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Old March 4, 2013, 01:13 PM   #1
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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, 06:30 PM   #2
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There are good copies, copies that look like the original but function differently, and just plain sorry examples. If one's budget limits him to reproductions of classic firearms, then the information I asked for can be be of great interest. Certainly many of the early buyers of Taurus Thunderbolts wished that there'd been more information about their construction and quality. Or if I wanted a GI 1911A1 and my budget limited me to reproductions, I had no direct experience with them and there was no online source of information, I might make a mistake and buy the Kahr version.

Last edited by Evan Thomas; March 6, 2013 at 04:40 PM. Reason: deleted response to noise.
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Old March 5, 2013, 09:08 AM   #3
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The kahr version?? A copy is a copy. It ether is a shooter or a collector

GI 1911a1. If I wanted a good shooting 1911a1 it would most likely not be a colt ether . That is one firearm that can be better under other names. And if you were so uninformed and bought a kahr instead you can't read or see, HA.

I just look at firearms as tools or collecting. If not the real deal it just a shooter.
Taursus version never , Well from 25 yards maybe it looks like a lighting but its still a taurus, Guess usfa is or was a better gun than some copies but why not by a real lighting with colt on it. . Today usfa is just plastic gun company.

Want a real lighting -

Oh I did not buy a 1911 copy. I have no use for one. I carry from the kahr line. I do like colts huntsman / woodsman line and have a couple from the 60's. First handgun I shot. I would never buy a usfa copy when nice orginials can be bought for the the same kind of money in 99%+ condition.

Last edited by Evan Thomas; March 6, 2013 at 02:22 AM. Reason: removed antagonizing remarks.
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Old March 5, 2013, 09:14 AM   #4
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What is USFA?
That is an interesting rifle. But quite expensive. And .45 acp in a rifle? Silly and pointless.
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Old March 5, 2013, 08:34 PM   #5
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GI 1911a1. If I wanted a good shooting 1911a1 it would most likely not be a colt ether . That is one firearm that can be better under other names.
Which is precisely why many people preferred USFA versions of Colt classics; they had a reputation for being made better than what was currently available from Colt. People will pay for collectibility, and they will also pay for quality; high quality is one of the reasons certain firearms become collectible--especially when they're not made anymore. Affordable original Colt Lightnings in excellent condition are very expensive. USFA versions are pricey and getting more so, but they are still affordable. I don't buy firearms to stare at them in my safe; I buy them to shoot, and I appreciate good quality. USFA had an excellent reputation for authenticity and quality, and their finer examples were works of art. Then they went off the deep end and started producing junk .22's.

And .45 acp in a rifle? Silly and pointless.
Pros and cons of .45 acp in a rifle aside, this rifle is in .45 Colt (.45 Long Colt to some people).

Last edited by Evan Thomas; March 6, 2013 at 10:00 PM. Reason: removed response to deleted comment.
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Old March 6, 2013, 02:11 PM   #6
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Welcome to TFL, OD#3.

I'm moving your thread to the "Firearms Research" forum, where you're more likely to get the responses you're looking for.
Never let anything mechanical know you're in a hurry.
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Old March 12, 2013, 10:25 PM   #7
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What is USFA?
That is an interesting rifle. But quite expensive. And .45 acp in a rifle? Silly and pointless.
There have been .45 ACP conversions of the 1892 Winchester and the Spanish made clones of that rifle. The conversions use a detachable box magazine since the military hard ball bullet is not a good idea in a tube magazine.

Some were used by Mexican police who at the time carried .45 ACP chambered pistols.
When I asked around about these after seeing one in a sci fi movie ( "Soldier" with Kurt Russel) a poster from a former British colony (don't remember which) told of these conversion being done in his country when a law against importation of pistol cartridges cut off supplies of .44-40 ammo, yet .45 ACP was dirt cheap and readily available since the government had phased out all .45 ACP pistols and SMGs. Millions of rounds of .45 ACP, most dating to WW2 lend lease, hit the surplus market.

The Enfield Delise suppressed bolt action carbine built on a SMLE action was chambered in .45 ACP and fed from altered 1911 magazines.

A police suppressed counter sniper rifle was marketed in the 70's. These were built on the Remington 788 .44 Magnum carbine action refitted with bolts from the .308 version of the 788 to match the ACP case head and extractor groove.
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