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Latest Colt Lightning: 50-95 Express
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December 27, 2019 - 4:53 am
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There aren’t many places to discuss cool guns like this, but old lever action aficionados should appreciate this gun.The last gun show had a rare gun that you will never see and I ended up buying it. It is a Colt large frame in 50-95 express. It letters to Bombay India and a special order of only 1 gun and a special order 19 inch barrel. it is the near gun, the rear gun is a 40-60-260 short rifle…

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December 27, 2019 - 3:01 pm
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I know that this isn’t the place to discuss Colt firearms, but I also collect the Colt Lightning guns. Mine are smaller calibers however. I didn’t know that they made the larger caliber ones. I guess Colt made these rifles before they made the deal with Winchester to just make pistols and leave the rifles to Winchester? The butt stock and butt plates look very similar to Winchesters.

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December 27, 2019 - 3:31 pm
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NICE

W.A.C.A. life member, Marlin Collectors Assn. charter and life member, C,S.S.A. member and general gun nut.

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December 27, 2019 - 6:54 pm
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Nice Butt.

I wouldn’t mind adding those to a wall. 

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December 27, 2019 - 9:44 pm
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jampard said
 I guess Colt made these rifles before they made the deal with Winchester to just make pistols and leave the rifles to Winchester?

It was the lever action Colt Burgess not the pump Lightnings.

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December 27, 2019 - 9:57 pm
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I thought I read somewhere the pump was not reliable for some reason.  Is that true?  If so, was the problem worked out, either with Colt or in the new Italian Clones?  I kind of like the look of them, though I’d like a long bbl and octagon.

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December 27, 2019 - 10:57 pm
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Bombay India ? – Perhaps a repeating “Howda Rifle” for Tigers…

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December 27, 2019 - 11:55 pm
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My thoughts also. Probably purchased for Tiger hunting in the days of the British Raj. I always like the looks and feel of the Lightning. I owned a .44-40 example for many years but not nearly as fine condition as these two rifles. Thanks for posting.

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December 28, 2019 - 12:29 am
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Very nice, Kirk! I’ve handled a pistol caliber example but only heard about the large frames. Any idea what the breakdown/distribution is among the frame sizes?

 

Mike

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December 28, 2019 - 2:38 pm
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I have had three of these Colt Lightning models: Coola large frame 45-85-285 cal and medium frame 44-40 cal and .22 baby frame.

These are so much easier to rapid fire then the lever action. Very collectable guns and rare.

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December 28, 2019 - 8:39 pm
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Ok, I’ll jump in on an opportunity to discuss the Lightnings.

Great looking large frames Shrapnel, and I assume fairly scarce in the 50 cal. Gotta love the Colt letters with shipping info ……. always interesting.

Here’s a small frame I recently acquired, made in 1893, with an octagon barrel. Looking forward to shooting it someday. Should be fun with such a short slide cycle.

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December 28, 2019 - 10:54 pm
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Glad to see that rifle went to a good home, Kirk!  It’s been in the collection of Eldon Penner for years.  Eldon is likely the world’s foremost authority on Colt Lightning rifles.  I had the terrific opportunity to spend a week with Eldon and his wife, Toni, last summer and learn about Lightnings at his gunsmith shop in Nevada. 

Hopefully, you’ve heard the story of how he acquired it.  As he told it to me, he found it in a gun store on his way to Sturgis and didn’t have a way to pack it, so he strapped it to the handlebars of his bike.  It must have been quite a sight to see Eldon, who is a huge former world-class power lifter, riding in the Sturgis Rally with that large frame Lightning strapped to the handlebars of his Harley.

My wife is a pretty advanced Colt Lightning collector and we’d kind of agonized over trying to make a deal with Eldon for the rifle since he’d decided to sell it.  Ultimately, she decided to pass since she already had a 50-95 in 90%+ condition.  I’m glad to see you got it, especially since it’s a one-of-one rifle.

BTW,  large frame Colt Lightnings are more scarce than most people believe.  Even though the serial numbers end at approximately 6,500, there is a gap of about 2,000 serial numbers in the factory records and for which no large frames have showed up in the surveys.  The number of large frames produced is likely in the neighborhood of 4,500 units.

Attached is a picture of my wife’s large frames.  The 50-95 Express is on the bottom.  Yes, it does letter with a carbine buttstock and yes, I did marry way over my head.  The fact that I collect Winchesters, while she collects Colts and we don’t compete for guns makes for a happy marriage. Wink

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December 28, 2019 - 11:20 pm
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TXGunNut said
Very nice, Kirk! I’ve handled a pistol caliber example but only heard about the large frames. Any idea what the breakdown/distribution is among the frame sizes?

 

Mike  

According to Ted Tivey’s book, The Colt Rifle 1884-1902, the serial number range for the small frames go up to 89912, the medium frames up to 89777 and the large frames up to 6496.  Like Mark said there are about 2000 missing serial numbers for the large frames.

Mark, she has a nice collection of guns.  I have a plain pistol grip in 44 and a large frame in 45-85.  Wish I had a 50.  Saw one in Vegas last January for about $45,000.  I think it was worth about half of that. 

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December 29, 2019 - 4:29 pm
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Huck Riley said
I thought I read somewhere the pump was not reliable for some reason.  Is that true?  If so, was the problem worked out, either with Colt or in the new Italian Clones?  I kind of like the look of them, though I’d like a long bbl and octagon.  

Got me some of them too…

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December 29, 2019 - 4:41 pm
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Mark Douglas said
Glad to see that rifle went to a good home, Kirk!  It’s been in the collection of Eldon Penner for years.  Eldon is likely the world’s foremost authority on Colt Lightning rifles.  I had the terrific opportunity to spend a week with Eldon and his wife, Toni, last summer and learn about Lightnings at his gunsmith shop in Nevada. 

Hopefully, you’ve heard the story of how he acquired it.  As he told it to me, he found it in a gun store on his way to Sturgis and didn’t have a way to pack it, so he strapped it to the handlebars of his bike.  It must have been quite a sight to see Eldon, who is a huge former world-class power lifter, riding in the Sturgis Rally with that large frame Lightning strapped to the handlebars of his Harley.

My wife is a pretty advanced Colt Lightning collector and we’d kind of agonized over trying to make a deal with Eldon for the rifle since he’d decided to sell it.  Ultimately, she decided to pass since she already had a 50-95 in 90%+ condition.  I’m glad to see you got it, especially since it’s a one-of-one rifle.

BTW,  large frame Colt Lightnings are more scarce than most people believe.  Even though the serial numbers end at approximately 6,500, there is a gap of about 2,000 serial numbers in the factory records and for which no large frames have showed up in the surveys.  The number of large frames produced is likely in the neighborhood of 4,500 units.

Attached is a picture of my wife’s large frames.  The 50-95 Express is on the bottom.  Yes, it does letter with a carbine buttstock and yes, I did marry way over my head.  The fact that I collect Winchesters, while she collects Colts and we don’t compete for guns makes for a happy marriage. Wink

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Wow, what a nice collection. I didn’t talk directly to Eldon, but his wife told me of the trip with the Lightning strapped to the handlebars of the Harley. Eldon had it since 1993 and got it from whoever brought it back from overseas. The guy I got it from had Beverly in the Colt archives research the barrel length and although she didn’t look at every listing, she said it is probably the only 19 inch gun made.

Large frame Lightnings are really the holy grail of Colt rifles, but the 50 is still the holy grail of holy grails. Condition brings another measure of value, then rarity is the frosting. I was pleased to find this gun and even more pleased to be able to get it. I not only got the letter with it, but I got the correspondence between Beverly and Vangie about the issue of the rarity of that barrel length…

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December 29, 2019 - 6:38 pm
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Shrapnel said

Got me some of them too…

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Damn!  The last thing I need right now is someone getting my buy on.  Nice!

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December 29, 2019 - 11:48 pm
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Mark:

At least Erin has good taste when it comes to riflesLaugh

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December 30, 2019 - 12:59 am
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Rick Hill said
Mark:

At least Erin has good taste when it comes to riflesLaugh  

Ha, thanks Rick!  I read your comment to her and I’m thinking she enjoyed it entirely too much.Wink

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December 30, 2019 - 8:04 pm
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Having just now seeng the photos of these stunningly beautiful Colts I suddenly feel like taking my small collection outside, place them up against the wall, and throw rocks at them.

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December 31, 2019 - 12:24 am
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Dave K. said
Having just now seeng the photos of these stunningly beautiful Colts I suddenly feel like taking my small collection outside, place them up against the wall, and throw rocks at them.  

You might be surprised to discover the number of folks that would be envious of your small collection.

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