Colt Single Action Army SAA 1873 US Artillery .45 LC Revolver, 1887 Antique

SOLD FOR: $3,776

LSB#: 240313LC002

Make: Colt

Model: 1873 Single Action Army, 1st Generation, “Artillery”

Serial Number: 120730

Year of Manufacture: 1887 (

Caliber: .45 Colt

Action Type: Single Action Revolver with Side Loading Gate Cylinder

Markings: The left side of the frame is marked “PAT. SEPT. 19. 1871 / ” JULY, 2. -72. / ” JAN. 19. -75.” and with “U.S.”. The top of the barrel is marked “COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. Co. HARTFORD CT. U.S.A.”, the bottom is marked “P” and “P”, under the ejector housing the barrel is marked “K” at the mounting stud and “3044” in front of the frame. The underside of the frame at the trigger guard is marked “120730” under “D.F.C.”. The bottom of the trigger guard is marked “6065” and “A”. The bottom of the backstrap is marked with “49 / 159” and the top is marked “HN” behind the hammer. The outside of the cylinder is marked “C”, “P” and with a very worn serial marking that appears to end in “65”, the rear face of the cylinder is marked “K”, “C” and “B” or “H”. The hammer slot is marked “G”. The rear face of the frame under the grip is marked “G”. There are no legible markings on the grip.

Barrel Length: The barrel was cut to 5 1/2” during the conversion process.

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a blade fixed to the barrel. The rear sight is a “V”-notch integral to the topstrap.

Stock Configuration & Condition: The grip is one piece smooth walnut. The grip has some light nicks, scuffs and scratches. The wood to metal fit is imperfect and the wood has likely seen light sanding. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grip is in about Fine condition as refinished Antique.

Type of Finish: Blue & Case Color

Finish Originality: This revolver was likely refinished at the time of conversion. The parts are not original to the frame, mixing of parts was also common for the “Artillery” conversion.

Bore Condition: The bore is mostly bright and the rifling is sharp. There is some light erosion and infrequent pitting in the bore, mostly toward the muzzle-end. In this writer’s opinion, this bore rates a 7 out of 10.

Overall Condition: This revolver retains about 60% of its current metal finish. The finish is thinning at all edges. There is scattered minor surface oxidation. There is some minor surface erosion with more notable erosion at the muzzle. The grip areas show handling wear. The cylinder shows more notable wear than most other components. The frame’s case color has mostly muted with some figuring visible in well protected areas. There are scattered small nicks, scuffs and scratches. The head of the cylinder pin is tool marked and there are tool marks on the bottom of the trigger guard loop. The action shows operational wear including turn-wear on the cylinder. The screw heads range from sharp to disfigured with usable slots. Most markings are clear, some markings are worn and incomplete. Overall, this revolver is in Very Good-plus condition as Antique.

Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The cylinder lockup shows a small amount of play on all six chambers. The trigger pull is crisp. We have not fired this revolver. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.

Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None

Our Assessment: This revolver started out life in 1887 as a Cavalry Model SAA revolver with 7 1/2” barrel made for the U.S. Army. In their book “Colt Cavalry and Artillery Revolvers”, Kopec and Fenn indicate that between 1900 and 1903, Colt altered and refinished 5,444 revolvers into “Artillery” models (5 1/2” barrel). Per Kopec and Fenn, “A single Artillery revolver often will have parts from three or four different Cavalry revolvers”. The “Artillery” moniker is a collector’s term, as the modified revolvers were most notable for their issue to U.S. Artillery units in the Spanish-American war, however the later 1900-1903 altered revolvers saw mixed serial numbered parts and some have been observed with blued frames rather than case-colored as they were rather urgently needed for the Philippine Insurrection.

We believe that this is one of those 5,444 revolvers converted by Colt into an Artillery model for use in the Philippines, though it is possible the revolver has been assembled more recently. The frame has some case color, indicating it did not receive the Arsenal Blue finish which was typically applied when these revolvers were altered or refurbished at Springfield Armory. The components have a wide range, from the 6,000 to the 49,000 to the 120,000 serial ranges with inspection marks from Ainsworth to Nettleton to Ronaldo Carr. The revolver is in Very Good condition with 60% of its current finish remaining. The bore is surprisingly strong, though it has some minor erosion and a few spots of pitting. The cylinder lockup shows a small amount of play. This revolver may have seen service during the Indian Wars when it was in its original Cavalry configuration and may have served again later in the Philippines after being converted to an Artillery model.

This revolver must have a very interesting history, if only it could be told. All of the Colt 1st Generation revolvers are heavily collected, and this Cavalry Model conversion to Artillery Model will not be an exception. 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 LC Revolver, 1887 Antique
Colt Single Action Army SAA 1873 US Artillery .45 LC Revolver, 1887 Antique