SOLD FOR: $1691
Model: Custom Lightning Magazine Rifle, Medium Frame
Serial Number: 45029
Year of Manufacture: 1890
Caliber: .32-20 Winchester (.32 WCF)
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. 87.” in front of the rear sight, “32 Cal.” behind. The bottom tang is marked “45029”.
Barrel Length: 26”, Octagonal
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a german silver blade in a slotted base dovetailed to the front of the barrel. The rear sight is a “V”-notch elevator sight 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 smooth walnut with a two-piece slide handle, straight grip, straight comb and steel crescent buttplate. The stocks have scattered light nicks, scuffs and scratches. Each side of the slide handle has a crack across its rear mounting screw, the crack on the right extends forward to the front mounting screw escutcheon. There are a few small losses at the front corners of the wrist, finished over. There is a filled spot on the left of the wrist and a repaired chip loss at the toe. The LOP measures 13 3/8″ from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate’s finish has a distinct plum hue, showing scattered light wear and some minor erosion under the finish. Overall, the stocks are in about Very Good condition as refinished and repaired Antique.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: Refinished
Bore Condition: The bore is gray with well defined rifling. There is scattered light-moderate erosion and some pitting in the bore.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 92% of its current metal finish. The finish is generally strong throughout. There are some scattered light nicks, scratches and scuffs. The action shows light operational wear. There is scattered light erosion under the finish. The screw heads range from sharp to disfigured with usable slots. The remaining markings are clear with soft edges. Overall, this rifle is in about Good-Very Good condition as refinished Antique (see Mechanics).
Mechanics: The action can be opened with the hammer back. Otherwise, the functions correctly. 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: None
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 1890 production medium frame chambered for .32-20 Winchester. The rifle retains much of its new blued finish with a fair bore. The action can be opened with the hammer cocked, but otherwise the mechanics are strong. This would be a great candidate for restoration or an addition to a Colt collection missing the CLMR Medium Frame. Please see our pictures and good luck!