SOLD FOR: $2225
Model: Lightning Magazine Rifle, Large Frame Carbine
Serial Number: 6123
Year of Manufacture: 1893 (https://www.colt.com/serial-lookup)
Caliber: .38-56-255 (.38-56 Winchester)
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″, the left shoulder is marked “38-56-255”. The lower tang is marked with the serial number “6123”.
Barrel Length: 22”, Octagonal
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a beaded blade dovetailed to the front of the barrel. The rear sight is a “U”-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 walnut with two-piece checkered slide-handle, straight grip, straight comb and steel crescent buttplate. Each panel of the slide handle has a crack at the bottom-rear. The crack in the right panel is longer and shows a glue-repair. The stocks have scattered nicks, scuffs and scratches. The buttstock has discoloration and weathering at the rear. There is a more notable scratch on the left-rear of the buttstock. There are tiny losses at the top-front corners of the wrist. There are a few short cracks at the buttplate. The LOP measures 13 3/8″ from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate has gone to a thick, dark patina with scattered erosion. Overall, the stocks are in Good-plus condition as Antique.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: No finish remains, but we see no signs of refinishing, only wear.
Bore Condition: The bore is dark gray with well defined rifling. There is light-moderate erosion scattered through the bore with some light pitting.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 0% of its metal finish. The metal surfaces have worn to white and gone to a light patina. There is some surface erosion, most is in the bottom tang/trigger guard assembly. There are some scattered light nicks, scuffs and scratches. The action shows operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with usable slots. Remaining markings are clear. Overall, this rifle is in Good-Very Good condition as Antique.
Mechanics: The action 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”. The handy rifle’s tubular magazine could hold as many as 15 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 large frame (.38-55 Winchester, 45-60, and .50-95 Express) guns were by far the fewest produced with just 6,496 coming off the line. Today these guns (barring a SFPD marked medium frame) are the most sought after of this particular family tree. Since they had longer cartridges, the magazines on these guns were generally 10-rounders rather than the more common 15-shots. The large-frame Lightning (also called the “Express Model”) was manufactured between 1887 and 1893. This is a very honest rifle, showing wear in the metal, retaining a fair bore and strong mechanics, and with some light damage in the stocks, worst on the forearm. We do not see these often, and when they do they always garner interest. Please see our pictures, make room in your safe and good luck!