POTD: Back When Guns Sounded Biblical – Colt 1877 Lightning


POTD: Back When Guns Sounded Biblical – Colt 1877 Lightning

Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! Back in the 1870s, there was a boom of new cartridge revolver designs. The one that was supposedly winning the west was Colt’s 1873 Single-Action Army revolver. Following its popularity was a whole slew of single-action competition. How do you stay on top? Colt employee William Mason thought that the answer was double-action. His design would come to be the Colt 1877 and it would be available in three cartridges .32 Colt (dubbed the “Rainmaker”), .38 Colt (“Lightning”), and .41 Colt (“Thunderer”).  Billy the Kid is said to famously have wielded both a Lightning and a Thunderer.

Even though the single-action made double was a popular design it was destined for failure. The Colt 1877, unfortunately, would come to be known as a “Gunsmiths friend.” The double-action mechanism made for a firearm prone to breakage. Rock Island Auction Company expands on the photo above:

“Manufactured in 1888. The scarce and desirable 6 inch barrel features the acid etched “Colt D.A. 38” panel marking on the left side. Matching serial numbers are on the frame, trigger guard and back strap. Includes a H.H. Heiser of Denver, Colorado, skeleton pattern shoulder holster rig, circa 1910-1920, that accommodates this revolver. The revolver and holster rig are pictured together and identified in Richard Rattenbury’s “Packing Iron” on page 156. According to Rattenbury, this Heiser holster “was a knock-off of the original Zimmerman/Furstnow design with the addition of a flap leather cover over the grip and hammer area of the pistol.”

Lot 57: Colt Model 1877 Lightning Long Barrel Revolver [Photograph found in Premier Firearms Auction #82, Rock Island Auction Company]. (n.d.). Retrieved April 9, 2021, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/82/57/colt-model-1877-lightning-long-barrel-revolver

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Writer | TheFirearmBlog Writer | AllOutdoor.com Instagram | sfsgunsmith Old soul, certified gunsmith, published author, avid firearm history learner, and appreciator of old and unique guns.

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