Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3208: Colt Large Frame "Express Model" Lightning Short Rifle

Auction Date: December 5, 2021

First Year Production Three Digit Serialized Colt Large Frame "Express Model" Lightning Slide Action Short Rifle Formerly of the William Ruger Collection

Estimated Price: $4,500 - $8,500

First Year Production Three Digit Serialized Colt Large Frame "Express Model" Lightning Slide Action Short Rifle Formerly of the William Ruger Collection

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Lightning
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 45-85-285
Barrel: 22 inch round
Finish: blue
Grip:
Stock: highly figured walnut
Item Views: 458
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 130
Class: Antique
Description:

The Large Frame Lightnings are the scarcest group of Colt's slide action rifles; only 6,496 of these were manufactured between 1887-1894. This desirable example was manufactured in the first year, 1887, and has a non-standard 22 inch barrel (standard length was 28 inches). The barrel is fitted with after-market sights: a dovetail blade font sight and an elevation screw adjustable notch rear sight partially covering the two-line Hartford address/patent dates legend. The left side of the barrel has the caliber marking, "45-85-285" (essentially an "improved" loading of the .45-70). The purpose of the Express Lightnings was Colt's way to compete with Winchester's Models 1876 and 1886 rifles as well as the various single shot big bore rifles of the day. The slide handle features multi-point checkering. The plain straight grip stock is highly figured walnut and is fitted with a crescent rifle buttplate. Per an included photo copy of a 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) and was originally shipped to firearms inventor Eugene Reising who worked for Colt during part of his long career in the field of firearms. In 1949, William 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:

Very fine as professionally restored, retaining nearly all of the high polish blue finish with a few minor handling marks. The wood is also very fine with minimal minor handing marks and crisp checkering. Mechanically excellent.



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