Colt 1878 Frontier Six Shooter .38 WCF Double Action Revolver, 1898 Antique

SOLD FOR: $5050

LSB#: 230914LM009

Make: Colt

Model: 1878 Double Action Frontier Six Shooter

Serial Number: 40386

Year of Manufacture: 1898, Antique (

Caliber: .38 W.C.F (.38-40 Winchester)

Action Type: Single or Double Action Revolver with Side Loading Gate Cylinder

Markings: The left of the barrel is marked “38 W.C.F.”, the top is marked “COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. Co. HARTFORD CT. U.S.A.”. The left of the frame under the panel is marked “3”, the rear of the loading gate is marked “3”. The butt is marked “40 / 386” in front of the lanyard loop. The rear face of the cylinder is  marked “386”. There is a tiny star marked on the right side of the trigger guard.

Barrel Length: 5 ½” 

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a blade fixed to the barrel, (the front sight appears to have been cut and smoothed). The rear sight is a “V” notch integral to the top strap.

Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips two piece smooth bone. The grips show a few scattered nicks and scratch marks. The left panel shows a couple of deep scratches and small cracks, the right panel shows a deep L shaped crack. The grips rate in about Good overall condition, for antique.

Type of Finish: Nickel

Finish Originality: Factory Refinished (The star marked on the trigger guard is a factory rework mark, which leads us to believe that this 1878 was factory refinished.)

Bore Condition: The bore is semi-bright, the rifling is well defined. There is scattered light erosion and some pitting in the bore. In this writer’s opinion, this bore rates a 7.5 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 94% of its metal finish. The balance of the finish shows light to moderate wear. There is finish loss near the muzzle and on the cylinder. The metal shows nicks and scratches throughout, more notably on the cylinder. There is scattered surface erosion, more notable on the hammer and right side of the frame. The screw heads are sharp. The markings are clear. Overall, this revolver is in about Fine condition, for Antique.

Mechanics: The action functions Correctly. The cylinder locks with a lot play on each chamber. The cylinder locks up with no play when the trigger is depressed. The double action trigger is heavy, but fairly smooth. The single action trigger is crisp. We did not fire this Revolver. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance requirements.

Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None

Our Assessment: The Colt DA Frontier Revolver, Model of 1878 was made until 1905, when swing-out cylinder double-action revolvers started to push loading gate revolvers out of the market. About 51,210 of these revolvers were made, with about 41,000 produced prior to 1900. This model had the same sharp knuckle at the top of the backstrap used on the Model 1877 “Lightning” but has a flat loading gate instead of the SAA style rounded loading gate. Otherwise, it still loosely resembled the SAA revolver with a side loading gate cylinder, and remained in production after the Model 1889 was produced with its swing-out cylinder. This example is chambered for the 38-40 Winchester cartridge with a 5 ½” barrel. Made in 1898, it shows some cosmetic wear but remains in Very Good overall condition with a nicely preserved Nickel Finish (Factory Refinish). This Antique Revolver will be a nice addition to a Colt collection missing the 1878 Double Action Frontier. Maybe this one actually went out to the Frontier to help keep the peace. Please see our photos, good luck and happy bidding.


Colt 1878 Frontier Six Shooter .38 WCF Double Action Revolver, 1898 Antique
Colt 1878 Frontier Six Shooter .38 WCF Double Action Revolver, 1898 Antique