Lot 14

Rare Colt Bisley Flattop .32-20 Target Revolver

Estimate: $13,000 - $15,000

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$0 $5
$50 $10
$100 $25
$500 $50
$1,000 $100
$2,000 $250
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$25,000 $2,500
$100,000 $5,000
In this lot is a rare Colt Bisley Flattop Target Revolver in .32-20 caliber with Colt Factory historical letter verifying all aspects of this extremely scarce example. The Colt Bisley revolver was named for the famed Bisley Shooting Range in England. Almost all parts of this model were made with fixed sights and used as working six guns, as were the more common and similar Single Action Army revolver, which was made in the same calibers and manufactured during the same time period. Although made in more limited quantities than the Single Action Army, the standard Bisley Single Action revolver found favor with cowboys, lawmen, and frontiersmen in the western and southwestern United States. The standard, fixed sighted Bisley model was made from 1894-1915 with 44,350 manufactured. However, the Bisley Flattop Target Model saw a limited production for all calibers, totaling only 976 revolvers. Of these 976 Bisleys, only 131 were chambered for the still available .32-20 cartridge. Even if all 131 of these Colts have survived to the present, which would make the .32-20 caliber Bisley Flattop Target revolver rarer than the famed Colt Walker or the Colt Paterson models. Considering floods, fires, natural disasters, and guns simply used up, altered, destroyed or lost, the most realistic survival rate for these would probably be more like 50% or approximately 65 individual .32-20 caliber Bisley Flattop revolvers. Even the most advanced Colt and museum collections are missing an example of a Bisley target revolver. This Colt, with serial number 263563, is in fine, unaltered condition. It comes with a Colt factory historical letter, which states that this revolver with this serial number is listed in the Colt archives as a Colt Bisley Flattop Target Revolver in .32-20 caliber with 7 ½” barrel, blue finish, type of stocks not listed (this simply means the stocks or grips are the standard hard rubber grips supplied unless specifically ordered otherwise), shipped to J. F. Schmelzer & Sons Arms Company, Kansas City, Missouri on April 29, 1905. J. F. Schmelzer & Sons Arms Company was a large distributor for Colt. Most of their Single Action Army and Bisley revolvers were shipped to western dealers or individuals. Most likely, this revolver was used as a “working gun” as opposed to a purely target revolver used in matches. As such, it shows honest frontier use, but no abuse. While showing age, all metal surfaces are smooth and show no evidence of rust or pitting. The barrel displays fine blue on the rear 1/3, with the front showing mostly gray from holster wear. The correct one line Colt address on the barrel top is crisp, as is the “(BISLEY MODEL) .32 W.C.F.” stamping on the left side of the barrel (.32 W.C.F. stands for Winchester Center Fire, which is the same as .32-20 or .32-20 Winchester caliber). The front sight is the correct pinned blade/bead target sight (the standard Bisley model had a plain blade front sight) and the non-grooved top strap above the cylinder is the classic “flattop” with correct factory installed dovetailed target rear sight that is adjustable for windage. The cylinder shows nearly all of the now aged blue finish. The frames of target Bisley revolvers were full blued instead of case colored as on standard models. The frame on this example has aged to an attractive natural plum/brown appearance with fine correct patent date stampings on the left side of the frame below the cylinder. Importantly, the screws are in fine condition, indicating that this revolver was not taken apart or altered internally. The “rampant Colt” embossed checkered hard rubber grips show light wear and are solid. The action is fine and the hammer has the correct 4-clicks when cocked. The bore is dark with good rifling and shows wear commensurate with the overall condition of the piece. There is good aged blue on the grip straps that is now mixing with a pleasing plum patina and shows no evidence of cleaning or scouring. Serial numbers correctly match on the frame, trigger guard, and back strap. Overall, this is an incredibly rare Colt with a lovely unaltered and uncleaned appearance suitable for the most advanced Colt or Western artifact collection. It is very seldom encountered and much less offered for sale. Original Colt archival letter included. Serial Number: 263563. This firearm qualifies as a Curio & Relic firearm and requires FFL Transfer or NICS Background Check.
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