Original U.S. Colt M1877 .38cal Lightning Revolver with 4 1/2" Barrel made in 1890 - Matching Serial 79570

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available The romance around Colt "Cowboy" Revolvers never ceases to amaze us. This is a magnificent example of the Model 1877 "Lightning" Double Action .38 Caliber Revolver. It is marked on the bottom of the grip, frame, and trigger guard with serial number 79570, indicating it was made in 1890. It also is marked on the back of the cylinder with shortened serial number 570, and on the loading gate with assembly number 78. This looks to be an "All Matching" example, with no parts swapped out over the years!

The M1877 was offered from the factory in two basic finishes: nickel-plated or a case-hardened frame with a blue barrel and cylinder. The revolver was available in barrel lengths from 2.5" to 7.5" and was available with or without the ejector rod and housing. The shorter barreled versions without the ejector rod were marketed as "shopkeeper's specials".

This example has a nice 4 1/2" barrel, and came blued and case hardened from the factory, much of which is still retained. It is still clearly marked on the top of the barrel with the Colt address:


It also still has all of the original patent markings on the left side of the frame, to the left of the stamped "Prancing Pony" logo:

PAT. SEPT 19.1871.
''     ''     5.''74.
  ''    JAN.19.''75.

The M1877 revolvers were marketed under different names such as "LIGHTNING" to appeal to different groups of customers. Although all were of the same basic design, they were also referred to as "THUNDERERS", "RAINMAKERS", and SHERIFF'S MODELS" as well, depending on the caliber and configuration. None of these names were Colt designations, nor used by the factory in any reference materials of the time. All of these terms were coined by Benjamin Kittredge, one of Colt's major distributors. Kittredge was responsible for the terms "Peacemaker" for the Single Action Army, "Omnipotent" for the Colt M1878 double-action (often known as the "Frontier" model), and nicknames for the various chamberings of the New Line models. This example is marked COLT. D.A. 38 on the left side of the barrel, so it is definitely a "Lightning."

We purchased this revolver as a "LIGHTNING" and it is in fine working order and condition. The exterior has lots of the original finish, with a nice lightly worn patina, and little sign of oxidation or rust. Its bird's head gutta-percha grips bear the Colt prancing horse logo on each side. Grips show some wear and scratches, but there are no cracks or chips.

The revolver functions correctly, with good indexing and a tight cylinder lockup. It works in both single and double action, without any of the usual finicky behavior we see. It does however require a strong trigger pull for double action. The bore is in very good condition, with a mostly bright finish and clear lands and grooves. There is just a bit of wear and oxidation. The only issue noted is that the end of the cylinder arbor pin is a bit deformed, which makes it nearly impossible to remove from the revolver, so the cylinder cannot currently be taken out. We were able to see the markings by moving the ejector door out of the way.

The "Lightning" was the favored personal weapon of famous Manchester (UK) Victorian detective and then head of CID, Jerome Caminada. Old West outlaw John Wesley Hardin frequently used both "Lightning" and "Thunderer" versions of the Colt 1877 revolver. Likewise the 1877 "Thunderer" in .41 caliber was the preferred weapon of Billy the Kid and was his weapon of choice when he was killed by Pat Garrett in 1881.

A fine example of an Antique Cartridge Colt Revolver in .38 caliber in very nice condition and ready to display. An ANTIQUE made in 1890.


Year of Manufacture: 1890
Caliber: .38 "Long" Colt
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length:  4 1/2 inches

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

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    New Jersey

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