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Discussion Starter #1
I have an old Colt single action revolver that has apparently been re-nickeled. The caliber stamp is worn off. The only writing left on the gun is the Colt Arms and related lettering on the top of the barrel and the "pat Sept. 19. 1871
July 2. 72., Jan 19. 75

The serial # is 1880xx. 5 1/2 in barrel. Gun is in good shape and apparently in working condition, but think it has been re-nickeled. Big bore gun, anyone know the caliber from the serial #? I don't know much about the history of this piece. Looking for any leads on where I can look to find info. on Colt serial #'s or info. about this gun. Thanks. Hank
 

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Probably a 45lc,could be a 44/40? Other than spending a hundred bucks to have it lettered, I'd have a gunsmith determine the caliber.
 

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Camster was right. Unless you're handy with basic precision measurement tools(micrometer, bore transfers, etc) your only hope is to have a gunsmith figure it out for you. Even one of the expensive Colt letters is not a 100% sure fire method, as it was not uncommon to rework SAA's to other calibers years after they left the factory.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yes, the cylinder base pin is retained by a screw (looks to be spring-loaded). Does that indicate a specific model or caliber for 1899 single actions?

Also, is there a good online resource to look-up manufacture dates via serial #'s for older Colts?

I'd be interested to know more on this piece. Thanks to everyone here for helping out a Colt rookie. Hank
 

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No, the screw retained base pin only indicates an older gun,what is known as the "black powder frame"-nothing else. I know of no online source for info based on serial number-I am also certainly not an expert on Colts...You said there was no caliber marking on the barrel?
 

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Hank; The way you describe the cylinder retaining pin,it is of the late model type,mounted below where the barrel enters the frame,amd goes through to the other side,with another round "retaining cap" opposite the side with the sloted part for a screw driver. Your right,there is a small coil spring inside.

The one Camster describes,is the older type,a screw at a 45 degree angle,on the front of the frame underneath the barrel.

Some people(and books!) say that any gun with the newer type of screw,and spring denotes a gun safe for smokeless poweder,or 1896. I am a "worry wart" and use serial # 200,000,or approximately 1900 for smokeless.

Speaking of "under the barrel",sometimes,on the older SAAs,there is a small 2 digit #,denoting the caliber,under the barrel,by the frae,and sometimes you have to remove the ejector rod housing to see it. The really early SAAs had the caliber in the front part of trigger guard.

Any well stocked gun shop,should be able to tell you.by "trying" the following cartridges in the cylinder what caliber it is; .45 Colt,44/40,38/40 and even .44 Russian. If the chambers are "clean" and you can see 2 distinct "ridges" in each chamber,it is most likely a bottle necked 44/40 or 38/40. The only othe big bore that it could be is .41 Colt,or rarely one of the British cartridges,where a .45 Colt "enters" but doesn't fully go in!

Good Luck!
Bud /forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yes, the caliber marking on the left side of the barrel was worn-off. Can't see any markings under the barrel (have not removed the ejector rod housing, though) and no markings on or near the front part of the trigger guard (except for the serial #). No distinct ridges in the chambers.

I stuck a .44 in and it rattled around -- was too small. Will try fitting some of the other calibers you mentioned and figure it out...I'm thinking .45. I'd like to get a grip on exactly what model this Colt is. Thanks, Hank
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well, it turned-out ti be a .45 - looks about identical to this 1st generation single action:

http://www.gunsamerica.com/guns/976583847.htm

...but none of the bluing left on it. Seems have been renickled - overall, somewhat worn. Mechanically ok and no significant problems, grips worn, but not cracked. I took it to 2 local gun shops for some advice, got very little, but -- one offered $400 and the other $200 to "take it off my hands." Even though it was likely used quite a bit and worn, seems on the low side? Hank
 

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Hank; DON'T sell that gun for those two "insulting"prices!! Seriously,virtually ANY 1st generation,in working shape,will "retail" for a minimum of $1000!

The dealers are getting "worse" as far as their profit margin! I would almost guarentee that they would ask the $1000 minimum price that I mentioned!

Tired of dealers sitting on their butts and doubling tripling,or in the case of the $200,offer,quintupling their investment. I've noticed that more and more "dealers" don't even really check out a firearm's condition thoroughly these days(bore light,timing etc.) before giving you the "low ball". Laziness or do some really know what to look for? Before he died suddenly, a dealer friend,who was more of a long gun specialist,and SAAs etc.,would even call me during classtime at school,when he had a question about a potential trade/purchase of older Colt & S&W double actions!

Search the internet for the Collectors Firearms in Houston,TX and go on their great website,and click on Colts. Yes,they are high priced,but take a look at some of the older SAAs in less than great shape,and look at their asking price. Probably make you madder at the two "offers".

If their is a SASS or Cowboy Action group in yoyr area,I would bring the gun and show it to members. Many would love a "genuine" early SAA,as compared to a high priced "spaghetti western clone".

Good Luck;Sorry for the long post: I am just on a "rant" today!

Bud /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif



Probably this is why I would never make much money if I was a dealer. If I knew that I could get $1200,say from a "regular" customer,for your gun,I'd give you $700,making $500.
 
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