1878 Antique “SHERIFF’S” Model 1877 COLT “Lightning” ETCHED PANEL Revolver
Iconic Second Year Production DOUBLE ACTION COLT
Here we present an antique Etched Panel “Sheriff’s Model” Colt 1877 Lightning Double Action Revolver, made in 1878 in Hartford, Connecticut. The Model 1877 was Colt’s first venture into double action revolvers. It was quite successful, selling 166,849 from 1877 through 1909. Nonetheless, there was some hesitation to move away from the single action mechanism, which had so proven itself. Famous adopters of the Lightning were William “Billy the Kid” Bonney and John Wesley Hardin, along with “Doc” Holliday. Doc’s weapon of choice early in his western career was an 1851 Colt Navy revolver. Later, Doc carried a nickel-plated .41 caliber Colt Thunderer or the .38 caliber Colt Lightning.
The Model 1877 was designed in 1876 by William Mason and was offered in three different calibers with production beginning in January 1877, which led to the three unofficial names. The first production model was the “Lightning”, in .38 Long Colt caliber. Later that year, Colt came out with the .41 Long Colt caliber called the “Thunderer”. The .32 Long Colt caliber, called the “Rainmaker”, didn’t go into production until sometime in 1887. Benjamin Kittredge, the largest Colt Distributor in Cincinnati, Ohio, coined the nicknames for these guns as a marketing tool. He was also responsible for calling the Model 1873 Single Action Army the “Peacemaker”. None of the nicknames were ever used by the factory in any reference materials. The 1877 “Thunderer” in .41 caliber was the preferred weapon of Billy the Kid and was his weapon of choice when he was killed by Pat Garret in 1881.
The overall condition is near fine. Original nickel finish. The etched panel is faint yet still legible. The action is great in single action. In double action the trigger pull does not bring the hammer far enough back to fall, though the cylinder still indexes properly and has good lockup. The bore is patinated with strong rifling. The checkered rosewood grips are another earlier feature and they show use and remain in good condition. Numbers match.
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 4-1/2 inches.
Caliber: .38 Long Colt
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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