The Colt 1877 DA Rainmaker
By Russell Withem
Designed in 1876 by William Mason, production of this model started early in January of 1877. The first production model was the Lightning, in the .38 Long Colt caliber. Later that year, Colt came out with the .41 Long Colt caliber called the Thunderer. The .32 Long Colt caliber, called the Rainmaker, did not go into production until sometime in 1887. Benjamin Kittredge, a large Colt Distributor in Cincinnati, Ohio, coined the nicknames for these guns as a marketing tool. He was also responsible for calling the 1873 Single Action Army, or model P, the Peacemaker and the 1878 double action in .44-40 the Omnipotent. The 1877 Colt was Colt’s first true double action revolver. This gun was created in response to the European market wanting a faster action to compete with the double action revolvers being produced in Europe at that time.
Between 1877 and 1909, Colt produced 166,849 of these guns. Of the 3 different calibers offered Colt produced the fewest Rainmakers, with just under 300 made. The Rainmaker was an uncatalogued firearm. In all of my research, I have never been able to find any advertisements that mention the .32 Colt Rainmaker. Two have been observed in .32 Smith & Wesson, and all others have all been in .32 Long Colt. Five have been reported as flat top target models. According to the factory records only six of the Rainmakers were factory engraved.
BCH – Blue Case Hardened RW – Rosewood Grips
NKL – Nickel ENG – Engraved
1R – 1 Piece Rubber Grips EJ – Ejector
2R – 2 Piece Rubber Grips NEJ – Non Ejector
MOP – Mother of Peril Grips TS – Target Sights
Serial numbers that have been reported and or observed are as follows.
|70246||1888||6||NKL||2R||EJ||TS blue cylinder Barrel stamped 32 S&W|
|77094||1890||3.5||NKL||Ivory||NEJ||Not factory engraving and new grips|
|80829||1891||4.5||BCH||2R||EJ||TS BARREL stamped 32 S&W|
Colt shipping records for the years 1877-1897 of the .32 Long Colt Rainmaker are as follows;
(Per A twenty-year Review 1877 to 1897 by the late Richard C. Marohn, M.D. Edited by H.G. Houze Man at Arms, Vol. 19 No. 1 December 1997)
1887 2 1890 30 1893 33 1896 6
1888 3 1891 6 1894 18 1897 19
1889 11 1892 57 1895 29
Total shipped 214
Colt Lightning Revolvers Factory Inventories Finished Arms, Section A, 4th Floor North
(Per Colt Lightning Revolvers Factory Inventories by Bob Murphy The Gun Report February 1994)
1901 1902 1903 1905 1906 1907
NEJ EJ NEJ EJ NEJ EJ NEJ EJ NEJ EJ NEJ EJ
3.5″ Blu. 7 7 7
4.5″ Blu. 1
4.5″ Nic. Rear sight 1 1 1 1
6″ Blu Engr 1E 1E
Total in inventory 28
At the time of writing this I have not found any records for the following years 1898-1900, 1904, 1908, and 1909
80133 – Shipped to Mclean Brothers and Riggs New York, New York on December 13,1890 in a shipment of 3
80829 – Shipped to Colt’s London Agency, 14 Pall Mall, London, England on January 15, 1891
88891- Shipped to Hartley & Graham New York, New York September 12, 1892 Shipment of 1
89034- Shipped to H.O. Ballou in care of W.B. Belknap & Company Louisville, Kentucky September 23, 1892
99138- Shipped to Schoverling, Daly & Gales New York City, New York April 6 1895 in a shipment of 2. Special features: Furnished without an ejector.
104726- Shipped to E.K. Tryon Jr. & Co. Philadelphia, Pa. October 22, 1896
108104- Shipped to Schoverling, Daly & Gales New York City, New York on January 20,1898 in a shipment of 1
Total produced with the factory shipping records, 1877-1897, and the Factory Inventories, Finished Arms, Section A, 4th Floor North, would indicate that there were at least 242 produced. But six years of records are unaccounted for. Observed serial numbers 108971, 112933, 113568 and 152346 were shipped in years that are missing records. Serial number M 7.5″ target sights in the white is also an oddity or a tool room gun. That would indicate at least 247 were produced, and there is a good probability that a few more were made that remain undocumented. If you would like to add your Rainmaker to my database, please email me with the serial number and the specs on the gun. A copy of the factory letter or photos are welcomed as well.
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