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Old February 9, 2021, 09:59 PM   #1
STORMINORMAN
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Colt Lightning Model of 1877 ?'s...

Trying to attach a few images. Any opinions as to general worth and/or condition?

Doing this for a friend: she inherited this from her Father.

Thanks in advance for your kind consideration!

Cheers!
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File Type: jpg 100_1543.JPG (911.1 KB, 134 views)
File Type: jpg 100_1564.JPG (612.2 KB, 106 views)
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Old February 10, 2021, 08:26 AM   #2
ligonierbill
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I checked GB, and fully functional examples have sold from $500 to $900. Of course, those in exceptional condition go higher. Back in the day, this pistol was know as the "gunsmith's favorite" because they brought in a lot of business. Many are not functional, and getting one fixed is near impossible. Though not Colt's official designation, they came in 41 Long Colt "Thunderer", 38 Long Colt "Lightning", and 32 Long Colt "Rainmaker". The 32 is extremely rare. The 38 is most common. You didn't note the caliber, but I presume it's a 38.

I have a 41 manufactured in 1878, and I have fired it a few times with blackpowder loads. Among other infamous characters, John Wesley Hardin carried one.

Last edited by ligonierbill; February 10, 2021 at 01:46 PM.
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Old February 10, 2021, 12:32 PM   #3
Ricklin
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I have one of a little later vintage.

Note the lack of any means to lock the cylinder in place. That was all done with the hand holding the rear of the cylinder in battery.

Mine is a new army and suffers the same flaw, IE no cylinder locking bolt. Thrifty old Colt made them both ways for several years. Mine has the frame cutout for a cylinder locking bolt, yet no bolt cuts in the cylinder, and no bolt either.
The issue is the cylinder can rotate out of battery when holstered or otherwise rotate.
The flaw was corrected primarily due to military trails that pointed out that flaw in the design.
I find it interesting that Colt continued to manufacture the revolver "both ways" perhaps the previous model was sold at a bargain price?
Mine shipped to Chicago in 1898 and sold by Montgomery wards.
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Old February 10, 2021, 12:33 PM   #4
Mike Irwin
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That's one of the nicest 1877's I've seen in a long time.

It even looks functional from the correct position of the trigger (although that's not a given).

And the bore appears to be very clean.
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Old February 10, 2021, 01:30 PM   #5
dahermit
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ligonierbill View Post
I checked GB, and fully functional examples have sold from $500 to $900. Of course, those in exceptional condition go higher. Back in the day, this pistol was know as the "gunsmith's favorite" because they brought in a lot of business. Many are not functional, and getting one fixed is near impossible. Though not Colt's official designation, they came in 41 Long Colt "Thunderer", 38 Long Colt "Lightning", and 32 Long Colt "Rainmaker". The 32 is extremely rare. The 38 is most common. You didn't note the caliber, but I presume it's a 38.

I have a 41 manufactured in 1898, and I have fired it a few times with blackpowder loads. Among other infamous characters, John Wesley Hardin carried one.
If I remember correctly Billy the Kid was believed to have had a .38 Lighting...or so is the legend.
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Old February 10, 2021, 04:46 PM   #6
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A Colt Lightning is a rifle. The 1877 revolver came in 2 frame sizes, and their popular name came from the writings of Ned Buntline, an author of fiction and western lore, who wrote books in which his characters named the revolvers Lightning and Thunderer. The 38s were Lightning and the 41s were Thunderer. Whatever.

The revolver has a locking bolt, it locks at the rear of the cylinder.

Wolff sells spring kits to get your 1877 back into working condition.

I used to see a lot of 1877s in very nice condition, primarily because the springs they put in them were heavy and prone to breaking. People would get tired of the gun not working and just store them. Just replace the springs with well-made springs and away it goes.
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Old February 11, 2021, 10:07 AM   #7
Mike Irwin
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Found an old Colt advertisement from 1897.

The .41 was listed at $15 and the .38 and .32 were $14 each.

I've always heard that it was Benjamin Kittredge who came up with the Lightning and Thunderer (and also Peacemaker) was a way adding some "snap" to his advertisements for Colt revolvers. His company was, for quite a few years, the largest distributor of Colt products in the world.
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Old February 12, 2021, 12:48 PM   #8
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Thanks to all for their kind replies!

When my friend 1st handed this 38 Colt Model of 1877 (aka "Lightning") to me it was in three ziplock bags. Quite a bit of cleanup with Ballistol using Q-Tips, a fine emery paper & a little Mothers polish worked wonders! There were 3 screws missing, #'s 1-42, 1-43 & 1-46: thankfully Jack Firsts came to the rescue! This was my 1st experience with an antique Colt and found the internet to be a wonderful resource in my attempt to reassemble this, basically from scratch. Can certainly understand the moniker of "the gunsmith's favorite": what DID the average Joe do before the advent of YouTube videos? (Actually, I am more than old enough to remember: it usually involved multiple trips to the libraries and the used book shops, as I recall?)

Although the action is anything but smooth, I believe this could be fired, but seriously doubt it ever will be. Serial number dates this to 1883. The acid etching on the left side of the barrel is missing: either by being worn away or, possibly by a refinishing somewhere along the way...? I have heard both of these alternative opinions, but not yet from a Colt "expert" who has actually seen this gun in person.

Your opinions would be much appreciated. Any recommendations as to an insurace valuation?

I believe there is also the possibility of a rebarreling: after all, this gun is over 130 years old! The bore really does seem to be in truly excellent condition. This gun hails from New Mexico, at least for the past half-century, or so?

Thanks, again, to all for the replies.

Cheers!

P.S. My friend, who originally was thinking that this might have some small value for parts, is now fully determined to keep this, now that is will soon be back in one piece. Does the use of the reproduction fasteners (vs. "used originals") materially change its description? I would think "complete" is appropriate, not too sure about using the term original, however?
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Old February 12, 2021, 04:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
what DID the average Joe do before the advent of YouTube videos?
They went to gunsmiths. That was back when there was a gunsmith in every small town and several in any medium-sized city. It was also a time when a gunsmith could make a decent living. Nowadays, it seems everybody wants to get in on the action, YouTube it, and fix it themselves. Then, if it's really screwed up, take it to a gunsmith.
Quote:
I believe there is also the possibility of a rebarreling: after all, this gun is over 130 years old!
Possible, but not likely. As I said above, 1877s were notorious for breaking springs, so a lot of them did not get used very much.
Quote:
Does the use of the reproduction fasteners (vs. "used originals") materially change its description?
Used originals, or reproductions screws, will not affect the collector's value (if any). What will affect the value in a hurry is somebody forcing the wrong size screw into a hole and buggering it up. Typically, gun screws are different sizes and pitches than hardware store screws, but people still insist on forcing screws into holes to "fix it". But a reproduction screw of the proper pitch will not negatively affect value.
Quote:
Quite a bit of cleanup with Ballistol using Q-Tips, a fine emery paper & a little Mothers polish worked wonders!
Fine emery paper and Mother's Mag Polish will devalue an old gun in a hurry.
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Old February 13, 2021, 09:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
Typically, gun screws are different sizes and pitches than hardware store screws...
Consult a "Machinery's Handbook". You will find that gun screws are standard pitches, albeit not carried by most hardware stores. There are generally three standard screw pitch classifications, Coarse, Fine, and Ultra-Fine (if I remember correctly). Some hardware stores will carry some fine pitch screws, but it would be unusual to fined any Ultra-Fine screws in hardware stores.
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Old February 13, 2021, 09:43 AM   #11
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I actually disassembled and reassembled-correctly-a Colt M1877, recall reading where one of the old time gunsmiths said an M1877 would be given to an apprentice to test his aptitude.
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Old February 14, 2021, 03:35 AM   #12
Scorch
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Quote:
There are generally three standard screw pitch classifications, Coarse, Fine, and Ultra-Fine (if I remember correctly)
Reading ability is a fine thing. When comparing things, we say "A is different than B", and people understand that although item A may be just fine, it is different in form or function than item B for whatever reason is stated.

Screw threads used to be called differentiated as SAE, and USS, USNF, and USNC. Now we have a Unified Thread Standard that describes shape and pitch of threads. However, in my post, I said
Quote:
Typically, gun screws are different sizes and pitches than hardware store screws
since screws used in firearms are often UNF, UNEF, or manufacturer-specific thread pitches, different strength grades, etc, and are not typically found in hardware stores or supermarket hardware racks.

Please don't try to correct my writing unless you find something wrong with it. Like others, I occasionally make mistakes, but it is often best to try to understand what is actually written rather than try to demonstrate your level of knowledge.
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Old February 15, 2021, 11:55 AM   #13
Jim Watson
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Yup, Ace may be the place but you are not likely to find .150x50 1911 grip screws there.
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Old February 16, 2021, 10:29 AM   #14
Mike Irwin
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A rebarrel is possible, but I'm thinking unlikely unless it was done really early in the gun's life. The patina on the barrel matches the rest of the gun closely enough that I think it's the original barrel.
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Old February 16, 2021, 08:06 PM   #15
STORMINORMAN
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Mothers polish, Q-Tips and a fine emery paper can just work wonders on rusty internal parts and leaf springs...!

Externally, not so much...

Cheers!
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