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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've owned a number of Single Actions in the past, but I've been without one for a long time. I've been looking to add one to my small collection for quite a while, but they always seem a little beyond what I'm comfortable spending. Anyway, on Tuesday I walked into a LGS that I'd never been into before, and sitting in the used gun display case is an extremely nice, almost pristine, 7-1/2" 32-20, except that it's no longer a 7-1/2". Sometime in the long distant past, someone had cut it back to 6" and added a funky dovetailed gold bead blade front sight. But even with the surgery this gun is exceptional. Manufactured in 1921, the bore and chambers are perfect, the action and lock up are like new. Except for the bbl cut, this is one of the nicest Single Actions I've handled in a long time. To cut to the chase, I negotiated a very good deal, bought it, and will bring it home next Friday after its 10 day quarantine.

My question is, what would you SAA lovers do with this piece? My first choice would be to have it cut to 5-1/2" and add a correct period front sight, but the problem is the dovetail cut. Can these be filled with a filet or welded up, then cut to length? Next option would be to cut it to 4-3/4", no problem with the dovetail, but the one line address would be an issue. What are the odds of finding a correct period bbl that matches the rest of the gun; I would guess pretty long. I hate to just leave it alone, it's too nice not to have some minor corrective surgery performed. I did contact Turnbull about cutting to 4-3/4" cutting the crown and adding a new sight. I was told it was no big deal to do and only minor bluing touch up. I didn't think to ask about filling in the dovetail.

Here are some pictures.





 

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If you are going to shoot it, I would leave it like it is. If you must have a replacement bbl, then I would contact Dave Lanara about making a new bbl for it. He can duplicate the original bbl markings, rifling, etc.
Here's his website: Home
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi Swamprat,

Thanks for the suggestions. And yes this is definitely going to be a shooter. I did talk to Dave, and asked about availability of an original 7-1/2" bbl. He thought that would be HIGHLY unlikely, and he did mention that he could supply a new bbl to match. That idea doesn't really interest me. Somehow installing a new bbl and finishing it to look like the rest of the gun, doesn't seem right. Since it can never really be again what it originally was, I think I'd rather work with the original bbl and just clean up the ugly work that was done probably 60+ years ago as best as possible. BTW, Dave mentioned that his current turn around time is pushing 2 years.

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I might be confused but cutting it to 4 3/4 shouldn't interfere w/the address,I've seen a lot of 4 3/4's that have been shortened w/no problem,I own a few that have had the same thing done.
 

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I would leave it as is, if you are going to shoot it. But if you are going to get it fixed, I would send it to Colt. I have a second Gen. Colt .45 and it was reuined by a supposed Gun Smith. So If it were me I would look online and get the corret barrel unless your going to use it. There are Barrels out there to be found. Good Luck! Have a good one God bless!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
... cutting it to 4 3/4 shouldn't interfere w/the address,I've seen a lot of 4 3/4's that have been shortened w/no problem,I own a few that have had the same thing done.
Cutting to 4-3/4" shouldn't actually interfere with the address, it's just that a single line address isn't correct for 4-3/4" bbls; they had the 2 line address.

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I'd be inclined to leave it as-is -- its changes being part of its history. Otherwise go with Turnbull. They can do a job that will look original & perfect. I've had several jobs done by them. No way to make it original again which may or not be meaningful to you or its next owner.
 

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i vote to leave it as is. the custom job looks good to me. and it was done a long time ago. interesting gun. now we need a range report with pics.
 

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There may be enough to make it a 5 1/2 barrel and if not it will be close enough. That is what I would go with as it would look correct and believe it or not sometimes original barrels do show up. I would be looking for dies, lyman mold in 115 grain and cases. Find out what load you like shooting out of it, then send some ammo to whoever may be putting on the front sight so he can site it in on the range you request. just my .02. Oh, and keep you eyes out for win. 92 to match. The fun never ends.
 

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Several have suggested shooting it as is. I would do that before I changed anything. You must have liked it a little to have bought it in the first place. I'd shoot it then if it didn't suit me I'd change it.
You could even have a cylinder & bbl fitted for a different caliber if you want. It's already been altered. Keep the original bbl so you can put it back. I'd enjoy it looks like a nice gun. Congratulations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks all for the suggestions and input. I like it a lot and I'm definitely keeping it as it is for a while. I haven't had a chance to shoot a SAA for a long time and I plan to have a lot of fun before I do anything. It's in CA quarantine until next Friday, so no range report before next weekend. The purchase included a box of WW 100 gr., that has to date to the '70s. The box has 12 rounds missing from it, so I'm guessing that was the last time this gun was fired.

Anybody have any favorite 32-20 loads they would like to share?

Best regards,
 

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If you decide to alter the existing barrel, I suggest having Turnbull cut it to 4.75" and do the minor touch up. If you go with a 5.5" with the dovetail welded up, it will probably require more extensive refinish, which will be noticeable. It will just take more originality away from the gun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks Hopalong, that's pretty much what I'm leaning towards. I definitely want to disturb the original finish as little as possible.

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Many a 7 1/2" barrel was cut down back in the day for a variety of reasons and depended on how the original owner used the tool (gun). I'd be inclined to see how you like shooting it in it's current length and then make a determination on how YOU plan on using the gun. If the aesthetics of a 4 3/4" appeal to you then remember the barrel has already been altered so cutting to 5 1/2" (minor finish work) or 4 3/4" (more finish work) is strictly a judgment call.
 

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I'd opt to have Doug Turnbull do his magic making it a 4 3/4". You will not be sorry.
 
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