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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello, I am interested in purchasing a Colt revolver, and I am new to this area of expertise. I know enough to go to the experts on this sort of thing, so I came here. This is the revolver.....

It comes with an "Official" colt letter dating back to 1970. The owner said the man at colt who gave the letter was an HR Wagner. Not sure if this is of any use.... he says that the numbers match, but the loading gate has a number of 311 on it? Not sure what that means. The serial Number is 144,462. The barrel he said has some minor pitting, but said it is typical of guns this age, I'm not so sure.....
The barrel is marked >41 Long colt on the left side and Colt firearms MFG Hartford conn on the top.....



He wants 4500.00 bucks..... It's a ton of money, but is it really worth that much in this condition? is it worth more if someone had it redone with say Turbull? Please advise a newby. I really appreciate the help. I should mention that it is not being sold as an army version, but he makes no statement about the model of it, other than it is a Colt .41 single action..... What do I call this thing?








 

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First of all, let's talk about the price. If all correct, IMO, that's a $2000 gun tops. Letter adds a little bit. For $4500, you can get a better caliber & better condition. Unless you just have to have it.

Do all the serial numbers match? (frame, triggergaurd, backstrap) The 311 on the loading gate is an assembly # that has no relation to the serial #. It should also be stamped under the triggergaurd on frame. I think they changed the bevel on the triggergaurd somewhere in this range from flatter to more rounded like yours.

And you call it a 1st generation Colt SAA (Colt Single Action Army) .41. 'Single action' for short.
 

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My guess if the guys asking 4500 he won't sell it for 2000, he will just wait to find someone not smart enough to check with the experts, Chaffee saved the day, nice work!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
He has all of the numbers that you mentioned, and says they match. I wanted to do some homework on this before going into it any further. I am also thinking that the price was high, but since I am new to this arena, I have to start here.... I have a question regarding the refinishing of these guns. I know that people who buy these, prefer them to be original, but is it ever wise to have them gone over and redone (IE Turnbull)? is this gun considered to be in GOOD collectible shape?
 

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Unless you can get it super cheap, I wouldn't pay $4500 for this gun & then have it refinished, because then you'd have a refinished .41 that still won't be worth $4500. The pictures you have show a SAA in average condition, IMO. Quite common in this shape.
 

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You referred to getting a better caliber.... .45 LC? I'm assuming this is the desired caliber?
yes, or .44-40. These are the most desirable of the common calibers. Nothing particularly wrong with the .41, but they won't command the price of the .45's or .44's all things else being equal.
 

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Hi buckshot2u,


In my opinion, the only old Guns which would be candidates for re-Finishing, are Guns which someone else, had refinished previously.

You can review and follow listings on 'Gunbroker' and see what various SAAs are doing as for when the Auction closes.

They are their own subject-matter in many ways, and, lots to pay attention to for details.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well I certainly have no desire to make an unwise purchase.. For that I thank you, and will keep learning, so that I can stand on my own two feet with this stuff. Until then, I appreciate the borrowed wisdom, and may lean on you again...
 

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My guess if the guys asking 4500 he won't sell it for 2000, he will just wait to find someone not smart enough to check with the experts, Chaffee saved the day, nice work!
I love 'em and have quite a few of them, but I'm no expert. I did stay at a Holliday Inn a long time ago though....
 

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Well I certainly have no desire to make an unwise purchase.. For that I thank you, and will keep learning, so that I can stand on my own two feet with this stuff. Until then, I appreciate the borrowed wisdom, and may lean on you again...
I'd be 101 before I'd feel comfortable, there are so many details and things to know its scary. I do know one thing, all it would take me is just one $2000 mistake and I'll be collecting salt shakers and voting for democrat's,
 

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To reinforce Oyeboten's sentiments, very few people recommend refinishing any gun that is all original condition and parts, and especially what's known as the 1st generation Single Action Army, which is what you have as already pointed out. The originality IS the bulk of the guns worth. Turnbull does some of the best refinish work out there, but it's expensive and the gun would only be worth about the same since it detracted value from then not being all original. Of course it would look real nice, and if that's what you want, I would recommend buying a new 3rd generation SAA that are really getting scarce these days, but are out there for not much more than..if not the same as the cost of an expert refinish job.
 

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One suggestion before you, or anyone else unfamiliar with Colts should do before buying a "collectable" Colt: Buy a book about the Colt model you are interested in. Better yet, buy a copy of "The Book of Colt Firearms" by Wilson and/or a Copy of the 9th Edition of Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Firearms.....AND READ THEM....especially the Chapter about how to judge the condition of a gun and the Chapter about Colts in Flayderman.
reading the Flayderman or Wilson's books can and will save you a lot of grief.
There is an old saying amongst experienced antique gun collectors: One gun, one book. You should have an appropriate gun book for every gun in your collection, and you should have read or studied it. Remember the price of a gun book is far less than getting cheated in a gun deal! Most antique gun dealers are honorable men who take great pride in their personal integrity. However, beware, because there are vultures out there who prey on the ignorant!
 

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I do not own any 1st gen SAA's although I aspire to one day. I am far from an expert. That being said, I could show you several guns for sale online right now that are (only in my opinion, mind you) better condition for that kind of money.

What I have learned so far about SAA's.

1. There is a lot to know, and I only know a little.
2. There is a lot of tomfoolery and fakery with SAA's. You HAVE to do your homework, and you cant rely on luck.
3. I have yet to see a "steal" on an honest, good condition SAA. I'm sure they are out there, but I have come to the conclusion the bottom line is if you want a decent 1st Gen, you are going to have to pony up the real money. Only you can decide what you will accept condition wise. Some are okay with shortened barrels, some are not, etc. From my observations, the vast majority of guys would rather have an honest brown 1st Gen than a refinished SAA any day of the week. There are always exceptions, but that is a general observation.
4. This is a GREAT place to learn about SAA's.

Not trying to persuade you one way or the other on this gun, just sharing thoughts from someone who has probably had some of the same questions you are now having. Best of luck in your endeavors- Welcome to the forum!
 

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That offering at $4500 is way high as stated previously. If you want to get into Colt SAA consider both the 2nd Gen and current offerings from the Custom Shop. Both will be considerably less that that 1st Gen and able to handle a more robust load. For whatever reason there are sellers out there that are offering 1st Gen SAA Colts at twice their value and the same with military 1911 that are mixmaster parts. Be informed and ask the forum lots of questions when planning on an expensive purchase if you are at all unsure of the item for sale. Good close up multiple pictures are always a necessity so the members can give you accurate feedback.
 

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The old Colt appears to have it's original matching condition worn stocks, and a refinish would call for new stocks to match the new finish. It all goes together right now, and would be a shame to have it refinished.

I agree with the others that the price is way out of line.
 

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My advice - for what it is worth!

1. Don't buy it! Way too much! $2,500 TOPS!
2. If you buy it, at any price, DON'T have it refinished! First gens are priceless (when bought reasonably) in original condition/configuration.
3. When putting out that kind of money, for any gun, have someone who KNOWS about that gun examine it! You can get really burned and learn a very expensive lesson without some expert help.
4. If you are getting into the old SAA, get a good book or two and read/study and read/study.
5. Go on the hunt for the old SAA - that is part of the fun. And BE PATIENT! You are very wise by coming here to ask the experts (of which I am not)!

Lastly, you didn't mention the working mechanics of the gun, i.e., timing, lockup, COLT clicks, etc. Some of these older SAA guns can be completely trashed/broken inside and then they are useless without several hundred dollars worth of work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Wow, You guys are great for taking the time to help me out. Just so you know, I won't be purchasing this gun at this time. I have too much to read about to find any confidence in this gun. I intend on coming back here with any questions..... What a great discussion! Thanks again.
 
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