Colt Rainmaker


March 3, 2011, 06:08 AM
Well heres something interesting... Picked this up today from a guy. He only knew it was a .32, and to be honest I didnt really know what it was, although in retrospect, I guess I had seen plenty of lightnings and thunders and should have known it was in that family. Anyway, condition wise, not too hot, but his price was more than fair so grabbed it thinking it might be a parts gun for someone.... The mechanicals are screwed up, and it has its fair share of rust and corrosion. Looks like it is in the 71000 range.

So I do some preliminary research and it seems that the Colt 1877 in .32 (apparently aka Rainmaker) is quite rare, who knew?

I am posting this for a couple of reasons. First, i want to make sure I have correctly identified this as what I stated above. Secondly, it sounds like there are not a lot of pictures floating around of these, so I thought I would post it just for people to check out.

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March 3, 2011, 06:09 AM
Any information is welcome to. I have Flaydermans and Fjestads, but thats about it. Sounds like 200 made approx.

March 3, 2011, 08:23 AM
Sorry for the poor pics, can probably post more if anyone is super interested.

March 3, 2011, 08:47 AM
Hello friends and neighbors // Nice save, too bad it does not work.

I've seen the listing for "RainMaker"in the Blue Book but have never seen one.
They list 300 manuf. between 1877-1909, but your source may be better.

Thanks for posting

March 3, 2011, 06:30 PM
Rare enough that I've never seen one.

March 3, 2011, 06:50 PM
Wikipedia has a little bit of info for you...

The Colt Model 1877 was a double action revolver manufactured by Colt's Manufacturing Company from January 1877 to 1909 for a total of 166,849 revolvers. The Model 1877 was offered in three calibers, which lent them three unofficial names: the "Lightning", the "Thunderer", and the "Rainmaker". The principal difference between the models were in their calibers: the "Lightning" being chambered in .38 Colt; the "Thunderer" in .41 Colt. Both models had a six-round ammunition capacity.[1] An earlier model in .32 Colt known as the "Rainmaker" was offered in 1877.[2]

March 4, 2011, 12:11 AM
heres some "slightly" better pics. Have trouble photographing nickel guns.

March 4, 2011, 01:49 PM
An exposed protruding screw on the FRONT of the grip? Wow. Talk about bad design. Having read the Wikipedia article, it sounds like quite the turd.

March 4, 2011, 03:13 PM
I doubt the screw is supposed to be there, not sure why it is there, probably some type of homemade repair, haven't checked into it yet. I dont know that I would say "turd." You cant expect one of the earliest DA's to be 100% perfected...

March 4, 2011, 03:27 PM
That, my friend, is an understatement. Amazing that its parts are intact.

March 4, 2011, 08:17 PM
If you look at the one on Wikipedia, it shows a screw there as well. Not as big, although it's still a protruding screw.

March 4, 2011, 08:56 PM
Warden, good eye. Didnt notice that screw there on the wikipedia site till you said something. Interesting...

Jim K
March 4, 2011, 11:43 PM
All the 1877's have a screw in that position to tension the mainspring, but it is small and almost headless; when tightened it is countersunk. That is probably a replacement.

That is one of the really rare Colts, too bad it is in terrible shape. Wilson says only 200 were made in the 66000-121000 range, so that gun fits. It looks to be a .32 (and not an altered .38) because of the frame and cylinder proportions, which appear to be smaller than those of the .38 and .41.*

Sadly, in spite of its rarity, the condition and the fact that it is not functional probably limit its value to under $1000.


*In spite of the common belief that the .41 is just a .38 with larger chambers, the two guns differ in the size of the frame and the cylinder diameter. Cylinders will not interchange. So it is not surprising that the .32 appears to be sized appropriately, not just a .38 with smaller chambers.


March 5, 2011, 06:14 AM
I am wanting to sell this, what is your opinion...should I have it smithed or just sell it as-is? If I told you what I paid for this you would laugh (as in, I paid not much at all). I'm not super concerned with getting top dollar. If someone else is motivated to use some time and tie their money up in it, then they deserve to pick it up at a fair/good price. That doesnt mean however I wouldnt like making a little money on it of course...

March 5, 2011, 02:57 PM
Well, it's externally not in that bad shape. Yeah, it's rough, but far from ruined. No rust that I can tell. I'd say it's certainly fixable, and may be worth it to someone to fix. However, given that it's an unreliable hunk of junk, I suspect it's worth more as a collector's piece and keeping it original is more important, even if it's broken.

Seems lots of things with the "Rainmaker" name are cursed. There was a paintball gun of the same name that was also overly intricate and unreliable.

Jim K
March 5, 2011, 10:31 PM
Its only value is as a collector's item, as it would be useless as a shooting gun. It is chambered for the .32 Long Colt, which has not been made for many decades (.32 S&W Long won't fit).

That whole 1877 series is almost unrepairable as 1) there is no real good parts supply and 2) very few gunsmiths will even touch them as they are so frustrating to repair.

I think you should have no problem selling that gun on one of the gun auction sites, but I would sell it as is. Anything you might do or have done would probably decrease the value to a collector. It is an antique (1888) so there is no problem in shipping and no FFL needed by the recipient.


March 6, 2011, 05:18 AM
Out of curiosity, would .32 S&W Short fit one of these firearms? I know the .32 Long guns can also fire shorts, so if the latter is simply too long for this one, it may be able to take the S&W Shorts, which are fairly easy to get. Of course, repairing it is pretty much out of the question, but this is conjecture.

I just found this:

Apparently SOME .32 Colt pistols can also take .32 S&W Long or .32 S&W Short. Most won't shoot Long,though. The case width for the S&W rounds is significantly different, but depending on the gun's tolerances they can sometimes fit. The Short rounds are well below the length of the original Colt rounds, as well.

They can also shoot .32 Short Colt, which is still available in limited production.

Jim K
March 6, 2011, 01:29 PM
The earlier CF Colt .32's fired .32 Short Colt, then the larger guns were made for the .32 Long Colt, as the Model 1877 was. Some Colts were made for those cartridges into the swing cylinder era, but due to the large number of makers chambeing for the .32 S&W and .32 S&W Long, the Colt cartridges went out of favor and Colt began chambering for the .32 S&W Long. Of course, Colt could never call it that, so they made a minor change to the bullet shape and called the result the .32 Colt New Police or .32 Police cartridge. (They did essentially the same with the .38 S&W, which became the .38 Colt New Police.) So obviously, some .32 Colt revolvers will accept the .32 S&W or .32 S&W Long, but not those chambered for the .32 Short or Long Colt.

The .32 Short/Long Colt is smaller in diameter than the .32 S&W/.32 S&W Long, so the latter cartriges won't fit in a gun chambered for the former; it is not a matter of case length, it is a matter of case diameter.


March 10, 2011, 03:22 AM
I'd be interested in buying the old timer. I collect these and could use the parts

Jim K
March 10, 2011, 10:50 PM
:cuss: Anyone who would tear down a Rainmaker for parts should be .... Excuse me; gotta go take my meds.


March 11, 2011, 01:23 AM
Relax, Jim Keenan. This gun already doesn't work, and it's clearly seen much better days. There's undoubtedly many better-condition Rainmakers out there that could be restored to working condition with its parts.

March 11, 2011, 05:30 AM
I agree with Jim on this. Ive seen now estimates of production that range from 200-300 of these made. Lets meet in the middle and say that 250 have been made. Now lets assume that 50% of those have been lost to time, thrown in rivers, whatever. That leaves 125 left. Why cannibalize any of the 125, for the sake of a few others? Of those 125, you know half of them probably aren't working (and that's probably optimistic), so if we used that half for parts, that leaves us only 62-63 functional examples in existence. I say keep it original, or rebuild em with new parts. Despite condition, I think it would be a shame to part it out. Just my two cents.

March 11, 2011, 11:23 PM
Well Gents, I've had my meds and feelin fine. Collected these for 25 yrs and the most difficult part of collecting "Antique" revolvers is understanding "Market Value". So many opinions regarding condition and rarity but the simplicity of "Market Value" makes things clear. In other words: "Whats it worth"??? If say, I have 5 of these in my collection and 3 are functioning and complete. 2, however are missing parts but they are super rare variations of the Rainmaker. Say, one is a flat top target that is missing the cylinder and the other is 80%nickel but has a buldged barrel. Hmmmmm what should I do??? I would take the barrel and cylinder off this one, since the Rainmaker did "not" have numbered barrels or cylinders and put those parts on the two near mint examples. Then(without the meds) I'd put a long storekeeper barrel on this one in 38 caliber and matching cylinder,(They are interchangable, only difference is early and late frames cause clearance issues) and tune the action with the parts I have. Sound fair?

March 12, 2011, 12:24 AM
Let's see....Market Value?? The value of your two incomplete/damaged guns as they currently are subtracted from the value of them after they are repaired should be a pretty close estimate of what the OP's gun should be worth. (Plus the value of whatever you are going to make from the leftover parts less the value of the long storekeeper barrel):evil:;)

Even parts guns can be valuable if they are rare enough. (And somebody needs the parts.)

March 12, 2011, 12:44 AM
EXACTLY! Nice to see someone gets it!

Jim K
March 13, 2011, 04:09 PM
Well, kdave, I have to wonder about the figure of 200-300, since BMur has five of them.


March 13, 2011, 09:53 PM
That's what I was thinking, lucky guy...

March 13, 2011, 10:15 PM
214 were made pre-1899.....From 1899 to 1909(end of production) approx 75 were manufactured. The 214 is from factory records provided by the Late Dr. Marohn. I was fortunate enough to attend an auction preview in San Francisco in the mid-1990's in which his "huge" collection of lightnings was for sale. I was in heaven and learned a lot. Dr. Marohn went to the factory and studied the records for a book he was writing on the lightning. He passed before it was published and all his research was cast to the highest bidder. Then a fellow collector named Bruce Skinner tried to take up the torch and he too was almost finished then had a stroke while driving and passed away. Seems there might be a curse on the lightning....Hope I'm not boring anyone its just that the lightning is my primary interest. I aquired the rainmakers years ago and know of several collectors that own them. Have no idea how many survied but there are several out there.

March 14, 2011, 10:19 AM
Good information Bmur, interesting. Thanks.

March 25, 2011, 03:56 AM
Found this post, says that one that was in a bit better condition sold for $3200 at an auction.
Also, looks like that screw was probably some kind of homemade repair.

You said you got it for a good deal, but didn't say how much. What'd you spend? :)

March 25, 2011, 09:02 AM
Obsidian, Well in this case Id prefer not to say what I paid, partially out of respect for the new owner. I dont want to gloat about anything, although I did get a very good deal, and I hope the new owner feels that they got a very good deal to. However since the it was sold on Gunbroker and thats all public anyway, it sold for $1100. I dont mind sharing that because I would also like to assist others in determining value of their Rainmaker if they have one since there are so few known sales. I had started the auction at $750 and offered a buy it now of $1100. I had the 750 within the first couple hours, and within 5 or 6 hours, I had the 1100. After the fact I had a member of this forum state they would have given me 1800, but a deals a deal and I shipped it off to the new owner who had been looking for years for one.

March 26, 2011, 02:41 AM
Would you mind sharing your gunbroker listing? Thanks Kdave21

March 26, 2011, 07:17 AM
Hello friends and neighbors // Congrats on the sale, a price that satisfied you is all that is important and once again nice save.

Also thanks for the lesson/info.

You might email/inform the GB purchaser about the $1800.00 offer from the THR member. A $700.00 profit might be the number they are satisfied with.

March 27, 2011, 11:08 AM
Would you mind sharing your gunbroker listing? Thanks Kdave21

Auction # 220133807

You might email/inform the GB purchaser about the $1800.00 offer from the THR member. A $700.00 profit might be the number they are satisfied with.

I mentioned the offer to the new owner. They did not express interest. They have been looking for years for one. They already have it in functional condition.

March 28, 2011, 12:45 AM
Ah such is life. We move on. It does however make me wonder just how many rainmakers were actually produced since several seem to have shown up lately. Also Dr. Marhon's factory research is based on records that exist. So many were lost or destroyed. So the (pre- 1898) 214 figure is based on what he tallied from "existing" records. Who knows what the real total was.
Thanks much for the Gunbroker link. You took excellent photos!

March 28, 2011, 06:10 AM
I'd call that a perfect ending, outstanding.

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