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Colt SAA questions


Tallboy
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Hey,

 

I am looking at 2 Uberti SAA for cowboy shooting, but I also was interested in buying an actual 2nd or 3rd gen Colt SAA. I would also be open to a USFC SAA as well.

 

I am somewhat new to lever guns/revolvers, and after looking at Gun Broker it seems there's just no chance of getting a Colt or USFC for less than like $3500. I see some for $2500 but something is always wrong with those. I was hoping to pay ~2K or just a little over.

 

Question 1: Were prices always this high or did they shoot up because of pandemic? Do you think prices will ever go back down?


Question 2: is there a better place to look to buy them then gunbroker? I suspect there may be a better site that isn't potentially boosting the price.

 

Question 3: Ive read a number of threads on 2nd vs 3rd gen, but it's sometimes tiring looking at the MOST heated debates because it has been said so much that no one actually explains it in depth. What about a Gen 3 would make it "not a real colt" to some people? Did they start using cheaper parts or something?

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  • Tallboy changed the title to Colt SAA questions

Tallboy,

 

1:  Colts have always been more expensive relative to clones and have shot up in price in the past 3 or so years.  My last Colt, new production, bought in 2018 at a retail store, was $1,800.   A similar one, blued, 7 1/2 ", 45 Colt would probably be in the $2,300-$2,500 in a  retail store, if you can find one. 

 

2:  I look at the gunsinternational site, which has lists of all types of firearms and breaks out Colts SAAs by generation.  Most of the pistols listed are old stock, either new or used, but once in a while they list new production.  Prices vary by caliber, bbl length, ornamentation, etc.  Prices are not being "boosted".  They are what they are.  Sometimes there can be deals, but it's whatever the market will bear.  That being said, prices are high. 

 

3:  There are differences of opinion on web sites regarding Colts, whether on price, quality, and in relation to other SAA types.  USFA SAAs have a good reputation for quality of production and many (mostly owners) prefer them to Colts, even if the current prices for them are close to the prices for Colts.  There are others (mostly Colt owners) who disagree.  I have specimens from both companies.  Both are well made, but again, it depends on who you ask.

 

The comments on 3rd Gen Colts not being "real Colts" stem primarily from the fact that production methods changed after the 2nd Generation models so that the newer models are not the "traditional" pistol.   The 3rd or, as some refer to them, 4th generation Colts still look essentially the same as the previous generations, and unless you are a collector or spend some time researching differences, are for all intents and purposes the same.  I wouldn't pay too much attention to the comments, especially the heated ones.  

 

There are Colts to be had in the $2,000-$2,500 range that are in good shape.  There are always going to be folks who will tell you they bought their latest one for $1,500-$1,800.  It can be done, but it is increasingly harder to do.  In the end, whether it's a Colt, USFA, Uberti, Standard Manufacturing or Pietta the cost is what it's worth to you. 

 

Good luck with the search; it's part of the fun for some folks. 

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Used Colts are getting more expensive.   It's getting harder and hard, but not impossible, to find one for less than $2000.   Condition is everything.   You MIGHT be able to find a really REALLY beat up, but still functional, one for even less than a $1000, but I'd not hold your breath.  $1500 is probably the lowest realistic price you can hope for, and even then, it will not be in the best of shape, and will be very hard to find.

One *possible* exception to this are SOME of the Second Generation Colt Commemoratives.   For some reason, they tend sell for a lot less than a generic Colt of similar vintage, and they are usually unfired!  I've gotten a couple of Colts this way for far less then a similar one would have cost.   But even this is starting to change.   The Commemoratives are going up in value.  Not as much a others, but they are not relatively super less expensive anymore.  It also depends on WHICH Commemorative you've got your eye on.   Some of them are still obtainable for a very decent price, and others are going for a lot more green.


And, let the buyer beware.  One of the first Commemoratives I got was an NRA Centennial one.  It's action was like sandpaper.   I took it back to Colt and had them to an action job.  It's now a nice as anything else you get from them, but it did have to be worked on.  (Actually, the cost of the action job was very reasonable.)   On the other hand, I also got a "Restoration of Old Fort Des Moines" commemorative several years later, for less money than I paid for the NRA one, and it is gold plated!  And, it's functionality was excellent, needing no  work to shoot a clean match with it.   I did replace the factory pearl grips with (wooly mammoth) ivory ones though.   Can't get Patton's opinion out of my head! 

  

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Go over to Coltforum.com and read.  Several good books on Colts are available. 

 

I've bought 8 Colt SAA in past several years.  From brand new to really badly worked over. All under 2k.  Many had some problems that needed fixed. I've has two completely refinished. Only one I bought through GB. The rest in local gunshops.  I shot one match Josey Wales using 5 Colts.  2 45 Colts, 44WCF,  2 38WCF. 

 

973582099_FiveColtstocleanOct2020.jpg.f7838e2ca399b5c100aa48bd6349dca7.jpg 

 

 

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site that isn't potentially boosting the price.

GunBroker does not BOOST prices.  They are not a dealer, just essentially an advertising platform and transaction monitor....... the SELLER sets the fixed prices, and the potential buyers OFFER their bids on minimum-price proffers and no-minimum proffers by sellers. 

 

Of course, any auction that has lots of eyeballs watching tends to drive the settlement price up, because it goes at the highest price that was "slapped on the barrel head" by a buyer.

 

If the seller asks too much on a fixed price or a minimum bid, then the gun won't sell.

If the buyers are not offering enough on their bids to meet minimum, then the gun won't sell.

In between, there is a meeting point, and the gun sells. 

 

To find out the prices from actual sales that completed, look at completed auctions only.  You can filter out the items that have not (yet) sold.

 

Yes, the panic of 2020 has raised asking prices, and on almost all firearms, not just Colt revolvers.

 

Some of our cowboy sellers, both commercial vendors and private sellers, can give you very good deals.  And some, not so much.  So, check the Vendors section of this forum, and the SASS Classifieds section, regularly.   I've found some very good deals there by being patient and very watchful.

 

good luck, GJ

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4 minutes ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

GunBroker does not BOOST prices.  They are not a dealer, just essentially an advertising platform and transaction monitor....... the SELLER sets the fixed prices, and the potential buyers OFFER their bids on minimum-price proffers and no-minimum proffers by sellers. 

 

Of course, any auction that has lots of eyeballs watching tends to drive the settlement price up, because it goes at the highest price that was "slapped on the barrel head" by a buyer.

 

If the seller asks too much on a fixed price or a minimum bid, then the gun won't sell.

If the buyers are not offering enough on their bids to meet minimum, then the gun won't sell.

In between, there is a meeting point, and the gun sells. 

 

To find out the prices from actual sales that completed, look at completed auctions only.  You can filter out the items that have not (yet) sold.

 

Yes, the panic of 2020 has raised asking prices, and on almost all firearms, not just Colt revolvers.

 

Some of our cowboy sellers, both commercial vendors and private sellers, can give you very good deals.  And some, not so much.  So, check the Vendors section of this forum, and the SASS Classifieds section, regularly.   I've found some very good deals there by being patient and very watchful.

 

good luck, GJ

Hey, thanks, I will check out the vendor area! I know how auctions and markets work, boosting was the wrong word. What I meant was prices can be inflated on certain platforms because the demand is higher there (for instance it's the one website about everyone knows about regardless of how long they have been shooting). For all the other lever guns I look at, they're always substantially higher on gunbroker than other websites. I can buy literally the same Henry big boy for $500 less by using gun.deals instead (for new guns anyway).

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16 minutes ago, Hendo said:

Just wait for the new CZ Colts to come out.

 

So is CZ/colt officially still making their 3rd gen or did they stop? The prices on their site seem reasonable @ 1700 but maybe that hasnt been made in years (like how Marlin stopped making the 94)


When will the new colts start? 

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The Pietta Great Western II is probably the best bang for your buck of currently available Colt clones on the market. 

 

When it comes to Colt vs USFA...  When USFA was in business they produced a very high quality revolver at about half the cost of what a Colt was selling for.  Even at that time there were naysayers because the earlier USFAs had some Uberti produced internals.  Eventually USFA started producing a gun that was entirely made in America and very high quality, and even then people still complained that they opted to use the slightly larger frame window and cylinder size that Uberti used.  Now USFAs are collectible in their own right and depending on features and finish options will often sell for as much as some 3rd gen Colts.  IMHO if comparing a later made USFA to a more recently produced 3rd gen Colt quality, fit, finish and price are on par, but the Colt wins because... well it is a Colt.:D

 

 

Edited by July Smith
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39 minutes ago, Tallboy said:

 

So is CZ/colt officially still making their 3rd gen or did they stop? The prices on their site seem reasonable @ 1700 but maybe that hasnt been made in years (like how Marlin stopped making the 94)


When will the new colts start? 

Yes, Colt is still making an SAA. It is not a high volume item so they trickle out. As was said before watch and learn on the Coltforum. Don’t get in a hurry. The Standards are nice looking American made clones. Not as nice as a good USFA but still nice. 

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Just now, Cholla said:

Yes, Colt is still making an SAA. It is not a high volume item so they trickle out. As was said before watch and learn on the Coltforum. Don’t get in a hurry. The Standards are nice looking American made clones. Not as nice as a good USFA but still nice. 

Patience isn't my strong suit, lol. Thank you - I will follow your advice and register over there.

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As July Smith said, a pair of Piettas are the closest thing going for a reasonable price to a second generation Colt.

 

My Piettas are my main match guns because they shoot well and I have less in them than a set of Rugers.  I have several pair of real Colts and a set of USFAs.  I shoot them occasionally, but I almost always shoot my Piettas.  Both of my Piettas have 2nd gen Colt parts in them including a real Colt cylinder in one pistol.

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25 minutes ago, Tallboy said:

Patience isn't my strong suit, lol. Thank you - I will follow your advice and register over there.

When you are swimming in Colt SAA waters, it’s easy to get eaten or drowned by moving too fast. The Colt SAA isn’t going away but it is easy to over pay or get something faked. Make friends, read the threads, and learn. Something will come your way. 

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I own two Colts, a USFA, an old Army Jager Dakota and I recently purchased a pair of "old New Model" Vaqueros -- all of these are in .45 Colt with 5 1/2 inch barrels.
My Colts are third-generation, 1990s production. Although I bought them about six years apart, they are separated by only about 100 serial numbers. These are new production revolvers with the "blackpowder" frame and bullseye ejector rod handles. I paid about $1300 apiece for them, and the most recent purchase was seven years ago. I think both are probably worth a little over $2,000 now, and possibly more as they are limitied production, I have the boxes and ephemera for them, etc. (and yes, I've shot them in matches, and no, they're not for sale). The Colt's have always been higher.
And I bought the Vaqueros this year because I've decided that although the Colts will see the range occassionally, I'd rather put the wear and tear of regular competition on the sturdier Ruger design. (Yeah, I know there are people here who think I never shoot - but I'm retiring and I hope to be shooting a LOT in the next couple of years).
I think a lot depends on what you want out of the CAS experience. I've always been (at least in the past ) super traditional, and wanted my guns to look and work like a gun Jesse James or Wyatt Earp might have carried -- hence the BP-framed Colts. My USFA revolver is also configured that way. If you're in that camp, a traditionally configured (four-click) Colt style revolver is what you'll want, but you don't necessarily have to use real Colts because decent replicas are available, both new and used. If you have the funds, of course, only a Colt is a Colt.
I have my Colts, an original 92 Winchester, and an actual made-by Greener shotgun that I intend to use all together in at least one match. Why? Because those were the weapons John Wayne used in Big Jake and True Grit -- leave me alone, I'm a grown man shooting guns in fake gunfights.
 

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58 minutes ago, Oddnews SASS# 24779 said:

I've always been (at least in the past ) super traditional, and wanted my guns to look and work like a gun Jesse James or Wyatt Earp might have carried

 

I believe both men carried a S&W American.   Cimarron is marketing a replica these days in various modern calibers.  I've got one in .45 Colt. 

If I ever make to a shoot in Tombstone, Arizona, I'll have a Buntline Special on my left (a real Colt) and the aforementioned American on my right.   Gotta be all "Wyatt Earpy."

Unless of course I get me an Arizona Ranger star, then I'll have my Big Iron on my hip.  :)

 

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15 hours ago, H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619 said:

 

I believe both men carried a S&W American.   Cimarron is marketing a replica these days in various modern calibers.  I've got one in .45 Colt. 

If I ever make to a shoot in Tombstone, Arizona, I'll have a Buntline Special on my left (a real Colt) and the aforementioned American on my right.   Gotta be all "Wyatt Earpy."

Unless of course I get me an Arizona Ranger star, then I'll have my Big Iron on my hip.  :)

 

I think you're probably right, but I was trying to stick to an era and people with recognizable names. I shoulda said "the Daltons" -- we know they carried Colts.

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Just to give you an example of the differences in Colts and prices, one web site has a 3rd Gen SAA, 45 Colt caliber, 7 1/2  " bbl, listed as excellent for $2,700.  Close up views show turn lines on the cylinder and slight corrosion on the hammer.  A similar Colt SAA on consignment in a local store, that I visited yesterday, looked almost brand new for $1,995. 

 

You have to look around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 9/20/2022 at 6:54 PM, Tallboy said:

Patience isn't my strong suit, lol.

 

Howdy

 

News to me: Apparently CZ purchased Colt at some point, but the SAA has always been made in Hartford CT. Last time I checked they were still being made there, but in very limited numbers.

 

I have no idea what the brouhaha is about 3rd Gen Colts not being 'real Colts'. For a while, the 3rd Gen was being made without a removable cylinder bushing, but that changed back to cylinders having the traditional removable cylinder bushing a number of years ago. There are those who think that the 3rd Gens with the removable cylinder bushing constitute a 4th Gen, but they are wrong. Colt is still making the 3rd Gen. (P.S. the removable cylinder bushing is really not an issue. The cylinder bushing is rusted in place on my favorite Colt, I tried removing it years ago and gave up. Not a problem)

 

A note on Colt generations. The 1st Gen was made from the inception of the gun in 1873 until 1940. After WWII Colt had no intention of manufacturing the old design again until Ruger showed that there was great demand for single action revolvers in 1954. Colt began making the SAA again in 1956 with the 2nd Gen up until 1975. After that, all production has been 3rd Gen.

 

If you are impatient you will probably wind up paying more than if you have some patience.

 

I NEVER buy a firearm that I cannot personally inspect, so that lets out all the online vendors, including Gun Broker.

 

Finding a Colt for me has always been a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

 

I came across this one probably close to 20 years ago now. Despite its appearance, it is a 2nd Gen made in 1968. Least expensive Colt I ever got, $680 out the door, because some clown had tried to antique it and not all the parts were original. This is my favorite Colt, and I only shoot Black Powder 45 Colt loads through it. Clearly, I have no problem with a Colt that is not pristine, as long as it functions properly. This is the one with the cylinder bushing frozen in place in the cylinder.

 

poXSyItqj

 

 

 

 

I scored this pristine 45 Colt 2nd Gen at a local auction a few years ago. Made in 1963, this one is almost like new in the box. I was amazed I was able to walk out the door with it for $1600.

 

pmMO5geqj

 

 

 

 

Almost no blue or case colors left on this 38-40 1st Gen Bisley Model that shipped in 1909. Still locks up tight. $1700 at a local auction a few years ago. As I said before, I have no problem with Colts that are not in pristine condition as long as they function well, or can easily be made to. Yes, the extractor rod handle is bent, I have no intention of trying to straighten it.

 

posWhShLj

 

 

 

 

Another pristine 45 Colt 2nd Gen that shipped in 1973. This one even came with the original box and instruction manual, although that probably did not affect the price. $2200 a few years ago.

 

posDjxy8j

 

 

 

Like I said, being in the right place at the right time has always worked for me with Colts, and Smith and Wesson revolvers too.

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7 hours ago, Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283 said:

 

Howdy

 

News to me: Apparently CZ purchased Colt at some point, but the SAA has always been made in Hartford CT. Last time I checked they were still being made there, but in very limited numbers.

 

I have no idea what the brouhaha is about 3rd Gen Colts not being 'real Colts'. For a while, the 3rd Gen was being made without a removable cylinder bushing, but that changed back to cylinders having the traditional removable cylinder bushing a number of years ago. There are those who think that the 3rd Gens with the removable cylinder bushing constitute a 4th Gen, but they are wrong. Colt is still making the 3rd Gen. (P.S. the removable cylinder bushing is really not an issue. The cylinder bushing is rusted in place on my favorite Colt, I tried removing it years ago and gave up. Not a problem)

 

A note on Colt generations. The 1st Gen was made from the inception of the gun in 1873 until 1940. After WWII Colt had no intention of manufacturing the old design again until Ruger showed that there was great demand for single action revolvers in 1954. Colt began making the SAA again in 1956 with the 2nd Gen up until 1975. After that, all production has been 3rd Gen.

 

If you are impatient you will probably wind up paying more than if you have some patience.

 

I NEVER buy a firearm that I cannot personally inspect, so that lets out all the online vendors, including Gun Broker.

 

Finding a Colt for me has always been a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

 

I came across this one probably close to 20 years ago now. Despite its appearance, it is a 2nd Gen made in 1968. Least expensive Colt I ever got, $680 out the door, because some clown had tried to antique it and not all the parts were original. This is my favorite Colt, and I only shoot Black Powder 45 Colt loads through it. Clearly, I have no problem with a Colt that is not pristine, as long as it functions properly. This is the one with the cylinder bushing frozen in place in the cylinder.

 

poXSyItqj

 

 

 

 

I scored this pristine 45 Colt 2nd Gen at a local auction a few years ago. Made in 1963, this one is almost like new in the box. I was amazed I was able to walk out the door with it for $1600.

 

pmMO5geqj

 

 

 

 

Almost no blue or case colors left on this 38-40 1st Gen Bisley Model that shipped in 1909. Still locks up tight. $1700 at a local auction a few years ago. As I said before, I have no problem with Colts that are not in pristine condition as long as they function well, or can easily be made to. Yes, the extractor rod handle is bent, I have no intention of trying to straighten it.

 

posWhShLj

 

 

 

 

Another pristine 45 Colt 2nd Gen that shipped in 1973. This one even came with the original box and instruction manual, although that probably did not affect the price. $2200 a few years ago.

 

posDjxy8j

 

 

 

Like I said, being in the right place at the right time has always worked for me with Colts, and Smith and Wesson revolvers too.

 I do love COLTS thirty years of collecting them and I am still in the hunt for just one more.

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On 9/20/2022 at 3:56 PM, Tallboy said:

I am looking at 2 Uberti SAA for cowboy shooting, but I also was interested in buying an actual 2nd or 3rd gen Colt SAA. I would also be open to a USFC SAA as well.

 

I've have a few Colts, not a huge collection, but enough to scratch that itch.   My personal opinion only (worth what you paid for it...), is that the 2nd Gen Colts were some of the best Colts ever made.   They're not as collectible as 1st Gens, especially not the blackpowder frame ones.  But, they are well worth having. 

Of the later 3rd Gen Custom Shop guns, they are almost the equal.   But, some parts, such as barrels,  are not interchangeable with previous versions.   I was able to get a pair of blackpowder frame, bevelled cylinder, sequentially numbered, 1st Gen roll-stamped, stunningly case hardened examples with the removable bushings, in 38-40.    The Colt Custom Shop at one time turned out some absolutely beautiful guns.   Too bad they dropped everything except .357 and .45...  Now, I'm not even sure the Custom Shop makes SAA's anymore. 

 

Of the current reproductions, the closest to the Colt Prewar models in a mid-priced revolver, are those offered on the EMF (Pietta USA) website, their Great Western II line.  In the higher end, those made my Standard Manufacturing.

 

In the blackpowder frames, the Cimarron Uberti Old Models are the way to go.  They are a fine revolver.   When ordering, specify that you want ones with the old "4-click" action, if they are still on the shelf.   The retractable firing pin hammer/trigger mechanism have started filtering into the Old Model line.

 

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I didn't do a thorough search but heres one that might fit your bill.  It should go for under $2500 but your never know.  Last week a 44-40 of similar vintage sold for near 3K.  Somebody said go to the Coltforum on SAA.  That is a great learning venue.  Should you start buying older Colts then you'll need some reference books like Ken Cochrans "Colt PeaceMaker Collector" etc.

 

Colt SAA

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Colts have always been over msrp because they’re in high demand and they make then slowly. New ones go for around $2,500. I put a new one on order in 2016 for $1600 and didn’t get it until 2019 and price went up to $1800+. I have 1st and 2nd gens also. 2 gens are the best made guns and are going for over $3,000 and definitely wouldn’t want to use one in competition. 1st gens are the same or more because of history. USFA is out of business. If you want a nice made American single action truer to the original design than ruger and even nicer than colt makes for less, look at standard manufacturing. They make them near colt in Connecticut and old colt and USFA employees build them for around $1800. They are all hand fit and all forged steel no cast parts like colt and and Italian clones. They are easier to get as well. 

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On 9/23/2022 at 7:15 AM, McCandless said:

 

I've have a few Colts, not a huge collection, but enough to scratch that itch.   My personal opinion only (worth what you paid for it...), is that the 2nd Gen Colts were some of the best Colts ever made.   They're not as collectible as 1st Gens, especially not the blackpowder frame ones.  But, they are well worth having. 

Of the later 3rd Gen Custom Shop guns, they are almost the equal.   But, some parts, such as barrels,  are not interchangeable with previous versions.   I was able to get a pair of blackpowder frame, bevelled cylinder, sequentially numbered, 1st Gen roll-stamped, stunningly case hardened examples with the removable bushings, in 38-40.    The Colt Custom Shop at one time turned out some absolutely beautiful guns.   Too bad they dropped everything except .357 and .45...  Now, I'm not even sure the Custom Shop makes SAA's anymore. 

 

Of the current reproductions, the closest to the Colt Prewar models in a mid-priced revolver, are those offered on the EMF (Pietta USA) website, their Great Western II line.  In the higher end, those made my Standard Manufacturing.

 

In the blackpowder frames, the Cimarron Uberti Old Models are the way to go.  They are a fine revolver.   When ordering, specify that you want ones with the old "4-click" action, if they are still on the shelf.   The retractable firing pin hammer/trigger mechanism have started filtering into the Old Model line.

 

You can still get SAA’s from the custom shop just decisions are very limited. Black powder frames and acid etch barrels(like on 1880’s frontier six shooters) were discontinued in 2018 or 2019) and nickel isn’t even a standard option anymore it has to be a custom shop order. I have a lettered 1913 frontier six shooter in 44-40 with some lettered history among other guns but really wanted a black powder frame frontier six shooter with all the other 1880’s features like the beveled cylinder, and acid etch barrel, cch hardened hammer. 

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