Original U.S. Nickel Plated Colt Frontier Six Shooter .44-40 Revolver with 5 1/2" Barrel made in 1883 - Serial 96621

Item Description

Original Items: Only One Set Available. This is it! Every young "Old West" fans dream: A real Colt Cowboy Six-shooter! This very nice Colt Frontier Six Shooter SAA (Single Action Army) Revolver has a "Gunfighter Friendly" 5 1/2" barrel, which looks to be original. At some point during its long life, the revolver was refinished with a lovely nickel plated finish, and it still retains the original Colt "Prancing Pony" hard rubber grip scales.

The revolver's serial number is 96621, marked on the frame, grip frame, and trigger guard, built in 1883, and the loading gate is marked with assembly number 4712. The cylinder does not have a serial number marked, but we are not sure whether it is worn away, or whether the revolver was made after Colt stopped marking cylinders during 1883. The wear and finish match the rest of the gun, so we have no reason to doubt that this is the original cylinder.

The revolver is in very good condition, sure to delight any Americana Collector. The nickel-plating has worn in, giving it a lovely patina, with some areas of wear through. It is in full working Order and Condition, and looks to have had a new old stock ejector fitted when it was refinished. Due to the refinishing, the markings on the top of the barrel are very faint and only a few letters are still present. The patent markings on the side of the frame are still partly legible, and originally would have read:

PAT. SEPT. 19. 1871.
* JULY. 2. --72.
* JAN. 19. --75.

The trigger guard is stamped 44.CF. on the side, with 44 stamped under the barrel, indicating the .44-40 WCF caliber. The "Frontier Six Shooter" model was almost identical to the .45 "Long Colt" chambered Single Action Army model, except that it was designed for Winchester .44-40 ammunition, also called .44 W.C.F., which was and is a popular "cowboy" 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.

As this revolver was manufactured in 1883, it never had an etched panel that read "Colt Frontier Six Shooter", as the serial number range for such marked revolvers was between 45000 and 65000. Revolvers like this were marketed to the civilian frontier market, as the U.S. Cavalry issued the identical model finished in blue.

With the nickel plated finish and period grips, the revolver looks great, with just a bit of wear since it was redone. The grips show wear to the checkering, and the right scale looks to have cracked in half at one point, and was then repaired. Mechanically, the action is smooth, with a good cylinder lock up, and crisp dry fire. The action has all four clicks, and we did not notice any finicky behavior during cycling.

The bore is nice, with clear lands and grooves and a partly bright finish, showing minor past oxidation and fouling The ejector door swings open easily, and the N.O.S. ejector itself works great. Overall this is a great pistol with loads of patina and history.

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 great collector's revolver, ready to display.


Year of Manufacture: 1883
Caliber: .44-40 Winchester
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 5 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 11 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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