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I have a Colt D.A. .41, serial # 136xxx, in very good condition, no rust, bluing with some very minor wear, bore clean and rust/pit-free, mechanically sound according to a local gunsmith. I was wondering where would be a good online source to find out the year it was manufactured (last pat. stamp is Jan. 19, 1875) and more general history about this Colt. What is this piece worth (ball park or approximate price range). Any info. would be helpful. Thanks.
 

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Welcome to the Forum,Hank. Glad you put the info. about the last patent date,being 1875,as there are 2 other Colt models bearing the "Colt D.A.41".

Your is the Model of 1877,commonly called the Thunderer.

This was Colts' FIRST Double Action Revolver,and was produced 1877-1909,yours being 1902 vintage.

Without seeing the gun,I cannot give any value. There are so many variations as far as barrel length,stocks,that it is hard to say.

If the gun is in working condition,it IS a rarity! While we like to think of Colt as ALWAYS producing a premium gun,this model was very fragile due to its very complicated mechanism to achieve double action. Its bigger brother,the model of 1878 also had this problem,but was a little more reliable due to its internal parts being larger.

Collectors "ignored" this model for many years,unless it was a virtually new gun,or what that was owned by a prominent individual. Billy the Kid was rumored to have used and preffered this gun(or its .38 caliber model,called the Lightning) due to his tiny hands versus the larger Colt Single Action.

I think that Colt made up a huge number of frames and serial numbered them,as by 1900,the modern swing out cylinder Colts,had been on the market for a few years,and were vastly superior (but they too had "fragile" mechanisms compared to the later Colt actions. Why anyone would buy one of these from say 1892-1909,when the newer D.A. models were around(or an S&W!) is beyond me-but they did. I have seen old catalogs selling these Thunderers and Lightnings at a discount,brand new.

Why I went into this,is that any gun made after 1898,is subject to BATF rules,especially handguns. So,if you were to buy your gun at a shop,its 1902 date would make ity subject to background check etc. But an identical gun,made say in 1895,would NOT! Some people say that BATF will treat such guns as yours and the S&W #3 Top Break,that was listed in their catalogs as late as 1913,as ALL pre 1898 or "antiques",as the FRAMES of these guns were all forged prior to 1898.

I would check this;BATF agents tend to "understand" the complicated rules,as they see fit.

My suggestion would be to go online to some of the online auctions,such as Auction Arms,Guns America etc. and search for your model gun,then compare it with the photos and descriptions there to get an idea of its value.

Sorry for the long post,but the bit about the date of "manufacture" and the BATF has caused trouble for some collectors in the past.

Bud
 

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Bud,
Thank you for the helpful information. I'm new to older Colts, so I asked a local gun dealer to take a look at it and he reports it is in great mechanical shape and solid working condition. It does not look as if it has seen much use. Looks like it would be kinda uncomfortable to shoot with that small broom-handle type grip.

The local dealer I took it to said he would pay $250 for the piece, so that is the price my friend is offering it to me for. I'm not too sure this dealer has a lot of experience with older Colts. I don't want to give my freind an unfair price. From what info. I've provided, does this sound in the correct ballpark?

At any rate, thanks a lot for your input. I've got another old Colt single action here and maybe I'll post some info. on it as well when I figure-out what it is. Hank
 

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No,Hank that price is TOO LOW,way too low! You say the gun has little wear,and is good mechanically,that is a plus with a century old gun.

I don't own any of these models,as I am a shooter/reloader(ie:none of my guns live their lives in the depths of a vault,unfondled or unfired). Because of the frailty of this model.I just never bought one,even though I am one of the few gun cranks that reload and shoot the .41 Colt cartridge.

Most of these models are in the minimum $500 range,and those with a lot of finish,in the $750+ range. Rare things on them,such as target sights,short barrels with no ejector will increase this. Go on some of the gun auction websites and there will probably be photos to accompany what they are asking. Also,probably the collector firearms website,under Colts will have some for sale,with photos.


Not trying to create trouble 'tween you and your friend and I hope some other Forum regulars chime in.

By the way,that "birdshead grip" has made a comeback,on copies of the Colt SAA,for the cowboy action shooting sport,even though Colt never offered this grip on the larger Single Action Army. I fired one of these that a pal has,with mild .38 Specials,and recoil wasn't bad!

Good Luck,an be sure to get some websites,photos,and prices,so you will get fair value for the Thunderer.

Bud
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks, Bud -
I'll check out some of the auction sites and get a better grip on a fair price to offer on this .41. It's a good looking gun. Appreciate the info. Hank
 

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I would pay $750 for your 1877 d.a. in a heartbeat.I also have a .41 1877, but was in the past reblued [rather poorly]and had fake ivory grips added.

Altho it is true this model is not as robust as a saa, s&w, or merwin-hulbert of that era if well lubed it is not as fragile as most belive.[remember today the newest one is 97 years old.]

If you plan to fire this model I would only do so w/ black powder ammo.
 
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