Colt US 1873 Single Action Army SAA .45 Revolver Artillery, 1878 Antique

SOLD FOR: $3325

LSB#: 230320LC014

Make: Colt

Model: Single Action Army

Serial Number: 41666

Year of Manufacture: 1878 (

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  / ” JULY. 2. -72. / ” JAN. 19. -75.” 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 “41666” but does not have a visible inspector’s mark. The bottom of the trigger guard is marked “81873”, again with no visible inspection mark. The backstrap’s serial marking is almost completely worn away, but there is an “A” marking visible in the top behind the hammer. The rear of the loading gate is marked with an assembly number “1644”. The outside of the cylinder is marked “8688” and “A”. The bottom of the barrel is marked “A”, “P” and “241”. The hammer slot is marked “B”.

Barrel Length: The barrel has been cut to 5 1/2”.

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a blade fixed to the barrel. The rear sight is a “V”-notch at the rear of a groove in the topstrap.

Stock Configuration & Condition: The grip is one piece smooth walnut. A star and crescent moon have been carved in the left side. The grip has some scattered nicks and scratches. There are small losses at the bottom-front corners. There is a thin crack at the front edge on the left. Overall, the grip is in Good condition as refinished Antique.

Type of Finish: Blue & Case Color

Finish Originality: Refinished

Bore Condition: The bore is gray with well defined rifling. There is light erosion scattered through the bore with some spots of more moderate erosion and a couple spots of severe pitting. In this writer’s opinion, this bore rates 5 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 3% of its current metal finish. Most surfaces have worn to white with infrequent, muted finish remaining. There is scattered light surface erosion with some scattered light nicks and scratches. The action shows operational wear including a thin turn-line on the cylinder. The screw heads are tool marked with usable slots. Remaining markings range from clear to worn and incomplete. Overall, this revolver is in Good condition as refinished Antique.

Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The cylinder locks with light play on each chamber. The trigger is crisp. The cylinder bushing is removable. 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 1878 as a Model 1873 Cavalry revolver and likely saw some use in the Indian Wars of the late 19th Century. It has since been assembled as an “Artillery Model”. Between 1900 and 1903, Colt altered and refinished 5,444 revolvers into “Artillery” models (5 ½” barrel) and some conversions were performed by Springfield Armory. 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.

This revolver’s mixed numbered parts strongly indicate it is one such revolver. The barrel is particularly interesting as it has an exposed serial marking, typically only found on the first 1,000 Cavalry models made. The barrel also has the correct early-style barrel address and stud for the ejector housing. Other early parts include the “bullseye” ejector rod and Ainsworth inspected backstrap and cylinder. While not all inspection markings are present, it is still fairly likely that other components used to assemble this “Artillery Model” came from genuine U.S. issued revolvers. 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 example has quite an interesting mix of parts, so it could serve as a source of parts for other SAAs as well as displaying well as an “Artillery”. Please see our photos and good luck!

Please forgive any typos, I was educated in California. -Bud

Colt US 1873 Single Action Army SAA .45 Revolver Artillery, 1878 Antique
Colt US 1873 Single Action Army SAA .45 Revolver Artillery, 1878 Antique