ONE-OF-THE-LAST Colt SAA ARTILLERY Alteration LETTERS to MANILA PHILIPPINES
Sent to COMMANDING OFFICER During WAR in 1901!
Here we present an antique Colt Single Action Army Revolver “Artillery” Alteration in .45 Colt. This one comes with the Colt Archive Letter stating that this one was shipped from US Ordnance to the Commanding Officer in Manila, Philippines on 6 November 1901, during the Philippine-American War, along with 49 others.
This is what has come to be known as an “Artillery” model (Re-modeled was the official Colt terminology). When these were first adopted in 1873 they came with a 7-1/2 inch long barrel. The total number of these acquired by the US government was 37,060 over the course of 23 orders from 1873-1890. These have come to be known as “Cavalry” models and they are most associated with the Indian Wars. One of the most prominent scholars of the Colt SAA is John Kopec and his partners Ron Graham and C. Kenneth Moore, and much of our information comes from his incredible work A Study of the Colt Single Action Army Revolver. In 1874, just after the adoption of the SAA, there were experiments regarding barrel length and efficacy, especially with regards to penetration. These experiments demonstrated that there was not much difference between a 5-1/2, 6-1/2, or 7-1/2 inch barrel, though it would take about 21 years for any change in standard barrel length to occur. These changes were implemented as the US Ordnance Department recalled revolvers from the field to be serviced and reconditioned for further service. From 1895 until 1903, only 16,097 revolvers had their barrels shortened in the manner you see on this example. But that is not the end of the story with this revolver.
You will notice that the only visible serial number resides on the trigger guard and there are small inspection markings and “R.A.C.” initials throughout. You may also have noticed that there is no “US” marking on the left side of the casehardened frame. This revolver represents a very rare variant of the “Artillery” that was refurbished using unnumbered Colt factory replacement parts. In fact, the trigger guard is the only serialized part on the gun! In other words, this revolver was almost entirely rebuilt out of new-old stock to be sent back out in the field, this time to the Philippines to combat Filipino guerillas rather than the Western Frontier to combat the Native American guerillas. Graham, Kopec & Moore state that only 171 unnumbered replacement frames were acquired by Springfield Armory (which did the vast majority of these refurbishments and alterations) and he and his team have only come across 19 revolvers with replacement frames, making this one very rare indeed. None of these were marked “US” and none bear any inspector’s markings either.
Records also show that only 147 replacement barrels, 208 cylinders, and 443 backstraps were ever acquired for the refurbishment process.
The one serial number on this revolver dates very early to 1875, the climax of the Indian Wars. As you see in the photos, there is an inspection letter “J” just below the serial number on the trigger guard. The initials of Inspector Rinaldo A. Carr may be observed on the bottom of the barrel (unnumbered), the bottom of the grip (no cartouche), and the back of the cylinder (unnumbered). There is a single letter inspection mark “K” on the otherwise unmarked loading gate. The three line patent address is located on the left side of the frame but no “US” was ever marked.
The overall condition is fine. Lots of factory blue finish. Case colors are visible on the frame. Markings are clear. The bore is in very good shape with strong rifling. The action is excellent, strong and crisp. This Colt represents the end of an era. It was one of the first in one sense yet one of the last in another. Soon the US military would move to update their arsenals, first with double action revolvers, before adopting semi-autos en masse. This revolver, in its various iterations, saw decades of American history come to pass.
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 5-1/2 inches.
Caliber: .45 Colt
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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