Special Interests - Groups & Societies > Cas City Historical Society

When could a civilian buy the 1873 colt?

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Dave T:
In Graham, Kopec, and Moore's book A Study of the SINGLE ACTION ARMY REVOLVER they report a minimum of 460 SAAs were documented as produced for the civilian trade and possibly as many as 500 the first year.  By the end of 1873 the army had received 3000 SAAs.  One hundred of those first 460 civilian guns were shipped to Colt's London agency, while most of the rest went to civilian firearms distributors in the US.

Civilian production increased in 1874, 1875, and 1876 with some 12,000 revolvers going to just five distributors, four of which were in NYC and the 5th was in Cincinati, OH.


Bryan Austin:
Here is some more information that might help.

The "Army" placed an order for 8,000 M1873 "45 Colts" during 1873.
By 1874, they were well distributed, as well as in Custer's regiment. 
As early as October 1874, prominent gun dealer Benjamin Kittredge & Co of Cincinnati began marketing Colt's new pistol as The Peacemaker for the civilian market.
Another distributor, Henry Folsom & Co acquired and sold off a few of 18 that were displayed during the 1876 Expo. Of those 18 displayed, the following 5 sn#s were on a receipt from Folsom...8,900, 8,925, 8,926, 8,927 and 8,928. These 5 sn#s are a bit higher than 8,000 and were engraved.
William B. "Bat" Masterson purchased a Colt from the Colt Company on July 30, 1885.
Between October, 1879, and October, 1885, he ordered at least eight Single Action Army revolvers directly from the Colt factory. He kept some for his own use while giving the others to friends as gifts. The first of these, marked "W. B. Masterson," sported a 7-1/2-inch barrel. Yet, of the remaining seven, two had 5-1/2-inch barrels while the rest were 4-3/4-inches in length. 
Colt displayed some long-barreled single actions at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, it was not until December 1, 1877, that any left the Hartford assembly plant for actual sale.
Johnny Ringo at some point acquired sn# 222, found next to his body in July 13, 1882.
Billy the Kid somehow ended up with sn# 361.
Virgil Earp somehow acquired sn# 808 by 1881.
Frank Jackson acquired sn# 934.
Jessie James acquired sn# 1,222.
Frank Stilwell is reported owning sn# 1,381.
Charlie Reynolds (killed at little bighorn) had sn# 2,499.
Gen Alfred Terry (Commander Dakota Territory from later 72' to 86') acquired sn# 4,507. sn# 4,995 recovered from the Custer battlefield.
Lt William Reily lost and paid for sn# 5,125, then issued sn# 4,815...killed at LBH.
"Spotting Crow" took possession of sn# 5,128 from LBH.
The back strap of sn# 6,048 was found at LBH during the 1984 archeological survey. Sebastian Outlaw acquired sn# 6,285.
An Ainsworth inspected SAA sn# 10,344 was customized for Sheriff "Fay A. Brown during refurbishing.
By 1882, some 73,729 revolvers reported manufactured. As can be seen from the civilian cartridge box top labels, the civilian market had access to civilian versions of the 45 Colt cartridges as early as 1875 and I must assume maybe even earlier before items were printed in catalogs. Unlike today, catalogs were not printed very often.[/li]

Tascosa Joe:
BA very nice.
I am curious as to how many of the really low SN i.e. 222 etc. guns were .44 Rim Fire.  Most of the RF .44 went to the southwest.  #316 is in the Fort Davis Museum.  It had the barrel shortened from 7 1/2 to 5 1/2 and converted from .44RF to .44WCF.


I've been browsing through the posts over on the Colt forum, and have a couple of additional data points for Willy and some others. 

Colt SAA #8599 was part of a shipment of 50 to Schuyler, Hartley, and Graham in NYC, and shipped July 8, 1874.  This example, at least, was in 45 Colt.  Incidentally, this gun is martially-marked--probably either a reject for some reason, or an overrun--and was purportedly owned by WF Cody.

This means that not only were they available on the market by then (SH&G was a wholesaler, shipping onesy-twosy to retailers across the country), but 45 Colt ammo was on the market as well. 


--- Quote from: Dave T on March 09, 2022, 04:58:17 PM ---In Graham, Kopec, and Moore's book A Study of the SINGLE ACTION ARMY REVOLVER they report a minimum of 460 SAAs were documented as produced for the civilian trade and possibly as many as 500 the first year. 

--- End quote ---

From December 2021, tangential Kopec information on #4087 -

--- Quote ---Based on the obliterated "US" frame marking and grip cartouche and the fact the revolver escaped Artillery Model refurbishment, Kopec concluded that this is a "deserter's revolver." In Kopec's conclusion the missing Colt patent markings on the frame were "simply overlooked by the Colt factory workman whose job it was to stamp these markings."
--- End quote ---


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