I would be very wary of any .22 2 1/2" nickel Diamondback as to originality. I believe Colt discontinued the blue 2-1/2" .22 version in 1973 and up til then no nickel versions had been made for general sales. Without a correct box and factory letter what you usually are seeing are aftermarket nickel platings or the rare version from the custom shop. I have been collecting D/B's since 1970 and have never seen a correct one. I do have a .38 2 1/2, nickel and it was very hard to locate and years before their current desireability.
There are 2 excellent articles that confirm the above and contain much information about D/B's in 2 very old issues of "Shooting Times", they are the March, 1976 and Jan. 1981 issues. I happen to have saved these issues, and they are great references for D/B collectors, don't know where they might be available, somewhere on the internet.
You sound like you know your Diamondbacks. Any gun priced in the realm of $3,000.00 I would want to look at in person.
There is no way anyone would wait 6 months plus for you to get a Colt letter to authenticate it. So all you can do if you really want it is to buy, and hold your breath. Seems something like russian roulette. There should have been marks on that 2-1/2" nickel Diamondback that would give you some idea of where it came from, and who did what to it.
The jump in gun values has created a whole new generation of gun sellers, and buyers. There have always been people that would cheat for a couple of hundred, so the chance at a few thousand has spawned creeps galore.
I would love to read those Shooting Times articles.
Bob: I agree that the 6 month wait is prohibitive for a buyer, if I were paying $3,000. plus, for an easily faked nickel .22 2 1/2" D/B, I would expect the seller to provide the letter to authenticate.
Regarding the 2 Diamondback articles in Shooting Times, I am not very successful at scanning and Emailing. I can copy them and US mail them to someone who is adept at making them available on the Forum. They are a total of 11 pages....
I have seen 2 nickel 22lr 2.5" guns.Both were perfect but no box or letter so I did not buy either of them.As far as my personal knowledge there is no way to tell if it is a factory nickel or not except for a letter.Does anybody here know of any other way to identify the real deal.The 2 I saw looked almost to good.
Some folks have driven the D'backs up to/beyond the 3rd Gen SAAs in prices recently!!! Amazing!!
Hope the "Bubble" doesn't burst and some speculators are caght with melted credit cards!!! Saw this with some 1911 Commems. and Scout Commems in the 70/80's'.
But at least the Diamondbacks are wonderfully put together and accurate revolvers-something I won't say about MANY 3rd Gen. SAAs that were "screwed together" to feed the investing/collecting frenzy then.
With the rise of Cowboy Shooting,and the drop of 3rd. Gen prices,some "cowboys" bought 'em to "use",and were surprised that without a quality action job,most "Spaghetti SAAs were more accurate and smoother OTB.
Now WHY did I trade that 4" blue .22 D'back even for a Ruger Flatop 6.5" .44 Magnum-which I traded even for a shooter grade 1882 renickled #3 Top Break .44 Russian!
Might be ahead of the game financially if I'd kept the D'back .22,but it was only 98%.