SOLD FOR: $1201
Model: Lightning Magazine Rifle, Small Frame
Serial Number: 57412
Year of Manufacture: 1901 (https://www.colt.com/serial-lookup)
Caliber: .22 Short & Long (not Long Rifle)
Action Type: Slide / Pump Action, Full Length Tube Magazine Fed Rifle
Markings: The top of the barrel is marked “COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. CO. HARTFORD CT. U.S.A. / PATENTED MAY 29. SEPT 18, 83 MAY 26. 85. JUNE 15. 86. FEB. 22. 1887.” in front of the rear sight. The left shoulder is marked “22 Cal.”. The left side of the receiver has a Rampant Colt logo. The bottom tang is marked “57412”.
Barrel Length: 24”, Tapered Octagonal
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a blade dovetailed to the front of the barrel. The rear sight is a “V”-notch dovetailed to the rear of the barrel. The top tang is drilled, tapped and filled for a tang sight (none present).
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are two-piece smooth wood with straight grip, straight comb and checkered black hard rubber Colt buttplate. The slide handle appears to have bordering for checkering, but is not checkered. The slide handle has cracked through across the mounting screw hole and been repaired. There are a few short cracks at the front edges of the wrist and there are some grain lines opening up at the rear edge of the butt. There are some scattered nicks, dings, scuffs and scratches. The finish is thinning in the grip areas. The LOP measures 13 3/8″ from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate has light wear, a few nicks and some spots of residue in otherwise well defined checkering. There is good detail in the rampant colt. Overall, the buttstock is in about Good-Very Good condition.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is dark with moderate wear in the rifling. There is light-moderate erosion scattered through the bore some scattered pitting.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 85% of its metal finish. The finish is thinning at all edges. The barrel has generally strong finish throughout with a few light nicks, scuffs and infrequent minor surface oxidation. The bottom of the magazine tube has light finish wear, showing discoloration from oxidation. The receiver has scattered light wear, scuffs and scratches, showing discoloration from oxidation. The tangs are mostly worn to white. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with strong slots. The markings are clear. The magazine slide stop spring and its mounting screw are not currently installed, but are included. Overall, this rifle is in about Very Good condition.
Mechanics: The action appears to function correctly, however the magazine slide stop spring and its mounting screw are not currently installed, they are included. We have not fired this rifle. As with all previously owned firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: The magazine slide stop spring and its mounting screw are included, but are not installed.
Our Assessment: Around the 1880s, Colt was looking to diversify but both Remington and Winchester had the rifle market sewn up. Besides their lever-actions, there were also new slide action rifles: the user pumped a moving arm set under the barrel and around a tubular magazine, kicking out a spent round and loading a new one with every “stroke”. Colt concentrated on this design concept and in 1884 introduced a gun with a short slide action that was so slick and so fast; they dubbed it the “Lightning”. The advertising said it all: “Nothing was faster than lightning”. Dr. William H. Elliot, a dentist by trade, designed the gun. Half hobby, half side job, Elliot liked to tinker with things and over the course of his life came up with at least 130 inventions. Since he lived in Ilion, New York, he often walked down to neighboring Remington and showed them the interesting things he was working on and when Remington didn’t bite on his new rifle design, he sent a letter to Colt, who loved it. The handy rifle’s tubular magazine could hold as many as 16 rounds, depending on caliber, which made it very attractive. It came in three varieties: small, medium, and large. Each of these guns had the same set up, with a deep-blued finish, case hardened hammer, American walnut stock and fore-end, and open rear and front sights. They were light, going 6.5-pounds or so. The medium frame guns, chambered for .32-20, .38-40 and .44-40 Winchester calibers, marketed as 32, 38 and 40 CLMR (Colt Lightning Magazine Rifle), were the most popular, using some of the same cartridges as Colt’s Single Action Army and with ammunition already being produced for Winchester’s rifles. Ultimately, the rifle was discontinued as Winchester and Colt came to the agreement that Winchester would produce rifles, Colt would produce handguns, and nobody needed to make the market competition get ugly. This example is an 1901 production small frame chambered for .22 Short and Long. It shows minor wear in its finish given its age of 120 years, in Very Good condition with original metal finish remaining and generally strong mechanics, though the magazine slide stop spring is not currently installed. This will make for a nice example of the Colt Lightning and would be an excellent addition to any safe in America. Please see our pictures and good luck!