Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 123: "W.R.A. Co" Colt Medium Frame Lightning Slide Action Rifle

Auction Date: August 26, 2022

Exceptional Documented Texas Shipped "W.R.A. Co" Inscribed Early Colt Medium Frame Lightning Slide Action Rifle from the Winchester Gun Museum with Factory Letter and Book

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $10,000 - $18,000

Exceptional Documented Texas Shipped "W.R.A. Co" Inscribed Early Colt Medium Frame Lightning Slide Action Rifle from the Winchester Gun Museum with Factory Letter and Book

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Lightning
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 32-20
Barrel: 26 inch octagon
Finish: blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 447
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 146
Class: Antique

This incredible rifle is featured in "A Life's Tapestry of a Collector: The Gamble Collection" by George F. Gamble and R.L. Wilson on pages 304-307 where the inscription on barrel is noted as "indicating test use by Winchester Repeating Arms Co." and the provenance is noted as "Winchester Gun Museum, at the Winchester factory site, New Haven, Connecticut." The included factory letter lists the rifle in ".32 CLMR" (.32-20 W.C.F.) with a 26 inch octagon barrel, blue finish, and wood stock and indicates the rifle first shipped to J.B. Mitchell & Co. of Corpus Christi, Texas, on September 17, 1885, in a shipment of ten guns of this type. When Winchester Repeating Arms Co. acquired the gun is not clear, but it must have been shortly after since this rifle remains in exceptionally fine condition and clearly saw very little use. It is interesting that Winchester acquired and kept this rifle. The Colt Lightning line was definitely innovative and potentially a threat to Winchester's hold on the repeating rifle market, so the company would have wanted to study their competitor's work. These rifles came out just a year prior and replaced the short lived Colt Burgess lever actions. This rifle shipped out five years before Winchester released their own slide action repeater: the Browning Bros. designed Winchester Model 1890. Remington and others also released slide action rifles in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Colt's Lightning designs ultimately dropped from production after less than 100,000 of these Medium Frame rifles had been made, and the company focused their attention on handguns and machine guns. Meanwhile, Winchester produced millions of lever action centerfire repeaters and slide action rimfire rifles and continued to dominate the repeating sporting rifle market. The special order 26 inch octagon barrel has a Rocky Mountain blade front sight, the two-line address and Elliott patent marking head of the adjustable sporting rear sight, and "32 CAL-" at the breech. The frame has "W.R.A. Co." in script letters cut through the blue on the upper right, the distinct Rampant Colt trademark on the left, and the serial number and "S" on the lower tang. The rifle is mounted with a multi-point checkered two-piece slide handle and a smooth buttstock with a blued crescent buttplate. Provenance: The George F. Gamble Collection

Rating Definition:

Excellent with 95% plus of the bright original high polish blue finish, 97% vivid original case colors, minor handling wear, some patches of smooth brown patina on the buttplate, and light cycling wear visible on the breech bolt. The wood is also excellent and has nearly all of the original oiled finish, crisp checkering, some minor dings, and very minimal overall wear. Mechanically excellent. This is a stunning Colt Lightning Magazine Rifle from the Winchester Repeating Arms Collection and Winchester Gun Museum!

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