Original U.S. Colt .45cal Single Action Army Revolver made in 1883 with 7 1/2" Barrel & Factory Letter - Serial 89278

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is every School boy's dream! A real Cowboy six gun! This great frontier-worn Colt SAA (Single Action Army) Revolver has a "gunfighter friendly" original long 7 1/2" barrel and lovely worn walnut grips. Originally nickel plated, the revolver has lost almost all of that finish, now displaying a great gray oxidized patina. Only the ejector housing and the barrel still show strong plating.

The revolver's serial number is 89278, which dates production to 1883. It has the serial number on the frame, trigger guard, and grip frame. The serial number on the cylinder has unfortunately worn away, not surprising given the well-worn condition of the exterior. After 1883, Colt would stop stamping cylinders until 1912. There is also assembly number 237 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 Colt Factory letter from the office of the Colt Historian Beverly Jean Haynes. It is dated September 1, 2022, and indicates it is a COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY REVOLVER, with the caliber listed as .45/c and finish listed as Nickel. The barrel length and type stocks are Not listed, which usually means the standard 7 1/2" barrel and Colt hard rubber grips. The gun was shipped on April 3, 1883 with 50 other guns of the same type to Hartley & Graham in New York City, a very prestigious outfitter founded in 1854. It is possible that they replaced the original grips, though considering the condition it is equally likely that the grips were replaced during the revolvers service life after the originals wore out.

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


The left side of the frame has the Colt patent dates still fully legible as well:

PAT. SEPT.19.1871.
 "  JULY.   2.  --72.
 "  JAN.   19. --75.

These are the early 2nd 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, which would have worn down the markings during refinishing. The caliber marking 45 CAL is present 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 worn look that only use in service can give. The walnut grips have a lovely aged look, with a chunk missing on the right front toe. There is also the usual wear around the bottom of the grips, but no cracks or repairs we can see. Mechanically, the action is smooth, with a good cylinder lock up, and strong mainspring. The action has all four clicks, and cycles correctly, with just a bit of slop in the lockup. If the hammer is pulled back quickly, it can overshoot a bit. As with all revolvers of this age we recommend being very gentle with cycling it, so we do not recommend "fanning" or "fan firing". The bore is in very good condition, showing clear lands and grooves and a partly bright finish. There is light overall fouling, with some spots of light oxidation. 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. This honest worn example is just ideal for any Wild West Collection. A great collector's revolver, ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: 1883
Caliber: .45 "Long" Colt
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 7 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 12 3/4 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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