Good excuse to be late to work. Time well spent.
A couple of nights ago I was at my local Cabela's getting a refund for a gun I ordered and paid for but decided I didn't want (I found it cheaper elsewhere). After I got a credit on my credit card I decided to check out the Gun Library. They had several nice Colt handguns including a couple of nice Pythons, a nice Diamondback, a Model 1878, a Philippine Constabulary revolver, a New Army 1901, a New Army 1903, a Detective Special from the 1960s, and a new in box 1911 World War I reissue (01911). But one in particular caught my eye. It was a Model 1877 Lightning that was in excellent condition with most of its original finish. I noticed it still had its nitre blue finish on the hammer, trigger, and screws, and the high polish bluing like on my 1902 Sporting and Military pistols. And the price was surprisingly low.
It was close to closing time so they had cut off gun sales because they wanted to be sure the background checks could be completed before the store closed (although this revolver is an antique and shouldn't need a background check) and in fact they started taking the guns out of the display cases to lock them up for the night, so I bought some ammo and left, but that Lightning stayed in my mind.
When I got home I checked out my Colt books. I discovered the one at Cabela's is one of the less common ejectorless models. I also discoveredI figured the one at Cabela's must be broken and that's why the price was so low. Maybe it broke early in its life and that's why it was in such good condition, because it was broken early and never used. Even so, I figured I would get it because of its excellent condition and low price and have it repaired if necessary. But I knew I had to act immediately.The M1877's early double-action mechanism proved to be both intricate and delicate, and thus prone to breakage. The design had a reputation for failure and earned the nickname "the gunsmith's favorite".
I didn't have to be at work until 10:30AM the next day so I got to Cabela's before 9:30AM figuring I could get in and out before I had to go to work. So I went to the Gun Library and the Lightning was still there. There was only one guy working in the Gun Library and he was selling a gun to another customer. So I waited and waited and waited. Finally he left to escort the customer to the check-out counter. He came back but before I could say anything some other guy who had recently arrived stepped up to the salesman and starting talking him. He started shooting the breeze about selling one of his HK93s, and how he has a safe full of them, yak yak yak. Eventually the salesman told him to bring the gun in and he would take a look at it. So I finally got to talk to the lone salesman. I asked to look at the Lightning. I asked if it worked and he said it did. It had just come in yesterday. He let me try it and both the single action and double action worked fine and it had tight lockup. I told him I would take it. The salesman had me start filling out the electronic Form 4473 but then he realized it is an antique so he didn't think I would have to do a background check, but he would check first, so he disappeared into the back office. He eventually came back with some photocopies of pages from R.L. Wilson's The Book of Colt Firearms (one of the books I had consulted the night before), he checked the serial number (it is hard to read) and he confirmed it was an antique and I could stop filling out the 4473. Then he said someone else would complete the transaction.
So then I waited. And waited. And waited. I saw a young woman who worked there take The Book of Colt Firearms off of the bookshelf, look up the chapter on the Model 1877, then take it in the back room. After about 20 or 30 minutes I saw the salesman again and told him I had to be at work at 10:30, and I could have completed the background check by now. He said since they are an FFL they had to confirm the gun was an antique before they could sell it without a background check.
So I waited and waited and waited some more. Then the young woman came out, asked me for my phone number, and went back into the back office! By now it was 10:15 so I called my office and told them I was going to be late. After waiting another 25 minutes she finally came out and checked me out at 10:39AM. I had some Cabela's points saved up so the final cost was $327.54 out the door.
It was a pain but it was worth it. Serial number is 79911 made in 1890. Barrel is 3.5 inches.
EDIT: I checked the serial number again with bright light and a magnifier. The serial number is 70911 made in 1888.
Last edited by Milsurp_Collector; 08-18-2019 at 05:50 PM.
Good excuse to be late to work. Time well spent.
A great find!
Preparedness + Opportunity = Luck
NRA Benefactor Member
KY & WV State Rifle & Pistol Association Life Member
That's very nice at thrice the price! It must have been displayed, laying on it's side, for decades.
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I would have jumped on that in a second....... for a grand !
what a great story , thought something was gonna screw it up .
To me , that would be a score of a lifetime, Congratulations !
COLT TO THE CORE
Nice find! Just goes to show that the deals are still out there.
The West wasn't won with a registered gun.
Not much more to say except BEAUTIFUL !!
- Terry -
" WVCOLT "
" God created man, but Samuel Colt made them equal "
" I carry because I'm too young to die and too old to run "
First, money well spent, refinished or not.
Having said that, many of the photographs suggest this firearm is not refinished, and even the barrel markings are crisp enough to suggest not, but all your photographs do not show the left side of the barrel to demonstrate that the acid etched panel has not been obliterated by a refinish, or that the later stamped marking is not present. Yours was produced during the time Colt was transitioning from the acid etched panel to the stamped calibre markings. I think yours is late enough such that the acid etched panel should not be present.
Congratulations on your find. Cabela's is usually overpriced, so I wonder how they had this one priced so low. I'm also wondering who would have let this one go for so low as, in order for Cabela's to price it at $349.99, they must have purchased it at no more than $200, I should think.
Outstanding! Thanks for sharing with us.
Fabulous find - I'd definitely letter that little treasure. Great photos!
“It's sad that governments are chiefed by the double tongues. There is iron in your words of death for all Comanche to see, and so there is iron in your words of life. No signed paper can hold the iron. It must come from men. The words of Ten Bears carry the same iron of life and death. It is good that warriors such as we meet in the struggle of life, or death ---- it shall be life.” - Ten Bears - “The Outlaw Josey Wales”