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I am hoping this thread can foster healthy debate and help to either dispel or perpetuate the myth of the artillery model SAA. It is not intended to offend or marginalize those who collect these guns rather to educate and maybe change some minds, like myself, on the subject. After all that is what discussion is all about. I will begin with why I believe this to be a myth perpetuated by the few upon the many with regards to authenticity and values.
By all collector standards these guns fail on every measure to be considered collectibles. These are the reasons why I believe this to be true.
1. They are parts guns, not original, and even though they are refurbished by Colt they are still parts guns with, in some cases, parts that are separated by decades not years.
2. There is no way to definitively authenticate this gun. There is no provenance or consensus on what can be authenticated other than the individual parts of the gun. The words possibly, most likely, fall within range, are ambiguous at best and cannot be considered authentication. Imagine if we used these words to convey the guilt of a person on trial, one word comes to mind- acquittal. Example would be if this practice were used today I doubt any serious collector would want a gun with mixed parts.
3. They are the most faked and most likely to be faked guns out there. See #2 as to why that is, too much possibility of being scammed, not worth taking the chance when you consider what prices are being floated for these guns.
4. Condition, condition, condition. That seems to be the consensus on a collector grade gun, and these guns are usually in fair to poor condition, remove the military connection and you have a $1500 gun at best.

I am hoping some of you can help me understand this gun, not with opinions but with facts. I want to like these guns but common sense, practicality, and economics dictate that this is not really possible. A cavalry model gun can be authenticated by provenance and I can understand why they command the money they get. I just don't see it with an artillery model. So let's open the discussion, not just for me but for the many who might never consider buying a gun like this because of the myth's surrounding it and the lack of facts and real understanding out there.
 

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Not a “parts” gun from Colt. Colt refurbished artillery models were matching number guns. Springfield Armory refurbished guns were not matching numbers.
 

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I remember reading (on here maybe) that someone bought some barrels of parts and assembled many of the "artilleries" in today's market.
 

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The parts, if verified original, can be traced to a period of usage from the frontier era to Spanish American War to the Philippine insurrection, all of which contributed to America’s rise to world power status. Many historic /collectible firearms have been re-finished by their manufacturers or, in the case of government issue, arsenals. In a later era, 1911/1911A1 pistols which have been rebuilt with various parts are being sold (& re-sold) at quite the premium. Are arsenal rebuilt 1860 Army revolvers, initially used in the War Between the States, and subsequently issued to cavalry units in the west, not considered collectible due to their mixed parts & government re-finish? My $.02....
 

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The parts, if verified original, can be traced to a period of usage from the frontier era to Spanish American War to the Philippine insurrection, all of which contributed to America’s rise to world power status. Many historic /collectible firearms have been re-finished by their manufacturers or, in the case of government issue, arsenals. In a later era, 1911/1911A1 pistols which have been rebuilt with various parts are being sold (& re-sold) at quite the premium. Are arsenal rebuilt 1860 Army revolvers, initially used in the War Between the States, and subsequently issued to cavalry units in the west, not considered collectible due to their mixed parts & government re-finish? My $.02....
Pretty much any USGI gun is collectible at this point. It has taken some time for the later stuff to catch up (namely M1 carbines) but when you encounter a "mixmaster" it can be hard to distinguish between a parts gun assembled from a stack of surplus parts or an intact rebuild. Quite honestly, values are about the same.
 

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GRI said:
Not a “parts” gun from Colt. Colt refurbished artillery models were matching number guns. Springfield Armory refurbished guns were not matching numbers.
GRI makes the perfect point to start this conversation/thread. There are so many nuances in the Artillery guns that one can spend a good amount of time learning them. Most can't tell the difference between an Italian parts gun and one made in America let alone take the time to educate themselves as to what is a fake artillery and what is a number's matching Colt Artillery or who did the work.

There certainly are many fakes in the "artillery" barrel. But there are some real jewels as well. If that is an area of interest it simply takes the time and effort to educate yourself if you don't want to get stung buying. And if you have the education it will take some deep pockets to get a nice gun.

There in lies the rub. Not bothering with the education and then thinking you have found the deal of the Century on the long lost and "cheap" Artillery. Only to find out later you have a (may be) $1500 fake that you paid the "simply amazing" price of $3750! Painful mistake. Burnt on an Artillery Model?! Yep, it happens, thinking you had that once in a life time Colt. Same reason they get faked all the time. PT Barnum knew that game.

I know enough to stay away from Artillery models. Why? First, I am lazy and don't care to put any more effort into my artillery education. I know just enough on the 1901+ 1st Gens to not get burned again badly.....most of the time. And they (1st Gen smokeless) can be expensive enough that I don't ever want to make that mistake again. Second? My current level of comfort is $5K. I might buy or sell a gun at 5K. But at 5K you can a buy a really nice "C" engraved 3rd Gen, most of the time with ivory. You won't get much of an artillery for $5K.

Here is one I would buy for all the obvious reasons. But one must know and fully understand the obvious reasons. And I know the man that built the stocks for this one. Kopec did as well. That isn't in the Kopec letter or the books. And just another reason I don't need an Artillery.
728403


Colt U.S. Artillery Custer Range and True Blue Manila Finish w/ Kopec Letter (gunsinternational.com)
 

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Cozmo, I am with you - it takes some serious commitment to get in the Artillery game. Prices are starting to approach generic "national guard" cavalry guns. The scenario you just presented shows that there is some accepted chicanery even at the top levels of collecting.
 

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As Keith indicated these Artilleries are part of US history. As the original poster noted, there are many faked Artilleries. There are also many faked Cavalries. There are also many, many more faked 1st gen SAA's of the same era. There are fakes of just about all collectables.
 

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I disagree on almost all points.......I wouldn't refer to them as "parts guns' but rather Arsenal rebuilds....Artillery's can be some of the most exciting to have authenticated because you have several "parts" that may have served a roll during the early Indian Wars, the Span Am war up to the Philippine Insurrection. The most heavily "faked" SAA's seam to be the Ainsworth, AP Casey, Johnson and Nettleton Cavalry models....

Here is a very nice original Documented Artillery..
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728438
728439
 

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There shouldn't even be a question as to why there is a lot of collector interest in them. They are a known and documented US martial pistol variant, and that has always been a hot collecting niche. Combine that with the fact they are also Colt SAAs and you now have double the collector interest in them. As far as provenance and verification of condition, etc., that is no different or more unusual than any high-end collectible that requires a high degree of knowledge and thorough evaluation and research. For many collectors, that adds desirability as well, because it's not a run of the mill commodity item.
 

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If you want to see an example of a poorly faked late 1st gen SAA, check here Colt SAA 45 LC MFG1932 for sale

This is one of very, very many faked 1st gen SAA's. The key to collecting anything is education.
Well-meaning, but well-heeled collectors who spend hundreds of thousands at auctions on altered and "upgraded" guns that have no idea what they are buying, are what have ruined most of gun collecting. It has skewed the curve of prices and provided the impetus for the 'Smitty's to get out their fake stamps and associated tools of the trade.
 
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