Colt Frontier Six Shooter


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kylerbolin
December 8, 2007, 04:28 PM
Hello, new to the site. I'm hoping someone can give me a little help in evaluating a gun I own. It is a Colt Frontier Six Shooter, single action, SN 170389, patent dates Sep 19, 1871, July 2, 1872, January 19, 1875. Stamped "44" very small at base of barrel on underside (you must remove the ejector rod to see this). Barrel length 4 3/4". I am convinced it is antique by markings and SN, but it may have been refinished because it is what I guess is nickel finished and with stag horn (antler) grips. Looking at other gun websites I never see this type finish so I question it, though to my untrained eye it appears original.

I was just looking for a little insight into what I own, and perhaps what it is worth, if anyone has an opinion.

Thanks!

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Old Fuff
December 8, 2007, 05:12 PM
Judging from the serial number, it was made in 1897. Colt did offer nickel plate as a finish for this model, so it might or might not be original. I am sure the stocks are replacements.

If the finish was original, and depending on the gun's condition, the value could range from around $900.00 to about $2,000.00 - whithout any pictures it would be hard to tell.

Jim K
December 9, 2007, 01:16 AM
The term "Frontier Six Shooter" was used only on .44-40 revolvers, so most did not have the caliber marked on the side of the barrel. The "44" barrel marking may have been for Colt's own workers so they would know to put on the right roll mark. The left side of the trigger guard might also be marked ".44 Cal."

Jim

Leanwolf
December 9, 2007, 02:38 AM
OLD FUFF - "If the finish was original, and depending on the gun's condition, the value could range from around $900.00 to about $2,000.00 "


More than that by a damn sight!! At least around these parts. (S.W. Idaho.)

I just sold a Colt's S.A. Frontier in .44 WCF (.44-40) 4 3/4" bbl. two weeks ago. It was mfg. in 1882, and all serial numbers matched, including the cylinder serial number. It was in what I'd call NRA Good condition, and I had the Colt's Historian letter for it. I sold it for $2,800.00

KYLER BOLIN, do not sell that revolver until you do some heavy duty research on condition and prices. Even if the stocks are not original -- that does take a bit off the value -- but not much. Colt's Single Action revolvers of First Generation mfg. have gone through the roof.

As Old Fuff said, nickle plating was not at all unusual on Colt's revolvers of that period, so that may well be the original finish.

Best of luck.

L.W.

Old Fuff
December 9, 2007, 11:08 AM
More than that by a damn sight!! At least around these parts. (S.W. Idaho.)

The Old Fuff learned a long time ago to be very conservative when giving out values on something he hasn't personally inspected. The description was not very specific, and indicated a good possibility the the grips were replacements, and the finish might or might not be original. The revolver's mechanical condition wasn't mentioned, and neither was the condition of the bore and chambers. Nor do I have any idea how much of the finish, original or not, is left. I agree that more research is called for, but until I know more I stand by my quoted values.

I am presently researching a similar revolver - a .44-40 Frontier with about 5% of the original case & blue finish. It was made in 1876, seems to have matching numbers (including barrel and cylinder) but the one-piece walnut stocks are replacements. At least in this case I have photographs to work with.

The asking price is $2,000.00

kylerbolin
December 9, 2007, 11:27 AM
I certainly appreciate everyone's comments. I am attaching a couple of photos for your viewing pleasure. If I were to sell this gun, any suggestions on how to go about it? Thanks much!

Leanwolf
December 9, 2007, 04:12 PM
KYLERBOLIN - "If I were to sell this gun, any suggestions on how to go about it?"


In which State do you live?? Different States have different gun sales laws.

Are you 21 years old or older? Handgun sales are different from long gun sales, although your Colt's will be classified as an "antique."

Go to this link and you'll see what Colt's Single Action revolvers in various condition and configuration are selling for.

http://www.gunsinternational.com/results.cfm?cid=77

If it were my revolver, I'd write the Colt's Historian at Hartford Conn., and get an official letter as to when the gun was made, when shipped and to whom, original finish, blue or nickel, original stocks, etc. (Those are not original Colt's factory stocks, but if they're real stag stocks, they are valuable in and of themselves.) The letter is costly, but it adds more to the price you'll receive.

Do the serial numbers match?? There should be one on the base of the grip frame. Another on the front of the trigger guard and another next to it on the bottom of the frame. Also, there should be a matching serial number on the side of the cylinder. Barrels were sometimes serial numbered and sometimes not. And if you are EXTREMELY lucky there would be a matching serial number on the loading gate (but that's rare).

I'd have a legitimate Colt's S.A. collector or dealer examine it. He can give you an honest opinion of the condition, bore, etc., and what you might expect to receive.

Nice looking revolver. Without examining it, that's about all I can say.

Good luck.

Leanwolf
December 9, 2007, 04:25 PM
OLD FUFF - "I am presently researching a similar revolver - a .44-40 Frontier with about 5% of the original case & blue finish. It was made in 1876, ..."

Old Fuff, I take your point about estimating values when one can't examine the gun. My point was that I sold one here two weeks ago for $2,800.00, in my estimation of NRA Good condition.

As for the one you're looking at, if it is a .44 WCF (.44-40) that was mfg. in 1876, it's rare. You probably already know this, there were very few .44 WCF Colt's mfg'd in 1876. Real production didn't crank up on the .44 WCF until 1878. They were, however, making a fair amount of .44 rimfires up until then.

Is there a Colt's Historian letter on it??

If it's an original 1876 .44 WCF, in good condition, matching serial numbers, etc., buy it and bring it up here to s.w. Idaho and I guarantee you, you can get a bunch more $$ for it than $2,000.00.

Just my opinion.

L.W.

kylerbolin
December 9, 2007, 05:59 PM
Once again, thank to all for your comments. A little more clarification:

The serial numbers on the frame (just forward of the trigger guard), on the trigger guard, and on the butt match (SN 170389).

I can NOT find a number on the cylinder.

The number on what I guess is the loading gate is only 3 digits (either 144 or 744, hard to tell) and does NOT match the SN on the frame, trigger guard, and butt.

The plating looks like a good job but does not look original (I was told by someone that if it were done at the factory Colt would have stamped a star next to the patent number or serial number - I can't remember where he said). I do NOT see this stamped star.

The stag horn handles are definitely real. They really lend some beauty to this beauty.

If I can find my wife's good camera, I will post some better photos, some really closeups.

Yes I am over 21 (by a long shot) and I live in Texas, where we still can buy and sell guns.

Old Fuff
December 9, 2007, 06:10 PM
We have a misunderstanding here.... :eek: :D

I have been retained to research the .44-40 I mentioned for a client, who proposes to buy the piece if it is as represented. ;)

I have no intention of buying it, although I agree that I could make money if I did. :evil:

kylerbolin
December 9, 2007, 07:26 PM
Thanks Old Fuff again. No I was thinking you were gong to buy my gun, I was just posting here to see what people thought of it since I have no experience with the Colt SAA, I am a bird hunter. My dad gave it to me 25 years ago saying "It's not worth anything". Now he does not mind if I sell it if that is what I choose to do. I was thinking I would list it on Guns America or Guns International. I did not think you were buying it.

Thanks again for all your comments.

Leanwolf
December 9, 2007, 08:40 PM
OLD FUFF - I have no intention of buying it, although I agree that I could make money if I did. "


Yep. I know what you mean. As the old saying goes, the value of a gun ( or any other collectable) is whatever some person somewhere is willing to pay for it. Prices for various collectables vary in different parts of the country.

Kyler Bolin, being over 21 and in Texas, you're in good shape. As for the loading gate not having matching serial numbers, no problem, although it'd be nice if it did match.

Back when the Colt company was building the first generation single actions, although they matched serial #s of the frame, back strap, trigger guard, cylinder, and often barrel, they would just kinda reach into a hopper of loading gates and put one in. Sometimes a worker would match the gate to the revolver, but often not.

I say again, if you want to sell it, you'll be ahead of the game to spend the money (I think it's about $150, now) to get an official Colt's Historian letter for the revolver.

Good luck.

L.W.

Old Fuff
December 9, 2007, 09:47 PM
Back when the Colt company was building the first generation single actions, although they matched serial #s of the frame, back strap, trigger guard, cylinder, and often barrel, they would just kinda reach into a hopper of loading gates and put one in. Sometimes a worker would match the gate to the revolver, but often not.

No, that isn't what they did. Each gate was individually fitted to the frame, and polished on the outside while assembled to the frame. This insured a perfect fit. They then stamped a number on the inside of the gate, and either on the back or bottom of the frame under the trigger guard. This assembly number was usually not related to the serial number because at this point the serial number had not been stamped on the frame. Later they changed the procedure and did the same, but used a partial serial number. In either case the gates were numbered and individually fitted.

Oh, and having been retained to research the piece, I wouldn't look too good if I tried to buy it out from under my client.

Jim K
December 9, 2007, 11:41 PM
I wish it were different, but there is really no nice way to say it. That gun looks like it was badly worn and pitted, then polished down and plated by someone, definitely not the factory.

The parts don't fit together properly, partly because the polisher did the parts separately, resulting in rounded edges and the gap between the frame and the straps.

Here is a bit more info, though whether it might apply I do not know. For years there was quite a "commerce" in Western states in old guns, mostly SA Colts and Winchesters. Old, rusted, worn out guns were polished up, reblued or plated with nickel (sometimes silver) and passed off on rich tourists as having belonged to some noted (or notorious) personage. In the 1960's I handled guns that had supposedly been owned by the Sundance Kid and Morgan Earp (or maybe it was Virgil - one of Wyatt's brothers, anyway). Both were gussied up junk, and were brought to me by well-off folks back from trips west. Needless to say, neither gun had any documentation to support the claim of prior ownership. One owner (of the silver-plated Sundance Kid gun) later got a Colt letter saying the gun had been shipped to a distributor in St. Louis in blue and case finish. Not too surprisingly, when he tried to call, the antique shop where he bought it was out of business!

Needless to say, both gentlemen had paid many times what a Colt SA in nice condition would have cost at that time.

Jim

Leanwolf
December 10, 2007, 12:27 AM
OLD FUFF, I worded that poorly. I did not mean to imply that the workers put a random loading gate in, willy-nilly, without fitting it. Of course they did, as they fit the other various parts to make the Single Actions.

I had read years ago in a Colt book that they did not serial number the gates, but your explaination certainly makes sense.

Originally, from your first post, I thought you were thinking of buying the revolver for yourself. But merely evaluating it for another purchaser... no, it would not be ethical to buy it out from under him.

L.W.

Leanwolf
December 10, 2007, 12:32 AM
JIM KENNAN - "Here is a bit more info, though whether it might apply I do not know. For years there was quite a "commerce" in Western states in old guns, mostly SA Colts and Winchesters. Old, rusted, worn out guns were polished up, reblued or plated with nickel (sometimes silver) and passed off on rich tourists as having belonged to some noted (or notorious) personage."

That's for sure. :uhoh:

L.W.

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