for any Wild West Collection. A great collector's revolver, ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: 1882
Caliber: .45 "Long" Colt
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 5 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 11 inches
Action: Single Action
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver

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.

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