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Discussion Starter #1
Several recent threads pose this very question, so I thought I would create this thread, for future reference.

First, let's start with a link: John A. Kopec

This answers many questions. The big ones: (1) Cost: $300 per Cavalry Model, $385 per Artillery Model. (2) Shipping: Ship by REGISTERED mail and INSURE! Your package is signed for every step of the way, and despite being priority mail, it will take, in my experience, approximately 10 days to arrive in Redding, California, even though your friendly postal clerk will assure you otherwise. With the time Mr Kopec will spend evaluating your revolver (which is done in a VERY timely fashion!) and a return trip of approximately 10 days, you are looking at your revolver being out of your possession for nearly a month.

QUESTION: Should I send MY Cavalry or Artillery Revolver to Mr Kopec?

That, of course, is a matter of opinion, IN A RELATIVE (and not an absolute sense). Absolutely, you should send your Cavalry or Artillery Model to Mr Kopec, if it, relative to others out there, "appears" to be correct and it is not, by outward appearances, an outright fake, fabricated with intent to deceive.

QUESTION: How do I know if MY Cavalry or Artillery Model is not an outright fake or fabricated with intent to deceive?

First, hopefully, if you haven't a CLUE relative to these, you (1) inherited it from your dear late Uncle; or (2) obtained it for $75 and a bottle of Maker's Mark. Otherwise, hopefully you did your homework and made an educated guess and purchased said revolver for a reasonable cost, and, yes, it often is a gamble.

There are MANY experts on this forum, and if you post MANY clear photographs of your revolver, you will receive expert commentary (and even more opinions) in short order. If the general consensus is that you do not have a revolver fraught with problems, or even if there are some minor problems, it is worth sending your revolver off to Mr Kopec.

QUESTION: I did as you said and posted several clear photographs of my revolver, and several experts chimed in, and told me a lot, and, indeed, my revolver appears all, or mostly, correct. Do I still need to send my revolver to Mr Kopec?

YES!!! Although there are many experts on this forum, the "guru" when it comes to these is Mr Kopec. Time and time again, I hear the question, does a particular revolver have a Kopec letter? Some won't even touch one for sale without a letter, others, like me, will, but will pay a fraction of what I would otherwise pay with a letter. If the letter is a good one, congratulations, if you purchased wisely, you might have doubled or tripled your money. If not such a stellar pedigree, consider your $300 or $385 in the same category as other "expendable purchases", like a car repair. An annoyance, yes, but not crippling... Besides, what is $300 or $385 these days? Not much! You probably spend more than that in a week for groceries, gasoline, dry cleaning, and a meal out. In fact, Mr Kopec's services are a BARGAIN for the wealth of information provided. Also, his meticulous research collected over decades provides information NOT available anywhere else. Sometimes, a revolver might have been found to have been submitted previously, discovered to be problematic and submitted by a subsequent owner, and Mr Kopec can elaborate, in the case of an Artillery model, that at the time of previous submission, the component parts were "different" than present configuration. (Of course, Mr Kopec's original letter has mysteriously disappeared...).

QUESTION: But I already have a factory letter from Colt regarding MY Cavalry or Artillery Model Revolver. Do I still need to submit my revolver to Mr Kopec?

Yes!!! A factory letter only gives you information regarding shipment, such as date shipped to the U S Government Inspector, number of other guns in shipment, in the case of an Artillery Model, date reshipped to Springfield Armory, etc. It DOES NOT (!!!!!!!!!!!!) provide information relative to artificial aging, improperly replaced parts, faked stampings, faked grips, replaced cylinders, hammers or base pins, OR any of another of a multitude of changes that may have occurred, due to wear, field-stripping, or outright intent to deceive, over the last 14+ decades.

QUESTION: I sought the opinion of others with regards to MY Cavalry or Artillery Model, and, without a doubt, the general consensus is that it IS worthy of sending to Mr Kopec. However, I am certain I know more. Due to (FILL IN THE BLANK: Inherent cheapness, stubbornness, the fact I can get a Colt Factory Letter for $100 (instead of $300 or $385), or because I know EVERYTHING there is to know about Colt Cavalry and Artillery Model Revolvers), I don't think I need to send my revolver to Mr Kopec.

Re-read what I have written, above. If you still conclude that you don't need to send your revolver to Mr Kopec for evaluation, then, my friend, there isn't much more I can do to help you other than to say "I tried!!!".

I have no financial incentive to write the aforementioned. I simply have provided my insight as to my observations relative to a Kopec letter, and to the merit of said letter. And, maybe also to encourage you to send your revolver to Mr Kopec if you have been provided a general consensus that seems to have decided that your revolver does indeed have merit (CONGRATULATIONS), but yet you have decided that, DESPITE much expert opinion stating to send your revolver to Mr Kopec, you have decided you know better!!!

Part of the thrill in evaluating a Cavalry or Artillery Model detailed in a thread dedicated to said revolver is to formulate my opinions, and then, after the OP is provided Mr Kopec's letter, he or she posts Mr Kopec's findings, and I see where I was correct in my opinions, note where I was outright wrong, note what I have missed, and review the parts of the letter that are only available through the purchase of this letter.

When an individual posts a thread regarding their Cavalry or Artillery Model, and dangles this eye candy in front of those of us on the forum, but fails to follow up with their revolver going on a trip to Redding, California, well, that's like being a kid in a candy store with an empty wallet.
 

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If you go to sell your particular Cavalry or Artillery SAA the first question a serious collector/buyer will ask is "Do you have a "Kopec Letter?"
 

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If one wants to sell their military SAA, a letter from Kopec is extremely important to most/all buyers.
If you own a military SAA that you do not plan to sell and you are happy with its known history, why pay to have it further evaluated?
As I stated in an earlier post, there are known cases of guns being lost and damaged in shipment and it is very difficult to collect on their
real value when dealing with USPS, FedEx or especially UPS.
 

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Sometime along the life of the Military SAA, someone will eventually sell it. For me, a Kopec letter is a "must" added investment. Mr. Kopec and his knowledge base will not always be with us so that invaluable resource will be lost forever. In other words, get a letter while you can! One of his signed letters will be a collectors item in and of themselves someday - believe me!
 

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Next day air or mail express is what I use, but I have firearms insurance covering any common carrier, even my car. The insurance is not expensive and separate riders can be temporarily obtained for special shipments, such as the one I'm sending to John this week. He will return same and it's covered by my policy. The interesting fact is that John has no sophisticated data bank, only a file card system. Cool, right?


JP
 

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I think it's important to point out that a Colt letter or on any gun will only tell you what someone else wrote in a ledger. With a Kopec letter the revolver is completely dissembled and you get a first hand, in hand evaluation.
Most folks know this but it should be mentioned that Kopec will only examine martially marked Colt revolvers, no exceptions.
 

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A few months ago I was laid up and bored...so I decided to watch a Rock Island auction on the computer...I proceeded to break all the rules that I subscribed to.... but I bought a US marked SAA... nickel plated on top of that.......I have known for years that these were a mine field...but I liked the look of it and figured that if it was a total fake my downside would be a couple of thousand....and I really needed a project that would last awhile.... had the auction house ship direct to John Kopec....then the sick thought hit me....what if it had a Kopec letter and it went into file 13 because it was so bad !... the pleasure of talking to John a few times was worth it all...bottom line was that it was a militia gun ....we don't know which one...but was sold to a distributor ...who nickel plated it in new condition for civilian market....and they 'erased' the US stamp before plating....down the road a few years and some moron replaced the US stamp... but the gun has all original parts and is in splendid condition ....it is not a high dollar example...but I am proud to own it....and John was able to reveal some of it's history for me .... it was a great project...thanks to John Kopec
 

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Tony,
Glad you're feeling better. Thirty years ago or so a gun show dealer bought a S&W 1st. Model Schofield. Soon after, he noticed there was no "US" marking on the toe of the butt. He had a stamp made and marked the Schofield with a "US". It wasn't until a much more knowledgeable collector pointed out that the subject Schofield lacked the remaining military inspection and inspection marks. Turns out the S&W was one of only 35 commercial Schofield revolvers made.
 

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If one wants to sell their military SAA, a letter from Kopec is extremely important to most/all buyers.
If you own a military SAA that you do not plan to sell and you are happy with its known history, why pay to have it further evaluated?
As I stated in an earlier post, there are known cases of guns being lost and damaged in shipment and it is very difficult to collect on their
real value when dealing with USPS, FedEx or especially UPS.
My one & only fear! Thanks for making this point!
 

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Tony,
Glad you're feeling better. Thirty years ago or so a gun show dealer bought a S&W 1st. Model Schofield. Soon after, he noticed there was no "US" marking on the toe of the butt. He had a stamp made and marked the Schofield with a "US". It wasn't until a much more knowledgeable collector pointed out that the subject Schofield lacked the remaining military inspection and inspection marks. Turns out the S&W was one of only 35 commercial Schofield revolvers made.
Where I come from, That's called karma!
 

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Several recent threads pose this very question, so I thought I would create this thread, for future reference.

First, let's start with a link: John A. Kopec

This answers many questions. The big ones: (1) Cost: $300 per Cavalry Model, $385 per Artillery Model. (2) Shipping: Ship by REGISTERED mail and INSURE! Your package is signed for every step of the way, and despite being priority mail, it will take, in my experience, approximately 10 days to arrive in Redding, California, even though your friendly postal clerk will assure you otherwise. With the time Mr Kopec will spend evaluating your revolver (which is done in a VERY timely fashion!) and a return trip of approximately 10 days, you are looking at your revolver being out of your possession for nearly a month.

QUESTION: Should I send MY Cavalry or Artillery Revolver to Mr Kopec?

That, of course, is a matter of opinion, IN A RELATIVE (and not an absolute sense). Absolutely, you should send your Cavalry or Artillery Model to Mr Kopec, if it, relative to others out there, "appears" to be correct and it is not, by outward appearances, an outright fake, fabricated with intent to deceive.

QUESTION: How do I know if MY Cavalry or Artillery Model is not an outright fake or fabricated with intent to deceive?

First, hopefully, if you haven't a CLUE relative to these, you (1) inherited it from your dear late Uncle; or (2) obtained it for $75 and a bottle of Maker's Mark. Otherwise, hopefully you did your homework and made an educated guess and purchased said revolver for a reasonable cost, and, yes, it often is a gamble.

There are MANY experts on this forum, and if you post MANY clear photographs of your revolver, you will receive expert commentary (and even more opinions) in short order. If the general consensus is that you do not have a revolver fraught with problems, or even if there are some minor problems, it is worth sending your revolver off to Mr Kopec.


QUESTION: I did as you said and posted several clear photographs of my revolver, and several experts chimed in, and told me a lot, and, indeed, my revolver appears all, or mostly, correct. Do I still need to send my revolver to Mr Kopec?

YES!!! Although there are many experts on this forum, the "guru" when it comes to these is Mr Kopec. Time and time again, I hear the question, does a particular revolver have a Kopec letter? Some won't even touch one for sale without a letter, others, like me, will, but will pay a fraction of what I would otherwise pay with a letter. If the letter is a good one, congratulations, if you purchased wisely, you might have doubled or tripled your money. If not such a stellar pedigree, consider your $300 or $385 in the same category as other "expendable purchases", like a car repair. An annoyance, yes, but not crippling... Besides, what is $300 or $385 these days? Not much! You probably spend more than that in a week for groceries, gasoline, dry cleaning, and a meal out. In fact, Mr Kopec's services are a BARGAIN for the wealth of information provided. Also, his meticulous research collected over decades provides information NOT available anywhere else. Sometimes, a revolver might have been found to have been submitted previously, discovered to be problematic and submitted by a subsequent owner, and Mr Kopec can elaborate, in the case of an Artillery model, that at the time of previous submission, the component parts were "different" than present configuration. (Of course, Mr Kopec's original letter has mysteriously disappeared...).

QUESTION: But I already have a factory letter from Colt regarding MY Cavalry or Artillery Model Revolver. Do I still need to submit my revolver to Mr Kopec?

Yes!!! A factory letter only gives you information regarding shipment, such as date shipped to the U S Government Inspector, number of other guns in shipment, in the case of an Artillery Model, date reshipped to Springfield Armory, etc. It DOES NOT (!!!!!!!!!!!!) provide information relative to artificial aging, improperly replaced parts, faked stampings, faked grips, replaced cylinders, hammers or base pins, OR any of another of a multitude of changes that may have occurred, due to wear, field-stripping, or outright intent to deceive, over the last 14+ decades.

QUESTION: I sought the opinion of others with regards to MY Cavalry or Artillery Model, and, without a doubt, the general consensus is that it IS worthy of sending to Mr Kopec. However, I am certain I know more. Due to (FILL IN THE BLANK: Inherent cheapness, stubbornness, the fact I can get a Colt Factory Letter for $100 (instead of $300 or $385), or because I know EVERYTHING there is to know about Colt Cavalry and Artillery Model Revolvers), I don't think I need to send my revolver to Mr Kopec.

Re-read what I have written, above. If you still conclude that you don't need to send your revolver to Mr Kopec for evaluation, then, my friend, there isn't much more I can do to help you other than to say "I tried!!!".

I have no financial incentive to write the aforementioned. I simply have provided my insight as to my observations relative to a Kopec letter, and to the merit of said letter. And, maybe also to encourage you to send your revolver to Mr Kopec if you have been provided a general consensus that seems to have decided that your revolver does indeed have merit (CONGRATULATIONS), but yet you have decided that, DESPITE much expert opinion stating to send your revolver to Mr Kopec, you have decided you know better!!!

Part of the thrill in evaluating a Cavalry or Artillery Model detailed in a thread dedicated to said revolver is to formulate my opinions, and then, after the OP is provided Mr Kopec's letter, he or she posts Mr Kopec's findings, and I see where I was correct in my opinions, note where I was outright wrong, note what I have missed, and review the parts of the letter that are only available through the purchase of this letter.

When an individual posts a thread regarding their Cavalry or Artillery Model, and dangles this eye candy in front of those of us on the forum, but fails to follow up with their revolver going on a trip to Redding, California, well, that's like being a kid in a candy store with an empty wallet.
This thread was started 3 years ago, so maybe some things have changed. I hear that Kopec is now 92, and maybe that changes some of his past procedures? I just heard about John Kopec's evaluation service, that he will return your Colt SAA UNINSURED by FedEx! There is no way that I am sending an expensive Colt SAA, if that is the way it will be returned. Has anyone recently received a returned Colt SAA in this manner?
 

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This thread was started 3 years ago, so maybe some things have changed. I hear that Kopec is now 92, and maybe that changes some of his past procedures? I just heard about John Kopec's evaluation service, that he will return your Colt SAA UNINSURED by FedEx! There is no way that I am sending an expensive Colt SAA, if that is the way it will be returned. Has anyone recently received a returned Colt SAA in this manner?
FedEx doesn't offer "insurance" ... ask'em. They ask for a "declared value". If your gun is damaged THEY have the option to repair it. If it is lost, the burden of proof shifts to YOU to prove your 140 year old gun is actually worth the declared value. Good luck with that!
 

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FedEx doesn't offer "insurance" ... ask'em. They ask for a "declared value". If your gun is damaged THEY have the option to repair it. If it is lost, the burden of proof shifts to YOU to prove your 140 year old gun is actually worth the declared value. Good luck with that!
I ship by FedEx all the time, when going to an FFL dealer. I have an account with FedEx. They do have insurance. It is not low-cost insurance like Registered mail, but it is about $1 per $100 of coverage.

My declared value is Sale Price. But the original point made is that Kopec may no longer return a gun by Registered Mail, fully insured.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
On his site, he states that there have been some temporary changes due to Covid-19, and he is only returning revolvers by FedEx and not my USPS. I would not be inclined to utilize FedEx for this, and would be inclined to wait until a return to shipping using the USPS, if it is indeed a temporary change.
 

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On his site, he states that there have been some temporary changes due to Covid-19, and he is only returning revolvers by FedEx and not my USPS. I would not be inclined to utilize FedEx for this, and would be inclined to wait until a return to shipping using the USPS, if it is indeed a temporary change.
Shipping by USPS Registered Insured Mail is my preference for the most secure, and also carefully handled, mail. Registered Mail is not thrown around like other packages. But it is amazing to me how many gunsmiths and grip makers, many highly touted in this ColtForum, will never return a finished gun (or backstrap and TG) by Registered Mail. Why? I suppose that they don't want to buy paper tape or learn learn how to comply with Registered Mail. So on a $5,000 gun, the return postage will cost $47 more ($92). If it is valued over $5000, then without Registered Mail, the USPS will not cover it.
 

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I think anyone paying for insurance on a firearm that is not brand new with an actual sales receipt would be very disappointed in what the carrier is actually willing to pay for the damage or replacement after they strip out depreciation. The carrier could care less its a 130 year old vintage firearm.
 
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