Item:
ONSV7441

Original U.S. Colt Frontier Six Shooter .44-40 Revolver made in 1878 with Factory Letter & Period Holster - Serial 45794

Item Description

Original Items: Only One Set Available. This is it! Every young "Old West" fans dream: A real Colt Six-shooter, complete in an original holster! This fine example even comes with its original Colt Factory letter, which gives all the details on record, including the caliber, shipment date, and where it was shipped! The letter also notes that as there is no listing for the barrel length and grips, it most likely shipped with a 7 1/2" barrel and walnut grips. From what we see, the original barrel was shortened to a much more "Gunfighting Friendly" 4 3/4" length, and had the front sight replaced.

The centerpiece of this great set is this very nice original Colt Single Action Army "Frontier Six Shooter" Model Revolver, with the standard blued finish and nice original walnut grips. The revolver comes in a very nice period "open top" leather belt holster, with a lovely embossed "wicker" pattern to the exterior. A really great set for any "Old West" collection!

The "Frontier Six Shooter" model was mostly 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. This excellent example has a shortened 4 3/4" barrel marked clearly with the Colt address:

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

There is no "FRONTIER SIX SHOOTER" marking on the barrel anymore, as these early versions were etched, so they wore off quickly. With the level of wear on this revolver, the marking has been totally removed. Colt considered these revolvers to be the same as the Single Action Army for record keeping, and they were grouped under the same serial number series. Between serial number 45000 and 65000, the "FRONTIER SIX SHOOTER" marking was etched onto the side of the barrel, but for many years it did not appear. This changed in 1889, when it returned, roll stamped onto all .44-40 versions of this revolver until the end of production.

This revolver's serial number is 45794, which indicates it was manufactured in 1878, and it is marked very faintly [.4]4 CF on the front left of the trigger guard, indicating the caliber. The left side of the frame shows patent dates of 1871, 1872 and 1875. The trigger guard, frame, and grip bottom strap strap have matching serial number, so this is a mostly matching revolver. The cylinder most likely lost its serial number long ago.

The original blued finish has faded to a lovely gray patina over the entire gun, giving it a great vintage look. As noted on the factory letter, revolvers from this period came standard with walnut grips, and there are no notes on any special grips, so these are correct for the revolver. There are no cracks, however they are quite worn, possibly slightly modified by the owner.

Mechanically, the action is smooth, with a good cylinder lock up, indexing, and crisp dry fire. The ejector door swings open easily, and the ejector itself works flawlessly.  The action still has all 4 clicks, though as with any revolver of this age, it can be finicky at times. The bore is crisp, with clear lands and grooves, and a partly bright finish. This has the look of a well cared for gun that saw use on the frontier for years.

Also included is an original excellent condition open-top leather holster. It is a right hand holster, a relatively simple design made from two pieces of leather. However simple, the design was very effective and rugged, and still used today for "Old West" competitions. The stitching on this holster is fully intact, and the embossed pattern is lovely. The leather has a great dark brown color, only achieved after a century or more.

Pistols such as this are extremely difficult to find today at any reasonable price, especially with a matching holster and factory letter. 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.

Specifications: 

Year of Manufacture: 1878
Caliber: .44-40 Winchester
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 4 3/4 inches

Overall Length: 10 1/4 inches
Action: Single Action
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver

  • This product is not available for shipping in US state(s): New Jersey

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