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Old March 4, 2013, 01:14 PM   #1
OD#3
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USFA Lightning Rifle--the most mysterious rifle on the internet

Along with the recent demise of USFA has been its website which used to be a valuable source of information (magazine articles, published reviews, etc.). I'm having a whale of a time getting any useful information on the internet about their Lightning Rifles beyond a very few anecdotal comments from a very few owners on some forums I visit. Mike Beliveau seems to be the only person who's made a Youtube video about them, and although I can find a few references to some magazine articles, very few are viewable online.

I can find nothing definitive about production figures. One guy says that USFA told him that they sold 400 of them commercially. Turnbull says 900. Someone else says 300-400. I tend to believe the lower figures, because there is such a dearth of information about them.

I seem to recall reading something years ago in one of USFA's catalongs about a budget version of the USFA Lightning that was in the works at the time--sort of a "rodeo" version of their Lightning, aimed towards the CAS crowd. And that is what mine appears to be. It is chambered in .45 Colt and has a matte receiver with a 26" round barrel. All parts other than the receiver are polished, but they appear to be a lower level of polish than that used on any other USFA Lightning I've seen. The hammer is blued and white-sided instead of color casehardened, and the handguard has a simple lined border instead of checkering.

Other than that one catalog reference I saw back then (and it mentioned only carbine versions instead of the rifle version I have), I can find nothing else about these utilitarian finished versions on the internet, and very little about the finer versions (I think most owners thought them too pretty to shoot).

Anyone have any first-hand knowledge and experience they'd like to share?
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Old March 4, 2013, 03:04 PM   #2
duelist1954
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I have one. I've owned it for over 10 years. It is far from my favorite rifle. It is kind of picky on ammo, and it really wants .427" bullets to chamber properly.

I did a video on it some time back.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANfglECLwpA
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Old March 4, 2013, 03:17 PM   #3
OD#3
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Yes, Mike. Yours was the only video I've found. Great video by the way, as are all of yours; I'm a big fan of your channel and of your writing. There was a two-part "Guns of the Old West" magazine review years ago that I think you participated in; Denis Prisbrey shot smokeless through it in part one and you shot black powder in part 2. I read them back then, but the part 2 issue has disappeared. Too bad; that was a good article.

I do plan to shoot this rifle, and I'll post a review whenever I do. I'll be hoping that my annealed case necks will prevent blow-by in my .45 Colt chamber. I may even post a video; I haven't been very actively posting on my channel (atlanticproducts), and I'm long overdue.
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Old March 4, 2013, 06:47 PM   #4
James K
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One of my PITA jobs was repairing a couple of the originals. I fixed them, but never understood why anyone would want such POS. I could only conclude that Colt's "rep" was such that anything with the Colt name on it would sell.

Jim
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Old March 4, 2013, 06:54 PM   #5
Hawg Haggen
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Quote:
I'll be hoping that my annealed case necks will prevent blow-by in my .45 Colt chamber
It wont.
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Old March 4, 2013, 07:09 PM   #6
pohill
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http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/Vie...Item=331082519
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Old March 4, 2013, 08:21 PM   #7
OD#3
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Quote:
It wont.
You may be right. Then again, I've had great success with preventing blowby in my revolvers when I annealed the case necks.
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Old March 4, 2013, 08:26 PM   #8
Hawg Haggen
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The rifle will have more back pressure and those thick, straight .45 cases do not lend themselves to tightly sealing off the chamber like a thin bottleneck 44-40 will.
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Old March 7, 2013, 09:44 AM   #9
Noz
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I have a friend that fireforms 44-40 cases in his 45 cal 1860 Henry clone, then loads them as 45s. Reduces blowback for him.
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Old March 7, 2013, 02:14 PM   #10
duelist1954
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OD #3, I'm surprised you remember those articles that Dennis and I did. It must be 10 years since we wrote them.

They were designed to be run back to back in the same issue, but, for reasons we never determined, the magazine ran them in consecutive issues instead.
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Old March 8, 2013, 09:22 AM   #11
OD#3
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I remember many of your articles. One who likes historically significant firearms (and replicas thereof) is bound to have read and enjoyed a good many articles written by you. That particular article was one of the reasons I always wanted a USFA Lightning. Incidentally, I think I finally found some of the information I was looking for. I found a copy of the 2004 USFA Catalog which lists their "Cowboy Action Lightning". Mine differs slightly from the photos in minor areas, but I think thats what I have. I hope to do a range test next week.
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Old March 8, 2013, 10:37 PM   #12
orsogato
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There is a nice USFA lightning up for auction on gunbroker right now.

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/Vie...Item=331856772

Looks to be getting north of $1600
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