Original U.S. Colt Model 1878 Frontier Six Shooter .44-40 D.A. Revolver with 5.5" Barrel made in 1898 - Serial 39843

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 1878 "Frontier Six Shooter" Double Action Revolver, in the popular .44-40 Winchester chambering. This model was manufactured by Colt's Manufacturing Company from 1878 to 1907, and is often referred to as the "Frontier" or the "Double Action Army" revolver. A total of 51,210 Model 1878 revolvers were manufactured from 1878 to 1907, including 4,600 for the US Ordnance Department. These are known as the "Philippine" or "Alaskan" models.

This revolver is in great shape, with some of the original blued finish present, especially on the barrel, with the rest faded to a lovely plum patina. The original hard rubber Colt grips clearly show the "Prancing Pony" logo, and are in great condition, with virtually all of the original checkered texture still present. There is also still the Colt logo on the rear left side of the frame, just by the grip. It is marked on the bottom of the grip with serial number 39843, indicating it was made in 1898. The back of the cylinder is marked with shortened number 843, so this is a MATCHING revolver, without any major parts swapped out. There is also assembly number 279 stamped on the loading gate.

This example has a "gunfighter length" 5 1/2 inch barrel, which shows no signs of alteration. It still bears the clear roll stamped marking on the left side of the barrel:


Previous versions of these had the marking etched, but those markings quickly wore away. The later roll stamped markings are much more durable. This indicates chambering for .44-40 Winchester Center Fire cartridges, as it does on examples of the Single Action Army. There is also a 44 stamped on the bottom of the barrel, confirming the chambering, which we have checked with a real cartridge as well. This was a very popular cartridge for revolvers and rifles of the time, and this way the owner would only need bring one type of 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.

The Colt address marking on the top of the barrel is still legible and crisp:


The condition is very good, with a lovely patina of overall. The bore is in very good condition, showing clear lands and grooves and a mostly bright finish. There are a few areas of oxidation on the top of the bore, probably from storage. It does not look to have been fired much at all during its life. We tested the functionality in both double and single action, and it cycles well, without any of the usual finicky behavior we usually see. The ejector works great, with no sticking.

A great example of an early design Colt Double Action Cartridge Revolver in the very popular .44-40 caliber! An PRE-1899 ANTIQUE made in 1898, in lovely condition and ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: 1898
Caliber: .44-40 Winchester
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 5 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 10 1/2 inches
Action: Double Action Army
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver

More on the Colt M-1878 Double Action Revolver:

Samuel Colt experimented with double-action revolver systems, but he considered them to be unreliable. After Colt's patent expired in 1857, other manufacturers began producing double-action revolvers, but Colt's Manufacturing did not manufacture its own double-action revolver until 1877, twenty years after the patent had expired.

The M1878 was designed by William Mason, Colt's factory manager and Charles Brinckerhoff Richards, Superintendent of Engineering. It was similar in design to the Colt Model 1877. The Model 1878 had a larger frame, and is therefore sometimes referred to as the "large frame" double-action revolver, while the Model 1877 is likewise referred to as the "small frame" double-action revolver. The Model 1878 was considered a more robust and reliable design than the Model 1877.

The design of the Model 1878 was based on the Model 1877, which in turn was based heavily on the design of the earlier Colt Single Action Army revolver. The double-action revolver is not dramatically different in design than the single-action revolver. A strut is added to connect the trigger movement to the hammer. The top of the trigger slips beyond the strut so that the hammer will stay in full cock if it is pulled back manually.

The Model 1878 had a larger frame than the Model 1877, which allowed it to fire larger and more powerful cartridges, such as the .45 Colt and .44-40 and used the same barrel, ejector parts, and a very similar cylinder to the Single Action Army revolver. At one time, the factory modified Model 1878 cylinders for use in single-action revolvers in an attempt to use up spare parts.

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