This is a scarce example of a 1st Issue US Army Model 1892 Colt. Serial number is in the 5,100 range which dates it to 1892; first year production. Still has the original "1892" model designation on the butt. Standard 6" barrel in .38 Colt with Army issue wood grips. More than 98% of these early US Model 1892's were refurbished, upgraded, and re-stamped during the 1890's and past the Spanish-American War. This one isn't quite perfect but we look for 1892's religiously and to date, this is the purest example of an original Model 1892 in several years of searching.
The Colt Model 1892 vs. 1894 (Disclaimer: As we understand it). It seems as though the early Colt Double Action revolvers were somewhat of a "work in progress". Hardly a year went by during the 1890's where they didn't come up with some type of improvement usually resulting in a new model designation. Hence, the long list of model names like the 1892, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1901, and 1903. The Model 1892 was the first revolver with a swing-out cylinder adopted by the US Army. The Army initially purchased 8,000 Model 1892 Colt revolvers in the years 1892 and 1893 that were divided into two contracts. Mechanically, the '92 was quite an improvement over the old single action design. However, it wasn't long before a problem soon arose. During use, it was found that the action of the gun would still work with the cylinder either swung out to reload or only partially closed. To correct this problem, Colt devised a small mechanism placed in the action located beneath the cylinder latch. In fact, from the outside of the gun, you can see the screw that holds it in place just under the cylinder release button on the left side of the frame. This little device blocked the hammer when the cylinder was not locked into frame. The new guns being sold to the Army and civilian market with this device were called the Model 1894. The original 1892's which by then were in service and scattered across the entire country including outposts in the West, had to be recalled for this modification. In time, these were returned for the hammer block mechanism with the work performed either by Colt or Springfield. Its believed that all 8,000 minus possibly 100 of the original Model 1892 were upgraded with the hammer blocks by the mid-1890's. From there, more upgrades became available resulting in many more 1892's being fitted with improvements. Externally, many had the Model 1901 era lanyard rings installed and had their metal surfaces refinished. Many will also have either/or mismatched barrel numbers w/ later 1895 patent dates, reworked cylinder with double inspector proofs, and mismatched cylinder latches. Today, it's nearly impossible to find a surviving model 1892 military Colt still in its original state nor is it easy to find a Colt with its original Model 1892 designation between the grips.
This one is about as close as you'll find to an "as issued" Model 1892. The only modification this Model 1892 has seen was having the 1894 era safety block installed. That's it! It does not appear to have been rebuilt, refinished, and no lanyard ring was ever added. I'm still amazed that the original Model 1892 designation was kept along the bottom strap. Most 1892's and 1894's had their model designation ground off with newer model numbers applied when upgraded...a great many being marked "Model 1901". Ronaldo A. Carr (RAC) inspector's initials are on the back of the frame, rear of cylinder (one time, which is correct), and bottom of barrel. In terms of serial numbers, it still has its original matching numbers on the barrel, frame, swing-out arm, cylinder, latch, and sideplate. This one is matching except for the right side wood grip which is original military issue but has what appears to be a different serial number inked on the inner panel. Grips are solid and match the gun perfectly in terms of fit and condition. No cartouches are visible.
Overall condition is NRA Antique Good+ to Very Good. Metal has mostly aged to a brown patina with traces of original blue in protected areas. Nice markings throughout including the early style 1884 and 1888 patent dates on the barrel. Metal is smooth with nice edges except for a small patch of light corrosion on right side of barrel...probably from storage in a holster that got wet. Decent screws throughout. Action is in good working order. Bore is decent but I just noticed a slight bulge near the muzzle...so fair overall. Grips are solid and in good condition showing plenty of use but no cracks or repairs. Very good wood-to-metal fit. Has a rack number "30" on the bottom of one panel. While this Colt has seen plenty of use, it does display well and shows lots of character. This is probably the purest example of a military Model 1892 as you'll see on the market. More importantly, it won't set you back several thousand dollars. A scarce and historic Colt revolver.