1891 US Colt SAA

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by john parker, Dec 13, 2006.

  1. john parker

    john parker New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
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    I have a US marked Colt SAA 45 that according to Colt was delivered to U.S. Government Inspector in 1891, then re-shipped from the Springfield Armory in 1902 with a 5 1/2 barrel. The frame has RAC mark and is US stamped. The barrel is DFC marked. The ejector rod housing is not marked. The cylinder is not marked and is said not to be original. The grips appear to be walnut, and I see no marks. The ejector rod end is ovalish, not a round button. The pistol shows very light traces of blue and color case hardening in very protected areas; otherwise it is "gray." I see no signs of rust or pitting. Mechanically it seems sound and locks up tight. The screws behind the hammer are a bit buggered, and the fit between the trigger guard and frame shows light but not enough room for a playing card. When I bought it in the mid 1960s the shop said it was put together from mixed/left over parts; don't know who did the putting together. Picture follows:

    [​IMG]


    I am interested in an idea of the value, and whether investing in a period cylinder (if the color matched the overall condition) would be worth it. Do have some more pictures, and serial numbers if necessary. Thanks, John
  2. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
    Hi John......welcome to TFF.

    DON'T CHANGE THE CYLINDER OR ANY OF THE OTHER "MISMATCHED" PARTS....with your "mismatched parts" SAA, you may have just hit the JACKPOT!

    Your SAA has all the earmarks of an "Artillery Model" SAA. Here's what the Blue Book has to say about them.....

    "Artillery Model SAAs - refers to U.S. government SAA revolvers with 5 1/2 in. barrels and mismatched numbered parts. In response to growing dissatisfaction with the stopping power of the newly adopted (1892) Colt .38 cal. double action revolvers, the U.S. government directed Springfield Armory to draw all remaining quantities of .45 Colt Calvary revolvers from storage. After having the barrels shortened to 5 1/2 iches and being refurbished, these models were to be reissued to the troops soon to be involved in the Spanish-American War. This work was completed at Colt during 1895-96, and every effort was made to keep all serial numbers matching. These guns were to be issued to all units of the U.S. Army, and only by chance they were sent to several artillery companies. Many of these same revolvers were returned to Colt during 1900-1903 for refurbishing, but this time without regard for matching component serial numbers. This shortcut minimized precious time and saved the government $1.50 per gun. A few artillery models are believed to have been redone at various government arsenals, and this could explain the existence of several known artillery revolvers with blue frame. Regardless, the artillery model has now become one of the most studied and interesting type of single action Colts."

    This pretty well matches your gun, doesn't it? Especially the 1900-1903 timeframe and the fact that your gun was sent from Colt to the Springfield Armory for reissue.

    Of course, with 1st Generation Colt SAAs, the only way to get a true evaluation of value is by a "hands-on" examination by a Colt expert.....but if yours is an Artillery Model (and I think it might well be), the Blue Book value is:

    50% - $4,500
    40% - $3,700
    30% - $3,500
    20% - $3,000
    10% - $2,800

    Here's a bit more info on the Artillery Model.....

    "Another historical military SAA revolver is the Artillery Model. It was issued to the rear-echelon troops, artillerymen, and such during the Spanish-American war period. Following the Indian wars, in 1895, the cavalry SAAs had fallen into disrepair and had been sent back to the Colt factory or Springfield Armory to be refurbished, fit with a shortened barrel, (cut from a 7 1/2 in (191 mm) to a 5 1/2 in (140 mm) ) and re-issued. Most of the Artillery Colts had mixed numbers. The standard military revolver at the time was the Colt double action New Army revolver chambered in 38 Colt. Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders charged up San Juan hill wielding the Artillery Model. Artillery models can usually be identified by the original inspector's cartouche (such as the OWA or HN) on the left side of the grips and the cartouche of Rinaldo A. Carr (RAC), the inspector who inspected the refurbished guns, on the right side. ."

    And this from Guns & Ammo Magazine:

    from Guns & Ammo
    October 2006

    Identifications & Values, October 2006

    Colt SAA Artillery Model
    Q: I recently bought a Colt SAA Artillery Model at auction. It has a 5 1/2-inch barrel, the usual mixed serial numbers and "RAC" stamped on the barrel, cylinder and bottom of the walnut grips. However, the frame does not have the U.S. marking or serial number stamped on it. The only marking on the frame is a three-line patent format. The gun is about 15 percent blue and case colors with no pitting and is mechanically good. What is the approximate value? --J.A., Durand, IL

    A: No other Colt SAA variation has been surrounded by more controversy than the SAA Artillery Model, mostly because many of these revolvers have been faked, "enhanced" or restored in some way. In response to growing dissatisfaction with the stopping power of the newly adopted (1892) Colt .38-caliber double-action revolvers, the U.S. government directed Springfield Armory to draw all remaining quantities of .45 caliber Colt Cavalry revolvers (7 1/2-inch barrel) from storage. After having the barrels shortened to 5 1/2 inches and being refurbished, these models were to be reissued to the troops soon to be involved in the Spanish-American War. This work was completed at Colt between 1895 and 1896, and every effort was made to keep all serial numbers matching.

    These guns were to be issued to all units of the U.S. Army, and only by chance were they sent to several artillery companies. These same revolvers were returned to Colt between 1900 and 1903 for refurbishing but this time without regard for matching component serial numbers. This shortcut minimized precious time and saved the government $1.50 per gun. A few Artillery Models are believed to have been redone at various government arsenals, and this could explain the existence of several known artillery revolvers with blue frames.

    Regardless, the artillery model has now become one of the most studied and interesting types of single-action Colts. Because of this model's susceptibility for non-originality, I would recommend that you get a letter of authenticity from Colt Artillery Model expert John Kopec (530/222-4440; coltauthenticity @aol.com). If your gun is original, values can range from $3,000 to $15,000, depending on condition.

    ......And here's a few for sale:

    http://www.gunsamerica.com/guns/976742570.htm

    http://www.sarcoinc.com/b14.html

    http://www.sportingadvertising.com/gun_details/colt_artillery.htm
  3. southernshooter

    southernshooter New Member

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    Welcome John, sounds like you might have a jewel
  4. john parker

    john parker New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Messages:
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    Xracer, I appreciate your help and the information you provided very much. I did contact the Colt Authenticity site, and was a little taken aback by the fee. I do not have a very good feel for what they will be able to do. I am reminded that years ago I spent what was probably a comparable amount with a geneologist in England who provided dates of birth and death, and the names of people living in a household during a census. This was all so impersonal and uninteresting that I dropped the subject. Do you or does anyone in the forum have any personal experience with this authenticity check? As a side note, I looked in collectorsfirearms.com and found that their item #C3807 looks to have been shipped to the Army with my pistol. They also indicate that they provide some services, so I have asked them about that. Thanks again, John
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