In this episode of Forgotten Weapons, Ian takes a look at a Colt 1902 revolver, which is actually an 1878 Colt revolver — which is kind of a follow-up to the 1877 Colt revolvers, which were made as an expansion on the market of the 1873 Colt revolver. Obviously, the 1873 was the iconic Colt Single Action Army.
The Colt 1902 Philippine Model revolver is a modified version of the Colt 1878 Double Action Army or Frontier model pistol. After Colt released their small frame Lightning and Thunderer designs in 1877, they produced their first entry into the large-frame double action revolver market. It was slightly successful as it sold a little more than 51,000 pieces over a span of 30 years even though the Colt 1902 was not particularly solid or reliable compared to other options at the time.
When the Philippine government was looking for .45 caliber revolvers for the use of the Philippine Constabulary, Colt redesigned the 1878 revolver, fitting it with a stronger hammer spring and lengthening the trigger to give the shooter more leverage on the heavy trigger. Additionally, the trigger guard was also enlarged. This gave the gun a distinct look, which later became widely known as the Alaskan Model, inferring the use with gloves in cold weather. Although in reality, the unique design choice was mainly aimed at making a government sale.
Fortunately, the changes yielded good results: The Philippine government purchased 4,600 of the guns in 1902 and used them extensively. Therefore, the gun has a distinct special connection to the Philippine insurrection, which makes it an interesting, albeit forgotten piece of history. Ian thinks it’s a really cool model because it’s got a lot of history to it, and even though it’s not the most aesthetically perfect gun, it brings it into the range of people who are interested in having them, but can’t afford the premium for a really gorgeous example.