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Aquired what I believe to be a Colt Thunderer .41 Cal Double Action Revolver today and be a complete novice in these type of revolvers I was wondering if I could get some help on a few questions I have about it. First it has the markings of "COLT'S PT FA MFG CO" "HARTFORD CT USA" in two seperate lines on the top of the barrel, the markings "PAT SEPT 18, 1871" "PAT SEPT 15 1874" "PAT JAN 19 1876" in three seperate lines on the left side of the frame below the cylinder, the markings "COLT DA 41" on the left side of the barrel, the markings "41 CAL" on the left rear side of the trigger guard, the matching serial number "23XXX" on the bottom side of the frame, in front of the trigger guard, on the front of the trigger guard frame and the bottom front of the butt and the number "401" on the inside of the loading gate. The mechanics works fine on this revolver both in single and double action locking up tight. Bore and cylinders are good with good rifling. Finish is thin that has turned to a good honest aged patina color. Has early checkered rosewood grips and german silver halfmoon front site?

My first question would be what would this revolver actually be called? Second when was it manufactured? Third what would it be worth in its current condition? Fourth would it be worth while to get this lettered from colt? Fifth are there any other areas that should have the matching serial number on it? And of course please feel free to add anything else that may be of importance to this revolver. I have added a few photos for viewing to help in these questions and thanks in advance with any and all help on this item! Winchester66
 

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You have a nice old Thunderer made in 1880. Called the Colt 1877. I'd say the value is between $550-$850 (I may be lowballing it a bit). It's nice that it is mechanically sound as these are often broken and not easy to repair. The one piece grips aren't as common on these and are my favorite type for these revolvers. Usually you see them with two peice hard rubber grips. the serial numbers should match on the frame and the gripframe and triggerguard area. The loading gate number will be an assembly number and won't match the serial number. Also I believe the assembly number on the loading gate should also be penciled under the grips somewhere.
Nice gun. I'm not sure if the german silver front sight is correct.
There are different opinions here on whether getting a Colt letter is worth it or not. I love the Colt archive letters and have lettered several of my Colt's. Even if it just went to some big distributor somewhere it's still interesting to see where it started life. And you never know, you may get lucky and it letters to one individual who you can research. I love the litte rush of adrenaline I get as I'm opening an archive letter for the first time :) So I say get the letter. You can get the order form here:

http://www.coltsmfg.com/CustomerServices/ArchiveServices.aspx

Also, if you want the images to show up in this thread copy the area in photobucket where it says
 

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Twaits is right on.. Thunderer, Sheriff or Storekeepers Model because of the short 3 1/2 inch barrel...Nice find...Jim
 

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The assembly number on the loading gate should match the assembly number on the bottom of the frame, only visible when the triggerguard is off. The loading gate and frame were fit together as one unit, thus the need to get them back together after the finishing process. The assembly number was necessary to achieve this. I have only lettered 2 Colts, one was an 1877 Model w/o ejector, like yours but in 38 caliber. Hoping to hit the jackpot but unfortunately it went to a big distributor. You never know until you letter it though..... If you do, please let us know the results.
I wouldn't cycle it too much unless shooting it or cleaning it. The last one I sold worked PERFECTLY (and I did shoot it a bit). Took it to a gun show and everybody and their brother wanted to cycle it before they decided to make an offer or not. In reality, they had no intention of buying it. Of course.....a spring broke and the next guy really did want it and i had to drop the price quite a bit since now it didnt cycle at all.
I have seen german silver sights on these before. Dont know if that would be mentioned on a letter or not. Twaits value range is correct at least at what I see here in Ohio. Actually see them priced higher but they dont sell at those higher prices. Generally if they dont work and look like a typical 1877, 400 is the ball park. If they work 500 is the usual start price with condition leading to higher prices. When you hit 1000 there better be a fair amount of original finish and no major grip dings/dents or damage. Your one piece grips are definitely more desirable. You asked what would this gun actually be called. Colt called it the double action revolver. A distributer put the names Thunderer on the 41 and lightning on the 38 caliber model. Ejectorless models collectors usually call sheriffs model (if bbls is 3 1/2" or under) or storkeepers model if over 3 1/2" but this isnt universal.
 

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A colt factory might be interesting....it could have been shipped to England or other British possessions. The English were keen on those 1 piece rosewood grips and I've seen several of these rosewood gripped guns with that german silver front sight so I going to say it's right as rain.
 
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