Colts Page 4

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Following the Civil War it was quite apparent that the future was in self contained metallic cartridges. All the major companies rushed to the drawing boards to  fill this demand. However, Colt had an excellent idea, sell cartridge guns, and get rid of old percussion revolvers all at the same time ! One of Colts design engineers, Richards, came up with the idea of converting 1860 .44 Army revolvers to cartridge. It was accomplished by cutting off the rear of the cylinder, and adding a "ring" spacer at the rear against the recoil shield. However, the ignition system was accomplished by a spring loaded firing pin inserted in the ring, and the face of the hammer ground flat. The hammer struck the pin, igniting the cartridge. A rather difficult system, then another design engineer with Colt, Mason came up with a better way. THUS, the Type II came into existence. The MAJOR difference was the ring had a slot cut through for the hammer, and the hammer struck the cartridge directly. This is the system all Colt revolvers would follow, hammer firing pin directly igniting the cartridge. This Type II, Serial No. 19593X, is a correct example. It seems ALL of the Type II were in this serial range , from the early 190,000's to 200,000 range. This Conversion was originally "kicked out of the brush" in the eastern New Mexico area, with the verbal history of traveling throughout the Tex-Mex area of the southwest. It still has the original 1 piece, relief carved Ivory grips, in the Mexican Flag pattern, the Snake & Eagle resting on the cactus.

This R-M conversion still has about 15% of it's original factory nickel plating, the balance is a gray/plum patina. There is some surface roughness, mostly in the area of exposure to black powder created by firing, and not a good cleaning regimen. Mechanically, it works flawlessly ! Half-cock, full cock, indexing, locking into place for firing, releasing to fire, a PERFECT working action.  ALL factory applied markings are present and legible: barrel address, frame patents, ALL matching serial numbers including the cylinder. Actually this is a VERY scarce variation, with ONLY about 2,000 manufactured as the majority was the Richards Model. A scarce and early Colt on the raw western frontier of New Mexico Territory and Southwest Texas. It bears it's life on the frontier well, with a condition saying "I was there , I did something" !

PRICE $4,450


Why do conversions ? First it used up old percussion parts, and MOST important they could sell them for LESS than new Single Actions. There was even a better reason, the 1860 Army was a very familiar pistol to it's users CW veterans, etc... it was well accepted. These are the pistols of the raw untamed west, these pistols went up the trails on the cattle drives, by the time the Single Action made full distribution much of the "old days" were over.

Most of the factory nickel plating remains on the trigger guard & front of grip strap.

Only fragments and faint portions of the cylinder scene remain, but the Colts Patent and serial numbers are strongly visible.


One of the MOST DIFFICULT  Single Action revolvers for collectors to obtain is a PRE 1898, Antique Bisley ! The very first and few were introduced in early 1896, and sent to England, after all they are named for the Bisley Target Range in England. It wasn't until 1897 that U.S. Commercial Production began to be somewhat substantial and the Bisley became another single action available to buyers. Besides being a scarce model in Black Powder, this one has a Nickel factory finish Another rarity as most to all were blued and case. It also is in .45 Colt caliber, not a lighter weight target caliber. Serial No.17473X was finished with a nickel plating by the Factory. A 123 years later, only about 15%+ of the nickel remains, dominantly found on the barrel, behind recoil shield, and trigger guard. The balance is a very light gray patina. This is good because there is no harsh contrast on the overall finish image.  All parts are factory original, and ALL factory markings are clear and present: Barrel address, barrel legend Bisley Model .45 Colt, frame patents, and ALL matching serial numbers. The screw heads are all crisp and defined, no burring. There are traces of bright blue left on the hammer reverse and trigger. The checkered hard rubber grips, original to the Colt, show everyday hand touching, causing a smooth wear.

Mechanically: this Colt operates PERFECTLY, cocks, locks, indexes, fires, all with original precision. This Bisley was a constant companion to someone for many years , seeing HONEST use, NO abuse, therefore works so well today. In review, a Black Powder Antique Bisley is rare indeed due to  limited early production, and then in Nickel finish, also .45 Colt.

PRICE $ 3,750



This Single Action from 1883 spent it's working career in the State of Texas , surfacing from a Ft. Worth collection. Serial No. 9421X has the 4-3/4 inch barrel, quite popular with those working with a Colt. It has about 60-65% original nickel plate finish. dominant on the frame and lesser amounts on the barrel. However, the cylinder has only fragments in the flutes, the balance is a soft untouched natural dark patina. Whether it is carried in a holster, or just laid to rest, the cylinder takes the hardest wear. This SAA has wonderful original Eagle Grips, showing minimal hand wear, with no damage.

left view of original eagle grips of Colt SAA .45 with factory letter

Minimal wear on the Eagle Grips, plus you can see the original nickel on the frame, where it is quite strong. Note the faded fire blue screw heads. The working action of this Colt is extremely crisp. A firm cocking action, half cock, indexing, and locking tight to fire. It also releases to fire perfectly.

left side view of Colt SAA .45 with eagle grips and factory letter

PRICE $ 3,250

bottom view of 1883 Colt SAA .45 4-3/4" barrel

top view of 1883 Colt .45 4-3/4" barrel

right grip of Colt SAA original eagle grips with factory letter



This is a very small production window for the conversions of the 1861 Navy revolver. Only 2,200 were ever made, and issued / sold in the Mid-1870's The Model of 1861 is considered by many to be the most "elegant" of all the percussion series, with sleek lines. This one, Serial No.187X, has an unusual feature. Below EACH serial number, appears a deliberate "punch dot". Although this 1861 does not have a U.S.N. marking, it is one of a few which were pulled from production, and sent to the Navy to complete an order, or to replace a failed Navy. ALL Serial Numbers , all locations, are matching including cylinder. The overall condition is as follows: 60-65% factory original nickel plate, the balance a soft plum/gray patina. Almost all the brass still has the plating, and is untouched. The cylinder has 50% nickel, as the "lay down" side is less, however, the cylinder scene is still crisp and clear.

cylinder scene of 1861 Navy conversion revolver

The grips show hand use over the years, and a small percentage of varnish is present, with only the slightest corner rounding. Most IMPORTANT: The working action is PERFECT. The hammer cocking positions all function 100% correctly. The cylinder advances, locks tight, and indexes properly and has a smooth release to fire. ALL the screw heads are clean. ALL factory applied markings: barrel address, frame patents, caliber on shoulder, and serial numbers are all highly visible. ALL parts are original to this 1861 Conversion. A SCARCE and significant revolver, and the arming of the Navy in the Mid 1870's. PRICE $2,850

Colt Navy-Navy revolver 1861 Navy conversion CF 1870's

bottom view of Colt 1861 Navy conversion to .38 CF

top of Model1861 percussion Navy

1861 navy conversion to CF grips varnished

close up of Colt Navy-Navy revolver 1870's


MARCH 31, 2020


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