I got a Lightning!
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Thread: I got a Lightning!

  1. #41
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    Beautiful, original finish lightning. Well done.
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  2. #42
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    Cabelas gun library had something at an affordable price???? Obviously not the Ft Worth location.....great score....ones I seen were $700 around here in lesser condition....you have a nice one...congrats..
    Milsurp_Collector likes this.

  3. #43
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    ... and from my understanding the model without the ejector rod is far more rare.

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  5. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milsurp_Collector View Post
    I appreciate your input. I'm glad you pointed out the missing marking on the barrel. The lack of a marking on the barrel certainly is unusual. Since no one who made it or bought it is alive to explain why it is missing, all offered explanations are speculation and conjecture (an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information). First I can tell you the finish on the barrel and the rest of the revolver is the same unique and distinctive high polish oven-fired blue that is on some other Colt firearms from the early 20th century that I have. If you have seen that finish in real life you know what I am talking about. It looks like a black mirror and the bluing has a delicate and translucent quality to it. There is not a ripple or irregularity on it. It is difficult to capture in photographs because it is so reflective and it shows fingerprints so easily, such as on one of my Colt 1902 Military pistols or on one of my Colt 1901 New Army revolvers. These are some pictures I got from the Internet of a 1903 Pocket Hammer pistol that I don't own but the photographer is better than me and was able to capture what the finish looks like in person. I have never seen any other factory finish like the finish on those pre-World War I Colts, much less anything close on a refinished gun. Not even from Colt after World War I. Colt stopped using that highly polished finish after World War I and it became a lost art. They went to the less labor-intensive brushed blue finish like that on my 1929 Colt Official Police revolver that is very beautiful too but not the same. I know it is hard to judge from pictures but if I put all of my other pre-World War I Colts together on a table along with my Lightning in good natural light and you could inspect them in person you would see that they all have that distinctive and unique high polish oven fired Colt finish, including the Lightning. It is unmistakable in person. But still some will say "why isn't the barrel marked?" and I have to say I don't know, but I believe the principle of Occam's razor should apply: when presented with competing hypotheses that make the same predictions, one should select the solution with the fewest assumptions. One could speculate that the barrel was changed, or that someone was able to refinish the entire revolver and somehow duplicate the distinctive and unique Colt factory finishes of the time. But why would that have happened? Because the barrel became worn out? But the entire revolver shows no evidence of use. The cylinder chambers look new and the front of the cylinder has no trace of pitting or firing. The high points on the sides of the cylinder have some light wearing of the blue as one would expect. Or maybe you are saying they replaced the cylinder too, and stamped new matching numbers on the rear of the cylinder? And if they are going to replace the barrel, why use one without the caliber marking? Why go through the trouble of duplicating the factory finish, replacing the barrel, and use a barrel without the caliber marking? And if the "original" barrel wasn't worn out, why replace it? It doesn't make sense. And how about the grips? If the revolver was used so much that the barrel had to be replaced then the grips would be worn too, but they are in new condition. Maybe you are saying someone replaced the grips too? No, the simplest hypothesis is the revolver left the factory without the marking on the barrel. Maybe it was made during a time when there was a transition from the etched marking to the rollmark. These things were made by human beings and sometimes people make mistakes. I'm sure we have all seen firearms that have matching serial number marked parts that have transposed digits. Scott Gahimer at m1911info.com has some example of "mistakes" that came out of the Colt factory. Attachment 648055 Attachment 648053 If you think that any firearm that has just one thing that is not "by the book" is messed with or fake then you'll miss out on some unique items. Anyway, as I said, the finish on my Lightning has exactly the same highly polished mirror-like translucent oven fired finish as on my other pre-World War I Colts. Unless they were all refinished by the same person to the same high level, I think they were all finished at the same place: the Colt factory. And as for the missing caliber marking, I think the simplest explanation is that it was just a mistake. It certainly wouldn't be the first time or the last time that happened.
    I cannot deny that from the photographs, the finish appears to be original and that typical of this era from Colt. However, like I said, lack of barrel markings are troublesome. It seems unlikely Colt would miss failing to mark a barrel before shipping, bit it is possible, I suppose, and seems highly probable given your hypothesis. It's just that, in my experience, I have not seen such an obvious factory error such as this one and I would have thought such an oversight would be unlikely. Maybe this one shipped at the very end of a shift, or during a shift change, and this oversight occurred then?

  6. #45
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    I referenced Keith Cochran's Colt Peacemaker Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, and under the caliber markings missing section, Cochran states that, other than Cavalry (and Artillery) model SAA revolvers, which were produced without caliber markings, there are no known SAA revolvers with missing caliber markings.

    Of course this applies to the SAA revolver, but the principle is the same.

    So, a missing barrel caliber marking is highly, highly unusual, but seems to be the explanation in this case.

    Before I brought up the concept of the missing caliber markings, my review of the photographs caused me to believe the finish appeared original and untouched, but this was on the computer, and, with gun in hand, I thought an expert refinish likely.

    If what you say is true relative to this gun as compared to other known examples of Colt finishes from the era, it seems the unlikely absence of a caliber marking on the barrel indeed must be true.

  7. #46
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    It appears original finish to me, and if I were buying it, I would pay up to what I considered a good price for it, based on that. Not near what the Gunbroker high rollers pay, but double or maybe triple what you paid. Lightnings have always been hard to: resell, shoot, keep timed. I was at a gun show in New Mexico about 20 years ago looking at one for about that much, maybe a tad less. The old guy selling it said he had more, if I was interested. I said sure. He pulled a couple of USGI ammo cans out from under the table, they were all full of Lightnings. He was about 85, and said, "In my life you could usually buy these for under $100, sometimes for just $30 or so...I collected hundreds of them...but they're impossible to sell."

    But it's a beautiful example.
    Last edited by azshot; 08-16-2019 at 09:39 AM.
    mrcvs and Milsurp_Collector like this.

  8. #47
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    A couple of observations - I believe the serial number is 70991. If you enlarge and look close at the second number you do not see a closed circle coming back in to the right side of it. If it were a "9" instead of a "0" you would see that portion of the circle. Compare the second number to the third number and you will see what I mean. Some of the serial numbers on the trigger guard and especially the back strap are washed out. Why?? The 38CAL mark on the trigger guard is also interesting. The "38" portion is usually slightly larger than or equal to the "CAL" portion. On this gun it is smaller. I have not seen that before. There should be a etched panel caliber mark on the barrel for the year 1888. Why is it missing?? If made in 1890 as the owner believes, there should be a roll die caliber mark and a Rampant Colt stamp on the frame. I have in shop serial number 78805 which was manufactured 1,106 guns before this 79911 and it has the roll die caliber mark and the Rampant Colt on the frame. I doubt Colt would forget to put both markings on the gun. Possible, but not very likely. Any missing markings are typically not re-applied during a re-finish because the individual doing the work does not have the etching, dies or stamps needed to replace the markings. The load gate does not fit flush with the frame on the top. The edge of it sticks farther out. On the bottom the edge of the load gate appears to do the same. Colt would polish the frame with the gate in place so all edges matched. This can be seen on all other 1877's. Cabela's probably priced it low because they felt that it had been refinished. ( Note I say refinished instead of restored because essential elements such as the markings are missing. When restoring, all elements should be as when it left the factory.)

  9. #48
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    Wow! Excellent observations, RevoReno! I'd like to have this gun in hand to determine one way or another if refinished or not, but what you write adds credibility to my observation that lack of caliber markings suggests this likely is refinished.

  10. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by RevoReno View Post
    A couple of observations - I believe the serial number is 70991. If you enlarge and look close at the second number you do not see a closed circle coming back in to the right side of it. If it were a "9" instead of a "0" you would see that portion of the circle. Compare the second number to the third number and you will see what I mean. Some of the serial numbers on the trigger guard and especially the back strap are washed out. Why?? The 38CAL mark on the trigger guard is also interesting. The "38" portion is usually slightly larger than or equal to the "CAL" portion. On this gun it is smaller. I have not seen that before. There should be a etched panel caliber mark on the barrel for the year 1888. Why is it missing?? If made in 1890 as the owner believes, there should be a roll die caliber mark and a Rampant Colt stamp on the frame. I have in shop serial number 78805 which was manufactured 1,106 guns before this 79911 and it has the roll die caliber mark and the Rampant Colt on the frame. I doubt Colt would forget to put both markings on the gun. Possible, but not very likely. Any missing markings are typically not re-applied during a re-finish because the individual doing the work does not have the etching, dies or stamps needed to replace the markings. The load gate does not fit flush with the frame on the top. The edge of it sticks farther out. On the bottom the edge of the load gate appears to do the same. Colt would polish the frame with the gate in place so all edges matched. This can be seen on all other 1877's. Cabela's probably priced it low because they felt that it had been refinished. ( Note I say refinished instead of restored because essential elements such as the markings are missing. When restoring, all elements should be as when it left the factory.)

    The serial number is 79911. I examined it with a magnifier. The first 9 is incomplete on the trigger guard and more complete on the frame.

    EDIT: I checked it one more time with a bright light and magnifier. You're right the serial number is 70911.
    Last edited by Milsurp_Collector; 08-18-2019 at 05:49 PM.

  11. #50
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    To me, even though the lack of barrel marking might be an issue, from the images provided, the finish looks absolutely original. Colt started the Circled Rampant Colt stamp on the SAA in 1890, so I "assume" that they began that practice on the 1877s at the same time, so it's quite possible that an early 1890 Lightning didn't have the rampant colt stamp on the frame, and the loading gate just looks like it's not closed tightly, not a refinished polishing issue.

    If it's a "refinish" or "restoration" it's been done at the absolute highest level, and if so, obviously a number of years ago. But it just doesn't make any kind of sense to have spent big bucks doing a high level restoration on a lightning. So I vote for original finish with an open question on the missing barrel markings.

    BTW, did Colt discontinue the etched panel on the Lightning in 1890, like the SAA? If so, the lack of etched panel or caliber roll mark becomes a little more explainable as something missed in the transition from one to the other.

    Best regards,
    Milsurp_Collector likes this.
    My opinion is free, and worth every penny of it.


 
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