Original U.S. Colt Single Action Army Revolver Converted to .38 Long Colt with 4 1/2" Barrel made in 1897 - Serial 174645

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is every School boy's dream! A real Cowboy six gun! This fantastic Colt SAA (Single Action Army) Revolver has a "gunfighter friendly" shortened 4 1/2" barrel and lovely Colt hard rubber grips, bearing the iconic Colt "Prancing Pony". This revolver was also re-worked extensively by a gunsmith at some point, converted it to take .38 "Long" Colt cartridges, confirmed by measurements of the cylinder and bore, as well as by a casing test fitting. The six chambers in the cylinder were sleeved, as was the shortened barrel. The frame was also modified by making some changes to the firing pin for the new chambering. We checked it with a .38 Special casing, and it definitely will NOT fit. Due to the condition and modifications, this revolver is definitely for display only.

During this process, the markings on the barrel, frame, and cylinder were completely worn away. The trigger guard and grip frame still are marked with the original serial number 174645, indicating manufacture in 1897. The frame does not have a serial number, however close examination indicates that it originally had a screw retained arbor pin, and was then retrofitted with a push button style release, which is not the correct style or location for a factory release. As it had the screw release, it was made before or during 1896, when the Colt Factory started using the push button, which means it is indisputably a pre-1899 antique firearm. It is in full working order with a fantastic patinated finish and well-worn grips, sure to delight any "Old West" Americana collector.

The revolver has a great look, as it was refinished when converted to take .38 Long Colt, and then received additional wear after that. The repositioned front sight is in very good condition, and the frame and other parts have a lovely patina of age. The Colt hard rubber grips are quite worn, with Federal Eagles at the bottom, and the Colt "Prancing Pony" emblem is still visible at the top. There is a chunk missing from the left grip scale front toe, a common area for damage. The revolver disassembles correctly, with a worn original cylinder arbor pin and the retrofitted push button retainer.

Mechanically, the revolver functions well, but it can be finicky at times due to the amount of wear and service it has seen. The action has all four clicks, including a correct locating position, however if you pull the hammer back hard after the fourth click, it can over-rotate the cylinder. As with all revolvers of this age we recommend being very gentle with cycling it, so we do not recommend "fanning" or "fan firing". The sleeved bore is in very good condition with a bright finish showing clear lands and grooves. There is definitely some wear, but no major oxidation or other issues. The ejector door swings open easily, and the ejector itself works great.

Pistols such as this are extremely difficult to find today at any reasonable price. This example is just ideal for any Wild West Collection. A very interesting re-worked example, converted to .38 "Long Colt" and ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: 1897
Caliber: .38 "Long" Colt
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 4 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 10 1/4 inches
Action: Single Action
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver

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.

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