Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3206: Colt Deluxe Model 1855 Half Stock Sporting Revolving Rifle

Auction Date: December 5, 2021

Exceptional, Incredibly Scarce, Documented Colt Deluxe Model 1855 Half Stock Sporting .36 Caliber Percussion Revolving Rifle Formerly of the William Ruger Collection

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $25,000 - $40,000

Exceptional, Incredibly Scarce, Documented Colt Deluxe Model 1855 Half Stock Sporting .36 Caliber Percussion Revolving Rifle Formerly of the William Ruger Collection

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Revolving Rifle
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 36
Barrel: 27 inch part octagon
Finish: blue
Stock: highly figured checkered
Item Views: 944
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 125
Class: Antique

Revolving rifles, like revolving handguns, were designed as a remedy to the slow rate of fire and relatively long reload times of muzzle loading firearms. Unlike revolving handguns like Colt's percussion revolvers and the pepperbox pistols by various markers, revolving rifles had serious issues including the fact that placing a hand ahead of the cylinder was extremely dangerous especially given chain fires, multiple cylinders igniting, were all too common on Colt's early firearms. Given these limitations and the expense of these weapons, only 18,300 total revolving rifles were manufactured by Colt between 1855 and 1864 while hundreds of thousands of single-shot rifles and shotguns continued to dominate the military and commercial markets. Out of the 400 full and half stock Model 1855 Sporting Rifles in .36 caliber Colt manufactured, this is one of only 150 with a 27 inch barrel (see R.L. Wilson's "The Book of Colt Firearms," page 182). The barrel is fitted with a German silver blade front sight and a replacement elevation screw adjustable notch rear sight. The top strap is marked "COLT'S PT./1856" and "ADDRESS COL. COLT/HARTFORD CT. U.S.A." The 1850 patent date is stamped on one of the cylinder flutes. The serial number is stamped on the underside of the frame. A brass tipped wooden ramrod is housed under the barrel. The half stock forend is fitted with a German silver end cap. There is a faint and old inscription on the right side of the forend cap. The nicely figured select walnut straight grip stock features multi-point checkering and a crescent buttplate which is numbered to the gun. These Model 1855 rifles saw hard use, and when these scarce Colt longarms are encountered, they are generally found in rough condition. That is not the case here as this high condition example is befitting of the most advanced private or public collections. Certainly one of Colt's finest revolving rifles we have cataloged. Per an included letter from noted firearms historian R.L. Wilson, this rifle was formerly of the famed collection of American firearms designer and entrepreneur William Ruger (1916-2002), is pictured on pages 4 (item 6) and 65 in Wilson's "Ruger & His Guns," and was exhibited in the William B. Ruger Gallery at the National Firearms Museum, May 1-December 31, 2000. In 1949, Ruger partnered with Alexander McCormick Sturm to establish Sturm, Ruger & Co. and had a hand in designing nearly all of his company's firearms, from the semi-automatics to the single actions, up until his death in 2002. Sturm, Ruger & Co. continues on with their co-founder's legacy by offering one of the world's widest varieties of firearms produced by any single manufacturer. As one observer put it, "There is a Ruger gun for virtually every sporting, personal-defense, military and police purpose. This unprecedented, unequaled and unsurpassed line is manufactured entirely in Ruger factories in America." Provenance: The William Ruger Collection; The Milan J. Turk Collection

Rating Definition:

Excellent. The barrel retains 85% plus original blue finish. The frame and cylinder retain 90% original high polished blue finish. The trigger guard retains half of the original blue finish and the buttplate retains traces of original blue finish with a smooth brown patina on the balance. 60% original case colors remain on the hammer and loading lever. The wood is also excellent with a slight, barely noticeable chip at the toe, some minor dings and scratches and crisp checkering overall. Mechanically excellent. This exceptional and rarely encountered Colt Deluxe Model 1855 Half Stock Sporting Percussion Rifle would be difficult to improve upon. This is certainly one of the finest examples of the Colt Model 1855 Revolving Rifle extant. A must have for the serious Colt collector.

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