Original U.S. Surcharged "Artillery Model" Reworked Colt .45cal Single Action Army Revolver made in 1881 with 5 1/2" Barrel - Serial 71070

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is every School boy's dream! A real Cowboy six gun! This very nice Colt SAA (Single Action Army) Revolver is one that has definitely had an interesting life! Normally, mismatched serial numbers on a Colt pistol are a reason to look away, however the U.S. stamped on the left side of the frame indicates that this is in fact an "Artillery Model", officially known as an "Altered Model" by the U.S. War department.

In 1895–1896, the U.S. federal government returned 2000 SAA revolvers to Colt to be refurbished; 800 were issued to the New York Militia with the 7 1⁄2-inch barrel and 1,200 were altered to a barrel length of 5 1⁄2 inches. In 1898, 14,900 of the SAA revolvers were altered the same way by Springfield Armory, with 5 1/2 inch barrels.

This was all done because it was felt that the standard issue .38 caliber Colt M 1892 double-action revolver lacked in stopping power. The "Altered" Artillery Model Colt SAA in .45LC was the answer, and had PLENTY of power. The first units to receive these were the Light Artillery, which is probably how the model got its name. They were also received by Infantry, Volunteer Cavalry, and other troops, and would be used in the upcoming conflicts.

The .45 Artillery SAA Revolvers were used successfully by front troops in the Spanish–American War and the Philippine–American War. Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders charged up San Juan Hill wielding the .45 caliber Artillery Model.

The revolver's frame serial number is 71070, which dates production to 1881. The rest of the serial numbers are completely unmatched, as was typical for these. The trigger guard is marked 114741 for 1885 production, with the grip frame marked with partial number 115, and 2890 on the cylinder. There is also assembly number 181 marked on the loading gate. It is in full working order and condition, showing a gorgeous worn patina of age, sure to delight any Americana collector with an interest in the Spanish-American War.

The markings on the top of the barrel are still clearly legible:


The left side of the frame has the Colt patent dates fully legible:

PAT. SEPT.19.1871.
 *  JULY.  2. --72.
 *  JAN. 19. --75.

These are the early pattern markings, and this was made before the "Prancing Pony" logo began appearing on the frame. Next to them is a large U.S. surcharge, indicating U.S. Army acceptance. The initials J.T.C. next to a P proof mark are stamped on the bottom of the barrel, for ordnance sub-inspector John T. Cleveland. There also are the initials D.F.C. stamped on the frame over the serial number, and on the side of the cylinder. This is the marking of David F. Clark, who inspected a total of 13,000 Single Action Army revolvers from 8 government different contracts during his 8-year tenure at Colt from 1880 to 1887.

The markings are all relatively clear, so this revolver does not look to have had the frame refurbished at any time, which would have worn down the markings during refinishing. There is no caliber marking on the trigger guard, however we have checked the cylinder and barrel with real cartridges to confirm. This revolver is definitely chambered for .45 Colt, also known as .45 "LONG" Colt, one of the most legendary handgun cartridges of the old west. When you hear people talk of a "Colt 45", this model gun is the reason why.

The revolver has the great worn look that only use in service can give, showing a worn gray oxidized patina overall, with a few areas of light peppering. The walnut grips have a lovely brown color, with no cracks or major damage, except for a wood graft repair on the rear right side. Mechanically, the action is smooth, with a good cylinder lock up, and crisp dry fire. The action has all four clicks, and cycles correctly, without any of the finicky behavior we often see on revolvers of this age. The only fault we can find is that the 2nd click is too close to the frame to release the cylinder for proper reloading. The bore is in very good condition, with a mostly bright finish showing crisp lands and grooves, and very little sign of wear. The ejector door swings open easily, and the ejector itself works great. Overall this is a great pistol!

Pistols such as this are extremely difficult to find today at any reasonable price. A classic Artillery model Colt single action army, made in 1881 for the "U.S." Military, and then recalled to arsenal and reissued. Very rare and in a great condition!


Year of Manufacture: 1881 and 1885 - reworked in 1898
Caliber: .45 "Long" Colt
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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