This is nice example of Colt's first large frame Double Action Revolver. It's in caliber .45 COLT with 4-3/4" barrel, blued finish, and checkered hard rubber grips. Rampant Colt logo is found on the lower left side of the frame and on both grip panels. Nice two-line Colt barrel address. Left side clearly marked "45 COLT". Antique pre-1898 serial number is in the 34,000 range making it one of the 1,600 Model 1878's produced in the year 1894. On an interesting side note, this gun is almost identical to our item #1330, another blued Colt 1878 DA Revolver that was also made in 1894. They are just 65 serial numbers apart from one another with the only difference being the calibers. See link:
Being of 1870's-era design, the 1878 is not very advanced in comparison to the modern day Double Action Revolver. It had no cylinder stops and relied on a small cam inside the loading gate to stop and hold the cylinder in place. Watching 1870's era mechanics in motion is on par with a gizmo in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory! When you cycle the action...the gate will cam open and shut against the cylinder star. The thought of a loading gate being used to align a cylinder with the barrel was not Colt's finest moment in terms of mechanical innovation but it got the job done. Just don't open the loading or the cylinder will get confused and not know where to stop! Nonetheless, the 1878 was a sturdy revolver, it was fairly durable, and it packed a punch. Just like the Single Action Army, it could be ordered in just about any caliber; from the 32-20 all the way up to .45 Colt. It could even be ordered in the massive British .476 Eley...which I believe is the largest caliber ever offered in a Colt handgun over the company's 175 year history. The 1878 saw plenty of use on the American frontier and around the world for that matter as it was especially popular with the British and their colonies.
The 1878 also has a colorful military history. True, aside from private purchases by officers, it was never the ideal choice for any military but this gun had a knack for being a large caliber handgun, readily available at the right place and time during military emergencies. In 1885, a large order of these revolvers were sent to Canada to help quell the Riel Rebellion in the Northwest Territory. Some fifteen years later around 1900, some of these same 1878's went with Canadian cavalry regiments to South Africa where they participated in the Boer War. Around this same time, the US Army found itself in quite a jam over in the Philippines which it had pried away from Spain during the Span-Am War in 1898. No longer content with American rule, fierce Moro tribesmen staged uprisings against American occupation forces. In shock, the US Army found their bolt action Krag rifles and new Colt .38 Double Action Revolvers were not effective against the Moros. They quickly turned back to the older .45 Colt Single Action Revolvers AND supplemented these with brand new 1878's also in .45 Colt, dubbed the Model 1902. Problem solved but the Army was forced to rethink its adoption of the .38 Colt which lead to the adoption of the Model 1911 in .45 ACP.
Condition: NRA Antique FINE+ to Excellent. 100% Original throughout. Excellent markings and edges throughout. 80% original blue on frame. 80% on barrel. 70% on ejector rod. 10% blue on cylinder...mostly in the flutes. 25% blue on grip straps. Hammer shows 40% fire blue on the rear face while the side profiles retain 70% of their original polish...beginning to subside to gray. Trigger shows 70% of its bright original fire blue. Screws and pins are Fine to Excellent overall with 60% overall original fire blue. Checkered hard rubber grips are Excellent with perfect fit to the metal...sharp checkering and perfect Rampant Colt logo. No chips, cracks, or repairs, a desirable antique pre-1898 serial number. Mechanics are Excellent and cycle properly in both single and double action modes. It even has an Excellent bore! There aren't many large frame Colt Revolvers in .45 Colt out there with antique serial numbers that can be found on the market today in Excellent Condition range for under $5,000. These 1878's are a fantastic deal if you're in the market for a historical Colt as an investment.