1st Gen Colt Etched Panel Frontier Six-Shooter .44-40 Revolver 1881 Antique

SOLD FOR: $13703

LSB#: 230320LC011

Make: Colt

Model: Frontier Six Shooter

Serial Number: 72489

Year of Manufacture: 1881 (https://colt.com/serial-lookup), Shipped October 22.

Caliber: .44-40 Winchester

Action Type: Single Action Revolver with Side Loading Gate Cylinder

Markings: The left side of the barrel is etched “COLT FRONTIER SIX SHOOTER”, the top of the barrel is marked “COLT’S PT. F. A. MFG. Co HARTFORD CT. U.S.A.”, the bottom of the barrel is marked “44” in front of the cylinder pin head, the bottom-right, under the ejector rod housing, is marked “2489”. The left side of the frame is marked “PAT. SEPT. 19, 1871 / ” JULY 2,-72. / ” JAN. 19,-75.”, the left-front trigger guard bow is marked “44.C.F.”. The underside of the frame at the grip frame and the bottom of the trigger guard at the front are marked “72489”. The butt is marked “72 / 489”. The outside of the cylinder is marked “2489” behind one flute, the rear face is marked “1” and “B”. The hammer slot is marked “Z”. The rear face of the loading gate has assembly number “6876”. The backstrap inlet of the grip has “2489” hand-written. The bottom of the grip is hand-carved with “Dr. S” and “1881”.

Barrel Length: 7 1/2”

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a quarter round blade fixed to the barrel. The rear sight is a “V”-notch in the top strap.

Stock Configuration & Condition: The grip is a one-piece smooth walnut. There is finish loss at some edges, most notable at the bottom, and some scattered light nicks and scratches. The left side has more notable wear at the bottom-front, a spot of more notable wear at the top-front and a couple of more notable dings. There are no cracks. Overall, the grips are in Very Good condition as Antique.

Type of Finish: Blue & Case Color

Finish Originality: Original

Bore Condition: The bore is gray with sharp rifling. There is scattered light erosion and spots of pitting in the bore. In this writer’s opinion, the bore rates 5 or 6 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 45% of its metal finish. The finish is thinning at all edges. The strongest finish is in the trigger guard assembly with some strong finish on the butt and the top of the backstrap. There is finish in protected areas and around raised features. Much of the exposed surface shows finish wear going to a light patina. There is some scattered minor surface oxidation, light nicks and scratches. There is some minor erosion at the muzzle-end of the barrel with one more notable pit on the bottom-left. The timing was correct during our function check, but there are some firing-pin marks between chambers on the rear of the cylinder. The action shows operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to tool-marked with strong slots. The markings are clear. Overall, this revolver is in Fine condition as Antique.

Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The timing is correct and the cylinder locks up with minor play on all six chambers. The trigger is crisp. We did not fire this handgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.

Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This revolver comes with a Colt Historian letter confirming the original configuration. This revolver was shipped October 22, 1881 to E. K. Tryon, Jr. & Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in a shipment of 4 guns of the same type.

Our Assessment: Colt’s Single Action Army is, perhaps more than any other, an iconic American pistol. It was the U.S. issue sidearm for the last two decades of the 19th century, used by pioneers, outlaws and lawmen across the expanding nation, and captivated audiences on the silver screen and television (and still does, today). Produced for nearly a century and a half, they are still being made, today! Originally introduced in Colt’s .45 caliber, the demand for a revolver compatible with Winchester’s cartridges for their 1873 led to the introduction of the Frontier Six Shooter, essentially just a SAA chambered for the Winchester cartridge.

This example is a 1st generation Frontier Six Shooter produced in 1881. Chambered for .44-40, it has a 7 1/2″ barrel, black-powder style frame with the cylinder pin retained by a screw, and a desirable etched-panel marking on the side of the barrel. The revolver is in quite good condition considering its age, retaining about 45% of its original finish, a good bore for a 140 year old revolver which likely saw exclusive use with black powder, and remarkably good mechanics. The revolver comes with a Colt Archives letter which indicates that it was originally shipped to the E. K. Tryon Jr. & Co. of Philadelphia.

The Tryon family has a very long history in America, going back to before the Revolution. Throughout the family’s history, which would lead to various Tryon named and operated businesses, there were several attempts to create firearms factories, while the sporting goods retail business was what really kept the business going. For some time, the elder E.K. Tryon’s business was the largest sporting goods retailer in the United States, possibly the world. Being both a high condition etched-panel Frontier Six-Shooter and having documented history to this storied retailer in the City of Brotherly Love, this will make a fine addition to any Colt revolver collection. Please see our photos and good luck!

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

1st Gen Colt Etched Panel Frontier Six-Shooter .44-40 Revolver 1881 Antique
1st Gen Colt Etched Panel Frontier Six-Shooter .44-40 Revolver 1881 Antique