Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! Here we have a disappointment in the history of Colt rifles. This is the Colt Lightning (not to be confused with the 1877 revolver). The Colt Lightning rifle was the first pump-action rifle offered by Colt, produced from 1884 to 1904. Offered in three frame sizes, the Colt Lightning rifle was made in many calibers from .22 rimfire up to heavy .50-95 Express. With its tube magazine and sliding fore-end, the Colt Lightning rifle resembled other early pump-action designs by Winchester and Remington. But it never achieved the popularity of the lever-action rifles used by most hunters back then. Around 90,000 of the medium frame Colt Lightning rifles were made, largely in .44-40 caliber as a companion gun for Colt’s Single Action Army revolver. Though overshadowed by lever-actions, the Colt Lightning rifle represented Colt’s first foray into slide-action rifles and filled an interesting niche in the sporting and police markets.
“This is an example of a scarce variation of the Colt Lightning Magazine Rifle manufactured for the San Francisco Police Department. Only 401 of these medium frame Lightning rifles were sold to the Police Department in 1898. These rifles are in their own serial number range and are marked “S.F.P. 1” through “S.F.P. 401″ on the lower tang. Other than this special serial number, it has standard markings and features.”
Lot 1099: San Francisco Police Marked Colt Lightning Slide Action Rifle – Scarce San Francisco Police Marked Colt Lightning Slide Action Rifle. (n.d.-b). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved August 21, 2023, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/77/1099/san-francisco-police-marked-colt-lightning-slide-action-rifle.