Whats my Colt SAA worth? Any tips for maintenance?


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Will Learn
November 13, 2006, 11:39 PM
My grandfather just gave me a NIB Colt SAA .357 manufactured in Jan(18) 1975. I have always liked the SAA but am wondering if I should keep it in the box(to pass down to my children) or if I should go do some blastin with it? I would love to do the later but I don't want to depreciate the condition of the gun too much. Does anyone have any advice for keeping it in shape, i.e... firing .38 instead of .357 etc.?

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PotatoJudge
November 14, 2006, 12:38 AM
Shoot it. Take your grandfather with you and kids if you've got them. A gun like that's only worth the memories.

Husker1911
November 14, 2006, 01:19 AM
Congratulations on a fine family heirloom. Don't store this fine revolver in the original factory box. In fact, put all the info you can and the instructions, etc. in the box and then place it into a large ziploc bag and carefully store it away. It adds hundred$ to the value of your SAA. Shoot the gun occasionally, and clean and oil it afterwards. There are numerous sources for the care and maintenance of your new (to you) Colt, and one of the best I know of is from Cylinder & Slide, a world famous pistol/revolver smithing shop from right here in eastern Nebraska. Bill Laughridge's advice is gold.

http://www.cylinder-slide.com/cleaning.shtml

Harve Curry
November 14, 2006, 07:43 AM
Shoot it, carry it, get good with it, use it with your family. Don't turn it into a safe queen that never did anything.
38spl for plinking and introducing new shooters to it, and find a good mid-range 357 load that you and the Colt like.
For cleaning remove the GRIPS and cylinder. Spray it out over news paper outside with aerosol type "gun scrubber', with the straw that comes with the cleaner spray into the hand slot, trigger slot, hammer slot with the hammer back, ejector rod housing. Clean the barrel with a bronze brush that fits and a muzzle guide, patches, cylinder to. Oil it with a good quality spray gun oil the same places as you cleaned it. Lube the cylinder pin and hole with oil. Reassemble and wipe down. This is better then always removing all the screws, wearing the slots out and possible scratches.

Old Fuff
November 14, 2006, 11:05 AM
In this case I'm going to advocate that you don't shoot it. Don't even turn the cylinder more then is absolutely necessary! And yes, do make it into a safe queen and pass it down to your children, and on to theirs.

Why???

The .357 Magnum is relatively rare in post-war single action Colts. As it is, a new-in-the-box, unfired example is worth big-bucks, and as time goes by it's going to be worth much more. If you fire it even once the loss in value would be more then enough to buy a new "shooting" single action revolver made by a maker other then Colt. If the revolver had alrerady been fired I'd say go ahead and shoot it some more. As it is I'd say, "keep it as it is, and your grandchildren and great grandchildren will thank you."

Will Learn
November 14, 2006, 01:01 PM
Thanks for the help everyone. Thats what i was thinking Old Fuff. I was looking into getting a new .357(SAA) when my grandfather suprised me with the Colt. It's in such great shape that I'm considering buying a gun that will serve as shooter and keep the pristine Colt as a family heirloom.

Hawk
November 14, 2006, 01:19 PM
I'm generally of the mind that a gun that doesn't shoot and stays in the safe is functionally indistinguishable from a mutual fund certificate. I couldn't see myself buying one.

That said, there's nothing wrong with mutual funds and yours was a gift so there's nothing to lose and something to gain by leaving it pristine (it does sound to be pristine).

Please let us know what you wind up with as a "shooter".

tincat2
November 14, 2006, 01:34 PM
if you pass it down to the next guys, and they pass it down, and on and on, what good does it do anyone? this idea of passing down not to be used, only to be gazed upon artifacts, seems like some odd form of trying to take it with you. no evidence that is a viable option for us. unless you are pharoah, and forsee a milleniums long dynasty the history of which may have some future interest or relevance, i'd say shoot grampaw's gun w/the kids and him-those experiences may indeed accompany you in some sense past this world. keep the box and paperwork pristine as a bow to whatever your physical legacy may be.

GunNut
November 14, 2006, 02:26 PM
Shoot it.......

It's a 3rd Gen Colt SAA not a more desireable 1st or 2nd gen.

I like the suggestion of taking grandpa shooting and letting him see what he has missed all of these years.

Steve

bushjumper
November 14, 2006, 02:42 PM
Shoot it! The problem with keeping it unused is that the only reason to do that is so it will sell for more.

If you intend to sell it, then by all means keep it new. If it is intended to be kept in the family, then what is the point of keeping the selling price up on something you won't ever sell?

Vern Humphrey
November 14, 2006, 03:06 PM
I shoot the heck out of my 2nd Generation SAA in .357, including carrying it when hiking or riding. I was tempted to take it to Viet Nam on my second tour -- and now I wish I had.

Old Fuff
November 14, 2006, 03:37 PM
Guys...

Not one of you has mentioned to Will Learn that taking your advice to "shoot it" would adversely effect the value of his revolver, perhaps to the degree of hundreds and perhaps later, thousands of dollars. :what:

Now when itís your gun thatís involved, itís perfectly all right Ö because any loss that occurs will be yours, and not someone elseís.

But is it right to tell someone else that they should shoot their gun Ė without explaining that doing so will reduce the value, and in some cases that loss may be considerable? :uhoh:

Are you aware that Colt currently advises in their ownerís handbook that Single Action Army revolvers should not be fired because of the real or potential loss of value? I donít know that I agree with this, I think itís something each owner should decide for him or her self. But it is something in a thread of this kind that should be brought up and mentioned.

Iím not saying that Will Learn should or shouldnít shoot grandpaís .357 Magnum. What I am saying is that when one suggests that a mint, unfired collectable be used, full disclosure is called for, and all of the consequences should be laid on the table.

redneckrepairs
November 14, 2006, 03:52 PM
Well then how about a 1st gen .45lc what would you say to it ?? Its not pristine by any means .

Old Fuff
November 14, 2006, 04:19 PM
Well I'm not against shooting some collectables - and that includes an original 2nd. Model Dragoon and 1851 Navy... :eek:

But while it is in sound condition, it's a long way from being mint/like new. And while I have no qualms about shooting my own revolver, I wouldn't give the same advice to others.

Regarding a 1st. Issue Single Action Army. If the gun was in good mechanical shape, and had lost at least 10% of the original finish I would shoot it - but be careful in my choice of ammuntion. A light amount of shooting, followed by careful cleaning would not degrade the condition. Now if the revolver was unfired in the first place (I should be so lucky) no - I wouldn't shoot it, and I wouldn't advice someone else to shoot it either.

In past years I often shot black-powder era Single Action's with a replaced modern cylinder. The old gun's principal weakness was the steel used in the cylinders, and switching out the cylinder for shooting purposes solved that problem. The original cylinder could be returned at any time.

redneckrepairs
November 14, 2006, 04:51 PM
Thats pretty much what i had decided too fluff , half cock was broken on hammer , i had it replaced along with trigger and put up the originals till i can find just the right artist with a tig welder , then i will mill it back down to spec and reinstall . other than that its a sound , but used pistol pretty typical other than its transitional , the serial is black powder but the frame is smokeless ( if that description makes sense to ya )

Old Fuff
November 14, 2006, 05:21 PM
Some people think that when Colt changed from a screw to a latch to hold the basepin the latch-style frames were certified for smokeless powder. Not so. The new latch was introduced in 1892, but Colt didn't certify revolvers for use with smokless powder until about 1900. If your revolver was made before 1900 I would suggest that you have a new cylinder installed, and put the old one aside with the original hammer. Nothing has to be done to the gun itself, as the cylinder is fitted to it. One thing, you need to have a 1st. issue cylinder because of the ratchet pattern. A Colt cylinder would cost you dear, but a replacement from EMF (www.emf-company.com) would have the right style ratchet (tell them it's for a 1st. Issue Colt) and cost far less. While they are made in Italy they are well made, and out of modern steel.

PotatoJudge
November 14, 2006, 05:29 PM
"should keep it in the box(to pass down to my children)"
"I don't want to depreciate the condition of the gun too much."
"I'm considering buying a gun that will serve as shooter and keep the pristine Colt as a family heirloom."

Fuff, he never has mentioned monetary "worth" in regards to the gun. Only condition, which is related to worth only when the gun is sold. Doesn't sound like he's gonna sell it.
You also mention that it would effect the value. Again, depends on his definition of "value" as it relates to an heirloom. Many, including myself, have referenced our personal definition of value of an heirloom. It's that value that would make us want to shoot it with the family.
So Colt really advises NOT to shoot their guns? That's all kinds of wrong.
Fuff, glad you pointed out the other side. Will deserves to hear it before he makes a decision.
Will, do whatever you think best- you really can't go wrong, and congrats on a nice gun.

redneckrepairs
November 14, 2006, 05:40 PM
Yes its pre 1900 , and thanks for the info , I had not shot it yet .. but was considering it with mild handloads .

Old Fuff
November 14, 2006, 07:16 PM
"I don't want to depreciate the condition of the gun too much."

As a collectable (new/unfired/in original box with papers and accessories) shooting would depreciate it to some extent. This has to be balanced against the fun of shooting it. My point was that he shouldn't be encouraged to shoot it without a full understanding of what some of the consequences might be.

This afternoon I happened to be researching a 1st model Smith & Wesson Schofield revolver for a client and noted that in fine condition it would be worth $4,800, while in excellent condition the value would rise to $12,000 - and that one in excellent-to-mint condition had sold at auction for $54,625.

Obviously the .357 Magnum SAA that is the center of this thread isn't worth that kind of money. But the example above shows a clear relationship between condition and value when it comes to collectable firearms. So it is possible that by the time it gets to the great-grandchildren it might be worth a considerable amount of money. Maybe that's important, and maybe it isn't, but it is something that should be looked at.

Majic
November 14, 2006, 07:30 PM
Grandpa gave you his NIB SAA that he has kept in that condition for 30 years. Keep the tradition going and in the future pass it on in the same condition. He may have given it to you because he thought you would do as he did for all those years.
Shoot it. Take your grandfather with you and kids if you've got them.
If Grandpa wanted it shot he could have done that long ago. Sometimes you have to think about the value (and not monetary) of things given to you. If it was Grandpa's favorite shootin iron then yes have fun with it every time thinking of him, but this could be Grandpa's pride and joy. He has already made it a safe queen for whatever his reasons may be. As respect for him ask him why he has never shot it in all these years before going out and blasting away with it.

Old Fuff
November 14, 2006, 07:33 PM
Redneck:

The problem with the older guns wasn't the frames, but rather the cylinders. They were machined from round bar stock that sometimes had seams. Also at the time heat-treating cylinders was unheard of.

This didn't matter too much with black powder, which was slow burning and distributed the pressure through the cylinder and barrel. But smokeless is much faster burning, and while the total pressure may be on par with a black powder load it tends to peak in the cylinder and breech end of the barrel. A cylinder that holds up to black powder may let go when smokeless is used, even with a light(?) load. Given that even well used examples of 19th. Century Colt SAA's are going for $2,000 and higher it isn't worth the risk of shooting unless the cylinder is replaced.

mutt
November 19, 2006, 01:20 AM
Hi there, Just to day I own 4 SAA Colts . And have shot all of them , as often as I can. Some years ago , I had two that I was shooting but very seldom ,to try and keep them some what prestine? Well some great fine piece of SCUM stole them and some one else is using the dang guns I was taking so good care of.
I don't a own any firearms that I won't shoot . Scratches , turn marks, barbed wire cuts, what ever. When I die,the next to enjoy them will see well cared for guns, and guns that were used for my fun , protection , and game. I just can't see spending that much money and not have some entertainment with them.
Just my .02 ....................MUTT

Jamie C.
November 19, 2006, 01:06 PM
If the gun is going to be kept in the family and handed down from one generation to the next it should be shot.

If the intention is to let it build up monetary value until some relative later on down the line can't resist selling it... keep it pristine.

Remember, it doesn't matter what somebody else will pay you for it if you have no intention of selling it.

And along those same lines, what is it's real value to you, if it only sits in your gun safe?

Sorry, but too many people are just too damn caught up with money. :barf:


J.C.

Vern Humphrey
November 19, 2006, 02:54 PM
If the gun is going to be kept in the family and handed down from one generation to the next it should be shot.

Amen. In fact, I regret not taking my SAA to Viet Nam on my second tour. I don't think proof the gun was carried in battle would hurt its value at all!!

gezzer
November 19, 2006, 10:02 PM
If it was a second gen, just spinning the cylider let alone shooting it will take a Grand or more of it's value. Collectors want NIB this means not turned or cocked EVER!!!!!!

Want to shoot a SAA get a cheap import why screw yourself on the value of the gun. Trust me you are only it's keeper for a while, it will have many more owners.

Hawk
November 20, 2006, 12:20 AM
Are you aware that Colt currently advises in their owner’s handbook that Single Action Army revolvers should not be fired because of the real or potential loss of value?
:eek:

In the not too distant past, I started a thread here inquiring about the STI Texican SAA. Several posters, noting the MSRP, opined I'd be better off with something that actually said "Colt".

...guess I should've specified: I intend to shoot it.

While I would be delighted to inherit a gun that shouldn't be shot, I can't picture ever buying one.

Phil DeGraves
November 20, 2006, 10:55 AM
"A gun like that's only worth the memories."

The gun is worth a lot monetarily and the price is only going up. That being the case, if it were mine (I have one very similar, made in '76 that was new in box), and I don't hesitate in shooting it. A Colt is always going to be worth a Colt and you buy a gun to shoot it. Otherwise, it could be made by Mattel. But that is me. If it were my gun, I'd shoot it, but if you do, you chance devaluaing it's monetary value. Me, the shooting value always exceeds the monetary value.

Harve Curry
November 20, 2006, 06:14 PM
The Colt SAA Owners manual is 44 pages(hmmmm) and most of it is dedicated to political correctness, liability, and avoiding any possible lawsuits. Of course writing up stuff about not using your Colt and depreciating it. That can be applied to a new car as well, keep it on blocks with the air out of the tire in the garage..................
I would rather have the new manual with all it's blaze orange warnings then anything like a discalimer written on the barrel.

There is even an extra leaflet describing how 200,000+ people are killed every year required by the Massachusets Att. General; that Colt has to put in their gun boxes now.
It's all PC/BS and nothing more.

gezzer
November 20, 2006, 11:15 PM
Note everyone here telling you to shoot it don't have 1 cent in it.

At the rate Colts are gaining value if you shoot it you are devalueing the gun seriously.

So heres mine Your Grandfather never shot why should you have to?

But it is YOUR gun if you can take 10 $100 bills and just burn them go ahead shoot it or even cock and spin the cylinder a few times. Hope it feels real good, cause you are spending lot's to do it.

Jamie C.
November 21, 2006, 02:00 AM
Note everyone here telling you to shoot it don't have 1 cent in it.

Uh... neither does he. It was a gift from his grandfather. A gift his grandfather would most likely want him to enjoy.

If his grandfather had wanted him to have something to put back as an investment, I'm betting he'd have given Will a savings bond instead of a nice Colt .357 mag.

Like I said earlier, too many people get all balled up with money, and think that's an item's only value.

No matter though... The real solution to this question is for Will to simply ask his grandfather what his opinion is on the subject. I'm sure he'll get an ear-full. ;)



J.C.

Old Fuff
November 21, 2006, 09:38 AM
Jamie C.:

Well money isn't necessarily unimportant. Last I knew it's the stuff that one usually uses to buy more toys. :scrutiny:

However in the present case, "will learn" didn't buy the revolver but obtained it from a Grandfather. Grandpa bought it over a quarter-century ago, but didn't shoot it, although I'm sure he could have done so if that was his intention. So if the original owner kept it pristine is there some good reason we should urge the present owner to go out and shoot it? Particularly if it will be he, and not those that advice him to shoot it, that will suffer any loss of monetary value as a result?

Yes, Grandpa could have could have invested the money in stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, etc. but he chose to buy the gun – perhaps realizing that he could enjoy (but not necessarily shoot it) while it appreciated.

I have several friends that have nice gun collections; mostly consisting of ones they enjoy shooting. They financed a large part of those guns by using the profits they made trading in collectables and classics. I always considered them to be pretty smart. Maybe you’d see it differently.

Hawk
November 21, 2006, 11:48 AM
While I landed on the "don't shoot it" side of those chiming in, a man's gotta know his limitations.

I could probably leave an inherited arm unfired. However, I have a clear vision of what would happen if I actually bought one for myself...

It'd come out of the safe fairly often; it would be stared at and held such that it caught the light at different angles. I would want to "turn" it but for a time would ignore the voices and return the thing, pristine, to the safe.

Each time it came out, the temptation would grow.

I would read the manual, and seeing the advice not to "turn" it, I would inevitably begin to wonder if it, in fact, could be turned. After all, Colt could have shipped a non-functioning firearm and who would ever know? It could be missing parts and filled with epoxy, crushed granite and dead bugs. Perhaps if I thumbed the hammer to half-cock the loading gate would fall off, the cylinder would bind and a screeching sound would be heard.

Sooner or later, I'd have to know...
Back comes the hammer... SPIN ... Ah! All is well.
I feel better but much poorer.

Perhaps those with the strange mixture of OCD, extended childhood and curiosity that I am cursed with should simply not buy pristine single action revolvers with "Colt" stamped on them.

Fortunately, I believe my affliction is rare, perhaps unique. I know I've never heard anyone with an "unturned" SAA wonder out loud if the thing would function or had been welded into a single monolithic block of metal by some prankster in the supply chain.

But 'cha really don't know, do you?

;)

threefeathers
November 21, 2006, 02:40 PM
I love my Colts and shoot them yearly, then a good cleaning and back to the safe. The 3 on the right are Colts.

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y119/threefeathers/P7050095.jpg

Jamie C.
November 21, 2006, 07:44 PM
Jamie C.:

Well money isn't necessarily unimportant. Last I knew it's the stuff that one usually uses to buy more toys.

However in the present case, "will learn" didn't buy the revolver but obtained it from a Grandfather. Grandpa bought it over a quarter-century ago, but didn't shoot it, although I'm sure he could have done so if that was his intention. So if the original owner kept it pristine is there some good reason we should urge the present owner to go out and shoot it? Particularly if it will be he, and not those that advice him to shoot it, that will suffer any loss of monetary value as a result?

Yes, Grandpa could have could have invested the money in stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, etc. but he chose to buy the gun – perhaps realizing that he could enjoy (but not necessarily shoot it) while it appreciated.

I have several friends that have nice gun collections; mostly consisting of ones they enjoy shooting. They financed a large part of those guns by using the profits they made trading in collectables and classics. I always considered them to be pretty smart. Maybe you’d see it differently.

Fuff, based on what Will Learn has posted here, I can't help but think his grandfather gave him the gun to SHOOT.

He said he'd been wanting a SAA in .357, then his grandfather surprised him with the Colt. Was this simply a coincidence, or did granddad know about Will's wanting just such a gun?

As for the gun not being fired... could be gramps just never got around to it.
I can't imagine such a thing ever happening to me, but I do concede that it's possible. *shrug*

So, once again, I'd be curious to hear what Will Learn's grandfather has to say on the subject.

And as for people that collect things just for their value... to each their own.

I've collected many things over my life time... guns, comic books, knives, cars... Hell, even ex-wives, it seems. But never the first one of any of those things that I didn't use for their intended purpose. And even at that, I still managed to make money off of 'em, if I cared to. Making money was never what I set out to do though. Just not my cup o' tea.


J.C.

Leanwolf
November 22, 2006, 12:05 AM
GUN NUT - "It's a 3rd Gen Colt SAA not a more desireable 1st or 2nd gen..."

Yeah, that's right. Those third generation Colt's Single Actions aren't worth much.

Just last week I sold an early production third generation Colt's S.A. Frontier, 4 3/4" bbl., .357 Magnum, slightly used (I'd shot about 150 rounds through it.), but in pristine condition, in the original box with papers, sambar stag grips and factory grips for the piddling sum of $2,000.00. Guy was pleased to get it.

I'm not advising either way as to "Shoot," or Don't Shoot." Just giving an estimate of what that revolver might be worth, presently. It would certainly be worth more than the one I sold, as it's "Unfired."

Of course, depending on location, they bring more money some places, than others. :)

FWIW. L.W.

ogso
November 22, 2006, 03:19 PM
I was in a similar situation. I was given old family arms, 1897 win shotgun and 1894 rifle, both are takedowns. They hopefully will never leave the family, so I had the rifle restored, It now looks like it came off the winchester line! And it shoots straight as an arrow! When I get some more time, and money, I will send the shotgun in and have the same restoration work performed.

This leads me to today. A few years ago I thought I would save Colt from going out of business, so I bought a couple of SAAs. Carefully saved every bit of paperwork and put the guns in the safe. Next trip to the range included the SAAs. Are they worthless? Well they are worth less monetarily if I were to try and sell them. But I would be hard pressed to take them from my children's hands to sell. To me now they are worth more because they will be passed down to my children who will carry on a family shooting tradition.

Side note; I have two children, so I tend to buy in twos so they will each have one of "dad's" guns. This is something for you "single" guys to think about.

StrikeEagle
November 24, 2006, 02:34 AM
Come on, guys... the indication is very strongly that his Grand Dad wanted him to shoot the gun... look what he wrote:

I was looking into getting a new .357(SAA) when my grandfather suprised me with the Colt.

He wanted a gun to shoot and the old gentleman gave him the Colt. I say care for it, keep it clean and oiled, but SHOOT it with standard factory loads, or the reloaded equivalent.

I know if I were so fortunate as to have a family firearm passed down to me, it would mean immeasurably more if my dad/grandpa had carried it, fired it... USED it.

So... my view is that you should shoot it... and yes, take your Grandfather with you. Enjoy the gun with him. IMO, THAT will add real value to the piece.

StrikeEagle

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