Original U.S. Colt Bright Steel Frontier Six Shooter .44-40 Revolver with 4 1/4" Barrel made in 1878 - Serial 45699

Item Description

Original Items: Only One Set Available. This is it! Every young "Old West" fans dream: A real Colt Cowboy Six-shooter! This very nice polished bright steel Colt Frontier Six Shooter SAA (Single Action Army) Revolver has a shortened "Gunfighter Length" 4 1/4" barrel, and fantastic well aged walnut grips! The revolver's serial number is 45699, which is ALL MATCHING, marked on the frame, trigger guard, grip, barrel, and even on the cylinder, built in 1878. There is also assembly number 1539 on loading gate. Early revolvers such as this had the serial number stamped on many locations compared to later production examples.

The revolver is in very nice "frontier used" condition, sure to delight any Americana Collector. It has been polished and cleaned lovingly for years, which has removed all of the original finish, which looks to have been blued. It was even polished to give it a lovely bright steel finish, with some traces of past oxidation. It looks like it may originally have had an ejector rod, but it was removed, or possibly never installed. The earlier versions had an ejector bolster that could be removed.

The Colt address marking on the top of the barrel is still fully legible:


The left side of the frame also still has the Colt patent dates all clearly legible:

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

While there is no caliber marking present on the revolver, we have confirmed with real cartridges that this revolver is chambered for the Winchester .44-40 cartridge. Colt considered the.44-40 "Frontier Six Shooter" revolvers to be the same as the Single Action Army for record keeping, and they were grouped under the same serial number series. As this example has a serial number between 45000 and 65000, it originally bore an etched panel on the left side of the barrel reading "FRONTIER SIX SHOOTER." Unfortunately the refinishing has completely removed this marking. In 1889, the marking returned to the side of the barrel, this time roll stamped onto all .44-40 versions of this revolver until the end of production.

The frame, grip, and trigger guard all bear the serial number clearly, so this pistol has definitely not been refinished at any time. The "Frontier Six Shooter" model was identical to the .45 "Long Colt" chambered Single Action Army model, except that it was designed for Winchester .44-40 ammunition, also called .44 W.C.F., which was and is a popular "Cowboy" ammunition. While some may question why Colt made guns chambered for a competitor's cartridge, having a repeating rifle and revolver that took the same ammunition was a big selling point.

Mechanically, the action is smooth, with a good cylinder lock up, and crisp dry fire. The cylinder base pin slides out easily, allowing the cylinder to be removed for cleaning and inspection. The action does however have some issues, and while it has all four clicks, it will not hold in the reloading position, and can get stuck sometimes. The ejector door swings open easily, and the ejector is still present, though it currently gets stuck a bit, probably due to interference from the spring. The bore is in very good condition, with clear rifling and a partly bright finish.

Pistols such as this are extremely difficult to find today at any reasonable price. This example is just ideal for any Wild West Collection! Ready to display and cherish for decades to come!

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: 1878
Caliber: .44-40 Winchester
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 4 1/4 inches

Overall Length: 9 3/4 inches
Action: Single Action
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver

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