SOLD FOR: $1225
Model: Lightning Magazine Rifle, Medium Frame
Serial Number: 80222
Year of Manufacture: 1896
Caliber: .38 Special
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, the rear is marked “32 Cal.”. The left side of the receiver has a faint Rampant Colt logo. The bottom tang is marked “80222”.
Barrel Length: 26”, Tapered Octagonal
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a brass beaded blade that is dovetailed to the front of the barrel. The front sight is not original to the rifle. The rear sight is a “U”-notch leaf and elevator sight dovetailed to the rear of the barrel. The top tang is drilled and tapped for a peep sight (none included).
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are custom checkered walnut with a two-piece slide handle, straight wrist, straight comb and steel crescent buttplate. The stocks have scattered nicks, dings, scuffs and scratches. There is a chip at the rear of the right piece of the forend. There are small gaps between the wood and metal around the wrist. The LOP measures 13 3/4″ from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate shows a nice plum hue with some scattered spots of erosion and thinned edges. Overall, the stocks are in Good-Plus condition as refinished.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: Refinished
Bore Condition: The bore is mostly bright with well defined rifling. There is scattered light erosion in the grooves.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 87% of its current metal finish. There is erosion and pitting under the finish on the receiver and barrel. There are several scattered little nicks and scratches throughout the metal. The sides of the hammer show a plum hue. There are streaks of loss on the barrel and tube from contact with the forearm. The screw heads range from sharp to lightly tool marked with usable slots. The markings are generally clear, the rampant colt is worn and incomplete from refinish. Overall, this rifle is in about Very Good condition as refinished.
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”.
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 1896 production medium frame chambered for .32-20. It is an honest rifle, showing wear which could be considered light considering its age of more than 120 years. The rifle has been refinished rather nicely. Please see our pictures and good luck!