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1st gen Colt SAA US Custer Era Questions

KnifecollectorKnifecollector Member Posts: 3,267 ✭✭✭
edited June 2009 in Ask the Experts
I have located what I believe to be an authentic SAA 1st generation US marked with a serial # in the Custer range. 58XX to be exact, and correct inspectors marks. The problem is with the barrel, it has been sawed off at 5". I was wondering how much it hurts the value of the gun in question. All the numbers match on the gun so I assume to alteration was not done by Colt. I'm outta my area of expertise on this firearm but am seriously considering purchase of said firearm. Lets say the gun has a solid 20% original finish remaining what would be a rough estimate of value? I see in the blue book gun list for $20,000 at 20% and add 15% for serial # range. Are these prices realistic or just crazy talk? Could I figure the guns collector value is half due to the barrel? Any thoughts?


  • tsr1965tsr1965 Member Posts: 8,682 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    We would like to see a few GOOD close up pictures if you could do so. Are you sure the Barrel is 5 inches and not 5 1/2? some of the Calvary models were reworked to infantry models by doing this. Like I mentioned, pictures are a must. But, I can tell you if this is authenticated from that era, then it might not hurt the value much, especially if the rework was done at an armoury or the factory.

  • duckhunterduckhunter Member Posts: 7,668 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Colt letter???
  • KnifecollectorKnifecollector Member Posts: 3,267 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    The barrel is a little longer than my hand is wide so it could be 5 1/2". I was reading somewhere that if it had been reworked to an infrantry model the numbers wouldn't match? This gun belongs to an elderly gentleman in my area and has had it for many years. It has not been advertised or listed for sale, but due to a relative I've got a chance to buy it. I've never considered spending this much money on a firearm before but I think this might be a real prize.
  • v35v35 Member Posts: 13,200
    edited November -1
    In 1893, 14,900 barrels were shortened at Springfield Armory to 5 1/2".
    Little attempt was made to match up s/n's of barrels and frames but some have been found with matching numbers.
  • Old-ColtsOld-Colts Member Posts: 22,702 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    You need to actually measure the barrel from muzzle to the face of the cylinder; don't rely on guesswork! Some of the Artillery conversions did retain matching parts, but they are not very common.

    This is the type of gun that a potential buyer should approach with a lot of caution. I wouldn't even attempt to give anyone buy no buy guidance without a ton of high quality pictures, and even at that judging authenticity of a Colt like this by the use of photos is dicey; a hands on inspection by someone extremely knowledgeable about these guns is a must in my opinion. Good luck, be careful with advice provided by non experts (I'm certainly no expert on US issue guns)!

    If you can't feel the music; it's only pink noise!

  • glabrayglabray Member Posts: 679 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    A good many of the "old" Colt revolvers that come across my bench are fakes. And a lot of those come with some fairy tale attached such as "it's been in the family for many decades," or "This was great-grnadpa's gun when he lived out west." I heard both of those stories just this week. Don't even consider buying a gun like this without it being authenticated by a collector highly knowledgeable in old Colts. That in itself could take some looking in itself. Don't just take the word of some yo yo who "knows guns."

    Good luck. I hope it is genuine, and you can get it for a good price. Be prepared to pay well into 5 figures if it is a genuine Custer era item.
  • perry shooterperry shooter Member Posts: 17,390
    edited November -1
    Hello I am not a SAA expert Too many fakes but I did pick up a AINSWORTH inspected gun years ago . I almost turned it down because I was not up to snuff on the early Colts but lucky me I found out years later it was all correct. From one of the top colt guys Ray Maybaum. also years ago. If you look at the cylinder locking notches there is NO LEAD In this threw me for a curve . As to the Artillery models most were mis-matched .However some were all matching except the barrel and some were all matching. You did not say how much this seller wanted but . at some point "low price " it would be a good buy. I had to make up my mine so I offered a value for it being a pistol with Problems and as it worked out I got a buy of a lifetime. IMHO if you go in with your eyes open but have a lack of knowledge on if it is real then you can't get hurt. If the seller has done the research and wants a high price then he should allow you to have it authenticated and give you a refund or chance to return if it turns out to not be correct. Colt will only tell you when it was Shipped But may also have records if they did the rework to Artillery model . With a coth letter the the price can easily be worth BIG BUCKS of course it could be a 7TH CAV pistol but it was not at the little big horn [:0]

    None of the Colts that were USED at the Little Big Horn were returned to the U.S. Army by the Indian's however the whole 7Th Cav was not there . so it could have very well been a 7th Cav pistol.
  • capguncapgun Member Posts: 1,848
    edited November -1
    That serial number is right in the Custer range, and could very well have been at The Little Big Horn. If the barrel is 5 1/2" it could be an artillery, if Colt did the alteration rather than Springfield the numbers would be matching, and a Colt letter would indicate the artillery alteration. Springfield altered guns (the majority) are usually mixed numbers and will not letter, a letter will just show shipped to US Government from the original purchase. It could also be just a privately cut down cavalry. A 20% gun would be extemely high condition, that would mean 20% bright blue and color case hardening. If its a Colt altered cavalry to artillery with 20% finish, an easy 20K+.
  • ColtDoctorColtDoctor Member Posts: 97 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Howdy Pards,

    How exciting! Sounds very intriging that hogleg you're typeing about. Be warned the Custer serial number ranges also went out to 9th and 10th Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers) if my memory serves me correctly. I agree, no .45s of record from the battle were altered into Artilary Models. There were however known surviving specimens that were at the battle (at least one). Could it have been shortened later, sure. Can you proove it? Doubtful. It sure is neat to sit there and wonder what could have been though isn't it!

    Shoot Straight and Watch For Snakes,

  • ColtDoctorColtDoctor Member Posts: 97 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    PS Pards,

    20k I don't know about but I will say it's worth what the market will bear...I'm always happy to evaluate and authenticate your Single Actions. I provide a letter on fine stock suitable for framing and certianly enhancing the value of your Hog Leg. I also provide a letter with estimated insurance value for replacement. Yes, Ray will be sorely missed. I have fond memories of our Colt conversations.

    [email protected]

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