Rare First Year of Production Civilian Colt Pinch Frame Single Action Revolver with Accompanying Nickel-Plated Skeleton Should...
"To whom it may concern: Re: Colt Single Action Army revolver, serial number 122, Caliber .45 COLT, barrel length 7 ½-inches, finish blue and case-hardened, stock varnished walnut, no factory shipping record, research indicates assembly after mid-August 1873.
Serial number 122 is probably the finest known, .45 COLT caliber, private collection pinched frame Single Action that retains its first assembly, factory original condition. There are at least seven known revolvers that were factory converted from .44 S & W American, or .44 Russian chambering, to .45 COLT, or before leaving the factory were fitted with "improved" cylinders and barrels. These seven Single Actions, and any other such guns, are still definitely considered factory original.
Colts' first style production frame for their new "strap pistol"-soon to become the Model 1873, Single Action Army revolver-was designed with the rear sight located in the frame's sight groove just forward of the top strap rear end and hammer slot. It appears as though, while still in a molten state, the top strap was pinched inward to form the sight. Thus the collector terminology, "pinched frame" Single Action. The frame's sight groove was actually machined both front and rear.
Serial number 122 is one of approximately one-hundred pinched frames manufactured by Colt's prior to the Model P, Single Action Army contract of July 23, 1873. All frames were not assembled into completed revolvers before that date. Number 122 probably did not complete assembly until after mid-August 1873. Its serial number stamped on the rear periphery of the cylinder indicates that time period. Earlier pinched frame Single Actions display ser. no. stampings on the cylinder front or rear face.
In addition to the previously noted 122 stamping, this cylinder also displays a "1" rear face and "O" front face, Colts' inspector marks, and its slight cylinder bolt stop approaches are from bolt wear; not factory machined.
The barrel of 122 is a research main attraction. The barrel serial number is visible in front of the cylinder pin head. There are ejector housing screw and stud holes. The address has a "chip" out of the "A" in Hartford, and is a bit "light" along the bottom. It has a German silver front sight. Rifling is narrow land, right-hand twist; not gain twist or left-hand twist.
This early Single Action frame should also be studied by Colt revolver students-the areas above the unnumbered loading gate and its recoil shield, the larger exposed area in front of the triggerguard, a two-line Sept.-July, patent dates stamping, its factory inspector's hammer slot "C" stamp, and of course the "pinched" rear sight.
The triggerguard shows Colts' first style .45 COLT caliber designation stamp on its left rear flat ".45 CAL". Just above the the "45 CAL" marking, notice an elongated hammer screw that enables attachment of a shoulder stock. Factory original, "extended"-the collector's term- hammer screws are very rare.
There are no known Colt factory sales or shipping records that refer to their cast brass, nickel-plated shoulder stocks. However, letters from Colts' London Agency ordering these stocks, confirm such sales did occur in 1875 and 1876. One letter refers to a January 1875 shipped stock. This strongly suggests that Colt had designed and produced their skeletonized Single Action stocks during 1874.
It is not known when number 122 was first fitted with its brass stock. But the frame's wear and condition indicate that, if not originally, it was many, many years ago.
Research reveals the survival rate of pinched frame SAs is more than twenty percent. This is higher than normal for limited production firearms of that period. The fact that there were model test sample, and presentation guns probably explains this higher survival rate.
It is a sad fact that many existing pinched frame SAs were severely abused during their years of service. Also, some were non-professionally reworked, and others just plain butchered.
Fortunately, Colt collectors are still able to appreciate the survival of several excellent conditioned pinch frame revolvers, of which, serial number 122 is probably the finest, factory unaltered, production pinched frame Single Action Colt in private hands."
Sincerely, Ron Graham
Service and Handling Description: Miscellaneous Collectibles, Large (view shipping information)