Item:
ONSV24TSA032

In stock

Original U.S. Colt Frontier Six Shooter .44-40 Revolver made in 1878 with 7 1/2" Barrel and Factory Letter - Serial 46445

Regular price $4,995.00

Item Description

Original Items: Only One Set Available. This is it! Every young "Old West" fans dream: A real Colt Cowboy Six-shooter! This lovely Colt Frontier Six Shooter SAA (Single Action Army) Revolver has a full length 7 1/2" barrel with a great bore, showing a lovely worn gray patina on the metalwork, with some areas of light pitting. It has a lovely walnut grip, customized with 5 pointed stars on each side long ago, which still have a lovely color. This definitely looks to be an example that saw long use on the frontier, giving it an impossible to duplicate look!

The revolver's serial number is 46445, which dates production to 1878. It has the serial number on the frame, trigger guard, and grip frame. The serial number on the cylinder is however 8743, so this is a non-matching period replacement, made during or before 1883, when colt would stop marking these until 1912. That makes this a very nice "Mostly Matching" example, with a swapped cylinder, and possibly a period replaced barrel. There is also assembly number 4739 marked on the loading gate. It is in full working order and condition, with a great well patinated look, sure to delight any "Old West" Americana collector.

The revolver came to us with an original Colt Factory letter from the office of the Colt Historian Beverly Jean Haynes, which has her signature and raised Colt seal. It is dated November 20, 2017, and indicates it is a COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY REVOLVER in .44/40 caliber, also known as a Frontier Six Shooter. The gun was made with a Blue finish, and there is no listing for barrel length, which usually indicates the full length 7 1/2". There is also no listing for the stocks, which usually indicates walnut during this period, so we believe it has the original grips. This means that the gun is still in the original sold configuration, except for the replaced cylinder. The gun was shipped on November 1, 1878 as part of a shipment of 20 similar guns to Spies Kissam and Company in New York, New York. This firm was a major distributor of Colt firearms in New York City, and often would purchase large quantities to have engraved. They were a large part of Colt's success during the 19th century.

The revolver is in full working Order and Condition, showing a gorgeous worn gray patina, with the single line Colt address marking on the barrel still clear:

COLT'S PT. F. A. MFG. CO. HARTFORD. CT. U.S.A.

The left side of the frame has the Colt patent dates still mostly legible:

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

The trigger guard is clearly stamped 44CAL on the left side and 44 on the bottom of the barrel, indicating the .44-40 WCF caliber. The "Frontier Six Shooter" model was almost 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. We have checked the cylinder with a real cartridge and confirmed the caliber.

As this revolver was manufactured in 1880, it originally would have had an etched panel that read "Colt Frontier Six Shooter", as the serial number range for such marked revolvers was between 45000 and 65000. Unfortunately wear has completely removed this marking. Revolvers like this were marketed to the civilian frontier market, as the U.S. Cavalry issued the identical model finished in blue with U.S. marked rubber grips.

The revolver presents beautifully, and really has the look of a sidearm that was "really there" in the old west. The gray patina is lovely, showing much use, servicing, and cleaning during its life. There is some more advanced peppering and pitting on areas, such as on the left recoil shield and rear of the hammer, probably from contact with a leather holster. This is however nothing out of the ordinary for a revolver that has seen this much use. The walnut grip has a lovely color, showing light wear around the bottom and a lovely red brown color.

Mechanically, the action is very smooth, with a strong cylinder lock up, and accurate indexing. The action has all four clicks, with a working loading position. We did not notice any of the finicky behavior we often see with these. 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 truly excellent condition, showing a bright finish with crisp lands and grooves. There is very little sign of use, which leads us to believe that it was possibly replaced at some point, as it definitely was not sleeved. The cylinder chambers do appear to have been partially sleeved from the rear, and are in great shape. The ejector door swings open easily, and the ejector does work, however it is definitely a replacement that is too long. This makes it very difficult to take out the cylinder when the ejector is installed, as it does not retract all the way into the housing. Overall this is a great pistol with loads of patina and history.

Pistols such as this are extremely difficult to find today at any reasonable price. This example is just ideal for any Wild West Collection. A great collector's revolver, ready to display along with the original Colt Letter.

Specifications:

Year of Manufacture: 1878
Caliber: .44-40 Winchester
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 7 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 13 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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