This is another nice Colt Model 1889 Double Action Revolver with 6" barrel in caliber 38 Colt. We look high and low for this rather elusive model but they rarely turn up possessing this level of condition. This one looks great but before we go any further, let's get something important out on the table. While this gun was still relatively new, it was sent back to Colt for refinishing. Have no idea why...could have gotten wet in a holster, scratched in the dealer's shop, or just lightly used.
That said, I realize the word "refinish" is a major faux-pas/taboo to collectors but bear the following in mind: 1. It's half-price to soothe your pain. 2. It's a quality 19th or early 20th century refinish 100 years ago...not a 1930's job that lacks the proper polish and color tones. This gun looks exactly like it's supposed to with high polish blue, fire blued accents...even the sides of the hammer are polished with fire blue on the back. To sum it up, it looks just like a $2500 collector grade Model 1889. 3. Since this was done by Colt and not by modern gunsmiths who seem addicted to literally cutting corners with a buffing wheel to save time and max profits, the edges and lines are good and sharp. This gun was done right which is why it's much harder to tell it's a refinish. 4. It's had 100+ years to look old again so it's basically like finding out that your 120 y.o. great-grandfather had to repeat 1st grade back in 1896. The finish is just a few years...maybe less...to the gun's date of manufacture. In fact, we believe this gun would fool quite a number of collectors and dealers...it's that good! It's already gotten completely past a friend of mine who knows Colts very well. The only thing that is noticeable is that the markings are weaker in a few places...and a couple of assembly numbers are non-matching.
The 1889 was essentially the grandfather to the modern Colt Double Action revolver and was their first with a "swing-out" cylinder. Note the cleaner lines which is mainly due to the outside of the cylinder having longer flutes and the absence of any visible stop notches. Colt built just 31,000 of these from 1889 to 1894 with the first 5,000 units going to the US Navy. Following its introduction, Colt quickly improved the 1889 by adding dual sets of stop notches on the cylinders in addition to various other internal improvements. As a result of these improvements, nearly all of the 5,000 USN's were upgraded to the New Navy configuration with cylinder stops added. At Colt, the 1889 was soon phased out of production and these new improved models went on to become known as the Colt New Army or Navy Revolver with various year designations defining the improvements, e.g. 1892, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1901, 1903.
Serial number on this 1889 is in the 21,000 range and was built in the year 1892. It has matching numbers on the frame, cylinder, barrel, swing-out arm, but cylinder and grips are different numbers. A neat variation and one you'll find only on late 1889's. Barrel has the 1884 and 1888 patent dates. Left side is marked "COLT D.A. 38". Checkered hard rubber grips have the proper plain "COLT" logo which is correct on the 1889 Models.
Overall condition grades to NRA Antique Excellent Plus with 95% overall shiny 2nd Blue with some small scratches from improper storage. Cylinder has a bit more wear and finish loss...but still nice at 90%. Even the grip straps are still bright blue with very little wear. The screws, trigger, and hammer retain most of all their correct Colt fire-blued finish. Hard rubber grips are the lighter Colt Brown color and are flawless with nice early 1889 type "COLT" logos. Checkering is perfect. Mechanics are excellent. Bore is very good. A great looking Colt 1889 for a reasonable price.