Original U.S. Colt Frontier Six Shooter .44-40 Revolver made in 1878 with 7 1/2" Barrel - Serial 45401

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 Colt Frontier Six Shooter SAA (Single Action Army) Revolver has a full length 7 1/2" barrel, with a lovely aged blued patina on the metalwork and lovely "frontier worn" walnut grips.

The revolver's serial number is 45401, which dates production to 1878. It has the serial number on the frame, trigger guard, grip frame, and even 401 on the cylinder. In 1883, Colt would stop marking the cylinders until 1912, making this a rare treat as a confirmed matching cylinder. The barrel markings are worn, so we cannot make out the serial number under the ejector anymore. There is also assembly number 1785 marked on the loading gate.

The revolver is in full working order and condition, with a great lightly patinated look, sure to delight any "Old West" Americana collector. The original single line Colt address marking on the top of the barrel is still fully present and legible:


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 faintly stamped 44.CF. on the left side, 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 also confirmed with real cartridges that it is in .44-40.

As this revolver was manufactured in 1878, it most likely originally had an etched panel that read "Colt Frontier Six Shooter", as the serial number range for such marked revolvers was between 45000 and 65000. However, these markings were easily worn away, such as on this example. Revolvers like this were marketed to the civilian frontier market, as the U.S. Cavalry issued the identical model finished in blue.

The revolver presents beautifully, and really has the look of a sidearm that was "really there" in the old west. The dark blued patina is lovely, showing use, servicing, and probably having some parts refinished during its service life. The walnut grip scales are well worn, with the frame visible on the corners and along much of the grip perimeter.

Mechanically, the action is mostly smooth, with a good cylinder lock up, and crisp dry fire. The action has all four clicks, however there is definitely some slop in the mechanics due to wear, with a bit of the finicky behavior usually seen on these old revolvers. The bore is in good condition, still showing rifling and areas of a bright finish. However there are also areas of oxidation scattered over the entire interior, most likely from lack of cleaning after the last time it was fired. The ejector door swings open easily, and the ejector itself works great. 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!


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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