SOLD FOR: $2,916.00
Model: Single Action Army
Serial Number: 32231
Year of Manufacture: 1876
Caliber: .45 (Long) Colt
Action Type: 6-Shot, Single Action, Side-Gate Loaded Fluted Cylinder Revolver.
Markings: The left side of the barrel is marked “COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY .45”, the top is marked “COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. CO. HARTFORD, CONN. U.S.A.” The left side of the frame is marked “PAT. SEPT. 19, 1871 / JULY 2, 72, JAN 19, 75” with the Rampant Colt logo; this two line patent stamp is correct to a transitional period between serial numbers 31,900 and 33,100 (A Study of the Colt Single Action Army by Graham, Kopec & Moore, page 36). The underside of the frame, underside of the trigger guard and left side of the upper strap of the grip frame are marked “32231”. The left side of the lower strap of the grip frame is marked “738”, found again on the right side of the upper strap and rear flat of the loading gate; the back of the curved portion of the loading gate is marked “7125”. The left side of the forward portion of the trigger guard bow is marked “&” (signifying a factory rework) with the verified proof (VP in triangle). The hammer cut and left rear flat of the frame are marked “H”. The extra barrel is marked in the same manner as the installed barrel on the top and left sides; the underside has a series of faded markings, we could make out “2 / 0”.
Barrel Length: Both barrels measure 5 ½”
Sights / Optics: he front sight on the installed barrel is a quarter-round blade, fixed to the barrel. The front sight on the extra barrel is a thin brass insert in a metal base that is dovetailed onto the barrel and set with a screw. The rear sight is a “V” notch in front of a “U” channel, milled into the top of the frame.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are black plastic panels with the rampant Colt logo in oval on the upper portions, with checkering and smooth borders. The stocks have scattered scuff marks on the smooth portions, a few small dings on the edges of the butt on both sides and instances of compressed checkers as photographed. The grips rate in about Fine overall condition as not original to the pistol; the original grips would have been a one piece wood stock.
Type of Finish: Nickel
Finish Originality: Factory Refinished
Bore Condition: The installed barrel’s bore is bright and the rifling is sharp. There is no erosion in the bore. The extra barrel’s bore is mid gray with pronounced, but worn rifling and spots of pin prick erosion; there are a few instances of pitting present as well.
Overall Condition: The handgun’s nickel finish has developed a dulled milky tone, retained at about 87%; about 10% of the remaining finish remains shiny, mostly in protected areas. About 3-5% of the surfaces have developed solid surface oxidation and etching, found on the underside of the barrel and ejector rod housing; the remainder of losses are expressed as scattered scuff and handling marks; the butt of the grip frame has a line of abrasion and there are small dings on the outer circumference of the muzzle. The left forward side of the trigger guard bow has an ampersand, indicating a factory rework of the pistol. The screw head slots have light to moderate distress but are still highly serviceable. The markings are crisp. Overall, this handgun rates in about Fine condition as factory re-worked.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The cylinder produces firm full lockup in all 6 chambers with only a very small amount of side to side play; there is no measurable back play. The hammer cocks back with a strong spring and the trigger pull is crisp. We did not fire this handgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: Included is an extra 5 ½” barrel with a target-style front sight; the sight consists of a thin brass blade that is set in the base, which is dovetailed onto the barrel and set with a screw. The bore is mid gray with pin prick erosion and some spots of pitting; the rifling is worn but still defined. The barrel retains about 92% of its finish, portions near the muzzle have developed a milky color and there are scattered scuffs and shallow dings. The threads are sharp, as are the markings, the barrel rates in about Very Good condition given the bore. Also included is a city of Pomona concealed carry license issued in 1961 to a Calvin Forrest Bennett, who apparently registered for the license for ‘personal protection and while on trips’; the license has tears at the fold lines and light discoloration, rating in about Fine condition. Also included is a Colt factory letter in response to Mr. Bennett’s inquiry on the revolver’s value, indicating that they could not appraise the firearm’s value, along with a return signature card and a list of references for Mr. Bennett to follow up on for more information on the revolver; Mr. Bennett’s original letter to colt is included. The letter to colt gives us a little insight to the history of the revolver; the letter says that Mr. Bennett’s brother lived in Colorado and had given him the firearm in 1938. Also included is a signed testament that Mr. Bennett’s revolver was to be given to his grandson, by his wife, Mrs. Helen W. Bennett. These documents have faint discoloration from age and are in Excellent condition.
Our Assessment: There are few revolvers that can be readily identified worldwide; the Colt Single Action Army is one of these undisputed legendary models, which has a long, fascinating history of serving civilian, military and law enforcement characters, both good and evil. This Colt Single Action Army was made in 1876, just three years after production began. The left forward side of the trigger guard bow is marked with an ampersand, indicating the pistol was reworked at the factory; a “VP” verified smokeless proof was also added to the bow, it appears the revolver was converted to fire smokeless powder cartridges and was refinished in-house; the cylinder lacks a serial number and is most likely a factory replacement; this being said, the cylinder produces excellent full lockup in all 6 chambers with only a very small amount of side to side play. The pistol has a 5 ½” barrel with the standard quarter-round front sight; the bore is bright with sharp rifling and no erosion. An extra barrel is included, showing a mid gray bore with pin prick erosion and some spots of pitting; the rifling is worn but still defined; the barrel has a target-style front sight blade; the sight consists of a thin brass blade that is set in the base, which is dovetailed onto the barrel and set with a screw. About 90% of the nickel finish remains, though all but 10% has a milky color; the surfaces have scattered instances of surface oxidation on the barrel and ejector rod housing, with some scuff wear, as photographed. The grips are not original to the pistol but fit the grip frame well and only display minor cosmetic marks. Included with the pistol is a 1961 city of Pomona, California issued concealed carry permit for a Mr. Calvin Forrest Bennett, a retired veterinarian who applied for the license ‘for personal protection and for going on trips’. Correspondence between Mr. Bennett and the Colt factory are included, a note to Colt from Bennett reveals the pistol was given to him in 1938 by his brother, who lived in Colorado; Colt’s return letter indicates that they could not appraise the pistol for Bennett and a list of references were sent for further research on the pistol. A letter from Bennett’s wife is included documenting that the pistol was to be given to his grandson. This is a history rich piece that is still in Fine condition despite being 140 years old. This item will do well in any collection and should spark many conversations to come.