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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've developed an incurable desire for a Colt or imitation Colt Single Action Army. I don't care about the price (can't believe I wrote that) but with high level SAAs you shouldn't be asking what they cost.

Does anyone here have experience with new Colts from the Custom Shop? I'm debating between them and the USFA pistols.

Any experience the members here could give me on new models and preferred calibers would be appreciated.
 
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I guess a ruger vaquero won't scratch the itch? I've got the stainless 3 1/2" barreled bird-head in 45 Colt. It is nice to use on paper targets after shooting for a while with a .22. Real easy to see the new holes.
 

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I'm no fan of the single action design in general. I don't own any for range or field use as I've never enjoyed shooting others' single actions. There is some magic in shooting an original Colt Single Action Army. I love shooting a Colt. I grew up around my uncle's Colt "Artillery Model" .45, a friend has a 4 4/8-inch .45 SAA that was made in 1901, and I have a 4 5/8-inch .38-40 SAA made in 1905. There's something special about shooting them.

I do think the 4 5/8-inch .45 has the best "feel" to it. It balances just right. My .38-40 with it's smaller bore has a more muzzle heavy feel to it.
 
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If price is no object, then look for a nice 1st or 2nd-generation Colt SAA. The biggest gun shows have scores of Colt SAA's for sale at all levels of condition. Really nice ones will run up into the thousands of dollars, 10's of thousands of dollars in some cases for early 1st-generation ones in exceptional condition. At such prices it will be an investment, which means you probably won't want to put much wear and tear on it unless you have money to burn. Such Colt SAA's have long since past being "shooters." The prices of nice 3rd-generation Colt SAA's have pretty much done the same to them. Even NIB 3rd-generation New Frontiers are running over $1,000, but they can still be considered shooters, and are much the better so with their high-profile adjustable sights. Kept in pretty much the condition that you buy it in, a nice-condition Colt SAA's value will continue to appreciate. If the one you buy has at least some wear on it, shooting it while handling it carefully won't harm its value, but any significant exterior finish wear --- like from holster carry --- will decrease its value. The more finish wear, the more so.

I'm not cognizant of the quality of current-production Colt SAA's (the continuation of the 3rd-generation), but several years ago Guns Tests magazine evaluated one and really ran it down insofar as the fit of its parts; fit quality was far inferior for what you should get in a handgun of its cost. But if you have to have a new SAA that says "COLT" on it, it's the cheapest way to go.

Insofar as the clones, the highest-quality ones, that duplicate the quality and exact design of the 1st-generation Colts, are those made by USFA. These aren't cheap, but are the cheapest way to get into a de-facto, brand-new 1st-generation "Colt," as the current-production Colt SAA's, being 3rd-generation guns, have some cost-cutting mechanically re-designed features (which don't, I believe, interfere with the function or the utility of the item at all).

As far as the other Colt clones, now that the America Western clones are gone, I believe that the highest quality ones available are made by Cimarron. Although Uberti makes Colt SAA clones for other importers, I've been told that Cimarron holds Uberti to a higher standard of quality for the ones made for them. I bought one of their Model P's in .32-20 with 7 1/2" bbl a couple of months ago. The metal-to-metal fit is perfect. Wood to metal fit is very good (the wood was slightly high at the front where it mates to the metal but near-perfect on the grip-frame). Barrel, cylinder and grip-frame have a nice, even, polished blue and the cylinder-frame has case-colors very similar to a Colt's --- not exactly like a Colt's, but very close. Grips are highly-polished walnut with a nice grain pattern. Action timing and lock-up is about perfect with only the slightest trace of rotational cylinder play at lock-up, and so far the cylinder locking bolt isn't making even a trace of a ring around the cylinder between the locking notches, which means the assembling gunsmith really did a spot-on job of fitting the action parts. Barrel-cylinder gap is so tight I can barely see any light through it. Trigger is light and crisp. Cost through my gun shop: $405. Even if you go for an original Colt or a high-end clone, these Italian-made Cimarron clones are tremendous buys and give you the same experience at relatively little cost, so you can afford a bunch.

Insofar as caliber, it's just what you want. The classic, original caliber for the Colt SAA is the .45 (Long) Colt cartridge and most prefer a Colt SAA in that caliber. I prefer the original 7 1/2" cavalry barrel, but some feel that the shorter barrel lengths, particulary the 4 5/8", give the handgun a better balance, and they are certainly more compact to carry. Try the different barrel lengths at gun shops to find your preference (the clones balance the same as the originals).


You might try to locate a Colt shooters or collectors forum on the internet for more information on the issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks very much for the replies.

I should have put some limit to my spending! I don't want the investment of an old 1st Generation; I want something that I can shoot. I'm looking for a new pistol over $1,000, or some remarkable deal on a 2nd Generation with minimal wear. I'm also going about it backwards - first something high end, then the Ruger or Uberti.


nevadaalan, thanks for the hints - we have a pretty big gun show in my area this month and I'll have to get there to hold some models.

I'll have to say that from what I've found USFA sure has developed an ernest fan base of people saying they are the perfect SAA. I'd like to see one.

Thanks again.
 
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I want something that I can shoot. I'm looking for a new pistol over $1,000, or some remarkable deal on a 2nd Generation with minimal wear.

nevadaalan, thanks for the hints - we have a pretty big gun show in my area this month and I'll have to get there to hold some models.
For a nice shooter, probably your best bet would be a 2nd or, more likely (cheaper), 3rd-generation Colt SAA that has some use wear on it, as NIB/mint/near-mint ones command premium prices. Even so, you will probably have no problem spending "over $1,000" on a nice shooter.

I don't know how big your local gun show is, but unless it has at least several and/or you find find one that you like and are comfortable spending the asking price on (i.e. It's one that you really want, especially for the asking price.), wait for the next show as it will probably have an entirely different offering of Colt SAA's. For expensive and uncommon guns like these, it really pays to "watch the market" for awhile by looking at what's on the market. That's the only way that you'll learn what's a good deal, what's a fair deal, and what's a rip-off. Time is on your side. Don't go to the show with the mindset, "I'm going to come back with one, no matter what." 'cause that's not a recipe for buying one that you will be happy with over the long term, or one that you bought at a fair to good price. (If you can't stand not having one to play with, buy one of the cheap Cimarron clones. It will cost only 1/3 - 1/5 of what the Colt probably will, and you can earn and save back the money spent on it before the next big gun show.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
nevada, I appreciate the stern advise to be patient. I'm no rookie - 2 tours in VN - but I still have to guard against impetuous purchasing. What gun nut doesn't? This buy is moderated temporally by the fact that I will sell an instrument later this month to raise the money, so I have time to consider. Thanks for the comments.
 

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I sold my Third-generation SAA last year for $1,100. I enjoyed shooting it, but considering that I also have a Smith & Wesson Performance Center Schofield, I was only going to keep one top of the line sixgun, and the S&W is MORE fun than the Colt.

I have various Ubertis and Rugers, along with one Beretta Stampede that's probably my favorite of them all.
 

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My USFA .38-40 has the best fit and finish of any SA revolver I have ever owned--and it shoots tight. I own, or have owned, a Navy Arms and a Cimarron SA, both good guns. My Colt SA Army in .44 Special, which I purchased in '80 came w/ numerous tool marks and a nick in the nickel plating. Take a hard look at the USFA. --c
 
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I would go with the USFA. 1st & 2nd gen. Colts are fine too.

I have looked at new Colts at gun shows and the quality is no longer there. You are just buying a name.
 

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I have a buddy who owns a gun store and is an avid Colt SAA collector. I got an incredible buy on a collectible 2nd generation 7.5" in 45 colt from him. But I felt bad every time I shot it. Eventually I sold it back to him and said, I want a pair of Colts I can shoot a lot. He told me honestly, he would get me anything I wanted, but he felt the current, 3rd gen Colt SAA were basically junk and would hate to sell any to me.

He carries a lot of weapons for cowboy action shooting in his store as well, with one corner reserved for it. He has a lot of different brands at different prices. He showed me a pair of Great Western SAA that were copies of the 2nd generation. He knew I preferred 2nd gen sights rather than the smaller sights found on 1st gen and clones.

He ended up ordering me a pair of consecutive serial numbers from the factory. I got the high end version, with Doug Turnbull case hardening, nicer grips, 4 5/8" in 45 colt, and could not be happier with mine. He specified consecutive serial numbers because he wanted the same gunsmith building both of them, more so that the more normal reason.

The ones he had in his store were not the high end, but had very nice actions on them. Even he said they were the best actions he had found on a non Colt yet. My high ends he got me had amazing actions on both. Having owned a really nice Colt SAA, I would put my pair of Great Westerns right up there with them. I have also owned some very nice Ubertis and Armi San Marcos as well. If you want one to really shoot alot, don't over look a well made clone just because it is not as expensive.

Just my suggestion for what it might be worth.

twoguns
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks twoguns - the Great Western I hadn't even considered. I've never seen one up close.

Well, today I went and ordered a USFA Pre-War in .45 Colt with an extra .45 ACP cylinder. Got it with 2-piece walnut grips. USFA tells me it should arrive around ........... May of this year.

That's a bit more time than I've ever given myself to think about a pistol purchase!
 

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nbender---
I think you'll find the money well spent on the USFA SA. And in fact, I don't think you can even get a gun out of the Colt Custom Shop these days; Colt's production is all in M&P. Uberti/Cimarron is a good choice for a reproduction gun: I've got a 4 3/4" barrel Cimarron in .38-40, which cost about $600, with a nickeled backstrap and trigger guard, and the Ubertis I've handled have all looked good and felt tight. The only issue I've had is that the gun loosens up after a couple of hundred rounds, i.e., you have to tighten the grip, frame, and hammer screws, because you can see daylight between the frame and trigger guard.
Best, David
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I posted questions on many forums for a long period about SAAs.

I just wanted to write to say that the answers I received here probably influenced my decision the most. This forum may not get the number of posts that the "Cowboy Shooters", or "Wheelgun" forums have regarding SAAs, but concerning how I made my purchase for an SAA I just looked back over the last 7 weeks and realized that your feedback was the best written, most influential information I received. And the feedback was quick, even though this forum doesn't have a lot of traffic.

My thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I posted back on the 17th that I'd ordered a USFA Pre-War in .45 Colt with the extra .45acp cylinder. With the walnut grips and "Fire Blue Appointmenst" ... it approached the cost of a 2nd Generation. Well, since 2nd Generations run around $2,500, I saved $700.
 
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The U.S. Firearms reproductions are about the only way to get a "Colt" SAA made to Colt pre-war design and quality without paying outrageous collector prices

I don't have any of their revolvers but they are very highly regarded.
 

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nbender,

When you have gotten her and had the chance to shoot her, please let us know what you think of your new SAA. I would enjoy hearing your impressions.

twoguns
 

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nbender---
Thought to mention something else. You may find the one-piece grips too fat in your hand, not to mention slick, so your hand rides up the gun on recoil. With the Cimarron, what I did was inset a flat piece of stone on the right-hand side, so I had a sort of memory bulge and could recover my grip. This is of course less of a problem if you're cocking the gun with your left thumb. The other obvious thing is to get a pair of thinner grips. I forget who, but somebody out there makes "Gunfighter" grips, in polymer and hardwoods, checkered, imitation stag, etc.
Best, David
 
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