SOLD FOR: $1557
Model: Lightning Magazine Rifle, Medium Frame
Serial Number: 8133
Year of Manufacture: 1885
Caliber: .38 CLMR (.38-40 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. / + ELLIOT’S PATENTS MAY 29. 1883. SEPT 18. 1883. +” in front of the rear sight, “38 Cal.” behind. The left side of the receiver has a Rampant Colt logo. The bottom tang is marked “8133”. The inside of each forend panel is stamped “24”.
Barrel Length: 26”, Tapered Round
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 peep sight (none included).
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are walnut with a two-piece checkered slide handle, straight grip, straight comb and steel crescent buttplate. The stocks have some scattered light nicks, scuffs and scratches, more in the buttstock than the slide handle. The buttstock has a couple of more notable dings on the right, one at the front of the comb and the other near the toe. There is a tiny loss at the left-rear near the heel and there is a small crack at the top-front corner of the wrist on the left. The checkering is generally well defined. The LOP measures 13 3/8″ from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate has gone to a mottled light patina with some scattered minor erosion. Overall, the stocks are in about Very Good condition as antique.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is semi-bright with sharp rifling. There is some scattered minor erosion in the bore with some more notable erosion and light pitting in the last few inches at the muzzle-end.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 10% of its metal finish. Remaining finish is in protected areas such as the bottom of the barrel, the top of the magazine tube, and the corners where the trigger guard meets the body of the bottom tang. Most other surfaces have gone to a fairly uniform light patina. Most edges are worn to white and there are some scattered nicks, scuffs and scratches. There are infrequent spots of minor erosion. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with strong slots. The markings are generally clear, the rampant colt marking is complete, but shallow as is common on these rifles. Overall, this rifle is in Very Good condition as Antique.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. This rifle is an early model with a bolt-lock-switch in the trigger guard. 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 a quite early production medium frame made in 1885 and chambered for .38-40. It has some neat early features including the “ELLIOT’S PATENT” barrel address as well as the slide-lock-switch in the trigger guard which would be later discontinued. The rifle shows fairly light wear considering its age of more than 130 years. It retains a fairly strong bore, intact markings and strong mechanics. 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!