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  1. #1
    Junior Member DnnRe is on a distinguished road

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    SAA 1st gen, 2nd gen, 3rd gen?

    I am considering my next handgun and have pretty much settled on a Colt SAA in 45LC. Looking over the classifieds I see descriptions of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation SAA. I assume that this refers to date of mfg., 1st gen being the oldest, and I am discovering the most costly. Other than the age of the piece, are there any other differences in the generations that would make one preferable over the others? What generation are the currently produced SAA's, and are they of as good quality as the older revolvers? I believe that the "Cowboy" model has a cast frame, not a forged frame as the other new models being sold new. I don't know why, but I am not enthusiastic about a cast frame, so I have eliminated the "Cowboy" model. Is the price range of $1,100 to $1,300 reasonable for a SAA? Thanks in advance for your replies. DGR
    DnnRe8

  2. #2
    Senior Member lonewolf is on a distinguished road

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    Re: SAA 1st gen, 2nd gen, 3rd gen?

    DnnRe; There was a definate drop in quality of fit and finish between the 2nd & 3rd Generations. The 3rds have a new type cylinder ratchet,matching hand,and the cylinder bushing is NOT removable. On a more positive note,calibers such as the 44/40 were added as regular production,and the 38/40 appeared in the "4th Generation",or "custom shop" models. You SHOULD be able to get a 3rd generation "shooter" right within your price range. Good luck in your quest! Bud

  3. #3
    Senior Member rcwambold is on a distinguished road

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    Re: SAA 1st gen, 2nd gen, 3rd gen?

    Welcome, DnnRe! Single action Colts are ALL magnificent, aren't they? I'm speaking here strictly as a FAN and not an owner - never had one. BUT I'VE ALWAYS WANTED ONE! I plan to buy a long barrel New Frontier in .45 LC this summer, if it's still there on the dealer's shelf!I handled a nickel .45, 4 5/8's barrel last summer - what a feel. I'm sure if I'd've lived back then, I wouldn't have cared to replace it with a double-action ... maybe a 1911!? From what I've read, you've got the generations figured out just fine. I looked at a Cowboy a while back and couldn't understand why the hard knocks from everybody - sure looked good to me! Not like a regular SA but, ... I think in the SA's more than anywhere else in guns, the COLT name is everything. I love Colts but I'm not about do defend their quality control. I just think NOTHING is made now with the pride and fuss that pre-war men made. Guns, musical instruments, clothing, leather goods, ... heck, you name it. The only variation you didn't mention is one I just learned about this last week on these pages - it's a, "pinched frame," model. Dfariswheel, from these pages, tells us these were only made in 1873, which is the original year of introduction. US Arms makes one that apes the original Colts. Happy shooting! Whatever you're after, that big Colt ought to slow it down for you!

  4. #4
    Member 256M-S is on a distinguished road

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    Re: SAA 1st gen, 2nd gen, 3rd gen?

    I'm sure you'll get a fair variation in opinion on qualitative differences between the 3 Gens (and now some would add a 4th Gen to refer to the most current production with a return to separate bushing).

    First Gens have long been too pricey for me as a shooting gun--plus one seldom finds one that hasn't been fooked with in one form or another if it's in really fine condition.

    Once upon a time, I used to swear by 2d Gen and damn the 3rd out of hand. Now I have both 2d, & 3rd Gens and, I have found equally bad variations in finish, polish, or fit in both--and equally good ones. Of the four 3rd Gens I own, I have no qualitative complaints and they hold their own with my 2d Gen keepers and are better than some 2d Gens I've seen and passed on.

    I don't personally have much use for the Cowboy---from a purely personal perspective, if I wanted to depart that far from the original SAA, I'd buy a Ruger.

    I shouldn't think you'll have any problem with finding a current Colt SAA that you can be proud of within your price frame--but like everything else, you have to inspect it carefully to ensure you're getting what you want. I surely wouldn't tie myself to having piece made in certain time frame with the later SAA's unless you're looking for an investment. In that case, a 1st Gen piece is probably the cheapest way to go for an investment gun.

    Looks like Colt's current management is making a serious effort to exercise quality control over the current production but it's easy to fall into damning a weapon based on a comparatively few bad examples.

    Just another bit of opinion based on my limited handling experience to muddy the water some more.....

    ------------------
    "And the blithe revolver began to sing/ To the blade that twanged on the locking-ring..."
    And the blithe revolver began to sing/ To the blade that twanged on the locking-ring...

  5. #5
    Senior Member lonewolf is on a distinguished road

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    Re: SAA 1st gen, 2nd gen, 3rd gen?

    DnnRe; One in your price range( an early 3rd generation) is for sale on the S&W Forum,under Classifieds. Bud

  6. #6
    Junior Member Driftwood Johnson is on a distinguished road

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    Re: SAA 1st gen, 2nd gen, 3rd gen?

    Howdy

    According to my Kuhnhausen Colt Single Action Revolvers Shop Manual, Vols I&II, SAA serial numbers and dates run as follows:

    First Generation: 1873-1940 SN 1-357859.

    Production stopped during WWII to devote the company's resources to producing 1911's. The management at Colt decided no one would be interested single action revolvers after the war, but a young upstart named Bill Ruger proved them wrong, so production finally started up again in 1956. These are the second Generation guns. Second Gen guns have a SA suffix after the serial number. Second Gen production ran from 1956 with SN 0001SA through 1975 with SN73319SA.

    The Third generation is considered to run from 1976 to the present day. Kuhnhausen only documents up to 1999. Third Gen production starts in 1976 with SN 80000SA up until they ran out of digits with 99999SA in 1978. It continues in 1978 with the SA in front as a prefix starting with SA01001 and topping out in 1993 with SA99999. This time they split the SA in the front and back with SN S02001A going up to S26699A in 1999. That's where Kuhnhausen's data ends.

    Several very minor design changes happened during the First Gen, but nothing really significant. The First Gen guns were not warrenteed for Smokeless powder until 1900. The steels used in early First Gen guns were not as strong as today, as a matter of fact the very first guns had iron frames and cylinders. Prices on First Gen guns often start way up over $1500 for guns that are questionable at best for shooting today. There are still plenty of shootable First Gens out there, but they cost a lot of money.

    Second Gens are often considered to be the best shooters by many. The steels used in Second Gens in good shape can take Smokeless loads as long as the pressures are kept within Sammi limits. There were a few very minor design changes between the First and Second Gen guns. Second Gen guns are pricy too, but you are more apt to find a good shooter in the Second Gen. One complaint about Second Gens is the chamber throats are usually oversize in 45 Colt. This is supposed to contribute to inaccuracy. I own two Second Gens, and although the chamber throats are indeed oversized, it doesn't seem to affect accuracy at all.

    The Third Gen started with a change in the design of the cylinder bushing. Early Third Gens have a reputation for poor fit and finish, but Colt seems to have gotten a hold on quality and recent Third Gens seem to be right up there quality wise. Recently Colt went back to the Second Gen style of cylinder bushing, and some are saying that this represents a Fourth Gen, but most collectors still categorize current production as Third Gen.

    The Colt Cowboy was an ill fated attempt by Colt to cash in on a bargain basement Single Action gun for Cowboy Action Shooting in competition with the Ruger Vaquero. It had a cast frame, and a transfer bar. Most shooters went for the Vaquero instead of the Cowboy. Colt has removed it from production.

    Be very careful when looking for a Colt. There are plenty of fakes and rebuilds out there masquerading as the real McCoy. I own one parts built Second Gen, but the dealer was honest and I knew what I was getting. Because it is a parts gun, I got it for much less than the normal cost of a Second Gen. It is an excellent shooter.
    Specialty of the house and it's still moving. That does it, this place gets no more of my business.

  7. #7
    Junior Member DnnRe is on a distinguished road

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    Re: SAA 1st gen, 2nd gen, 3rd gen?

    Thanks to all of you for your exdplanations regarding the three generations of SAAs, and especially to you Driftwood Johnson. Replies were very informative. Regarding the cylinder bushing, I understand that older 3rd gen SAA did not have a replacable bushing and that current production SAAs have this replacable bushing. Am I correct? I assume that the advantage of a replacable bushing is that if the fit becomes loose, only the bushing needs replacement and not the entire cylinder. Is this correct? I checked with a local dealer today and got a price quote on a new SAA with 5 1/2" barrel of $1,050. This seems to be a fair price. What do others think?

    [This message has been edited by DnnRe (edited 03-23-2004).]
    DnnRe8


 

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