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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings, all. I am thinking about trying to find a NIB New Frontier 44 Special or second choice .357, 7-1/2" barrel length. Do the Second Generation guns offer real advantages over the Third Generation? I have seen more 3rds, naturally, but most of them don't seem to give up much in the way of finish quality to the few Second Generation guns I've seen. Maybe you experts out there can tell me about the differences--whether tolerances and possibly accuracy would be better in the earlier guns or not, or other things. Any information would be appreciated.


Regards, Ralph Boineau in central South Carolina
 

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Sorry, I don't know too much about "generations" of Colts. But I have three New Frontiers, two of 1980 vintage and one of current manufacture. My 2012 gun has a much more attractive case hardening, done by Doug Turnbull I believe, and somewhat nicer looking grips. It also had a slightly better trigger pull than the older guns. One of the older guns, a .44 Special, has rather sloppy rollmarks and poor fit of the ejector rod housing to the barrel. An older .45 Colt has very good fit.

The older New Frontiers have awful triggers. And the .44 required a new mainspring, the original producing what seemed like a thousand pound pull.

As to accuracy, all three of mine are very good shooters and produce more than acceptable groups, after tweaking the trigger pulls. Trigger jobs are an easy fix for your gunsmith.

The New Frontier is not a Ruger Blackhawk, so I've kept my handloads to around 1,000~1,200 fps velocity with no problems. But now I'm getting to the milder target loads at my stage of life, so these guns are doing fine.

Do wish Colt would do something about the quality of grips on the New Frontier.

Bob Wright
 

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I have been looking for a dimensionaly correct .45 SAA and a NF for several years, never did find one, and I have looked at and measured dozens over the years. I ended up getting ahold of a couple 3rd gen guns and sending them to Bowen with new cylinders and having them completely gone thru . I don't believe you will find a correct 2nd or 3rd gen gun as far as the cyl throats go, and the front sight is a crap shoot...with .45's anyways, they are usually way to short for 250-265gr bullets. I measured several .44's also and most cyl throats were at about .434 or .435. Never did look at .357's , so can't help you there. If you bought a .357, you could just pick up a .45 barrel and have the cylinder bored to minimum spec to match. Don't get me wrong, I love the Colts and you can get some of these guns to shoot "ok" by playing with powder charges, bullet size and BHN to get them to "slug up" in the oversize throats and get a strait start into the forcing cone, and some of them will shoot alright. But in my opinion, if you want a nice shooter, find a NF that looks to be well fitted and send it to either Bowen or Harton and have them go thru and set it up correctly and then you will have a nice gun. Good luck .
 

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I think the 2nd Generation New Frontiers are probably a bit better in fit and finish. I have never seen a 2nd Generation NF that was not well fitted and finished. Some of the 3rd Generation New Frontiers that came out in the 1980s leave a bit to be desired. I do not buy into the bad years and good years scenario. I do think each gun needs to be evaluated on an individual basis. The examples of current production SAAs and NFs I have seen are all very well done. I totally agree with Bob Wright in that Colt could sure do with some nicer wood for the stocks. Finding a NIB 2nd Generation NF in .44 Special is going to be pricey and difficult. If I were you I would try to find one of the current production NFs. Good luck.
 

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NONE OF MY SECOND GENERATION NEW FRONTIER SIXGUNS in every available caliber have ever needed a nickles worth of tuning up. ALL of my third generation New Frontiers [ excepting the brand new NF 45 I got last year ] have needed various amounts of tuning up. I always figure on $400.00 of cost in having a 3RD Gen NF brought up to par. Only one ever needed that much, but I am ready just in case. All needed action jobs for instance.
AND FURTHERMORE...I have never ever never had trouble making a COLT SAA or NF in 45COLT SHOOT JUST FINE no matter what sized the cylinder throats might be in size, NEVER !!
AND so it goes...
 

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i don't care for the 3rd gen NF. i find most of them to have poor fiting. i would buy a current NF or a 2nd gen if i could find one. i would but a ruger BH before buying a 3rd gen NF.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Wow--pretty discouraging. I do appreciate the information and now know more things to look for. But the cylinder throat diameter situation is really troubling, as you could not evaluate such a thing while considering an on-line purchase even if the accompanying pictures were first-class. The horror stories above about poor dimensioning seem to cluster on 45 caliber guns--anyone have any input on 44s--do they tend to be all over the map too?

This talk of Colt quality reminds me of 1971. I had always wanted a 6" Python but they were out of my financial class. But finally saved up enough money to purchase one at a discount from J&G Rifle Ranch in Arizona (I believe). Gun came in and it was beautiful--if you didn't look inside the chambers or bore, or tried to work the action. Horrible reamer marks in the chambers, marks in the rifling too. Action was rough--click-snap-clack-pop-click. Gun's cylinder started rubbing the back of the barrel after not-that-many-rounds. Got rid of it and went to a competitor's large-frame .357. Won't mention the name here for fear of being banned from the Forum but initials were S&W. Perfect gun.

Thanks again for your help
 

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Wow--pretty discouraging. I do appreciate the information and now know more things to look for. But the cylinder throat diameter situation is really troubling, as you could not evaluate such a thing while considering an on-line purchase even if the accompanying pictures were first-class. The horror stories above about poor dimensioning seem to cluster on 45 caliber guns--anyone have any input on 44s--do they tend to be all over the map too?

This talk of Colt quality reminds me of 1971. I had always wanted a 6" Python but they were out of my financial class. But finally saved up enough money to purchase one at a discount from J&G Rifle Ranch in Arizona (I believe). Gun came in and it was beautiful--if you didn't look inside the chambers or bore, or tried to work the action. Horrible reamer marks in the chambers, marks in the rifling too. Action was rough--click-snap-clack-pop-click. Gun's cylinder started rubbing the back of the barrel after not-that-many-rounds. Got rid of it and went to a competitor's large-frame .357. Won't mention the name here for fear of being banned from the Forum but initials were S&W. Perfect gun.

Thanks again for your help
THE NEW COLT SAA AND NF SIXGUNS[4] IN 44SPL that I've measured the cylinder throats upon have run right at .4295"ID. They also shoot nothing short of damnfine thank you very much !! Am in the process of loading 1000[actually 998] rounds of 44SPL heavy loads for them[ 255GR .42955"OD 429421 bullets at 1050fps] as we speak.
 

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I had a 3rd Gen .44 Special New Frontier from the early 1980s. The trigger pull was too heavy, the hammer rubbed the frame, and the entire action was rough.
 

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I have two 3rd gen New Frontiers. Both are 45 Colt. One needed smoothing up ($150 from Bob James in Phoenix, AZ), the other only needed a bit lighter main spring. If I do my part, each of them will put a cylinderfull in 2" at 25 yds off the bags. 2nd gen NFs are very hard to find but 3rd gens show up pretty often. I've heard that the new production NFs are very excellent and I have one on order, but I have not seen or shot one.
 

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I just looked...the NF .45 I've had new in the box, new and unfired, since 1981 is a 2nd gen. Wow. I did not know that. #03XXXNF. Does that mean I'm rich?!
 

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I just looked...the NF .45 I've had new in the box, new and unfired, since 1981 is a 2nd gen. Wow. I did not know that. #03XXXNF. Does that mean I'm rich?!
What's the barrel length of your NF? Does it have the removable cylinder bushing? IIRC a NF with an 03XXX sn is a 3rd gen.
 

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Colt.com database says 1962 production (?) ...hmmm...I better double check that. 7 1/2". I've never even cocked it (I've always assumed it was a 3rd, but now this database result has kinda thrown me).
 

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I just looked...the NF .45 I've had new in the box, new and unfired, since 1981 is a 2nd gen. Wow. I did not know that. #03XXXNF. Does that mean I'm rich?!
1981 is 3rd Gen.

#03xxxNF was made in 1978. Also 3rd Gen.

#3xxxNF would be 2nd Gen (notice there is no zero in front of the S/N).
 

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A 2nd Generation New Frontier will have four numerical digits followed by NF (I am including "0" as a numerical digit). Also, the original walnut stocks on a 2nd Generation NF would usually have silver medallions and a 3rd Generation NF would have gold medallions.
 

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Gold grip medallions. Thanks for the info. Gonna have to dig more, I guess. I have a note in the box stating that 1st gen are 1962-1974, #3000NF to 7288NF with 4,163 made. 2nd gen then pick up in 1978-1983, #01001NF to 16000NF. I'm not sure but I think I got that info from one of those big glossy coffee table Colt books with lots of pictures. Seems to me I've misread/interpreted these numbers...if 2nd gen was 1978-1983. how'd I get a 3rd gen one in 1981? That's what has me perplexed. (This note has no mention of 3rd gen so I think I looked it up and wrote it down before 3rd came out...but it was a heckuva long time ago, and I just don't remember zackly)...geez, the font just changed by itself in this reply. Thanks for the info, folks, and my apologies to the originating poster...didn't mean to hijack yer thread.
 

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There is no 1st Gen New Frontier.

The first run of New Frontiers were built during the 2nd Generation of Colt single action production.

The second run of New Frontiers were / are being built during the 3rd Generation of Colt single actions.

New Frontiers do not have their own generations. They are either 2nd or 3rd Generation, in accordance with the SAA generations. 1981 (not when your gun was built per the S/N) is during the 3rd Gen SAA era, therefore all New Frontiers from then are 3rd Gen. Your gun was made in 1978, which is also 3rd Gen.
 

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New Frontier:
There are no "1st Gen" NF.
2nd Gen NF; all have 4 digit SN's:
Year Starting SN
1961 - 3000NF
1962 - 3006NF
1963 - 3850NF
1964 - 4700NF
1965 - 5000NF
1966 - 5500NF
1967 - 5700NF
1968 - 5800NF
1969 - 5900NF
1970 - 6000NF
1971 - 7001NF
1973 - 7201NF
1974 - 7288NF
End of 2nd Gen NF - 7301NF
3rd Gen NF, all have 5 digit SN's:
1978 - 01001NF
1979 - 04425NF
1980 - 06275NF
1981 - 11375NF
1982 - 16584NF
 
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