frontier six shooter

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by r.nevels, Oct 15, 2012.

  1. r.nevels

    r.nevels New Member

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    i have two frontier six shooter colts one ser.# 142153 the other is 151355 both are marked on the barrel frontier six shooter now i have had an expert tell me that these gun's are called ssa or standard civilian production model 1876 - 1898 and that frontier six shooters were made between 1878 to 1882 and would have ser. # between 45000 to 65000 so if this is true why are mine marked frontier six shooter ?
  2. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    Need clear pictures of all the markings and clear pictures of the serial numbers. The original information you received is correct in so far as the time period and serial numbers. FWIW on the original Colts " Frontier Six Shooter " is acid etched, not stamped or engraved, and in most cases it has worn away so almost all vestiges of the name is gone and all are chambered in 44-40. I have a couple of thoughts but with out pictures I am withholding judgement.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2012
  3. r.nevels

    r.nevels New Member

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    [
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012
  4. r.nevels

    r.nevels New Member

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    i can't seem to get pic. to load
  5. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    Click on "Go Advanced" and then "Manage Attachments" to browse your hard drive for the pics and upload them.
  6. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    AFAIK, all the First generation Single Action Army (SAA) revolvers in .44-40* were marked "Colt Frontier Six Shooter". The early ones had that legend in an etched panel, but Colt later changed to a standard roll marking. Mine is #151068, and has the "Frontier" legend, and David Brown shows #246061, with the same marking.

    *And only in .44-40; the "Frontier" legend substituted for the caliber marking in that caliber only; SAA's in .38-40 were marked ".38 W.C.F."

    Jim
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012
  7. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    Jim, you are undoubtedly correct in your assessment . My problem is, not being a Colt collector and not having any of these vintage Colts in my procession I have to revert to my references for knowledge. I have at least three reference showing only a few thousand were made,, between 1876 and 1882 , serial number range 45,000 to 65,000, all with acid etched markings on the barrel. I did find a note in Flayderman's that in 1981 expert acid etched forgeries were found, so I just down know, because of my lack of detailed , hands on knowledge , I am stepping down from this one.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  8. r.nevels

    r.nevels New Member

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    i have the pictures uploaded to an album but can't get them on the thread if by chance you can access my album they are there
  9. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Here are two pictures; the first is of a later gun with the rollmark. The second is of an early (and rare) gun with the raised lettering in an etched panel. Incidentally, I did some more checking and find I was wrong about the "frontier" mark suituting for the caliber; the 1925 gun shown on the RIA site has the .44-40 marking used on late guns in addition to the "frontier".

    To be honest, there are so many fakes in this area that I have come to wonder about almost anything out of the ordinary on SAA Colts. Googling "COLT FRONTIER SIX SHOOTER" turns up a lot I simply don't believe, including the etched panel pictured below. All I will say is that that is what they looked like. Whether that one is genuine, I don't know.

    http://rockislandauction.com/viewitem/aid/56/lid/215

    http://www.gunsinternational.com/popup.cfm?id=100255679&num=6&pic=100255679-6-L.JPG

    R. Nevels, I looked at your pictures and the marking on your 142153 is exactly the same as mine. It is possible they both are fake, but mine is an old one and has no sign of alteration or tampering. Maybe someone else can look at those pictures.

    Jim
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  10. r.nevels

    r.nevels New Member

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    the person that inspected this gun and the other one that i have given to my son is the one that said these were single action army(civilian model)he was appraising guns at an auction where i purchased these guns and appraised this particular gun at over 5,000.00 and the other one some what lower but that only adds to the mistery of what they are.(frontier six shooters....or....single action army) i asume one is worth more then the other.
  11. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    Don't really know, but one of my books states that on the confirmed FSS you can add another 5000 to that figure. I don't know if that would be enought to fake one or not.
  12. r.nevels

    r.nevels New Member

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    probably would thanks for everyone's help.
  13. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Just to clarify the names. The revolver that was adopted by the army in 1873 was called by them the Model 1873. It was .45 caliber. Colt made the first guns for the Army on contract, then began to produce the identical gun (except for the lack of the "U.S." marking) for the commercial market. Today, all Colt revolvers of that model, regardless of caliber and whether they were part of the army contract, are commonly called "Single Action Army" revolvers. So the "Colt Frontier Six Shooter" in single action is one variation of the Single Action Army. (The .44-40 chambering of the Model 1878 double action revolver is also marked "Colt Frontier Six Shooter" in the roll-marked format, not the etched panel.)

    Also in 1873, Winchester introduced its Model 1873 rifle, in .44 Winchester Center Fire (.44-40) caliber. About 1878, Colt responded to demand and chambered its SAA for .44-40, allowing those who wanted to own both a rifle and a revolver in the same caliber.*

    Colt, apparently for marketing purposes, chose to mark the first of those guns in .44 WCF (.44-40) "Colt Frontier Six Shooter" in an etched panel on the left side of the barrel. Later that marking was changed to a roll-marked legend.

    Many people who read (and some who write) books on the Single Action Army see the part about the etched panel and stop there. But ALL First Generation (1893-1940) SAA revolvers in .44-40 were marked Colt Frontier Six Shooter. Here is what Wilson says, "COLT FRONTIER SIX SHOOTER was the standard marking for the .44-40 caliber revolvers, and in its initial form appeared etched."

    Note two things - the words "in its initial form", indicating there was another form, and the term "appeared etched". But what was etched was not the lettering, but the surrounding area, leaving the lettering raised. That is why I used the term "etched panel" rather than "etched lettering." There is nothing that "appeared etched" about the lettering; the surrounding panel is clearly etched. Re-reading that sentence, I really have to wonder if Wilson ever actually saw one of those early revolvers.

    Now, an interesting point. Colt started marking the .44-40 revolvers with the "etched panel" c. 1878. At almost the same time, they began making the Model 1878 double action, with .44-40 guns also marked with the "Frontier" legend but ALWAYS rollmarked. AFAIK, there are NO Model 1878's with etched panels.

    So, it is one of those things that is impossible to prove, but it is reasonable to suppose that with a new model coming out in .44-40, Colt decided that the etched marking was too costly and time consuming and went to the roll mark on ALL its .44-40 barrels. (The barrels are identical and interchangeable.) That would explain why the etched marking on the SAA lasted such a short time, and is so rare.

    But without that information, it is easy for the novice to be misled into believing that the "Frontier" mark is rare and exotic, rather than appearing on fully 1/5 of all SAA first generation revolvers (64,489 out of 310,386). Only the "etched panel" marking is really rare and worth a large premium.

    *Rifle makers generally shied away from chambering the .45 Colt because of extraction problems caused by the small rim; the Colt revolvers had no problem because they used rod ejectors.

    Jim
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  14. r.nevels

    r.nevels New Member

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    so the gun's are single action army that just happen to have the frontier six shooter roll marking that makes perfect sense and the appraiser was right the front six shooter was only made between 45,000 and 65,000 serial numbers. thanks that was a very good explaination thank you.....r.nevels
  15. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Well, they don't "just happen" to have that marking. They have that marking because they are chambered for .44-40 (.44 W.C.F.) and Colt chose to use that legend for that caliber. The early rare ones had it in the form your appraiser was thinking about. He either didn't include or didn't know that tens of thousands more of those guns had the same legend, but applied in a different way. So one form, the etched panel, is rare; the other form, roll marked, is not especially rare. It is often in the interest of a seller to confuse the buyer into thinking he is paying for a rare gun, when he actually is buying a relatively common one.

    Jim
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