Colt Single Action Army SAA 1873 US Artillery .45 Revolver, 1891 Antique

SOLD FOR: $2820

LSB#: 230515JB002

Make: Colt

Model: U.S. Model of 1873, Single Action Army, “Artillery” Model

Serial Number: 138788

Year of Manufacture: The frame was made in 1891, the revolver was most likely altered by Springfield Armory in 1898.

Caliber: .45 Colt

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 of the frame is marked “PAT. SEPT. 19. 1871. / JULY. 2. 72. JAN. 19. 75” and with “U.S”. The bottom of the frame in front of the trigger guard is marked “R.A.C. / 138788”. The rear of the loading gate has assembly number “1492”. The bottom of the trigger guard is marked “94766” and with an incomplete inspection mark. The butt of the backstrap is marked “54 / 46?”. The bottom-right of the barrel, under the ejector rod housing, is marked “?138” at the rear, and above the cylinder pin head is “P”. The hammer slot is marked “K / 0”.

Barrel Length: 5 1/2?

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 grip is one-piece smooth walnut. The grip has scattered nicks, dings, scuffs and scratches. There is a chip-loss at the bottom-front corner on the right side. There are some areas of thinning finish. There are no cracks. Overall, the grip is in Good-Very Good condition as refinished Antique.

Type of Finish: Blued

Finish Originality: Refinished, likely arsenal refurbished. Parts were mixed during the alteration process and some parts have since been replaced.

Bore Condition: The bore is semi-bright with well defined rifling. There is scattered light erosion and some pitting in the bore. In this writer’s opinion, the bore rates 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 55% of its current metal finish. The grip frame has generally strong blue finish. There is some good case color on the frame and hammer with some areas showing wear. The cylinder shows signs of polishing and is mostly in the white with some light patina forming. The barrel shows scattered wear and areas going to a light patina. There is some scattered light surface erosion, mostly in the barrel and cylinder. There are scattered nicks, scuffs and scratches. There is some minor surface oxidation. The action shows operational wear. The markings range from clear to worn and incomplete. The screw heads range from sharp to disfigured with usable slots. Overall, this revolver is in Fair-Good condition as refinished Antique (see Mechanics).

Mechanics: The hammer doesn’t reliably catch at half-cock and can be pushed out of half-cock without pulling the trigger. Otherwise, the action functions correctly. The trigger is crisp. The cylinder has a removable bushing, it is fairly tight in the cylinder. 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: None.

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). Many of the original 1873 Model revolvers were arsenal refurbished in 1898, including cutting the barrel down to 5 1/2? from the original 7 1/2?, in preparation for use in the Spanish-American War.

This appears to be one of those revolvers, referred to by collectors as “Artillery” models as most were issued to artillery units during the conflict. Unlike some refurbishment programs performed earlier, little care was given to preserving and none to re-marking matching serial numbers on the 1898 refurbished guns, resulting in mixed parts. This and service on the American frontier and/or in the Spanish-American War would certainly be consistent with this revolver’s present condition. Since the alteration, this revolver has likely had some other parts replaced, including the ejector rod and cylinder pin. This would be a nice addition to a Single Action Army or American military small arms collection. Please see our photos and good luck!

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

Colt Single Action Army SAA 1873 US Artillery .45 Revolver, 1891 Antique
Colt Single Action Army SAA 1873 US Artillery .45 Revolver, 1891 Antique