By Lars Dalseide | June 3 2013 16:37

M1877 Colt revolver, first attempt at the double-action design for Hartford based company

John Wesley Hardin's 1877 Colt Lightning .38 Long Revolver at NRA Museum Fairfax, Virginia - The subject of tonight's episode of Curator's Corner on NRAnews comes with more than just a gun. There are two historically significant events tied into this Colt revolver. First is the double-action design and second is the man who owned — the notorious John Wesley Hardin.

The difference between double and single action is a simple one. When pulling the trigger of a double action revolver, the hammer goes back, the cylinder rotates and the hammer falls to fire the gun. With the single action, one has cock the trigger before firing the gun. The Lightning, a .38 caliber Long Colt, wasn't all that successful.

"The action was kind of weak and they were notorious for breaking down," explained National Firearms Museum Senior Curator Philip Scheier.

So unreliable were these revolvers that The Gun Digest Book of Firearms Assembly once called it "the worst double-action trigger mechanism ever made."

But that didn't deter Hardin.

A .41 caliber Colt Thunder double action from the National Firearms Museum

As explained to NRA Museum Director Jim Supica, by the gun's current owner Kurt House from the Ohio Gun Collectors Association, Hardin was both an outlaw and a lawman in the Old West. Claiming to have killed more than forty men, he met his demise at the age of 42 in an El Paso, Texas saloon following a dispute over the arrest of Hardin's girlfriend.

But for the whole story, tune in this afternoon to Sportsman Channel as Jim Supica takes the reins of Curator's Corner with John Wesley Hardin's Colt Lightning revolver on Cam & Company.


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