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  1. #1
    ColtMatt is offline Junior Member
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    Identification Help

    First of all, I'm a newbie here, so I apologize if this is the wrong forum... this seemed like the closest thing to what I'm looking for, so if I've chosen poorly, I hope that a moderator will move this post to the proper section.

    In any case, when my grandfather died last year, he left this gun to us. It belonged to his father, who worked for the railroad, as a Bull, bouncing hobos and such.

    I don't know anything about it, though... how old it is, whether ammo is still made for it (or whether it would be safe to shoot... I probably wouldn't try), whether its an army model or whether it's a common model, etc.

    There aren't many identifying marks. Let me know if any of you can pass along any bits of information Thanks!







    Obviously, it could use some oil and TLC. It's been sitting in a Montana basement for 50 years, I imagine.

    - Matt

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  3. #2
    bruce333's Avatar
    bruce333 is offline HGF Forum Moderator
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    Looks like a Colt 1878. Other than that I got nothing.

    Collectors Firearms

    Looking at the site above, I wouldn't do anything to the gun until I was able to identify it completely.

    edit: http://www.coltsmfg.com/archive.aspx
    Bruce, Life Member: NRA, NCRPA, GRNC, GOA

    Naval Air Museum Barbers Point

    "I personally think we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain."--Jane Wagner
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  4. #3
    ColtMatt is offline Junior Member
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    Yes, you're right... it does look like an 1878 model. This one has a longer barrel than the ones I've seen in photos. It's a .45, if I didn't mention it.

    Thanks!

    - Matt

  5. #4
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
    Steve M1911A1 is online now Senior Member
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    If it doesn't say "Colt's Patent Firearms" on it somewhere, it could even be a Spanish-made copy of the Colt's 1878 Double-Action Frontier Model. Look very closely, especially on its barrel.
    In any case, it has good collectors' value, particularly because you have direct provenance on the original owner.
    I suggest strongly against shooting it, not only because of its collectors' value, but also because its mechanism was notorious for getting out-of-time and self-destructing. Repair parts will be very hard to find.
    Do not even harbor the thought of "polishing it up" or refinishing it. Doing that will destroy its value.

  6. #5
    ColtMatt is offline Junior Member
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    It may not be very clear in the photo, but it says on the bottom of the barrel :

    "Colt's PT. F. A. MFG Co. Hartford CT USA"

    I took that to mean Colt's Patented Fire Arms Manufacturing. That seem right to you?

    Thanks again... oh, and thanks for the advice about not polishing it up. I've been considering it. What should I do to stop further damage? A little oil?

    - Matt

  7. #6
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
    Steve M1911A1 is online now Senior Member
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    OK, it's a genuine Colt.
    Somewhere nearby it might say something like "Frontier Model," which would indicate that it's .44-40, or ".45," or "US Government Ctg.," or something like that, telling you that it's .45 "Long" Colt.
    It could also be .38-40.
    Keep it covered, inside and out, with a very thin coating of good-quality gun oil. If there are visible rust spots, rub them out with nothing more abrasive than a small chunk of soft balsa wood (from a hobby shop) and a little oil. Every time it gets handled, wipe it down with a slightly oily rag.
    For almost set-and-forget rust proofing, you could spray it with a coat of Boeshield (from Brownells).

  8. #7
    ColtMatt is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks Steve, much appreciated.

    - Matt

  9. #8
    DJ Niner's Avatar
    DJ Niner is offline HGF Forum Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce333 View Post
    Looks like a Colt 1878. Other than that I got nothing.

    Collectors Firearms

    Looking at the site above, I wouldn't do anything to the gun until I was able to identify it completely.

    edit: http://www.coltsmfg.com/archive.aspx
    Nailed it, first try! Good sleuthing, Bruce!

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    OK, it's a genuine Colt.
    Somewhere nearby it might say something like "Frontier Model," which would indicate that it's .44-40, or ".45," or "US Government Ctg.," or something like that, telling you that it's .45 "Long" Colt.
    It could also be .38-40.
    Keep it covered, inside and out, with a very thin coating of good-quality gun oil. If there are visible rust spots, rub them out with nothing more abrasive than a small chunk of soft balsa wood (from a hobby shop) and a little oil. Every time it gets handled, wipe it down with a slightly oily rag.
    For almost set-and-forget rust proofing, you could spray it with a coat of Boeshield (from Brownells).
    Never heard of the balsa wood trick. Filed for future reference; thanks, Steve!
    "Placement is power" -- seen in an article by Stephen A. Camp
    (RIP, Mr. Camp; you will be remembered, and missed)

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