SOLD FOR: $4125
Model: 1873 Single Action Army, 1st Generation, Early Blackpowder Frame, “Artillery”-style
Serial Number: 892
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 underside of the frame at the trigger guard is marked “892” and the bottom of the trigger guard is marked “54253”. The bottom of the backstrap is marked with “2188”. The rear of the loading gate is marked with an assembly number “2”. The circumference of the cylinder is marked “?A”, “P” and “5002”. The hammer slot is marked “C”. The top of the backstrap is marked “A” behind the hammer. The left of the grip has a faded cartouche and year marking.
Barrel Length: 5 1/2”. The barrel is a commercial barrel, these were used in 1902-1903 Artillery models, and some were without inspection marks.
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 scattered light nicks, scuffs and scratches with more notable dings and scrapes toward the bottom. There is notable wear at the bottom on the right side with damage to the surface wood. There are small losses at the bottom corners on the right. There are no cracks. Overall, the grip is in Good-plus 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 some scattered minor erosion and some spots of pitting in the bore. In this writer’s opinion, this bore rates a 7 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 75% of its current metal finish. The finish is thinning at all edges. There is scattered minor surface oxidation. The barrel has some finish wear at the muzzle and there is light wear along the ejector housing. The grip areas show handling wear. There is scattered finish wear on the cylinder. The frame has strong case color in protected areas, most raised surfaces have muted or are going to a light patina. There are scattered small nicks, scuffs and scratches. The action shows operational wear including a turn-line on the cylinder. The screw heads range from sharp to disfigured with usable slots. Most markings are clear, some serial markings are worn and incomplete. Overall, this revolver is in Fine condition as Antique.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly, but it should be noted that the base-pin is particularly tight in the frame. 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 barrel has commercial-style markings and no inspection marks, but there were some Artillery models converted in 1902 and 1903 which used such commercial barrels. The frame has some case color, 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 Fine condition with 75% of its current finish remaining. The bore is surprisingly strong, though it has some minor erosion and a few spots of pitting. 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 very 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