This is a very good example of a very early Colt Model 1877 Double Action Revolver with a number of desirable features which were only found on the earlier models. Storekeeper Model with Ejectorless 3-1/2" Barrel in Caliber .38 Colt. Standard six shot cylinder and birdshead shaped grips. This one has a low three digit serial number in the 200 range making it first year production if not first month production. In 35 years of collecting, I believe this is the 5th lowest serial number I've had on a Colt in any model. It has the early style solid one piece checkered Rosewood Grips, Small German Silver Front Sight instead of steel, and of course the the fragile acid-etched panel on the left side of the barrel which has survived in great shape. By the late 1880's all three of these features had been replaced with less expensive components. The beautiful one piece rosewood grips gave way to molded gutta purcha checkered plastic, the front sight became steel, and the etched panel was retired in favor of a simple roll die stamp for the caliber. The one thing I can say about Colt from experience in being lucky enough to acquire and handle some of these low-number models is that when they introduced something new to the market, especially one like the Model 1877 which was the company's very first double action design, Colt must have had their very best people hovering over production. The 1870's definition of quality would probably be called "neurotic" in today's world of machine-made plastic, but it was a way of life in the 19th century. Back then, quality seemed to hold its own over the threat of profit and volume. That said, opinions were to be made on these first representatives of a new design and Colt always seemed to pull out all the stops insuring they made a good impression. The dies and machinery was fresh and precise and the action on this Colt, in spite of it being primitive and a little clunky with a 140+ years added still feels fairly smooth, almost glass-like when you cock the hammer back. Both single and double action modes still work.
Overall Condition grades to NRA Very Good Plus with 25% original barrel blue mostly towards the protected areas with a nice two line Colt Barrel Address and etched panel on left side. The bottom of the barrel is numbered to the frame as well. The cylinder is also numbered to the frame and it still shows 45% original blue mostly in the long flutes with the outer circumference turned to a pleasing untouched grey brown patina. The frame has 5% case colors in the protected areas with the balance worn to grey. Left side of frame has a sharp but tiny three line set of patents dates 1871, 1874, and 1875. Trigger guard shows 10% original blue while the backstrap has a strong 50% original blue mainly at the top around the frame junction and the bottom of the grip. Both trigger guard and backstrap have matching numbers to the frame. In fact, I should have already said it but this gun has all matching numbers. The hammer still shows a fair bit of its bright original finish on the side profiles and 60% bright fire blue on the rear profile. Very Good screws throughout with the bottom gripstrap screw appearing to be a correct replacement. The bore is Fine with strong lands and grooves. Nice action in both single and double action modes. The one piece checkered rosewood grips are in Very Good Plus Condition with nearly flawless sharp deep checkering...showing just a bit of profile wear at the smooth flared base of the left and right sides. No chips, no cracks, and no repairs. The wood to metal fit is perfect. Original German Silver front sight is intact and unaltered. Knurling on the cylinder pin is 90% sharp with a few of the diamonds pressed down slightly at some point in the past. This is a nice find and one of the earliest Colt Lightnings you will find in decent condition as most saw hard use.