Colt 1877 Lightning Etched Panel Nickel 2 1/2″ DA .38 Cal Revolver, Antique

SOLD FOR: $1630

LSB#: 220122DD002

Make: Colt

Model: 1877 “Lightning”

Serial Number: 33716

Year of Manufacture: 1881 (COLT Serial Number Lookup)

Caliber: .38 Colt

Action Type: Double and Single Action Side Gate Loaded Revolver

Markings: The top of the barrel is marked “COLT’S PT. F. A. MFG. CO / HARTFORD. CT. U.S.A.”. The left side of the barrel has an etched panel marked “COLT. D. A. 38”. The left side of the frame under the cylinder is marked “PAT. SEPT. 19. 1871. / ” ” 15. “74. / ” JAN. 19. “75.”. The rear face of the cylinder is marked with a partial of the serial number, “716”. The front of the guard, the frame chin, and the toe of the grip frame are marked with the serial number, “33716”. The inside of the loading gate is marked with assembly number “197”. The left of the trigger guard is marked “38 CAL”. The bottom of the barrel has inspector mark “J” above the cylinder pin head, the front face of the cylinder has “B”, the hammer slot is marked “6” and “H”.

Barrel Length: 2 1/2”

Sights/Optics: The front sight is blade fixed to the barrel. The rear sight is a v-notch integral to the topstrap.

Stock Configuration and Condition: The grips are checkered black hard rubber on a bird’s head grip frame, each with a Rampant Colt in an oval at the top. The grips show minor handling wear with only a few minor marks. The left panel has just a hint of the smoothing typically seen on the edge formed toward the “beak” of the bird’s head profile. Otherwise, the checkering is well defined. There is good detail in the rampant colts. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grips rate in Excellent condition as Antique.

Type of Finish: Nickel

Finish Originality: Original

Bore Condition: The bore is mostly bright. The rifling is sharp. There is a patch of light erosion in the middle of the bore.

Overall Condition: This revolver retains about 90% of its metal finish. The most notable finish loss is flaking on the bottom of the barrel at the muzzle-end, the front face of the cylinder and toward the front of the cylinder between two of the flutes. Some areas of finish loss show minor surface oxidation. There is handling wear in the bluing on the top of the hammer spur, the rear face has strong finish. There are some areas, most notable on the side flats of the frame, are a little cloudy and there are some scattered minor nicks, scuffs and scratches. The action shows operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with serviceable slots. The markings are fairly clear, the etched panel is in great condition. Overall, this revolver rates in Excellent condition as Antique.

Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The cylinder locks up tightly when the trigger is depressed. The double action trigger is fairly smooth. The single action trigger is crisp. We did not fire this revolver. As with all used firearms, thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.

Box, Paperwork, and Accessories: None.

Our Assessment: The Colt M1877 was a double action revolver manufactured by Colt’s Patent Fire Arms from January 1877 to 1909 for a total of 166,849 revolvers. The Model 1877 was offered in three calibers, which lent them three unofficial names: the “Lightning”, the “Thunderer”, and the “Rainmaker”. The principal difference between the models was the cartridge in which they were chambered: the “Lightning” being chambered in .38 Short Colt; the “Thunderer” in .41 Long Colt. The M1877 was designed by one of the inventors of the M1873 Colt Single Action Army, William Mason, as Colt’s first attempt at manufacturing a double-action revolver and was also the first successful US-made double-action cartridge revolver. Neither “Lightning” nor “Thunderer” were Colt designations, nor used by the factory in any reference materials. Both terms were coined by Benjamin Kittredge, one of Colt’s major distributors, who was also responsible for the term “Peacemaker” for the Single Action Army. As their first double action, the new Colt revolvers saw interest from a variety of users, some famous and others notorious. Billy the Kid had a Lightning on him when he fatefully met his end at the hand of Pat Garrett. This example checks a lot of boxes for the Colt collectors. It has a short, 2 1/2″ barrel which did not allow the mounting of an ejector rod, frequently marketed as “Shopkeeper” or “Storekeeper” configuration. Its barrel also has the enigmatic (as well as frequently worn away) etched-panel caliber marking. Rounding out the desirable features of this revolver is its nickel finish, and it should be noted how much of that finish remains! In all, this would make a fine addition to even advanced Colt collections as a great example of the 1877, in high condition, and with features that make it all the more scarce. Please see our photos and good luck!

Colt 1877 Lightning Etched Panel Nickel 2 1/2" DA .38 Cal Revolver, Antique
Colt 1877 Lightning Etched Panel Nickel 2 1/2″ DA .38 Cal Revolver, Antique