SOLD FOR: $7425
Model: Colt-Burgess, Model 1883, New Magazine Rifle
Serial Number: 2796
Year of Manufacture: 1883-1884
Caliber: .44-40 WCF
Action Type: Lever Action, Full Length Tube Magazine Fed Rifle
Markings: The top of the barrel is marked “COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. CO. HARTFORD, CT. U.S.A. / +PAT JAN. 7. 73 OCT. 19. 75. APR. 1. 79. DEC. 7. 80. DEC. 13. 81. JAN. 3. 82.+”. The left side of the receiver has the Rampant Colt logo, the lower tang is marked with the serial number. The serial number is also marked on the inside of the top tang and the inside of the buttplate at the toe.
Barrel Length: 25 1/2”, Octagonal
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a King brass beaded blade dovetailed to the barrel. The rear sight is a V-notch elevator sight dovetailed to the barrel. The top tang is drilled, tapped and filled for a tang sight (none present).
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are two-piece smooth walnut with capped forend, straight grip, straight comb and steel crescent buttplate with sliding door over a storage compartment (there is nothing in the compartment). The stocks have some scattered nicks, dings, scuffs and scratches. There are some losses at the corners of the forend which have been finished over. There are no cracks. The LOP measures 12 3/4” from the front of the trigger to the back of the butt plate. The plate has gone to a mottled moderate-dark patina with some scattered wear surface erosion. The stocks rate in Very Good-plus overall condition as refinished Antique.
Type of Finish: Originally blued, no finish remains.
Finish Originality: We see no evidence of refinishing.
Bore Condition: The bore is semi-bright with strong rifling. There is some light erosion and infrequent pitting in the bore. In this writer’s opinion, the bore rates 6 or 7 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 rifle retains none of its metal finish. The surfaces have worn to white or gone to a light patina. There is scattered light surface oxidation and some minor erosion. There are some light nicks, scuffs and scratches. The action shows operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with strong slots. The markings are generally clear, the rampant colt on the receiver is worn and incomplete. Overall, this rifle rates in about Very Good condition as Antique.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. We have not fired this rifle. As with all previously owned firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None
Our Assessment: Although Colt predominately was a manufacturer of popular revolvers, such as the Colt Single Action Army, the company began in the 1880s to seek to compete against Winchester in the rifle market. In 1882, Colt contacted Andrew Burgess to design a lever-action rifle and by July 1883, production of the new rifle had begun. The Colt-Burgess was produced for sixteen months thereafter, with a total of 6,403 guns manufactured. Approximately 60% of these were of the rifle variation. When compared to production figures of Winchester’s 1873 rifle, the Colt-Burgess failed as a serious competitor to Winchester. From 1873 to 1919, Winchester manufactured 720,610 Model 1873 rifles, or an average of over 15,000 per year.
The short production history of the Colt-Burgess has led to much speculation as to the reason of its demise. According to legend, upon hearing of Colt’s entrance into the lever-action rifle market, Winchester began to develop a prototype revolver to compete with Colt’s market. A “gentleman’s agreement” then followed between Colt and Winchester, with Colt agreeing to drop production of the Burgess and Winchester abandoning its plans to develop a revolver. The truth of this story has never been fully verified, and as such, the reason for the Burgess rifle’s short production history is unknown.
Whether you collect Colts or Winchesters, you need a Burgess in your collection. They are quite rare and when we do see them, they are usually pretty thrashed. This gun shows its age, but still has strong mechanics and a more than reasonable bore for a 140 year old gun which would have seen exclusive use with black powder. Please see our photos and good luck!
Please forgive any typos, I was educated in California. -Bud