Early Colt 1871-1872 Open Top Model Pre-SAA .44 Centerfire Revolver Antique

SOLD FOR: $3500

LSB#: 230914LM069

Make: Colt

Model: 1871-1872 Open Top Revolver

Serial Number: 483

Year of Manufacture: Ca. 1872 (“A Study of Colt Conversions and Other Percussion Revolvers”, McDowell, p277)

Caliber: .44 Centerfire (converted from Rimfire)

Action Type: Single Action Side-Loading Gate Revolver

Markings: The top of the barrel is marked “-ADDRESS COL SAMl COLT NEW-YORK U.S. A”, the end of the marking is worn away, but would have concluded with “AMERICA”. The left of the frame is marked “COLT’S / PATENT”. The bottom of the barrel, the frame, trigger guard, and the backstrap are each marked “483”, the cylinder arbor is marked “483. The outside of the cylinder has a worn roll-marked naval battle scene and “???PATENT No 483”. The wedge is marked “483”. The rear of the loading gate is marked “448” (it’s unclear if this is an assembly number or a non-matching part). There is a small “H” on the rear face of the cylinder. The rear face of the barrel assembly is marked “C / S” below the arbor aperture.

Barrel Length: 7 1/2”

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a blade dovetailed to the barrel (not original to the gun). The rear sight is a “V”-notch integral to the rear of the barrel.

Stock Configuration & Condition: The grip is a one-piece smooth walnut. The grip has fairly even wear with a few deep dings and some other scattered lighter marks. There are a few small losses at corners, it’s unclear if they have been finished over or just worn smooth over the last 150 years. There are no cracks. Overall, the grip is in about Very Good condition as Antique.

Type of Finish: Nickel

Finish Originality: The frame and hammer have been modified for centerfire, but the metal finish appears Original.

Bore Condition: The bore is dark gray with well defined rifling. There is scattered light-moderate 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 pistol retains about 25% of its metal finish. Most of the remaining nickel finish is in the backstrap, butt, recoil shield, under the wedge on the left of the barrel and on the barrel and ejector assemblies where they cover each other. There are some other scattered spots of remaining nickel. Most steel surfaces have gone to a fairly uniform moderate patina and the exposed brass shows some discoloration. There are some scattered nicks, scuffs and scratches with three deeper scratches on the butt. The action shows operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to disfigured with serviceable slots. The markings range from clear to worn and incomplete. Overall, this revolver is in about Good condition as Antique (see Mechanics).

Mechanics: The cylinder does not properly advance when the hammer is drawn back. Otherwise, the action functions correctly. The cylinder locks up with little play on each chamber. The barrel has no play to the frame. The trigger is crisp. We did not fire this pistol. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.

Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None.

Our Assessment: The latter half of the 19th century saw incredible developments in firearms technology, as various types of self-contained cartridge arms and repeating arms were invented. Some manufacturers and gunsmiths took advantage of the large supply of percussion revolvers, converting them to use cartridges. Colt’s was no exception, with their most notable conversion types being the Thuer, Richards and Richards-Mason conversions.

There was one more stop on the way to the introduction of the Single Action Army, and that is the 1871-1872 Open Top revolver. This model used the same barrel and ejector as earlier conversions, but was designed from the ground-up as a cartridge revolver, not a conversion. The model was submitted to US Army trials, and the suggestions from the trials would be incorporated into the design of the Single Action Army. That model’s adoption by the US Army in 1873 along with substantial commercial success led to production of only about 7,000 1871-1872 Open Top Revolvers, making them quite scarce in general.

This example shows honest wear consistent with its age, and looks quite attractive with some nickel finish remaining. Originally made as a rimfire, the hammer and frame have been modified for use with centerfire, though the frame’s slot is still present and there is a cover on the vestigial inlet for the rimfire firing pin on the hammer. These revolvers are fairly scarce with this being one of the Early guns in the first 1,000. It will make a prized addition to any Colt or early cartridge revolver collection. Please see our photos and good luck!

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

Early Colt 1871-1872 Open Top Model Pre-SAA .44 Centerfire Revolver Antique
Early Colt 1871-1872 Open Top Model Pre-SAA .44 Centerfire Revolver Antique