29 Jan 2017

Little Bighorn 7th Cavalry Colt

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One of the prizes at the upcoming James D. Julia Firearms Auction – April 11, 12 & 13, 2017:

Historic Colt SAA SN 5773 Picked Up By Captain Benteen After the Battle Of The Little Bighorn (1 of 3). This One is The Most Complete And Is Featured In Kopec’s Book.

5 Feedbacks on "Little Bighorn 7th Cavalry Colt"


In the mid-80’s my parents retired and moved to a lake home in Minnesota. Sometime later, when I visited them, Dad said, “You have to see Bud’s (his neighbor) guns. Bud had a haphazard accumulation of firearms, none particularly interesting until he brought out a Remington cap & ball revolver. Bud said, “This was General Custer’s gun,” and said his father found it on the little Big Horn Battlefield in the 1930’s.

It obviously had had long exposure to the elements; one side was rusted and pitted, the other side was very deeply pitted. Some parts were missing. Someone had attached crudely carved wood stocks and had tried to loosed the action. The cylinder had three loaded chambers and someone had scratched deeply at the lead balls. Bud said he had played with it as a child.

None of this really offered much indication of its history except that the brass backstrap had incised geometric designs. Bud was unshakable that it had come from the LBH site (and that it was Custer’s) and I left believing that part of his story was possible if not probable. After Bud passed away I tried my best to buy it but was unsuccessful. But oh, if it could talk….

For more on LBH guns see Man At Arms, January/February, 1988


The Battle of the Little Bighorn took place 25 June 1876. Obviously, the ownership of a gun found on the battlefield 50 years later could not possibly be known unless some record existed of its unique ownership by a particular person. The standard Army sidearm at the time was the Colt Model 1873. George Armstrong Custer is believed by some to have been armed with two British Webley Bulldog Revolvers. By 1876, most people had switched to more modern cartridge weapons, but there were undoubtedly lots of old Remington percussion revolvers out there. Even the Indians may have owned some.



Modern handguns would have been highly prized. I’m surprised that the victorious, noble savages after they (and their women) mutilated the troopers’ bodies didn’t seize all the weapons laying on the field.


The battle was fought in an area spanning miles, some of the guns would have fallen in the sandy desert and been covered in dirt. As well they faced retaliation in days from the Calvary not exactly a lot of time to find every gun.


Mo desert. No sand. The Little Bighorn Battlefield consists of hillsides covered with tall grass.


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