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Discussion Starter #1
So, Ive been out of the loop for a little while restoring a car and was wondering if anyone had an idea of what an 1880 US Cavalry/Artillery is worth? I know these things fluctuate in price. This one was part of a shipment of 200 guns to the US Govt in 1880. It was returned to the factory in 1903 where the barrel was shortened to 5 1/2", worn parts replaced, cleaning, and returned to the Springfield Armory. Seen some action for sure. US stamped frame, Ainsworth inspected trigger guard, 3 or 4 letters stamped under the barrel that I cant make out. A "K" on the back of the cylinder which has 4 digit serial that I cant make out clearly either. When I got it, it had the wrong grips on it so I replaced them with period correct one piece walnuts that have quite a bit of original varnish left and fit very nicely. Nice action with 4 solid clicks. Timing is excellent. Bore is not terrible and has pitting and good rifling. Barrel to cylinder gap is excellent. I think it would shoot fine but I have never shot it. Colt lettered. Hidden areas of original bluing but mostly a gray finish. Any thoughts on value? I might be moving it in the near future. Cant make up my mind as I really like this gun. Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Pull the grips. No varnish on US models and these civilian with original (?) varnish are 300.00+ alone. This would be one of the early DFC guns but no DFC over serial number on frame but it letters correctly. IMO, 2000.00-2500.00.
They are civilian grips . I installed them myself and I paid a little more than $300.00 for them.
 

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Because of what this is, I don't see it bringing less than $2000, and $2500 seems about right for this one, or close to it.

Low serial numbered components are nice, but without a Kopec letter, you can't be sure they might not be, or other parts might not be, Civilian in origin. Been there...done that!
 

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If the other parts are from US Military guns then 2500 to 3000 would be a good place to start. Does the cylinder have a number and inspector mark? How about the backstrap and barrel? It looks well used but good.
 

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I think Rick and Ian (mrcvs) are saying (like myself) that $2500 to $3000 would be tops without a Kopec 'blessing.'
 

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Here is a picture of the back fo the cylinder. There are 4 numbers stamped on the side of it but they are so thin, I cant hardly read them. I dont remember if the backstrap is marked or not. I'd have to pull the grips to see.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I think Rick and Ian (mrcvs) are saying (like myself) that $2500 to $3000 would be tops without a Kopec 'blessing.'
Well, that sounds fine. I'll let the next guy order a Kopec letter for it. I dont want to invest any more into it. I was hoping it would be closer to $3K so, I might as well just start shooting it. Should make lots of smoke and noise with some black powder!
 
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I guess I haven't ever really followed SAAs, but weren't real US marked ones always double or triple what a civilian was? I mean, in the 1980s I'd see values in the thousands, when the civilian ones were in the mid hundreds. Today a gray gun that is civilian will be about $1000-$1500. A US Cavalry issue SAA is only $2500? You can barely gett a good 2nd generation for that.
 

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Here is a picture of the back fo the cylinder. There are 4 numbers stamped on the side of it but they are so thin, I cant hardly read them. I dont remember if the backstrap is marked or not. I'd have to pull the grips to see.
The inspector markings that are being discussed would be below the serial number on the backstrap, similar to the one in the picture below. If the backstrap is an early Ainsworth, then there would be a small "A" at the top of the backstrap near the frame. You would not need to pull the grips to see these. The trigger guard on your gun has the small "A" for Ainsworth visible in your pic. The barrel should have a "P" and probably "DFC" on the bottom near the cylinder pin, sample attached. The cylinder should have an inspector mark and a "P" in a similar location on the outside of the cylinder like the partial serial number. Since the number is worn, then these single small letters may be worn off. As for as value, I picked up a pretty nice Artillery with decent original grips for $3200 recently but I felt that it was a good deal and was worth a little more.
20190824_185907_resized.jpg 20190824_190159_resized.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #12
There is a P stamped under the barrel that looks like ti was struck later and possibly over one of the other letters. I cant make out the other letters but might be RAC ? There is a,los part of a letter under the serial number on the backstrap that might be a K like the one in your picture. So much wear, its hard to tell.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
This is a better picture of the barrel .... Looks like RAC to me with a P to the right and maybe a P struck over the A.
 

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I guess I haven't ever really followed SAAs, but weren't real US marked ones always double or triple what a civilian was? I mean, in the 1980s I'd see values in the thousands, when the civilian ones were in the mid hundreds. Today a gray gun that is civilian will be about $1000-$1500. A US Cavalry issue SAA is only $2500? You can barely gett a good 2nd generation for that.
azshot, We are not discussing a US Cavalry in this thread, we are discussing a US Artillery. I will point out that if one finds a US Cavalry with mis-matched barrel, cylinder, TG, BS, etc. its value would most likely be for its parts.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Sorry and yes, you are correct. I should have stated "artillery" in my thread title. Of course, I would say it started life as a Cavalry model before being overhauled in 1903 or am I wrong about that?.
 

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Artilleries are acceptable with parts from many different Cavalries. Cavalries with parts from many different Cavalries are not very desirable.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Artilleries are acceptable with parts from many different Cavalries. Cavalries with parts from many different Cavalries are not very desirable.
So, based on that, with the very early trigger guard on mine, it would not be very desirable correct? More of just an everyday shooter grade Colt ?
 

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Sorry and yes, you are correct. I should have stated "artillery" in my thread title. Of course, I would say it started life as a Cavalry model before being overhauled in 1903 or am I wrong about that?.
If you have the book, "A Study of the Colt SAA Revolver", by Graham, Kopec and Moore, page 227 describes what your frame started out as. Your frame, 42203, falls into the early D.F.C. inspected models referred to as the "Civilian-U.S. Revolvers". The book describes this in detail but the bottom line is that this frame was originally an all matching 7 1/2" civilian 1878 Colt SAA that Colt offered to the military as part of one of the military contracts. Since it now has the U.S. stamped on the side of the frame, this indicates that the military accepted it but David F. Clark was not able to place his usual acceptance stamp on the frame because it was already case hardened. So in 1880 this would have become an all matching civilian revolver inspected and accepted by the military for the cavalry. The book indicates that only about 1000 civilian revolvers in this serial number range were probably accepted by the military. It was later refurbished into an Artillery as most of the cavalry models and is a little worn but appears to be good.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
If you have the book, "A Study of the Colt SAA Revolver", by Graham, Kopec and Moore, page 227 describes what your frame started out as. Your frame, 42203, falls into the early D.F.C. inspected models referred to as the "Civilian-U.S. Revolvers". The book describes this in detail but the bottom line is that this frame was originally an all matching 7 1/2" civilian 1878 Colt SAA that Colt offered to the military as part of one of the military contracts. Since it now has the U.S. stamped on the side of the frame, this indicates that the military accepted it but David F. Clark was not able to place his usual acceptance stamp on the frame because it was already case hardened. So in 1880 this would have become an all matching civilian revolver inspected and accepted by the military for the cavalry. The book indicates that only about 1000 civilian revolvers in this serial number range were probably accepted by the military. It was later refurbished into an Artillery as most of the cavalry models and is a little worn but appears to be good.
Very interesting and thank you! I do have that book but somehow missed that information.
 
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