Colt Lightning Magazine Rifle Medium Frame .38-40 WCF Pump, 1891 Antique

SOLD FOR: $1981


Make: Colt

Model: Lightning Magazine Rifle, Medium Frame

Serial Number: 57941

Year of Manufacture: 1891

Caliber: .38-40 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, “38 Cal.” behind. The bottom tang is marked “57941”. The very rear of the bottom tang is marked with a small “R”. There is a very light rampant Colt on the left side of the receiver.

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 walnut with a two-piece checkered slide handle, straight grip, straight comb, and steel crescent buttplate. There are a few little pools of finish on the left of the buttstock and some varnish on the left side of the buttplate, leading us to belive that they were touched up at some point. The stocks have scattered scuffs, light compressions, and some light scratches. The most noticeable wear is on the buttstock towards the toe. There are some scuffs that have thinned the finish and little spots of finish loss. There are a couple of tiny hairline cracks on the top of the wrist at the rear of the tang. The top tang is slightly proud towards the receiver and the bottom tang is slightly shy near the trigger guard. The checkering has a few scattered marks but is mostly strong with rub wear from use. The LOP measures 13 3/8″ from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate’s finish has a thick patina, showing scattered light scabs, a few spots of faint erosion, and little scratches. Overall, the stocks are in about Very Good condition as Antique.

Type of Finish: Blued, Now Patina

Finish Originality: Original

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 85% of its metal finish but it has turned to a patina. The barrel has a patina with finish loss on the edges, some scattered spots of oxidation, a few light scabs, and some little nicks and marks through the finish. The barrel has been touched up in front of the front sight. There magazine tube has some patina, some oxidation, light scabbing, and a few patches of light erosion. The receiver has some scattered scuffs that have thinned the finish and finish loss on the edges. There is scattered light oxidation on the receiver, light scabs, and some spots of light erosion. There are some little nicks and light scratches on the receiver, most noticeable on the right side. There are some scuffs that have thinned the finish on both tangs. There is some scattered erosion, light scabbing, and finish loss on the trigger guard assembly. The screw heads range from sharp to lightly worn with usable slots. The markings are mostly strong and clear, the rampant colt is light. Overall, this rifle is in about 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 the 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 1891 production medium frame chambered for .38-40 Winchester. The rifle has a deep patina, nice markings, and good mechanics. This would be a great candidate for a Colt collection missing the CLMR Medium Frame. Please see our pictures and good luck!

Colt Lightning Magazine Rifle Medium Frame .38-40 WCF Pump, 1891 Antique
Colt Lightning Magazine Rifle Medium Frame .38-40 WCF Pump, 1891 Antique