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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Tried posting this earlier today but it did not get published. Trying again...

Hello. New to this forum... I am hoping to get some help on a Colt SAA project I am doing...
Background: I have always wanted a Colt SAA 1[SUP]st[/SUP] gen in .45 for my collection. I am not a cowboy action shooter or an extravagant collector… just a family man collecting on a budget who has always wanted to Colt SAA. I found one at a local gun store and I purchased it (again first time purchasing a Colt SAA). It has matching serial numbers on the frame, trigger guard, and backstrap which put the year of manufacture at 1914. Overall it is really nice piece, in good condition, and has a really smooth action.
However, it did not come with an original Colt barrel. It came with a barrel marked “CHRISTY” (under where the ejector tube sits) and had a REALLY UGLY front sight. I just couldn’t live with this barrel… not only was it not a Colt barrel, the front sight bothered me. I love everything else about the gun.
Here is where I am hopping the SAA community can help me…

1. I need to replace the barrel. I would prefer a 1st gen barrel in 4 3/4 or 5 1/2 but I would be fine with a 2nd gen Colt barrel if I could find one that would match the over condition of the rest of gun. Besides E-bay and the SAA specialists out there, does anybody have a good source for finding a barrel?
2. As a follow up to #1, I purchased a barrel on E-bay. The seller said it was a 2nd gen and I have read that 2nd gen barrels fit in 1st gen SAAs (but 3rd gen do not fit 1st gen). The barrel I purchased does not fit he gun (the thread pattern is different). Any insight into this? Did I actually get a 3rd gen barrel? The pictures of the 2nd gen(?) barrel and the barrel threads are below, the CHRISTY barrel is on the left and the Colt barrel is on the right.

Thanks for any help on this.

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From what I can see from your images, your Colt bbl looks to be 2nd gen or possibly late 1st gen. The threads on a 3rd gen are distinctively finer, 24tpi IIRC. It's easy to tell the difference when seen side by side. I know of Christy gun works and the bbls they manufactured, but I have no personal experience with one, or if there they were of a different thread pitch. It doesn't make any since to me for them to manufacture replacement Colt bbls in a different thread pitch from Colt. I suggest that you contact one of the top SAA specialists and talk to them.

The threads per inch look to me to be the same on both bbls.

Best regards,
 

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Christy's fit the early (20 tpi) perfectly. It looks like there isn't the slightest of a bevel on the cylinder over. If the cylinder has a very sharp edge it might be a Christy cylinder. That's a great project gun. PM sent on a barrel I saw on line.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Monsai52 and Wyatt for the replies so far. Wyatt, not sure what you mean on the cylinder. The cylinder has no markings on it. I am pretty sure 1st gen cylinders did not have any markings (2nd gen Colt cylinders did). But then again, I am new to SAA (but learning a lot fast). I hope it is not a Christy cylinder... then I would have to replace that too.

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1914 cylinders had almost no bevel, so it will be difficult to tell if that is a Christy or Colt cylinder, but if it had a Christy bbl, it probably is a Christy cylinder also. However I wouldn't sweat it! The threads are 20 LPI on both of the bbls you show, so the Colt bbl should screw into the frame. It just might be a little tight, put some Never-Seeze lubricant on the threads to help screwing it in.
 

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1914 cylinders had almost no bevel, so it will be difficult to tell if that is a Christy or Colt cylinder, but if it had a Christy bbl, it probably is a Christy cylinder also. However I wouldn't sweat it! The threads are 20 LPI on both of the bbls you show, so the Colt bbl should screw into the frame. It just might be a little tight, put some Never-Seeze lubricant on the threads to help screwing it in.
I have a pre war .44 spl. cylinder I got from Peacemaker specialists long ago. It is almost bevel-less. But I used to have a Christy cylinder and between the flutes the edges were very sharp, unlike any Colt's I've seen. I agree that if the barrel was swapped around then the cylinder probably was, too. And if so, it was long ago because the wear matches the gun great. Swamp, I didn't bother to take a close look at the barrel on the left but the threads look right. There appears to be no issue here except that the caliber markings and possibly finish condition won't be 1914ish. I could live with that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hmaag-thanks for your post. Not sure if a new one is what I am after as I want to get a barrel that matches the wear of the gun as much as possible.
Swamprat- Thanks for the info. Here are some pics... this is as close as I can get the barrel in by hand-tightening it (and I am a pretty strong dude lol). Do you really think it will fit all the way if I (very carefully and cautiously) put it in the vice and use the appropriate tools? Regarding the Never-Seeze, thanks for tip on this. I see many types of this on the net.. any particular type (i.e. red can?) I should use?
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Any tips on wearing the barrel down to make it look like the rest of the gun?

Thanks for everyone's help. Gonna become a contributing member on this site and make a $200 donation to the NRA when this project is done!
 

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I have changed a few barrels and have never had one to screw in by hand. I use a barrel vise over sheet lead and rosin to grip the barrel. I made a cast lead mold of a frame backed with steel and sandwich the frame between the lead halves and clamp that in the vise. Each rotation of the barrel is .050". The shoulder has to be lathed so that it tightens properly with the sights in alignment. Looking at your photo it appears that 1/2 turn (.025" +/-) will bring the front sight to the top but your shoulder is still a long ways from meeting the frame. I am not sure if another rotation will get the barrel flush or not. You will be lucky if it does. Bottom line is you have 1 1/2 turns to get the front sight on top correctly. If it goes past vertical then you will need another partial rotation to try it again. Good luck with it. If you don't have a lathe and tooling you may be better off to send it out for installation. Remember too that when the cylinder is fitted then the barrel/cylinder gap needs set and that may require removing the barrel and facing off the breach end and reinstalling the barrel. Or, I think there are cutters that can be used with the barrel in place. But that again will require special tooling. Good luck with it.
Want to wear the finish from the barrel? Get a pair of cotton gloves and smear some valve lapping compound on the palms. Then 'handle' the barrel until desired finish is obtained. Check it often cause it is easy to remove too much. Also the removed finish will leave bright metal which you may not want. Lots of fun stuff to do! I wish I had a good frame to work with!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I have changed a few barrels and have never had one to screw in by hand. I use a barrel vise over sheet lead and rosin to grip the barrel. I made a cast lead mold of a frame backed with steel and sandwich the frame between the lead halves and clamp that in the vise. Each rotation of the barrel is .050". The shoulder has to be lathed so that it tightens properly with the sights in alignment. Looking at your photo it appears that 1/2 turn (.025" +/-) will bring the front sight to the top but your shoulder is still a long ways from meeting the frame. I am not sure if another rotation will get the barrel flush or not. You will be lucky if it does. Bottom line is you have 1 1/2 turns to get the front sight on top correctly. If it goes past vertical then you will need another partial rotation to try it again. Good luck with it. If you don't have a lathe and tooling you may be better off to send it out for installation. Remember too that when the cylinder is fitted then the barrel/cylinder gap needs set and that may require removing the barrel and facing off the breach end and reinstalling the barrel. Or, I think there are cutters that can be used with the barrel in place. But that again will require special tooling. Good luck with it.
Want to wear the finish from the barrel? Get a pair of cotton gloves and smear some valve lapping compound on the palms. Then 'handle' the barrel until desired finish is obtained. Check it often cause it is easy to remove too much. Also the removed finish will leave bright metal which you may not want. Lots of fun stuff to do! I wish I had a good frame to work with!!
Thanks! Very helpful. I think I will send if off as I don't have those tools. LOL
 

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joncornel,
Probably a good idea, as it is easy to damage the frame without the proper fitting frame wrench. I believe the bbl threads were lightly tapered so that they get tighter as the shoulder nears the frame. You can remove the bluing from a new bbl with vinager, then rub a little cold blue to attain a little color to duplicate the frame.
 

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Thanks! Very helpful. I think I will send if off as I don't have those tools. LOL
There are a lot of gunsmiths that can do the job as it should be done. The last time I had a barrel installed I did not do it myself since I had sold my lathe. I checked with a well known 'smith that would not do it since his workload was too large and he referred me to another man. That man had a one year back log and still would not accept new work. He recommended a third man. The third man would take the job but it was a 6 month turn-around. I sent him the gun and the barrel was fit well and the cylinder gap tight. My only complaint was the housing fits too tight and that was because I stressed to him I did not want any gap between the housing and frame. Anyway he charged me $100 to do the fitting of the barrel, housing and end gap. The return shipping was at his expense. However, for me to get it to him, being a non-ffl, I had to send it Fed-Ex overnight with $1000 insurance which cost me over $80. Bottom line: $200 will get the barrel installed correctly. You did not say if you had an ejector housing or not but get one first and then send him the frame, barrel, cylinder (along with the bushing and base pin) and ejector housing. From the Internet I found his contact information: Keep us updated!


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joncornel,
Probably a good idea, as it is easy to damage the frame without the proper fitting frame wrench. I believe the bbl threads were lightly tapered so that they get tighter as the shoulder nears the frame. You can remove the bluing from a new bbl with vinager, then rub a little cold blue to attain a little color to duplicate the frame.
I thought so too, but hesitated to say it without being positive. I think the barrel threads are either, or close to, a 9/16 X 20 pipe thread which is a tapered thread. Thanks.
 
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