Colt Single Action Army SAA 1873 US Artillery .45 Revolver, 1890 Antique

SOLD FOR: $4112

LSB#: 230603HC002

Make: Colt

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

Serial Number: 133872

Year of Manufacture: The frame was made in 1890, the revolver was most likely altered by Colt between 1900 and 1903.

Caliber: .45 Colt, Black Powder

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 bottom is marked “P” twice, with a faint, incomplete “R.A.C.”, and under the ejector housing there is a “K” at the front and a very faint serial marking at the rear (not legible). 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. / 133872”. The rear of the loading gate has assembly number “1665”. The bottom of the trigger guard is marked “138678 / K”. The butt of the backstrap is marked “138 / 678 / K”. There is writing in the backstrap inlet of the grip which appears to be “8678”, the writing is worn, the bottom-left of the grip is stamped “R.A.C.”. The hammer slot is marked “0”. The outside of the cylinder is marked “R.A.C.”, “3332”, and “P”, the rear is marked “K”.

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, scuffs and scratches with a few more notable dings. There is a chip-loss at the bottom-front corner on the left 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.

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 15% of its current metal finish. Finish remains mostly in protected areas, strongest under and around the ejector housing and on the rear face of the cylinder. There is a little case color showing in the pinch below the cylinder pin on the frame, but most of the color has muted or worn to white. Other surfaces similarly have mostly worn to white with some going to a light patina. There are some scattered light nicks and scratches with tool marks around some screw heads. There is some scattered minor surface oxidation and faint erosion. The action shows operational wear. The markings range from clear to worn and incomplete. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with usable slots. Overall, this revolver is in about Very Good condition as refinished Antique.

Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The trigger is crisp. The cylinder locks up with minor play on each chamber. 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: Included is a Colt Archives letter which indicates that this revolver shipped July 3, 1890 as one of 50 guns of the same type in the shipment. It was delivered to the U.S. Government Inspector at the Colt plant.

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 refurbished at Colt in 1895 and 1896, others were arsenal refurbished in 1898,  in preparation for use in the Spanish-American War, while still others saw a similar refurbishment between 1900 and 1903. The refurbishment included cutting the barrel down to 5 1/2? from the original 7 1/2?.

This appears to be one of those revolvers, referred to by collectors as “Artillery” models as most were issued to artillery units during the Spanish-American conflict, however it appears to be one of the latter. Unlike the previous refurbishment program at Colt, little care was given to preserving, and none to re-marking, matching serial numbers on the 1900-1903 refurbished guns, resulting in mixed parts. This and service on the American frontier or territories would certainly be consistent with this revolver’s present condition. 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, 1890 Antique
Colt Single Action Army SAA 1873 US Artillery .45 Revolver, 1890 Antique