Original U.S. Colt Model 1894 Army Revolver D.A. 38 Serial No. 104734 - Made In 1898

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The Colt Model 1894 revolver is an important piece of history in the evolution of the modern handgun. This revolver is sometimes called the D.A. 38 for a good reason: they are marked COLT. D.A. 38 on the side of the barrel, as they are a double action revolver chambered for the .38 Long Colt cartridge. There are many similar models of this handgun made by Colt: the Model 1892, 1894, 1895, 1896 and later the Model 1901 and 1903, which represent incremental improvements in the design. The U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army primarily used these models, though there were civilian models as well.

This type of double action revolver represents a significant step in the evolution of the revolver, as it was Colt's first swing out cylinder revolver. It was both double and single action, it utilized the spring-loaded ejector rod, and the later models could fire the new (at the time) smokeless powder cartridges. All of these features appealed to the armed forces. The earlier D.A. 38 guns, such as the 1894, were designed to fire black powder cartridges only.

The New Army & Navy model is unique to Colt in that the cylinder rotates counter-clockwise, and the frame's side plate is on the right side. This unfortunately tended to force the cylinder out of alignment with the frame over time, and this was exacerbated by relatively weak lockwork used to "time", or match individual chambers to the barrel. In later Colt revolvers the cylinder rotation is clockwise and the side plate is on the left side of the frame. Also these Colt's have extremely complex actions that get out of order or break easily. 

This is a nice Army issue example with military inspectors cartouche and 1898 date at the bottom of the left side wood grip, while the right grip still has the ghost of a cartouche. Commercial models had plastic or guta percha grips that were checkered. The serial number marked on the bottom of the grip, and is 104734 meaning its production was the year 1898. Total Army contract production of the Model 1894 was 18,000 revolvers. The serial number ranges for the 3rd and 4th contracts are 60,000 to 68,000 and for the 5th and 6th contracts 100,000 to 110,000, which puts this revolver at the end of the 5th contract.

The frame under the cylinder crane, the cylinder crane itself, the inside of the side plate, and the bottom of the barrel are all marked with shortened serial 4734. Early production D.A. 38 revolvers had assembly numbers only on these parts, but later produced examples of this had the serial number, as it was found that the butt frame serial number wore off easily.

The top of the barrel is still marked with the original manufacture and patent information:


PATENTED AUG.5.1884. NOV.6.88. MAR.5.95

The revolver is stamped in numerous places with the initials R.A.C., for Rinaldo A. Carr, a civilian employee of the War Department who was the sub-inspector on the revolvers.

Condition of the revolver is very nice, though it definitely has seen action and long service. The original finish is partly present, though it has been polished down in many locations. There is some pitting on the more exposed parts of the revolver, especially around the grips. The action is fully functional, and indexes and locks up correctly in single and double action use. The bore is clean, and has clear lands and grooves, though there is some powder fouling overall.

A very nice U.S. martial revolver that may very well have seen service in the Spanish American War.


Year of Manufacture: 1898
Caliber:  .38 Long Colt
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 6 inches
Overall Length: 11 1/2 inches
Action: Double / Single
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver

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