Colt Lightning Magazine Rifle CLMR Medium Frame .32-20 WCF Pump Action 1889

SOLD FOR: $1235

LSB#: 220509JH002

Make: Colt

Model: Lightning Magazine Rifle, Medium Frame

Serial Number: 40821

Year of Manufacture: 1889

Caliber: .32 CLMR (.32-20 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. / PATENTED MAY 29 SEPT. 18. 83. MAY 26. 85. JUNE 15. 86. FEB. 22. 87.” in front of the rear sight and “32 Cal.” at the rear. The bottom tang is marked “40821”.

Barrel Length: 26”, Tapered Octagonal

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a blade in a slotted base dovetailed to the front of the barrel. The rear sight is a “V”-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 walnut with a checkered two-piece slide handle, smooth straight grip, straight comb and steel crescent buttplate. The stocks have moderate-heavy wear with several scattered nicks, dings, scrapes and scratches. There are notches in the front of the comb and the right of the wrist which appear intentionally applied. There are losses at the bottom-rear of each portion of the slide handle with a crack at the loss in the right piece. There is a loss at the toe. The checkering is worn, but mostly visible. The LOP measures 13 3/8″ from the front of the trigger ot the back of the buttplate. The plate has gone to a thick, dark patina with scattered solid erosion. Overall, the stocks are in about Good condition as refinished Antique.

Type of Finish: Blued

Finish Originality: Refinished

Bore Condition: The bore is dark gray with worn, but visible rifling. There is moderate erosion and pitting scattered throughout the bore.

Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 15% of its metal finish. Most remaining finish is at the rear of the barrel and the top-front of the receiver. Most other surfaces have worn to white or gone to a light-moderate patina. There are scattered light-moderate nicks, dings, scuffs and scratches with tool marks around the ejector/bolt guides on each side, quite notable and deep on the left. There are tool marks on the magazine tube around the front of the forend. There is some scattered surface erosion. There are tool marks around most screw heads, some quite deep. The screw heads range from tool marked with strong slots to heavily disfigured and unusable. Most markings are clear, the rampant colt which should appear on the left of the receiver has been removed completely. The action shows moderate operational wear. The dust cover is missing. Overall, this rifle is in Fair 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 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 an 1889 production medium frame chambered for .32-20. The gun appears to have been someones favorite and shows signs of extensive use over the last 130 years. This will make for a nice display piece in a Colt collection or could serve as a challenging, but rewarding restoration project. Please see our pictures and good luck!

Colt Lightning Magazine Rifle CLMR Medium Frame .32-20 WCF Pump Action 1889
Colt Lightning Magazine Rifle CLMR Medium Frame .32-20 WCF Pump Action 1889