Original U.S. Colt M1877 .38cal Nickel-Plated Lightning Revolver with 5" Barrel made in 1888 - Serial 66468

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available The romance around Colt "Cowboy" Revolvers never ceases to amaze us. This is a fine 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 66468, indicating it was made in 1888. It also is marked on the loading gate with assembly number 144. 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 5" barrel, looks to have been nickel plated post manufacture, and is marked faintly on the top of the barrel with the Colt address:


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 .38CAL on the trigger guard, so it is definitely a "Lightning." There would also sometimes be markings on the barrel, but for earlier examples the markings were etched on, and would be worn off easily.

We purchased this revolver as a "LIGHTNING" and it is in fine working order and condition. This revolver was nickel plated at some point, which is still very well retained. There is some wear through and flaking on the cylinder and the end of the barrel, but overall it presents very nicely. It still bears faded patent dates on the side of the frame as well. 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, though as with any revolver of this age, it can be finicky. The bore is in very good condition, with crisp lands and grooves, and a partly bright finish.

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 early Cartridge Colt Revolver in .38 caliber in very nice condition and ready to display, An ANTIQUE made in 1888.


Year of Manufacture: 1888
Caliber: .38 "Long" Colt
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 5 inches

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

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