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Morphy Auctions - The Rainmaker

The Rainmaker

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.

Serial number 88891. Author’s collection. (Photo by Dana Moyer)

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.

Abbreviations

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

A fine-looking plainsman sporting an 1877 Colt.

 

 

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
71162 1888 4.5 BCH 2R EJ
71471 1888 2.5 NKL 2R NEJ
71526 1888 3.5 2R NEJ
71751 1888 2.5 BCH 2R NEJ
71754 1888 3.5 BCH 2R NEJ
71774 1888 2.5 NKL 2R NEJ
72362 1888 3.5 NKL 2R NEJ
72376 1888 2.5 BCH 2R NEJ
72537 1889 5 BCH 2R EJ
72556 1889 4.5 BCH 2R EJ
72557 1889 6 2R EJ
73371 1889 3.5 NKL Ivory NEJ
75640 1890 5 NKL 2R EJ
75894 1890 3.5 BCH 2R NEJ
77094 1890 3.5 NKL Ivory NEJ Not factory engraving and new grips
77210 1890 3.5 NKL Ivory NEJ
80133 1890 4.5 BCH 2R EJ
80829 1891 4.5 BCH 2R EJ TS BARREL stamped 32 S&W
81710 1891 5 BCH 2R EJ
86137 1892 3.5 BCH 2R NEJ
86894 1892 4.5 BCH 2R EJ
87833 1892 4.5 BCH 2R EJ
88888 1892 4.5 NKL MOP EJ ENG
88891 1892 4.5 NKL MOP EJ
89034 1893 6 NKL MOP EJ ENG
89515 1893 3.5 BCH 2R NEJ
89734 1893           3.5 BCH 2R NEJ
90606 1893           4.5 NKL IVORY EJ
90794 1893 4.5 BCH 2R EJ
90932 1893 6 NKL 2R EJ
91851 1893 3.5 BCH 2R NEJ
92686 1893 5 NKL 2R EJ
93260 1893 6 BCH MOP EJ ENG
93372 1893 6 NKL 2R EJ
94375 1893 3.5 NKL MOP NEJ
95114 1894 6 NKL 2R EJ
95178 1894 5 NKL 2R EJ
95626 1894 4.5 BCH 2R EJ
96465 1894 4.5 NKL 2R EJ
97113 1895 5 BCH 2R EJ
97173 1895 5 BCH 2R EJ
98035 1895 6 BCH 2R EJ
98927 1895 6 BCH 2R EJ
99087 1895 4.5 BCH 2R NEJ
99138 1895 4.5 BCH 2R NEJ
99287 1895 5 BCH 2R EJ
100169 1895 4.5 NKL MOP EJ
100700 1895 6 BCH RW EJ
100930 1895 4.5 BCH 2R EJ
104726 1896 6 BCH 2R EJ
105456 1897 5 BCH RW EJ
108104 1898 4.5 NKL 2R EJ
108495 1888 4.5 BCH 2R EJ
108971 1898 5 BCH Ivory EJ
112933 1899 4.5 BCH MOP EJ
113568 1899 4.5 NKL 2R EJ
152346 1904 4.5 BCH 2R EJ
M 7.5 White EJ TS

 

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

.32 Cal.

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

I found this in an old book. The serial number “M” is a seven and a half inch. But it is in the White. (Photo by Dana Moyer)

 

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.

Russ Withem

Contributors

1) Dale Ring                    3) Jim Thoming          5) Kurt House           7) Rocking R Ranch

2) Justin Lindquist         4) Brandon                  6) Charles Marx       8) James Glover

 

Winchester boxes of .32 Short and Long Colt ammunition. Authors collection. (Photos by Dana Moyer)

 

Vintage Winchester postcard advertisement. Authors collection. (Photos by Dana Moyer)
A hard box of ammunition to find. Authors collection. (Photo by Dana Moyer)

 

Serial number 99138. No finish left but notice that it is a 4.5” sheriffs model.
Barrel stamping. From the collection of James Glover. (Photo by author)