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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

One of JudgeColt's comments on the recent thread about current prices and collecting prompted this question:

Can anyone tell me why Colt SAA's have always been so expensive?

I got started with the Python and have always been attracted to the Colt DA's. I never really looked at SAA's until the actual addiction was substantiated by my psychiatrist. At that point, I figured I may as well start looking.

I've never understood why these are so expensive. 1st generation I can understand, but 2nd and 3rd (even more) have me befuddled. They made so many of them it can't be related to small production. I've started reading Kuhnhausen's volume 1 on the DA's. Just a logical assumption would lead me to believe a double action has a much more intricate mechanism than a single action and would therefore be more difficult to manufacture.

Personally, I don't understand it.
 

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Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

I'm with you. We collect mostly Colt double actions, and some Ruger single action flattops.

The Colt SAA's I believe revolve around the old west myth, and once something like that gets started it just goes on, and on. I'll probably get jumped on about that.

There are much nicer looking SAA's being made today, but the Colts keep selling for crazy prices. You can tie up five times the price of one nice OM in one 2nd gen. SAA.


I don't personally want to get tens of thousands of dollars tied up in the 2nd, and 3rd generation SSA's. I wonder how easy it is to resell them for a price somewhat over what one has paid for them, when one wants to.

Also I believe as your say, the old DA's have the workmanship in their mechanisms, and finish that borders on art. Some of the old DA stock designs are beautiful.

Good question mandeson.
 

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Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

copy`s of anything are always cheaper. that is just a fact of human nature. go to a harly-davidson dealership and check out the prices they are around 20 k,EVERY jap bike maker makes a copy of an h-d for from 2-10k less. does anyone need a 20k motorcycle,NO, does EVERYBODY want a h-d ABSOLUTLY. i must agree that the older colt d/a`s are more desireable to me, yes they are mechanical ART... but everyone should own at least one "real deal" saa. /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
 

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Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

I feel exactly as the previous posters. I could never understand the Colt SAA pricing and popularity. Hence, my interests have mostly been in the Double Action area for both buying and shooting. The Freedom Arms revolver is a good comparison. I like to shoot the larger bore handguns, but I just can't bring my self to buying one of them even though everyone says they shoot the best.
 

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Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

[ QUOTE ]
Well, I did say I'd get jumped on about that!

Life is fun!

Bob

[/ QUOTE ] bob,hope you dont think i "jumped on you" as i sure didn`t intend it that way. your post are always enjoyable reading, and your opinion is a valued asset to this forum. /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
 

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Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

I buy & sell vintage gun leather-if a holster is for a SAA,it triples,at least,in value/price.Conversely,many sellers,both at gun shows & on the internet,advertise a holster as being for a Colt SAA,even when evidence to the contrary is stamped on the holster.It's easy to tell if a holster was made for a Colt SAA-the ejector rod housing has to fit somewhere. You can usually see & feel where the housing fits.As always,buyer beware.OMM or S&W6 etched on the back means it doesn't fit a SAA,but you can't convince a seller who believes it should bring a SAA price.
Regards,
John Witty
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

[ QUOTE ]
The Freedom Arms revolver is a good comparison. I like to shoot the larger bore handguns, but I just can't bring my self to buying one of them even though everyone says they shoot the best.

[/ QUOTE ]

I would also like to have a Freedom Arms shooter. They have manufacturing specs that are matched by no one, including Colt. I don't believe you can even compare the quality of Freedom Arms and Colt SAA's today. Freedom Arms hands down. I would rate Freedom Arms for single action and Ed Brown for auto's as two of the finest manufacturers of firearms in the world today, and probably worth the money if you can afford them.
 

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Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

Since I am blamed for starting this issue, I had better comment!

In my opinion, the Single Action Army has always been expensive because of its position in the history of the firearms business, American history and the movie industry.

The SAA was the U. S. service arm in the Post-Civil War period of the Indian Wars and outlaws that were all reported in the press in great detail at the time. Being the service pistol always creates popularity. (Note the prices of Models 1911 and 1911A1 lately!) Sam Colt was a great salesman and created demand, much of it based on the selection as the service arm.

In the late 1800s, dime western novels glorified the reputation of the SAA. In the early 1900s, western movies showed heros and villians always using the SAA. Comic books did the same. Television in the 1950s really fueled the demand, leading to the Ruger Single Six and forcing Colt to resume production. The American cowboy became a symbol of America, both at home and throughout the world. The SAA was the symbol of the cowboy. Every kid wanted a "cowboy gun." When those kids grew up, the wanted to collect Colt SAAs. Demand was created.

The SAA was a "working gun" so unworn examples have always been hard to find. While a previous poster said the production was high so they are not rare, I disagree. Production was somewhere in the 300,00 range spread over seven decades. I think Colt made something like 700,000 Police Postive/Police Positive Specials in four decades.

Being a serice arm, the SAA certainly had a higher attrition rate. The lack of mint examples "pulls" up the lesser examples. A SAA worth a few thousand dollars can have a condition that would be considered near junk for a 1950s gun.

Finally, the SAA is just a great-looking firearm. The variations seem to be endless. It was chambered in dozens of different cartridges. Like everything else, supply and demand fix the market. Supply has always been small and demand has always been high, which equals a high price for a long time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

[ QUOTE ]
While a previous poster said the production was high so they are not rare, I disagree.

[/ QUOTE ]

This was an assumption on my part and I appreciate your correction.

[ QUOTE ]
the SAA certainly had a higher attrition rate. The lack of mint examples "pulls" up the lesser examples. A SAA worth a few thousand dollars can have a condition that would be considered near junk for a 1950s gun.

[/ QUOTE ]

This also appears to be very true from my observations.

Thanks for a good reply. All the rest too.

robba, my money's staying with the DA's also.
 

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Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

I agree that the high price for the Colt SAA is largely due to the desire to own a piece of American history and the romance of the old west... that's why I bought mine.

I have shot maybe 20-25 rounds thru it and, quite frankly, it feels very fragile to me and not particularly accurate compared to my other non-Colt SA revolvers. POI was so far off, I had to return it to Colt for a small barrel tweaking.

Speaking of high prices, check these out: www.usfirearms.com

My Colt SAA:
 

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Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

Catbird's shooting experience with his SAA is a story I have heard before.

Judge Colt is right though. No one is ever going to take away all the history that has accompanied the SAA Colt. The romance is there, and will fuel the high prices forever.

Nice post all. Good guys, with entertaining opinions.

Bob

P.S. for icdux1: No offense taken. I figured someone would hop on that. Life is fun!
 

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Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

I asked a Colt rep the same question about high pricing during a Colt armorer's school in '93. His response then was that it was an expensive gun to build, and Colt lawyers liked it priced above the reach of the average shooter since it was an ancient design with no safety and a lawsuit (like the one Ruger lost years ago) waiting to happen.
Since then, from other sources, I've confirmed that, the way Colt does it (or was doing it), the gun is expensive to build (some hand fitting required and the Peacemaker frame is a relatively complicated one to machine, not to mention genuine case hardening as opposed to chemical coloring & so on). At one point recently I was told the General decided they were losing money on each gun & that was behind one of the markups when the suggested retail was about $1900. Colt now outsources some parts & processes on the gun, and they've removed the distributor level to go dealer direct, all of which has helped bring the price down some in the last couple years.
Denis
 

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Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

Owning a "few" SAAs,and some in the past,these comments WON'T change any ones' opinion(s)-BUT:

1)SAAs were NOT always high priced,fact is Colt couldn't give em away by 1940,so off to Britain!

Prices,other than for NIB specimens were very low from end of war up until the birth of the TV westerns(and that "romance of the WEST-is a big factor,along with the Winchester lever cult-(even though MANY "westerners" carried/used neither make!) in early 50's, It was also during this time that many older SAAs were rebuilt into .38 Specials and .45 Colt.with those 2 caliber cylinders and bbls. provided new by Colt(Christy made them in other calibers), Ever wonder WHY there are so many .38 Special FIRST Gen. Colts???

2) "Attrition rate",and I will include the above rebuilding and many SAAs were "customized" over the years.

Price in 1957,2nd year of "new" production,was listed at $125--same as the Python!!!

3) The "warnings" about the SAA being a collector gun,were LONG OVERDUE-as the later 3rd gens.were just thrown together for "speculators",who began buying them up NIB,and into the vault in the early to mid 1980's. There was virtually NO hand fitting,barrels,like the one that was mentioned here,were NOT lined up.A few CASS members who just had to have a "genuine Colt" to show off to their competition at SASS shoots found this out often.

You can say what you want,and probably a few "good ones" snuck out among the 3rd. Gens-BUT overall,they SUCK as shooters,and even to "cock"-heaven forbid to the "collectors"! Action is NOT smooth,and they sure will leave a "ring around the cylinder"-pronto!

Can't speak for the later SAAs,from about 1990 on,but they should have better built,but I wonder by who???? Colt was downsizing,and probably many "old hands" were "encouraged" to retire.

You DON'T shoot an SAA like a D.A. revolver,it is a different technique. The SAA sits higher in the hand,and the longer,and HEAVY hammer fall is NOT conducive to accuracy,unless you are used to it. From a 1912 fixed sighted 38/40 refinished by Colt in 1950,to a 1982 New Frontier 44/40,4.75" bbl.(that required nearly a complete rebuild and gunsmithing job as it came out of the box,by me!)my SAAs are capable of as good as mechanical accuracy as any other revolver-and with far less felt recoil than my New Services or pre war N frame S&Ws with the same loads.

Finally,I suspect that the "serious" and elitist collectors of SAAs,who think nothing of paying FIVE or more figures for a "rare" or engraved SAA,bother much with us "common folk" here on the Forum. This is what I alleged to,a while back,when Onomea asked my about the "tiers" or "levels" of Colt collectors. Some have said that the SAA elite crowd,run second to the "percussion specialists,with their Patersons.Walkers,Dragoons,etc. SIX figures to be in that strata of "collectors!

Bud /forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif
 

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Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

Went to the Dallas Market Hall gun show this weekend and the SAA has taken another jump in price, just since the March show where I had noticed that they had gotten quite pricey. I hate it that the low-end condition SAA has risen so high that the enthusiast that yearns for a SAA and who has less disposable income is left out. Some absolute doggy SAA's featuring ugly refinishes, cut-down barrels, and pocked with deep pits, were still in the $1700 to $2500 price range. These revolvers had no special attribution though sometimes the sellers had contrived to provide a discription that made them appear somehow "special". Apparently they all sell. Looks like an area of gun collecting that must be rife with fraud, human nature being what it is.

Upon purchasing the Single Action Army that currently resides in the menagerie, I thought I'd paid a lot for what would make a good trotline weight. I talked the gun show seller down from $350 for a 25% blue/case tight .38-40 with an attractive aged patina and perfect screws and grips. This was in 1982. I dearly love owning an SAA but they do feel fragile and aren't terrifically accurate. At least the ones with which I've had experience. Of course they may feel fragile because they are so expensive these days.

I'm sure that if I'd been looking to purchase a new large bore Colt revolver in 1900 I'd have opted for the New Service over the Single Action.

I've been a member of the Forum since January and I'm surprised that there isn't more Single Action talk than there is.
 

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Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

If you "read' the last few lines of my above post,you will hopefully "see" whay the is SO LITTLE talk of SAAs here(and virtually NONE on "original" percussion Colts.

We "ain't" in that "elite" league brother! Almost like the "collector cars". The elite Pebble Beach/Laguna set trailer(usually enclosed semi!) to shows-and look down on even "the occassional driver" as NOT concourse condition!

I am not wealthy enough to afford BOTH a collector car and guns,but then Maine is NOT the best weather for a collector type car for most of year. A good friend has a very nice older 54'Olds,that he will drive for pleasure in good weather. I was at a car show with him several years ago,when a very rich Southerner,began to berate the condition of the cars at the show,compared to the "Concourse Cars" he owned and knew,and how these cars should NOT be driven on the roads-AT ALL! Being "polite,most just nodded-not me! He had a great looking-and much younger wife with him. So,I asked him,"Can you "drive" her,or is she just for "show" too! Couldn't provoke the egotistical S.O.B. into a fight!! Could tell by his wife's look,"that I'd hit a nerve with her". Ya don't come to rural Maine and tell us with your condecending attitude how to live our lives!

Bud
 

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Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

I have no SAA Colts because they have no real appeal to me. A 45 first edition in decent shape would be welcome in the collection just to say we have one. The chances of me paying what one would cost today is nil.

Just collecting what we do has piled up an inventory that two years ago I would have thought was impossible. We are going to start thining the herd in the fall.

People that buy things just to stuff them under other folks noses have no place in my scheme of life.

I'm getting sort of old to be thinking I will ever be rich, but what I have was earned, and in my opinion is in fairly good taste. Most of you other gentlemen sound more or less to be in the same boat.

If I ever do get really rich, and start acting like an ass, I hope one of you come will up to me at a gun show, and boot me in the buttski!

Take care all, Bob
 

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Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

The outrageous prices of SAA's along with my beer pocketbook started me out on Detective Specials many years ago and now the only sa I own is a Ruger. After many years I think I may start to thin the herds later this year myself. Hmmmm I'm sure I saw a D-Frame somewhere I didn't need.... maybe not!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

[ QUOTE ]
People that buy things just to stuff them under other folks noses have no place in my scheme of life.

[/ QUOTE ]

I worry people will think this sometimes when I post pictures. But I really enjoy my collection, and just want to share it with others that enjoy the same.
 

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Re: A Very Simple Question about SAA\'s

Interesting thread.

I have noticed, here and there, that some collectors can seem to get all wrapped around the right way of collecting, and the right things to collect, and the right things to do with one’s guns. That seems kinda silly to me.

That said, I do enjoy learning how others approach collecting or accumulating or “hanging out” with their guns. I find it educational, but I think that the idea that one approach is somehow better than another is just plain silly. I look at collecting guns as a form of entertainment, and wind up doing what I enjoy. Like in most areas of my life, I have done some things in collecting guns that I later consider dumb, from my perspective, but that is all part of my learning experience. (So far dumbest move is buying an ~ 85% Colt .357 Magnum, getting it reblued to make it look pretty, then discovering that the cylinder bolt was honked up and needing to get that repaired, then learning that the reblue should not have blued the hammer, etc., etc. By the time I am done with this one, I could have easily bought a NIB .357 Magnum, and come out ahead of the game dollar wise! Still, it has been a useful learning experience so I don’t worry about it.)

I suppose I would like to have an SAA, someday, but at the moment I am just too enthralled with all the neat prewar DAs that I still don’t have and would like to get. I also think the SAAs are overpriced, in my personal judgment about what I want. There is a great deal to be said, too, for the advantages of liking what other people do not. For example, with S&Ws, a lotta guys turn up their noses at star-marked guns as they indicate factory rework. I think it just means I can get a better deal on a well-maintained older gun that I like.

(By the way, did Colt mark guns sent in for rework? If so, what is the mark?)

I have long thought that people who assume they are somehow superior to others based on what stuff they own have a warped sense of values. Makes ‘em look kinda ridiculous in my view.
 
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