View Full Version : Video - Colt's Lightning Rifle

February 13, 2012, 09:15 AM
Shooting USFA's version of the Colt Lightning rifle in .44-40.

This rifle is very tightly chambered, so I have to rack the slide with authority to chamber my B-P rounds with .429" bullets to get them to chamber fully. But I don't shoot this gun often enough to make it worth my while to size up some .427"s just for this rifle.

My buddy Roughshod has an original Lightning in .44-40 that won't chamber a round with a bullet bigger than .427", so I'm lucky this one will chamber them...usually.


February 14, 2012, 04:13 PM
Great video, as usual, Mike.

My original Lightning has almost the opposite problem as yours and Roughshod's. It's super sensitive to the rim diameter. Modern .38-40 cartridge rims are too big and get hung up on the ejectors. I ended up chucking all of my brass in a drill press and taking off a few thousandth's until they'd eject properly.

The ejectors in the Lightning are a real puzzlement to me. They are machined to match the curve of the rim, which rides in that curve until it hits the ejection stop. At that point, the mouth of the case is clear of the front of the ejection port and it flips clear. On my gun (great grandpa's, actually), if the rim is too big, it hangs up on some tooling marks on the ejectors and tries to eject before the mouth is clear of the front of the port. Then everything jams up and I have to break out a plastic screwdriver that I keep handy and pry the empty case out of the port.

I thought about smoothing out the ejectors, but I'm too afraid that I'll mess something up - and besides being a treasured heirloom, it's a three-digit serial number from the first year of production. So I went with trimming the cases instead.


You can see the left side ejector here:


February 14, 2012, 06:32 PM

Lightnings can be a trial, but they sure are cool. Roughshod (A.K.A. Jay Harrell) has three of these puppies (originals) in different calibers. The .44-40 runs the best, as long as you size the bullets .425 to .427.

Several times I've thought about buying it from him...then I come to my senses :)

February 16, 2012, 12:27 AM
Thanks for posting the review... I never really took the time to do any research on the Colt Lightning before, and did not realize how cool they looked and performed.. or how different they were to the Winchester. Well I am hooked, I may have to get one of those now.

Mucho thanks for taking the time