1st Gen. Colt 'Military' SAA Mystery

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65bee
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1st Gen. Colt 'Military' SAA Mystery

#1 Post by 65bee » Fri May 18, 2018 4:24 pm

Hoping there are some members more Colt knowledgeable than yours truly. After over half-a-century of Winchester collecting and trading, however, I have to admit that living in the New England area my chances of encountering many early Colt SAAs have been minimal. Anyway, one of my local small dealers just picked up a 1st Gen SAA 'Artillery Model' with serial 120XXX ( made 1887). This came from a local non-collector who had no idea what the gun really was. This gun has absolutely proper style serial numbers (matching) on the frame, grip frame, and butt. In addition there are various military unit markings stamped on the bottom of the butt, including what would appear to be provenance to the South Carolina National Guard. It has, of course, the proper style 'U.S.' marking on the left side of the frame also. The patina overall is beautifully authentic and matching. The original wood grips have been replaced with early hard rubber regular Colt SAA grips with matching wear to the gun. The big problem, and one I'm hoping someone can answer, is that the frame has the later style 'push release' cylinder pin lock! Also, the front of the frame does not have a place where the 'black-powder' cylinder pin lock screw should have been? So it obviously was not converted when it was returned to either Colt of Springfield Armory when rebuilt, unless the frame itself was replaced. According to my research, Colt changed over to the smokeless cylinder pin release in 1896, and it was after that date that they took up the rebuilding of the gov't. SAAs into 'Artillery Models'. Someone may argue that the gun is a fake, but I have seen enough fake/altered guns in my lifetime to have a feel for what is right or not. Another point against this argument is that the dealer purchased it for a very reasonable sum. If I acquire the gun it may require a Colt letter to resolve the mystery.

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2ndovc
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Re: 1st Gen. Colt 'Military' SAA Mystery

#2 Post by 2ndovc » Fri May 18, 2018 4:43 pm

Interesting. I had an Artillery Model many years ago, it had been through a fire and had been re-blued and fitted with Lexan grips. I'd bought it at an estate auction and knew I had something good but didn't know enough to hang on to it. Sold it for three times what I'd paid for it but I want to kick myself for letting it go. But $1500 when you're 20 and sill in college, that was a big number in 1987.

The one thing that sticks out in your description is that the numbers match. If I remember correctly, most Artillery models were mismatched. I know mine was. Not that It matters, really. It's a sweet find and enjoy it. We are just caretakers of fine pieces of history.

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Re: 1st Gen. Colt 'Military' SAA Mystery

#3 Post by wecsoger » Fri May 18, 2018 5:33 pm

All matching numbers? Bunches of stamps for authenticity?

No documentation for provenance and it's coming from an absolutely vague source?

Not demeaning your experience in spotting fakes, but I'm not even initially convinced.

Yes, factory letter.

Also I'd drag out the camera with the macro lens and I'd be taking multiple high-def photos to bundle up and send to some experts.

I'd not be paying any $$ over what a generic SAA goes for before I'd throw any big bucks at this one.

(but yes, I'm a cynic)

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Re: 1st Gen. Colt 'Military' SAA Mystery

#4 Post by 65bee » Fri May 18, 2018 6:45 pm

Yeah, I'm also a BIG cynic, but this gun passes the 'smell test'. Not all the artillery models were mismatched, especially those converted by Colt. Gun's not from a 'vague source', but a long-time local resident who is not a gun guy. Gun was handed down from his wifes' family. As for value, the dealer allowed him just what a generic well-used SAA would be worth, as he is also not a Colt expert, and didn't want to get burned. I got involved as I am his 'go to' guy for Winchesters and older stuff generally, and he wanted my opinion. The gun just 'feels' and looks right to me. But that cylinder pin lock does present a troubling question, I admit.

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Re: 1st Gen. Colt 'Military' SAA Mystery

#5 Post by Sixgun » Fri May 18, 2018 7:07 pm

wecsoger wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 5:33 pm
All matching numbers? Bunches of stamps for authenticity?

No documentation for provenance and it's coming from an absolutely vague source?
Not demeaning your experience in spotting fakes, but I'm not even initially convinced.
Yes, factory letter.
Also I'd drag out the camera with the macro lens and I'd be taking multiple high-def photos to bundle up and send to some experts.

Could not have been said better. I've been around these single action Colts my whole adult life and while it's easy to "ease your mind" as to "this or that" with a plausible explanation. ..........Ok, the frame was wrecked, a general wanted "that gun" made right, an uncle worked at the factory, parts sat around the factory and an employee wanted a gun to use......on and on.

Factory letter or better yet, a Kopec letter. For a couple of hundred dollars you can make thousands..--6
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Re: 1st Gen. Colt 'Military' SAA Mystery

#6 Post by Pete44ru » Sat May 19, 2018 3:07 pm

.

AFAIK, Colt (Colt Pat'd Firearms Co), in 1896 - at about SN 165,000 - was building revolvers for smokeless use (hence, the transverse cylinder pin).

At about serial number 175,000 - Colt 'warranteed' them for smokeless.

IMO, IDK how it's possible that that particular Artillery Model can be correct (except for the grips).

I'd definitely want a factory letter on it.


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