I agree with dfariswheel. About a month ago I pruchased "Colt: An American Heritage" from Overstock.com and it is a great book. Lotsa info and great pics!! The only thing is, I wish the pages stood up against drool a little better!! /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
Wilson's Book of Colt Firearms is definitely in first place, and there are several good books to join it on the shelf, if you can find a copy. The most recent are Wilsons "Colt an American Legend", and "Colt and it's Collectors" that was put together by the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and the Colt Collectors Assoc. Older books would include "Colt Firearms by James Serven, and "The History of the Colt Revolver" by Haven and Belden. There are other books specific to one particular model. The SAA has a number of dedicated publications, as does the 1911/Govt model, and the New Service. I try to snag as many as I can find to add to my library. Years ago, I remember hearing the quote "Every time you add a gun to your collection, buy a book", and although I don't recall who said it, that's good advice. It's rare that I come across a question that can't be answered from the books I have acquired.
The later Wilson books are basically picture books with little helpful information in them that is not in TBOCF, other than the serial number charts for later years.
One needs the Clawson books on Colt military M1911/M1911A1 automatics and commercial Government Models, which are the the most detailed gun books on Colts I have ever seen. One of the best gun books I have ever seen is Douglas Sheldon's book on the .38 Super. It has almost as much detail as the Clawson books and more color and better pictures. It also shows box styles and literature that Clawson does not address.
For the best New Service information, get Bob Murphy's "Colt New Service Revolvers" little book.
As mentioned, there are lots of books on the SAA and various muzzle loader revolvers.
'The Book of Colt Firearms' is as noted, the Colt reference centerpiece. Most other books are model or type specific. How about 'The Thompson Submachine Gun' by Roger Cox. Colt manufactured the original 15,000 of these finely machined and finished guns.
Other than the Wilson books, I like the book "Colt Firearms from 1836" by James E. Serven the best (as was previously mentioned). Note that the original edition was copyright 1954. It appears that the 1979 edition has some revised information about guns that are post 1954 which I had not noticed before a few days ago. The Wolfe Publishing reprint (1991) goes through 1960.
I wanted to add a second mention of one book. I saw it listed in this thread and bought in from a listing on ebay. The book "Colt and its Collectors" Buffalo Bill Custer Center is really a nice book. Wonderful photos of the various models and so forth. It would be great for someone new to Colts, but the photographs of the collector pieces are spectacular! Been though it once, need to look at it closely from an information standpoint. I believe it is intended to be a coffee table Colt book for the most part.