Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1152: Factory Engraved Colt Sheriff's Model SAA Revolver

Auction Date: May 14, 2022

Incredibly Scarce, Documented and Highly Desirable Factory Engraved Colt Black Powder Frontier Six Shooter Sheriff's Model Single Action Army Revolver with Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $9,500 - $16,000

Incredibly Scarce, Documented and Highly Desirable Factory Engraved Colt Black Powder Frontier Six Shooter Sheriff's Model Single Action Army Revolver with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Single Action Army
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 44 WCF
Barrel: 4 inch round
Finish: nickel
Grip: pearl
Item Views: 929
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 132
Class: Antique

The Colt Single Action Army Revolver is arguably the most iconic handgun of Americana. In the hands of ranchers, cavalrymen, Native Americans, lawmen and outlaws, the Peacemaker’s legacy was forged out in the hostile American West. Its association with the Wild West has made it one of the most collectable American handguns. The limited factory engraved guns and other rare variations are especially sought after. This ejectorless Sheriff’s Model of the legendary Peacemaker certainly meets the criteria for a highly prized SAA. As a factory engraved example, this Peacemaker is one of only around 4,500 or .012% of the total First Generation Colt SAA revolvers manufactured with engraving. As an ejectorless black powder Sheriff’s Model this revolver is one of the rarest and most sought after variations of the legendary Peacemaker. It has been estimated that only around 1,000 of these “ejectorless” revolvers were manufactured by Colt with the majority having left the factory before 1900. Based on Keith Cochran’s estimates presented in “Colt Peacemaker Encyclopedia, Volume 1,” only 494 out of a grand total of 1,000 “ejectorless” SAAs were manufactured with a 4 inch barrel and only 180 out of the total Sheriff’s Model production run were chambered in .44 WCF (page 370). Without a doubt the factory engraving, 4 inch barrel in .44 WCF and ejectorless configuration make for an incredibly scarce, possibly one-of-a-kind, Peacemaker. Perhaps nowhere else is this fact so clearly illustrated than in the chart presented in Wilkerson and Hoyt’s “The Official Record of the Colt Single Action Army Revolver, 1873-1895” on page 339. Per the authors only five .44 WCF ejectorless SAAs in the serial number range 1-164100 were reported in the Colt archives records as being factory engraved and out of that five only one was nickel plated and with a 4 inch barrel. This Peacemaker has the added bonus of being documented in the Colt factory records as well as in R.L. Wilson’s seminal work “The Book of Colt Firearms” on page 252. The factory letter lists the 4 inch barrel in .44-40 caliber, nickel plating, and factory engraving, while the grip material is not listed. The factory letter also states the revolver was shipped to G.L. Wild & Brothers of Washington, DC on March 31, 1883, leaving us to speculate if this revolver was destined for a high profile federal official. This was a single gun shipment. As stated, the revolver is pictured and identified in Wilson’s “The Book of Colt Firearms.” In the photo caption Wilson calls out the embellishment as “a standard engraving pattern.” The profuse engraving consists mostly of floral scrollwork on a punch dot background along with dot and zig-zag line bands and borders and fan patterns on the recoil shield, loading gate and back strap shoulder. The embellishment displays the characteristics of patterns associated with Colt Master Engraver Cuno Helfricht and his shop. As seen in the photo published in Wilson's book the pearl grips on this revolver have been on this gun for many decades. The barrel has the two-line Hartford address stamped on top and larter style “COLT FRONTIER SIX SHOOTER” incorrectly stamped inside an oval panel surrounded by the engraving on the left side. The left side of the frame is stamped with the three-line patent dates marking. “44 CF” is stamped on the left side of the trigger guard. The matching full serial number appears on the frame, trigger guard and back strap.

Rating Definition:

Fine as professionally restored, totally re-engraved, retaining 98% plus of the reapplied nickel plating with crisp engraving. The replacement grips are very fine with a couple slight chips towards the bottom. Mechanically fine. A scarce, attractive factory engraved Colt Sheriff's Model Revolver that will bring added dimension to any SAA collection. This is perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire a true rarity in Colt collecting!

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