Browning Brothers 1st Gen Colt Frontier Six-Shooter .44-40 Revolver, 1897

SOLD FOR: $4625

LSB#: 230501DS003

Make: Colt

Model: Frontier Six Shooter, 1st Generation

Serial Number: 171671

Year of Manufacture: 1897 (

Caliber: .44-40 Winchester

Action Type: Single Action Revolver with Side Loading Gate Cylinder

Markings: The top of the barrel is marked “COLT’S PT. F. A. MFG. Co. / HARTFORD CT. U.S.A.”, the left is marked “COLT FRONTIER SIX SHOOTER”. The left of the frame is marked “PAT. SEPT 19. 1871. / JULY 2, 72. JAN 19. 75” and with a circled rampant colt logo. The bottom of the frame and the bottom of the trigger guard at the front are each marked “171671”. The butt of the grip frame is marked “171 / 671”. The rear of the loading gate has assembly number “988”.

Barrel Length: 4 3/4”

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

Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are two-piece rough-hewn wood. The grips have minor handling wear with the most notable marks in the bottom. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grips are in about Fine condition as not original to the gun.

Type of Finish: Blue & Case Color

Finish Originality: Original to the parts. The knurling and firing pin on the hammer indicate that it is a later replacement. Some other small parts may have been replaced.

Bore Condition: The lands are semi-bright, the grooves are dark. The rifling is well defined. There is scattered erosion and pitting in the bore. In this writer’s opinion, the bore rates about 4 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 5% of its metal finish. Most exposed surfaces have worn to white or gone to a light patina. There is a little finish remaining in well-protected areas. There is some scattered light surface oxidation and minor erosion. There are scattered nicks, scuffs and scratches including a cluster of nicks to the left of the hammer on the rear of the frame. The action shows operational wear including a turn-line on the cylinder. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with strong slots. The markings range from clear to worn, but legible. Overall, the revolver is in Fair-plus condition as Antique (see Mechanics).

Mechanics: The cylinder stop does not engage. The cylinder can be turned throughout the action cycle. Otherwise, the action functions correctly. The trigger is crisp. The cylinder has a removable bushing. We did not fire this revolver. 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, an Al. Furstnow leather belt with cartridge loops and a tooled leather holster. The letter indicates that this revolver shipped July 6, 1897 to Browning Brothers in Ogden & Salt Lake City, Utah as the only gun of its type in the shipment (a specific address is not listed).

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!

This example is a 1st Generation Frontier Six Shooter made in 1897. The Frontier Six Shooter was the designation for SAA revolvers chambered for Winchester’s .44-40 cartridge, making it popular for those who owned Winchester rifles chambered for the same caliber. The revolver shows its age at nearly 130 years old, but retains some original finish. The hammer has been replaced with a later style and the grips have been replaced as well. What really makes this revolver interesting is where it went.

A Colt Archives letter is included which indicates that it was shipped to Browning Brothers, but the letter doesn’t give a specific address. In fact, the letter notes two locations, one in Ogden and one in Salt Lake City, but indicates that this revolver was the only one of its type in the shipment. It may be possible that the gun wasn’t shipped, but rather the Browning Brothers picked the gun up from Colt’s factory. In any case, the connection to Browning will make this a neat addition to any Colt or early American cartridge handgun collection. Please see our photos and good luck!

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

Browning Brothers 1st Gen Colt Frontier Six-Shooter .44-40 Revolver, 1897
Browning Brothers 1st Gen Colt Frontier Six-Shooter .44-40 Revolver, 1897