View Full Version : Colt Model 1877 "Ligthning" D.A. Revolver

August 16, 2009, 06:04 PM
This is the 2nd gun I'm posting here (http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=372254) to see if I can get any more data or info on.

This is a Colt Model 1877 "Lightning" D.A. Revolver.




What I know:

Made 1877-1909; total production 166,849 (Flay #5)
Serial #154072
Previous appraisal described it thusly: "NRA Very Good in and out; 75% original finish; Blue running thin; A few shallow pits in frame near gate."

James K
August 16, 2009, 09:37 PM
The pics are not good enough to really comment. Those guns do sometimes turn up in excellent condition, often because they broke and were consigned to the attic. It is, in fact, a big plus if the gun just functions properly. If it doesn't, getting it fixed is hard. The frustration level being what it is, few gunsmiths will even look at them. I have owned five and still have three. I fixed and sold two; one worked perfectly when I got it, one I fixed and kept, and one sits in pieces because I have not been able to get a hammer for it.


August 17, 2009, 12:30 AM
Did you click through the pictures and look at the high-res versions. Maybe I'll take another stab at photographing it...i'm still figuring out the right technique.

My father aquired this gun in 1966 (in Phx). It is highly likely he never fired it, but he also would not have purchased something like this if it wasn't functional. I assume it still works, but I'm not about to shoot it.

My entire life growing up, my father had this cool glass top table with all these guns in it. Now I have them (since 1990) but I keep them in a safe because I can't stand taking the risk of having them be stolen. Someday I'll have a home where I can display them...

August 17, 2009, 08:25 AM
What is the barrel length, and is it a .32, a .38, or a .41 ?

If you're an NRA member, you might be able to obtain a reprint of the Oct 1995 issue of Man at ARMS, the Journal for the American Arms Collector, (vol 17, No.5) - which has both a survey of 1877 DA owners, and the results, in an article with tables & pics, by John C. Potocki.


August 17, 2009, 10:17 AM
bbl is 4.5"

It's a .38.

Thanks for the tip on the Man at ARMS issue. I'll try to track one down.

August 17, 2009, 10:21 AM
Hmmm... A quick search did not get me any info on Man at Arms. Any suggestions on where I could go to find reprints?

August 17, 2009, 02:12 PM
They were listed thusly, in the old issues - but I believe have since relocated to different facilities in Woonsocket, RI.

Mayhaps a call to them may get forwarded, or to 401-555-1212 (information).

Man at Arms
1525 Louisquissett Pike
Lincoln, RI 02865-4524

Andrew Mowbray Inc., Publishers
P.O.Box 460
Lincoln, RI 02865-0460


James K
September 1, 2009, 10:37 PM
Just to add a bit to this elderly thread. I have fired my Lighthing .38 and never had any problem. But when I finally got hold of some .41 Colt ammo, I decided to shoot some in my Thunderer. Maybe I wasn't holding it right (as someone at the range told me*), but that thing beat up my hand something awful. No skin broken but it felt like that "knob" at the top of the grip was trying to tear off my thumb. I took twelve rounds but that was enough. I think I will stick to a my Model 586.

(The Model 1878 is almost as bad, but it is a heavier gun and my .44-40 is not as bad as a .45 would be.)

*I was polite and didn't ask how many of those guns he had fired.


September 7, 2009, 05:28 PM
I had a thunderer once, pretty much a gray gun, but the mechanisms worked, it turned and cycled alright. Never tried to fire it, the bore was a bit rough, even if I could have figured out some sort of 41 load for it. I understand you can get new made springs for it, isn't that the main failure mode? I tried to buy a really nice .38 version once, was forced to pass, as the seller would not accept a C&R license for it! He did not know what that was. Duh. Now they are too steep for me.

James K
September 13, 2009, 09:34 PM
The main failure areas of that gun, in addition to springs, are the cylinder stop and (like many old guns) the hammer notches. Unlike the SAA, hammer notches can't be recut as it throws the timing off completely.

I saw one in .38 at the Greensburg show yesterday. It was brand new, apparently not only unfired but never even handled. The gun was perfect, just incredible. I wish I could remember how much the guy wanted, but it was out of my league.


September 14, 2009, 09:19 AM

Six Shots In Three Seconds.
Adapted to Colt's 44 Frontier Model Double Acting.
4-inch. No Shell Ejector.
5 1/2 and 7 1/2-inch With Shell Ejector.
(pictured a -Model 1873 WINCHESTER cartridge) and (The same barrel and ejector info and picture of "45 COLTS cartridge).

Weight of Army double action, 2 lbs. 7 oz.

Colt's 44 cal. double acting, blued or plated, with slide shell ejector....$18.00
Colt's 45 cal. double acting, blued or plated with slide shell ejector....$18.00

This 1884 listing is a few years older but its interesting to see that the .38 long was only listed in non- shell ejector models.
These were sold for $13.00, and 60 cents extra postage.
Also noted,
"The frame and all the parts are forged and wrought, and the workmanship is the best that can be made.
EXTRA, C.-Engraving, $2.00; Plain Ivory Stocks, $2.18; Double-Action, 44 or 45, $5.31; Double-Action, 38 or 41, $3.75.