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Colt SAA question

CapnMidnightCapnMidnight Member Posts: 8,520
edited May 2014 in Ask the Experts
I picked up a first generation Colt SAA, serial number 180540, 7 1/2" barrel, one piece wood grips, in 45 Colt. Barrel has one line address, all numbers match. Condition is very nice, bluing is really good, light turn line, minor wear on cylinder, barrel is very good with shine at muzzle. The bore is perfect. The case color is pretty much faded and gone.
This Colt was manufactured in late 1898, according to what I've found, and is a smokeless powder frame.
This gun is a consignment. My question is, does the Colt warrant a factory letter?
I'm going to list it on the auction side, when I get time and weather to take good pictures. Quite honestly, this is one of the nicest old Colts I've ever had in my hand. What do you old Colt guys think?
Thank you for your time.
W.D.

Comments

  • CapnMidnightCapnMidnight Member Posts: 8,520
    edited November -1
    This is a question for a serious Colt SAA collector. I am about to complete a deal to aquire a 1st generation in .357 magnum. This is a rare caliber for the 1st gen, only 525 produced. I will then have the same gun (barrel, finish, grips) in all three generations. The question-does having all three like this increase the value of the package?
  • CapnMidnightCapnMidnight Member Posts: 8,520
    edited November -1
    Hi, experts. Anyone know approximately when Colt made the .38 Special caliber available in the Single Action? There's a SAA on sale on GB that dates to 1921 by the serial number and it's in .38 Special caiber. I'm wondering if that's correct? Thanks Jim
  • CapnMidnightCapnMidnight Member Posts: 8,520
    edited November -1
    I am told the new colt custom shop guns are of a poor quality compared to even 3rd gen guns
    at the same time some people still refer to the CS guns AS 3rd gen?
    what is the truth? what do the CS guns lack or is their deficiency.
    when did the 3rd gen begin and end?
  • CapnMidnightCapnMidnight Member Posts: 8,520
    edited November -1
    Good evening all, does Colt still produce the SAA for sale to the public? I am thinking about getting one to pass down to my son and grandson (an heirloom piece). Thanks for all of the information.
  • CapnMidnightCapnMidnight Member Posts: 8,520
    edited November -1
    I just found the right up close picture and figured it out.[:D]
  • perry shooterperry shooter Member Posts: 17,390
    edited November -1
    Hello email sent. I looked at the time you opend this post and thought "Damn he gets up early" then remembered you left coast guys
    just go to bed after we are sound asleep [}:)]
  • tsr1965tsr1965 Member Posts: 8,682
    edited November -1
    CapnMidnight,

    Yes, by all means, if it is all original, get a factory letter. In terms of the value of the letter, it will add substantially to the value, but only if the gun letters, and is in un-molested form.

    What you most likely have is a transistional model, that has the smokless powder frame, and possibly some black powder parts, like the barrel. If the barrel has wide lands, and shallow grooves, it is a black powder barrel. The cylinder might have flutes on it that appear longer than other's.

    Best

    EDIT 1
    quote:I spoke with John Kopec this morning, he stated that the barrel was a smokeless barrel, not black powder.
    W.D.

    That could very well be, especially for the more popular chambering's. The 45 Colt, was THE most popular. I have a 41 LC, that was made in 1897, and have the factory letter. It is like yours with the smokeless frame, but has the BP barrel, and slightly longer flutes. The most likely reason for the longer flutes, is they were using up Cylinders for the 1887 Thunderer. However the 41 LC was not that popular, and the barrel was old stock.

    Best
  • CapnMidnightCapnMidnight Member Posts: 8,520
    edited November -1
    Looking at the lands and grooves, I do believe it is a black powder barrel. The flutes in the cylinder are standard length.
    W.D.
  • kimikimi Member Posts: 44,627 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I'd get a letter too!
    What's next?
  • Ray BRay B Member Posts: 11,822
    edited November -1
    The more difficult letter will be one from the gun owner's psychiatrist saying that the owner is in his right and sane mind. All that I know would rather sell their kids than that Colt.
  • CapnMidnightCapnMidnight Member Posts: 8,520
    edited November -1
    I spoke with John Kopec this morning, he stated that the barrel was a smokeless barrel, not black powder.
    W.D.
  • Spider7115Spider7115 Member, Moderator Posts: 29,602 ******
    edited November -1
    The fact that it was made prior to 1899 (antique, no FFL required) makes it even more desirable.
  • v35v35 Member Posts: 13,200
    edited November -1
    All SAA's shipped after 180,000 were shipped with a precaution AGAINST smokeless powder.
    It wasn't till after early 1900 did Colt guarantee for smokeless powder.
    The "Smokeless Frame" is a misnomer as the transverse cylinder pin latch came out in 1892, well within the black powder era.
    The 41 and 38 model 1877 had an entirely different cylinder locking system from the SAA and was also smaller in diameter. Thus couldn't be used in SAA's. Note that the 1877 & 1878 Models came out with the transverse latch before the 1873.
    If you check SAA production records you'll see straight walled chamberings didn't sell. The big sellers by far were tapered as they loaded and unloaded much better and faster. The original 45LC chamber was tapered to ease ejection. Colt's Wagner wrote me when they changed that chamber mid 2nd gen to reduce splitting cases. I still have the letter if anyone needs details. I had complained in about 1960 to both Colt and Remington about splitting 45 brass (balloon head then).
    Colt said their chambers hadn't changed since 1873 and were accurate to the tenth (.0001). Remington probably made minimum sized brass.
    Anyhow they worked it out.
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