Jump to content
SASS Wire Forum
Sign in to follow this  
Tinpan McGurk

American Western Arms Lightening Rifle

Recommended Posts

Any of you pards had any experience good or bad with one of these.. There is one for sale here at a local gun shop and I think they may be willing to negotiate on the price since they have had it for a while. I have seen some comments that the pump actions seem to have feeding and perhaps quality issues?? This one is in .45 Colt and looks to be in good condition. Never had or tried one so would be interested in hearing from other pards that have.

 

Thanks,

 

Tinpan McGurk #82892

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The ones worked on by Jack Rabbit Bob run very well. Bob was a TN cowboy shooter who figured out how to make these rifles run and got hired by the company. Bob is no longer with us.

 

Maybe the gun shop will let A-Zoom snap caps through the gun to see if it functions well. .45 Colt Lightnings can have powder blow-back issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some worked. Some did not. The early ones were marked "AWA International" and had functioning problems. The later ones were marked "AWA USA." Some of those ran fairlly well. There are no spare parts. I always tell people if you are going to shoot a Lightning it is going to become your second hobby. What's funny about Lightnings is they might cycle dummy rounds all day but as soon as you go to the range for some live fire they start to have problems. If you aren't a decent gun mechanic you might want to pass as sending them out to get worked on can be expensive and there are only one or two people that really know how to tune them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Overall, the Lightning Rifle ran pretty well with Bottle Necked cartridges but Straight walled pistol cartridges were an issue. Many companies tried and failed to make a clone that worked. The problems were worse on the .45 because of the weight of the bullet.

 

Colt only made them for a few years before they stopped.

 

Happy Trails at the Smith Shop in Warwick RI has some parts for the USFA version. but after that you need an excellent mechanic who can fabricate parts.

 

Years back I really wanted a Lightning Rifle but after my research, I decided against.

 

Hope that helps,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I own two .44-40 Lightnings from Pedersoli. They both run well, but, as Larsen said, they are an "acquired taste". One of them is a Lassiter slam fire conversion (I wish I could run it like he does). Luckily, my local cowboy gunsmith is competent with them and, fortunately, I have not had to have him work on one of them yet.

 

I don't use either of them as a main match gun. After 14 years of running tuned lever guns, I just can't shoot them nearly as fast. They are more to play with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Pards,

 

Sounds like its not worth messing with it.

 

Tinpan McGurk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have one in 44-40. I mostly use it for WB. Fun rifle to shoot, and I've had zero feeding issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have an AWA Lightning in .45 Colt. It is out of the box unmodified. I used it at End of the Trail in 2016 and shot a clean match with it.

 

When I was in the market for a Lightning I was able to compare 3 of them at the gun shop. The Taurus felt like pulling two pieces of sandpaper against each other. The Berretta felt very clunky. The AWA felt tight and smooth. I bought the AWA and have never regretted it. To my surprise, it has become my favorite SASS rifle. I'd say go for it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pass it by !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Larson, there are parts for the lightning rifles. Eldon Penner sells them and as of my last conversation he is still making parts. I know for a fact that in addition to original Lighting rifles he makes parts for the AWA as I have purchased some from him. Before he retired from gunsmith work, and went into parts only, he was an excellent, and probably the best Lightning gunsmith in the business.

So if anyone needs parts, contact him. You can find his alais here in the web site, it is El Rod.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Larson, there are parts for the lightning rifles. Eldon Penner sells them and as of my last conversation he is still making parts. I know for a fact that in addition to original Lighting rifles he makes parts for the AWA as I have purchased some from him. Before he retired from gunsmith work, and went into parts only, he was an excellent, and probably the best Lightning gunsmith in the business.

So if anyone needs parts, contact him. You can find his alais here in the web site, it is El Rod.

I haven't seen him for several years. The last time I talked to him he refused to just sell parts. Running "El Rod" here yields no results. Googling Eldon Penner does not show a website or address. So, for all practical purposes the parts are basically non-existent. If you have contact infomation it would be useful to print it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eldon Penner

phone 775-783-8387

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have an AWA Lightening. My rifle apparently has an issue with the timer. It shoots just fine off the clock. I run it fast, I mean real fast.

The Buzzer goes off and it gets all kinda crazy.

 

Yes the 45 Colt version has blow back issues.

Edited by Marshal TKD, Sass # 36984L

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have an AWA Lightening. My rifle apparently has an issue with the timer. It shoots just fine off the clock. I run it fast, I mean real fast.

The Buzzer goes off and it gets all kinda crazy.

Put some weight back on it. It will then turn into a real "LIGHTNING"! Lightening must mean it's missing a part or two! :ph34r:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found an email address for Eldon Penner, I don't know if it's current but here it is: HEPENNER@AOL.COM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I could afford it I would pick it up just to add it to the collection, but I wouldn't depend on it as a main match gun. Maybe run it once in a while for fun.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have spent 2 1/2 winter days perfecting a Taurus Thunderbolt, and have finally solved the issue to bring perfection operation, but how do I solve mechanical operation inconsistency by the pilot?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

RUN LIGHT LIGHTNING!!! THEY ARE, AT BEST, JUNK!!! HAD THREE OF THEM, GAVE TWO AWAY AND PARTED THE OTHER OUT. GLAD TO BE RID OF THEM. THERE WAS A REASON COLT QUIT MAKING THEM.

AL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have one of the last AWA Lightning made. I love it. But, it doesn't like reloads. It's accurate out past 80 yards and cycles good with factory ammo. I have thought about having the mouth of the chamber polished. I have an old Uberti '66 Yellow Boy that is a finicky eater also. Thought of polishing it also, though it is not the most accurate gun in the rack. Still it's fun as is the Lightning. I shoot a Marlin for comp. I am stuck on .45LC. Execept when I shoot .45-70.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have two, both run well, the 45 feeds better due to the weight of the bullet. I have been know to stove pipe the 38. Lots of fun to shoot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recently acquired Hoss' Lightning in 44-40.  Run it this past Sat. in a WB match.  Ran flawlessly.  It's my new favorite rifle.  Ran some rounds thru it at the range the day before, and figured out where it shot... and that gave me the confidence to run it on Sat.  Didn't miss a target with it all day!  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i have three friends that wanted to shoot lightening rifles , none have been happy so far , but im convinced one day someone will , not me tho ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I mentioned above how I got my first AWA Lightning in .45 Colt.    Just to be clear, not only is it my favorite main match rifle, it caused me to get "Lightning Fever," and I have steadily obtained more of the things.

 

Lightning #1 is of course my AWA .45.  It has become my primary main match rifle.  After using it for several years, some small internal part did break.  Gave it to Lassiter who fixed it, and it now again runs as good as it ever did.

 

Lightning #2 is another AWA in .44-40.  I enjoyed the .45 so much that I said if I ever found one in .44-40 that I'd buy it.  When I did, I did.   In all honesty, the chamber was very tight.  Sometimes rounds would not chamber or come out after firing.  I had the chamber polished and the problem went away.  It also had a "spacer" in the magazine tube that limited capacity to ten rounds, and made the last couple very difficult to load.   Took that out and that problem went away too.

 

Lightning #3 is a real Colt in .32-20.  This one was advertised as being beautifully restored with an expert action job, and was thus priced rather affordably.  .32-20 is a well liked caliber for me, so I grabbed it.  No problems with this one either.

 

Lightning #4 another Colt in .22 Long.  A very sweet shooter.

 

Lightning #5 is another Colt in .44-40, and is one of the very rare ones sold to the army of Costa Rica back in the late 1800's.  I really wanna find the bayonet for it.  I have not fired this one yet, but snap caps and dummy rounds go through it just fine.

 

Lightning #6 is an AWA Lightning Bolt Pistol in .45 Colt.  Think pump action Mares Leg.  A fun little pistol, even if it's not SASS legal.

 

Yep, I've got Lightning fever bad.  And it all started with an AWA in .45 Colt.  So, unless you really wanna contract this ailment. don't go there.  (Yes, all my AWA's are AWA-USA)

 

Oh, and there will be a Lightning #7 someday.  It will be a large frame Colt in .45-85-265, which is the same case as .45-70.  I am saving my change and money left at the end of the week and any other unexpected extra money to save for one.  It's gonna take a while, but the fever will not be denied.

Edited by H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My wife has a .38 Special AWA that she loves. It does develop issues over time, but Lassiter gets it back into shape. It probably needs some massaging every 5 years or so. Yes, she slam fires.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Lightning rifles are super fun to shoot, but do take some practice - as with anything - to learn how to cycle them smoothly and consistently. Most problems I see with Lightnings are the driver, not the vehicle. The AWAs can be made to run well. Taurus is the bottom of the barrel. Uberti's have too many built-in safety's, and a Pedersoli Lightning is a fine machine. They are all tight out-of-the-box and need some help with slicking (unless worked on before), and they all need frequent teardown and cleaning because of intricate inner workings - but look at the cleaning as your friend, it's what you do if you want to shoot one. Because of the bolt design, the straight-shell versions (.45LC/.357) have some blowback (the necked case of the .44-40/.38-40 have much less) but good glasses help. I have several flavors, and my Pedersoli is my favorite match gun - it helped win me a buckle!

 

I have detailed teardown documentation for the Pedersoli, Uberti, and Taurus (Taurus document can be used for AWA) that is available gratis - just PM me.

RR

Edited by Roger Rapid
typo
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.