I'm wondering if some of you 1873 experts can shed some light on the possible origins modifications of one of my SAAs. This particular Colt letters as having been shipped to New Mexico Territory in 1891 (serial 141xxx), blued, with a 5.5" barrel. The overall condition, as per the attached pictures, is very good. It does have a cracked grip, which looks and fits like an original. The mechanical function is very good, it does have a little play in the lock-up.
It also has some mysterious anomalies that I can't understand.
The frame is in excellent condition, with sharp edges and a hint of case coloring remaining. The delicate Rampant Colt logo shows a full circle, the serials and patent dates are deep and clear. The frame does not look refinished, at least to my eye. However, the blueing on the back strap is very good - almost too good. The barrel markings, however, are not nearly as sharp and clear. The Colt address on the barrel and the caliber marks are much fainter.
The barrel measures 5 3/8", not 5 1/2". Its clearly been cut down at some point. Why might this be???
The ejector housing does not mate perfectly tight to the body, and it has the older model bullseye head, round rod and old-model housing.
Can anyone shed some light on possible explanations for these anomalies? Does anyone notice any other anomalies or signs of a refinish? What do you guys think about this piece? Expert opinions, and any other information greatly appreciated! Thanks!!!
The markings on your Colt all look correct. I wonder if the barrel and ejector rod assembly haven't been replaced with an earlier one. It also doesn't look like the index mark on the top of the barrel next to the frame is EXACTLY centered on the top of the frame. That might explain the ill fitting ejector rod assembly. I doubt someone would cut down a 5 1/2" barrel to 5 3/8" but I suppose it's possible. The front sight profile looks like it has been filed down, but that wouldn't be too unusual. Unfortunately, barrels during this period weren't stamped with the serial number. You might, however, look under the ejector rod housing, on the barrel, and see if any serial number is there. I can't tell from your photos if the left side of the barrel is stamped "45 COLT" as it should be.
Look on the back of the cylinder and see if the last three or four digits of the serial number are stamped on the back face. FWIW, the cylinder approaches don't look correct for a 141XXX revolver, but it may just be the photos.
It would not be unusual for a gun to have messed with or even reblued parts, especially if something had been replaced and the owner wanted to make all the blued surfaces look consistent. Your photos aren't very consistent as far as showing the true color of the finish, but the grip frame serial number is pretty weak and I would guess that it has been buffed and reblued as have the other blued parts.
I'm not an expert, but there is enough difference in the color of the finish between the barrel & frame to make me wonder if the bbl has been replaced?
The serial # is in the black powder range & if it were mine I wouldn't shoot smokeless in it.
Good luck finding out more about it.
The ejector housing is off an earlier issue colt,if you'll notice there's no way to remove the ejector rod from the housing,this particular housing was dis-continued sometime in the 1870's as one of colts "evolutionary changes" to remove the rod from the housing w/this design the head of the rod has to be un-screwed before it'll come out of the housing,right now I can't remember what years it was used but some of u guys that do better research than my memory works may be able to find out when.
Certainly all the blued parts of the gun have been buffed and reblued, while the frame still looks pretty crisp. As to why the bbl was cut and the ejector replaced; most likely the gun was dropped and the crown and ejector had been damaged.
UNLESS IT IS AN OPTICAL ILLUSION, the front sight on that pistol is closer to the end of the BBL than any Colt SAA I have ever seen. I just pulled out a 5 1/2" SAA and the sight is well back from that one. I can scarcely hazzard a guess why either. I'd think the BBL was cut down but NOT from a 5 1/2" BBl. Or something.
I'll bet Monsai52 and Blackjack33 are getting very close to explaining these anomalies! It would explain both the cut barrel, older ejector, reblued parts and original frame if the gun had been dropped, damaging the ejector and crown... And the owner had the barrel cut and recrowned, and the ejector replaced.... Then had all the BLUED parts refinished to match! The gun was likely dropped by a posse member tracking Butch Cassidy across the New Mexican wilderness! The front sight is definitely closer to the muzzle than any other 5.5 barrel, this appears to be where the barrel was cut. For comparison, I took a photo next to another 1st gen, and a brand new 2nd gen barrel. With calipers, the distance from frame to sight measures 3.81" on the anomaly Colt, 3.84" on the nickel'd Colt, and 3.88" on the 2nd gen barrel.... So all about the same. To answer other questions, there is no serial under the ejector housing nor on the cylinder. Thanks very much to all that responded!
In my opinion, the barrel is original but was recrowned thereby losing an 1/8". Usually because it was dropped or had accuracy problems from a worn muzzle. Very common to recrown guns with worn muzzle rifling in the old days.
The ejector probably came loose and was lost. That's very common to this day. Which ever replacement the gunsmith had or somebody could find is what went back on the gun. You could probably work a trade for the right vintage with someone looking for that earlier style.