SOLD FOR: $3525
Model: 1873 Single Action Army, 1st Generation, Early Blackpowder Frame, “Artillery”-style
Serial Number: 10246
Year of Manufacture: 1874 (https://www.colt.com/serial-lookup)
Caliber: .45 Colt, Black Powder
Action Type: Single Action Revolver with Side Loading Gate Cylinder
Markings: The left side of the frame is marked “PAT. SEPT. 19. 1871 / 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 bottom is marked with two “P” stamps and a faded “DFC” inspection mark, under the ejector housing is a faded “111984”. The underside of the frame at the trigger guard is marked “10246”.The bottom of the trigger guard is marked “97977”, the bottom of the backstrap is marked with “91 / 977” and each has a small “G”. The rear of the loading gate is marked with an assembly number “403”. The circumference of the cylinder is marked “R.A.C.”, “P” and with a faded “4284”, the rear face of the cylinder is marked “K”. The hammer slot is marked “C”. The left of the grip is stamped “1901” over a shallow “OCH” cartouche. There is the remnant of another cartouche on the right, but we cannot identify it.
Barrel Length: 5 1/2”
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a blade fixed to the barrel. The rear sight is a “V”-notch integral to the topstrap.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grip is one piece smooth walnut. The grip has some scattered light nicks, scuffs and scratches with a couple of more notable marks on the left in the middle. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grip is in Fine condition as Antique.
Type of Finish: Blue & Case Color
Finish Originality: This revolver was likely refinished at the time of conversion. The parts are not original to the frame, mixing of parts was also common for the “Artillery” conversion.
Bore Condition: The bore is mostly bright and the rifling is sharp. There is infrequent minor erosion in the bore. In this writer’s opinion, this bore rates 8 or 9 out of 10.
Most antique firearms have bores that will show erosion. This is not only due to age but to the use of black powder. When fired, black powder reacts corrosively. NRA Antique Firearm Conditions Standards are quite lenient for bores. In some cases the NRA standards disregarded the bore’s condition for collectors firearms.
Overall Condition: This revolver retains about 25% of its current metal finish. The finish is thinning at all edges. Most remaining finish is in the barrel, top and bottom of the ejector housing, and the cylinder flutes. There is stronger blue finish on the portion of the barrel covered by the ejector housing and on the inside face of the housing. The frame’s case color has mostly muted or gone to a light patina with some weak color in well-protected areas. The grip frame has mostly worn to white or gone to a light patina with a little finish in protected corners. There is scattered minor surface oxidation. There are scattered nicks, scuffs and scratches, most notable on the front sight and the butt. The action shows operational wear including a turn-line on the cylinder. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with usable slots, there are tool marks around some screw heads. The markings range from clear to worn and incomplete. Overall, this revolver is in Very Good condition as Antique.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The cylinder lockup shows a small amount of play on all six chambers. The trigger pull is crisp. 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, though it is possible the revolver has been assembled more recently. The parts have proper inspection markings for their respective serial markings, but are mis-matched as is correct for these conversions. The frame has a little bit of case color still visible, indicating it did not receive the Arsenal Blue finish which was typically applied when these revolvers were altered or refurbished at Springfield Armory. The revolver is in Very Good condition with 25% of its current finish remaining. The bore is surprisingly strong, though it has a little minor erosion. The cylinder lockup shows a small amount of play. This revolver probably saw service during the Indian Wars when it was in its original Cavalry configuration and may have served later again in the Philippines after being converted to an Artillery model.
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 early Cavalry Model conversion to Artillery Model will not be an exception. Please see our photos and good luck!
Please forgive any typos, I was educated in California. -Bud