From rockislandauctions.com: Most of us have seen a Colt “Sidehammer,” but few have had the pleasure of seeing a fully stocked Sporting Rifle. These sidehammers (in all their forms) also go by the nickname “Root” thanks to the involvement of one Mr. Elisha K. Root, who was instrumental to the early success of Colt Manufacturing . . .
He was a renowned machinist before joining Colt as its Chief Mechanic in 1849 and bringing his precision machining tools with him. He would go on to become Superintendent and allegedly the highest salaried person in the state as Colt had to best several lucrative offers from other companies.
Root improved almost everything that could be improved once beginning his work at Colt. His patents include: a compound rifling machine for rifling four barrels at once instead of one, a machine for boring chambers in revolver cylinders, the slide lathe, three patents for making cartridges, one patent for packaging them, a better way to shape pistol stocks, improving the machine used to pump water into the Armsmear reservoir, and some steam-engines that Colt manufactured for the Russian government.
Root even served as one of Colt’s eight pallbearers at his 1862 funeral and then served as president of Colt Manufacturing until his own death on July 5, 1865.
These rare revolving rifles have much in common with their other sidehammer brethren (the revolvers, military rifles, half stock Sporters, shotguns, and carbines), though it was the design and balance of the full and half stock Sporting rifles that made them a preferred presentation piece of Samuel Colt.
Known specimens have been presented to the aforementioned Mr. Root, Secretary of War John B. Floyd, the Major and Second Kings of Siam, as well as members of the Russian Imperial Court. Needless say, these were highly valued weapons back then and an absolute treasure to collectors today.
Of all the Model 1855 Sporting Rifles manufactured in .44 cal from 1855-1864, only 250 have 24″ barrels like this one. Most of the sporting rifles are half stock models, approximately 1,000 – 1,5000, while the full stocked Sporting Rifles are thought to number around… well, no one knows.
The Book of Colt Firearms lists their number as “limited,” while Colt: An American Legend doesn’t list a production number at all – instead erring on the side of caution to say that only 18,300 long guns of all types were produced. In any case, they are a rare find made even rarer still with the presence of its case and accessories. These are classified by TCBF as “the utmost rarity.”