SOLD FOR: $3910
Model: 1873 Single Action Army Artillery Model, 1st Generation, Early Blackpowder Frame
Serial Number: 8297
Year of Manufacture: 1874 (https://www.colt.com/serial-lookup)
Caliber: .45 Colt
Action Type: Single Action Revolver with Side Loading Gate Cylinder
Markings: The left side of the frame is marked “???????? / PAT. JULY 2,1872.” and with “U.S.”. The top of the barrel is marked “+COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. Co. HARTFORD, CT. U.S.A.+”. The underside of the frame at the trigger guard is marked “8297” and the bottom of the trigger guard is marked “17570 / J” (The “J” is an unknown inspector whose stamp has appeared on other SAA revolvers ca. 1875). The bottom of the backstrap is marked with “4671”. The rear of the loading gate is marked with an assembly number “268”. The circumference of the cylinder is marked “?FC” (David F. Clark, inspector for Colt, Starr, Remington and Savage revolvers, 1861-1886), “P” and “5807”. The rear face of the cylinder is marked “B” and “E”. The right rear of the trigger guard is marked “?8”. The hammer slot is marked “C”. The backstrap is marked “A” just behind the hammer. The underside of the barrel near the frame is marked “A” and “P”, under the ejector housing the barrel is marked “9874” where it enters the frame.
Barrel Length: The barrel has been cut to 5 ½”.
Sights / Optics: This revolver is mounted with a “V” notch in the top strap for a rear sight and a quarter round blade front sight fixed to the barrel.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grip is one piece smooth walnut that is dark with oil staining. There are several small dings in the bottom surfaces of the grips, a ding in the rear edge of the right grip and light handlings marks in the sides of the grips. The wood is slightly shy of the metal on all edges, but noticeably so at the bottom corners. The grips are in about Very Good overall condition as Antique.
Type of Finish: The pistol is blued.
Finish Originality: The finish on the frame and backstrap is not original. The finish on the cylinder, barrel and trigger guard may be original, but these parts are not original to the pistol.
Bore Condition: The bore is gray with light wear in the rifling. There is light erosion the length of the bore with small spots of moderate erosion ½” to 1 ½” from the muzzle.
Overall Condition: This revolver retains about 15% of its current metal finish. There is bluing left in the cylinder flutes, the frame and the bottom of the backstrap. There are tiny spots of erosion visible on the sides of frame, the trigger guard and the top strap, a few spots of pinprick surface erosion in the cylinder, pinprick surface erosion scattered over the front strap and tiny scabs of solid erosion scattered over the backstrap. There are several dings and scratches in the underside of the barrel along with tool marks around the cylinder pin. There are several small dings in the remainder of the barrel and the ejector rod housing. There are four sharp dings on the left side of the recoil shield and the top edge of the cylinder latch is disfigured. The cylinder shows several dings, a deep drag line with disfigured bolt stop cuts and a “V” cut into the rear edge of the cylinder at one of the chambers. The backstrap and front strap/trigger guard are developing a plum colored patina and the frame shows thinning. The grip screws are distressed. The markings on the barrel are clear, those on the side of the frame have been partially removed, and the inspection markings on the cylinder are very faint. The revolver is in about Good condition as Antique.
Mechanics: The cylinder lockup shows a small amount of play on all six chambers. The trigger pull is light and crisp. The action functions correctly. We have not fired this revolver. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None
Our Assessment: This revolver started out life in 1874, the 2nd year of production, as a Cavalry Model SAA revolver with 7 ½” barrel made for the U.S. Army. In their book “Colt Cavalry and Artillery Revolvers”, Kopec and Fenn indicate that between 1900 and 1903, Colt altered and refinished 5,444 revolvers into “Artillery” models (5 ½” barrel). Per Kopec and Fenn, “A single Artillery revolver often will have parts from three or four different Cavalry revolvers”. The “Artillery” moniker is a collector’s term, as the modified revolvers were most notable for their issue to U.S. Artillery units in the Spanish-American war, however the later 1900-1903 altered revolvers saw mixed serial numbered parts and some have been observed with blued frames rather than case-colored as they were rather urgently needed for the Philippine Insurrection.
We believe that this is one of those 5,444 revolvers converted by Colt into an Artillery model for use in the Philippines. The barrel has the same stamping style as used on the early Colts, the cylinder retains its “DFC” inspection mark, although the “D” is mostly worn away, and the inspection mark indicates it was produced between 1880 and 1887. The frame has been refinished with a blued finish, as was done . The revolver is in about Good condition with 15% of its current finish remaining. The bore is gray with light wear in the rifling and a few spots of moderate erosion near the muzzle. The cylinder lockup shows a small amount of play. This revolver probably saw service during the Indian Wars and later again in the Philippines after being converted to an Artillery model (if not during the Philippine-American war, then in the Moro Rebellion).
This revolver must have a very interesting history, if only it could be told. All of the Colt 1st Generation revolvers are heavily collected, and this very early Cavalry Model conversion to Artillery Model will not be an exception. Please see our photos and good luck!