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I am the proud owner of Serial #161376. Factory letter indicates shipment of 1 to Browning Brothers in Ogden, Utah in May of 1895. Believe it to be "one-of-a-kind" in that it is:
  1. One of 24 Flattop Target Bisleys in .41 long colt
  2. Factory Nickel
  3. Factory Ivory Grips
  4. Kopec's book indicates that 64 Bisley's left the factory without Bisley inscription on the barrel, this would be number 65
  5. This Serial number falls outside of the published range of Flattop Target Bisleys
  6. Ron Graham inspected the gun personally at the Vegas Antique Arms show, and verified authenticity
  7. Accompanying "Heiser Holster" and cartridge belt are stamped "Browning Brothers"
  8. I am the 2nd owner, original family had it for 115 years
  9. Link to my story and pictures: Factory Nickel Bisley
  10. Flat Top Target Bisley
 

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Discussion Starter #85
The Colt factory didn't seem to care if consecutive serial numbers were shipped to the same customer when they filled an order. Sometimes, an order did contain consecutive serial numbers, but often it didn't.

Here's how I think it played out. As guns were completed and inspected, they went into a pre-shipment area at the Colt factory. In this area, several workmen took the completed guns and placed them into shipping containers. Let's say Workman #1 grabbed three guns and put them in a box for Merchant A in Chicago. Workman #2 took the next eight guns to ship to Merchant B in New York. Then Workman #2 took two more guns to complete the order for Merchant A. Almost immediately after this, Workman #3 grabbed the next available Colt SAA to ship to an individual buyer in Philadelphia. Soon thereafter, the next two guns were set aside for the Colt engravers to complete a special order. In this notional example, you can see how 16 consecutively serial numbered Colt SAA revolvers where sent to four different parties.

Rusty Edwards
 

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Kinda like not all consecutive cars coming off the assembly line don't get shipped to the same dealer.
 

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my 1907 is 35 numbers lower than one that went to copper queen mining Co. Suppose they may have been in the same order?
Anyone who has seen a page from Colt's shipping ledgers (and I've shown a number of them on this forum) - they know that the serial numbers are scrambled. Occasionally one can see two consecutive numbers in a shipment of 15 or 20.

Here is another partial page from the Nov 1914 Colt SAA sales and shipments. Notice that the serial numbers range from 180xxx to 331xxx! Not even one consecutive set among these 11 shipped serial numbers.
 

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Discussion Starter #90
Chris1974, thank you for the information about two more Colt SAA revolvers owned by legendary lawman Frank Hamer. I've added this information to my list, as well as several more serial numbers discovered since the last update. New information is in RED font.

Here's the latest 1st Generation Colt SAA Serial Number list. Be sure to refresh your browser so it pulls up the list compiled on 12/22/20.


Rusty Edwards
 

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Thanks for the feedback! Several blog members have used my serial number list to discover interesting information about their Colt SAA revolvers. For example, Pittstate03 learned that his gun (SN: 117844) had been carried by hired gunman J. C. Johnson during the "Johnson County War" in Wyoming (1889-1893). During this conflict, a group of cattle barons employed several gunmen from Texas to kill and intimidate small ranch owners who they saw as a threat to their livelihood. Several people were murdered before the US Army was called in. They rounded up the gunman and confiscated their firearms. Pittstate03 learned that his Colt was documented as one of these guns.

Rusty Edwards
Hello Rusty. What a tremendous service you’ve done here archiving all of these famous and infamous firearms history. Outstanding work
 

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Rusty, you & I are on the same trek, to ID historic side arms. I am new to this site as I am trying to find an explanation to a Colt percussion I have. But back to SAA... Remember an old knowledgeable collector writing that the Colt SAA's that saw the brunt of the Indian Wars and were worn out, lost or stolen so that is why they are so scarce, were the first 8800 issued. They say it probably is closer to predict what Colts were issued to what regiments than the carbines as when the Colts came out, they were in sequential order in the crates & although some were drawn from different crates for odd # issue it is still was better that carbines which were held up for issue an later carbines would get inner mixed w/ others. I hit a hot number Carbine that came from a local estate auction & amongst his ecletic collection was this beautiful High arch, long wrist, short comb T.D. carbine ser. # 21862. Although proving it, that it was issued to the 7th Cav. is another thing. We do know that the bulk of serviceable carbines found on the field were in this range. I do have a U.S. Colt S.A.A. #7745 that was sent to San Antonio arsenal & would have been issued to the 5th (Bill Cody Scout) or 8th or 9th Cav. A 7t Cav. Co. (who Custer made them turn in their S.A.A. for fear they possibly might be lost) were sent to AZ. on detached duty. But they were issued Colts from this allotment so there is a slight chance it was a 7th Cav. Colt. Since I started this sometimes maddening research of possible historical weapons, I have been fortunate to document a Civil War O.M. Remington carried by the trumpeter of Co. I, 1st MO. Cav. who chased Quantrill in MO. And my most unusual find was 5 years ago I discovered 3 weapons that came out of S.Texas and from city & county we lived in when I was stationed in S.TX w/ the Border Patrol. To condense the story the weapon I had enquired about first then led to the other 2 which happened to belong to the first sheriff of Frio County TX in 1876. I spent months uncovering his life. His best friend was Bigfoot Wallace one of the early TX Rangers. They could make a movie of his life.
723842
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Rusty, you & I are on the same trek, to ID historic side arms. I am new to this site as I am trying to find an explanation to a Colt percussion I have. But back to SAA... Remember an old knowledgeable collector writing that the Colt SAA's that saw the brunt of the Indian Wars and were worn out, lost or stolen so that is why they are so scarce, were the first 8800 issued. They say it probably is closer to predict what Colts were issued to what regiments than the carbines as when the Colts came out, they were in sequential order in the crates & although some were drawn from different crates for odd # issue it is still was better that carbines which were held up for issue an later carbines would get inner mixed w/ others. I hit a hot number Carbine that came from a local estate auction & amongst his ecletic collection was this beautiful High arch, long wrist, short comb T.D. carbine ser. # 21862. Although proving it, that it was issued to the 7th Cav. is another thing. We do know that the bulk of serviceable carbines found on the field were in this range. I do have a U.S. Colt S.A.A. #7745 that was sent to San Antonio arsenal & would have been issued to the 5th (Bill Cody Scout) or 8th or 9th Cav. A 7t Cav. Co. (who Custer made them turn in their S.A.A. for fear they possibly might be lost) were sent to AZ. on detached duty. But they were issued Colts from this allotment so there is a slight chance it was a 7th Cav. Colt. Since I started this sometimes maddening research of possible historical weapons, I have been fortunate to document a Civil War O.M. Remington carried by the trumpeter of Co. I, 1st MO. Cav. who chased Quantrill in MO. And my most unusual find was 5 years ago I discovered 3 weapons that came out of S.Texas and from city & county we lived in when I was stationed in S.TX w/ the Border Patrol. To condense the story the weapon I had enquired about first then led to the other 2 which happened to belong to the first sheriff of Frio County TX in 1876. I spent months uncovering his life. His best friend was Bigfoot Wallace one of the early TX Rangers. They could make a movie of his life. View attachment 723842 View attachment 723843 View attachment 723844 View attachment 723845 View attachment 723846 View attachment 723847 View attachment 723848
I was interested to see that your Colt SAA #7745 lettered from Kopec much like mine. According to H. H. Miller, my #7877 was sent to San Antonio arsenal and issued to the 5th and 9th Cav units.
 

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Wow, this is interesting to find another so close in number. Where did you pick up yours at? Mine came from Oregon. About 12 years ago, got a call from a friend of mine who knew a fellow collector who was selling 8 U.S. Colts for an elderly man who collected U.S. Colts since the 40's but the old man had a terminal disease and he had no insurance for his wife, so he was selling his collection Since we were driving out to see our son in WA. I told him I would be interest in one. 5 had already been sold when I got there. The three left were all under ser. # 8000. So, I picked the nicest of the 3 but regretted not borrowing the money & buying all 3. The interesting thing although minor, my serial # is mentioned Cochran's book on U.S. Colts as being one of two Colts that are double stamped on the cylinder w/ A.... I guess Ainsworth was getting tired. IMHO I think possibly, mine was an officer's purchase from Co. inventory, as it sure was maintained throughout the years & possibly he carried it afterwards explaining the diamond ivory inletted into the grips and you can see remnants of the cartouch on the left grip. Anyway, you sure have a nice one there and we both fortunate to have one of the realy early 1st generation Colts as there sure aren't many out there anymore
 

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Wow, this is interesting to find another so close in number. Where did you pick up yours at? Mine came from Oregon. About 12 years ago, got a call from a friend of mine who knew a fellow collector who was selling 8 U.S. Colts for an elderly man who collected U.S. Colts since the 40's but the old man had a terminal disease and he had no insurance for his wife, so he was selling his collection Since we were driving out to see our son in WA. I told him I would be interest in one. 5 had already been sold when I got there. The three left were all under ser. # 8000. So, I picked the nicest of the 3 but regretted not borrowing the money & buying all 3. The interesting thing although minor, my serial # is mentioned Cochran's book on U.S. Colts as being one of two Colts that are double stamped on the cylinder w/ A.... I guess Ainsworth was getting tired. IMHO I think possibly, mine was an officer's purchase from Co. inventory, as it sure was maintained throughout the years & possibly he carried it afterwards explaining the diamond ivory inletted into the grips and you can see remnants of the cartouch on the left grip. Anyway, you sure have a nice one there and we both fortunate to have one of the realy early 1st generation Colts as there sure aren't many out there anymore
I know that some ColtForum members like seeing Kopec letters. So I plan to scan mine and show on this forum.

You made a great decision in buying your #7745.

I bought my #7877 from a Texas dealer. I don't recall getting any provenance. Will check my files on this.
 
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Just discovered this thread -- not sure how I missed it before -- but here goes:

I have #5305, which I've had John Kopec authenticate. I inherited it from my grandfather, who passed away some years ago. The only document I've found in his records that indicates how acquired it is a single page from what appears to be a typed listing of firearms for sale. There are four other SAAs listed on that page -- #886, #9460, #18992 and #140064. I'm hoping that by determining who that listing was from that I can trace the history of my SAA. Any input would be appreciated!

Bill
Well, it looks like Grand dad made the wise choice of the right serial # to pick. That is close or is in the ball park for 7th cav. issue. Of course that & $1.50 will buy you a cup of coffee, as unless it can be I.D. to a soldier or forensically tested, there is no way to prove it as serial # didn't mean much when issuing them to regiments but that being said, collectors pay big bucks for anything in the serial # range issued to the 7th. or even Custer era of those issued to other regiments The early Colts within the first 8800 revolvers issued (for all 9 regiments) saw the brunt of the I.W.'s). I haven't followed prices here lately but when one comes up for auction, especially if just possibly, it was a 7th issue you could get at least $15000 / 20000 to who knows, depending on condition (and that is a biggy) as condition is everything anymore. Congratulations and your Grand dad had a good eye.
 

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UPDATED 1st Generation Colt SAA Serial Numbers 1873-1940

Here is a link to my list of 1st Generation Colt SAA revolvers owned by famous Old West lawmen, outlaws, gunfighters, soldiers, and other noteworthy people.

UPDATED 12/22/2020

http://www.swshana.com/Colt_SAA_SNs.pdf

BE SURE TO REFRESH YOUR BROWSER TO ENSURE YOU HAVE THE LATEST EDITION.

Rusty Edwards
Thanks for sharing!
 

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UPDATED 1st Generation Colt SAA Serial Numbers 1873-1940

Here is a link to my list of 1st Generation Colt SAA revolvers owned by famous Old West lawmen, outlaws, gunfighters, soldiers, and other noteworthy people.

UPDATED 12/22/2020

http://www.swshana.com/Colt_SAA_SNs.pdf

BE SURE TO REFRESH YOUR BROWSER TO ENSURE YOU HAVE THE LATEST EDITION.

Rusty Edwards
Thank you for your list. I own 344718 and am trying to research it.
 

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UPDATED 1st Generation Colt SAA Serial Numbers 1873-1940

Here is a link to my list of 1st Generation Colt SAA revolvers owned by famous Old West lawmen, outlaws, gunfighters, soldiers, and other noteworthy people.

UPDATED 12/22/2020

http://www.swshana.com/Colt_SAA_SNs.pdf

BE SURE TO REFRESH YOUR BROWSER TO ENSURE YOU HAVE THE LATEST EDITION.

Rusty Edwards
Just picked up my first Colt SAA.. It is a US marked gun with 5.5 inch barrel.. I found your list of known SAA's very interesting. It appears mine may have been one issued to the New York Militia as it falls the middle of what appears to be a batch of them sent to New York.. It surprises me that so many were sent to the NY Militia .. Do you have any idea what units were getting them.. I assume not just cavalry.. Also. frame was made in 1876 but NY Militia was not officially set up until 1886. Did the gun sit in some arsenal for those 10 years ?
 

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Discussion Starter #100
The frame was made in 1876 but NY Militia was not officially set up until 1886. Did the gun sit in some arsenal for those 10 years ?
The NY State Militia was established much earlier than 1886. They can trace their history to both the Revolutionary War and Civil War. In 1886, they were consolidated into a single headquarters. This is not the date they were established.

I can't say for sure that your Colt SAA was issued to the NY State Militia as solid blocks of serial numbers were seldom issued to the same military unit. These guns were in demand, so it is very unlikely that many (if any at all) sat around at an arsenal for 10 years before they were issued.

While these guns were referred to as the "Cavalry" model revolver, they were issued to a broad range of military units, like the Infantry.

Rusty Edwards
 
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