Model: This is an early Colt Model 1894 Double Action New Army Revolver that was made in 1897 in the 70,000 serial range. Standard six inch barrel in caliber .38 Colt.
Finish: This one still shows most of its factory nickel plated finish with nitre blued screws, trigger, and hammer. It's in quite nice shape for its age, especially considering its period of use.
Grips: This one has the desirable "1892" marked New Army checkered hard rubber grips with the Rampant Colt logo at the top of each panel. Early New Army grips came in three different patterns and were probably made up in quantity before improvements caused a new designation. The first type is marked "1892" with the rampant Colt. Then, Colt improved the Model 1892 with the hammer block safety device so Colt replaced the "1892" with the year "1894". With all of the early improvements in the design, the designations on the grips couldn't keep up with the model changes so it appears Colt finally wised up and introduced a 3rd pattern in case any more changes occured. The 3rd pattern New Army grips have just the Rampant Colt and no date. This last, more plain pattern would go on to be used through the civilian production into the early 20th century. According to Best's book, these three style of grips were installed at random on New Armies in the 70,000 to 80,000 serial range...the 1892 and 1894 dated panels to be used up until the supply was exhausted. Of course, being rather scarce, these early dated grips are a welcome find to most collectors. So there were three types of grips on the New Army...but we didn't cover the Model 1895 yet. Yes, to make matters more confusing, the US Navy was also purchasing these Double Actions with hard rubber grips, so the Model 1895 "New Navy" (which is basically identical to the 1894 except for the grips) had its own style of grips with simply the word "COLT" in large letters filling up the entire top round of the grip panel. The 1895 New Navy was sold both to the Navy and the civilian market so there is a fourth type of grip that comes with its own model and year designation. You can get a letter on these from Colt Archives for about $100 which will confirm the New Army or the New Navy designation, when it was made, and where it was shipped.
Markings: The barrel has the correct 1884, 1888, and 1895 patent dates on the barrel. The sub-assembly numbers "112" are 100% all matching and can be found on the inside of the frame, side plate, crane (swing-out arm), cylinder latch, side plate, and hand scribed on the inside of both grips. The cylinder and barrel are original to the gun but have no numbers which is correct for a Model 1895 at this point in production as I believe the last Colt DA's to have numbered barrels and cylinders were part of the US Army contract in the 60,000 range. Currently, I have another civilian New Army DA in the 90,000 range that also has the un-numbered barrel and cylinder, as well as a late US Army contract in the 100,000 range that is the same. Just to be certain, I consulted Best's book on these DA's and confirmed that this is correct in this serial range as well. The left side of the frame above the grip has a rampant Colt in a circle. The serial number is located on the base of the grip frame. Left side of barrel is stamped "COLT D.A. 38".
Condition: Overall, this Colt grades just into the NRA Antique Excellent Range with 85% original nickel that has a few areas of flaking, namely on the right side plate, a small area on top of the barrel, and a few spots on the cylinder. Fortunately, the exposed steel in these flaked areas are still fairly bright with no patina...so they don't distract giving the perception that the gun is over 90% original nickel until closer inspection. Again, the nickel is quite good for being 120 years old. There is also quite a bit of original nitre blue remaining on the screws, trigger, and the back face of the hammer which gives a nice contrast to the nickel. Grips are Excellent overall with sharp checkering and no chips or missing pieces. The action appears to be in Very Good shape and cycles in both single and double action modes. Bore is Very Good. All in all, a nice example of an early civilian antique Double Action Colt.