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Whats my Colt SAA worth? Any tips for maintenance?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Will Learn, Nov 13, 2006.

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  1. Will Learn

    Will Learn Member

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    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.?
     
  2. PotatoJudge

    PotatoJudge Member

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    Shoot it. Take your grandfather with you and kids if you've got them. A gun like that's only worth the memories.
     
  3. Husker1911

    Husker1911 Member

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    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
     
  4. Harve Curry

    Harve Curry Member

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    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.
     
  5. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    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."
     
  6. Will Learn

    Will Learn Member

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    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.
     
  7. Hawk

    Hawk Member

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    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".
     
  8. tincat2

    tincat2 Member

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    heirlooms

    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.
     
  9. GunNut

    GunNut Member

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    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
     
  10. bushjumper

    bushjumper Member

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    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?
     
  11. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    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.
     
  12. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    SHOOT IT!! SHOOT IT!!!

    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 it’s your gun that’s involved, it’s perfectly all right … because any loss that occurs will be yours, and not someone else’s.

    But is it right to tell someone else that they should shoot their gun – 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 owner’s handbook that Single Action Army revolvers should not be fired because of the real or potential loss of value? I don’t know that I agree with this, I think it’s 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.

    I’m not saying that Will Learn should or shouldn’t shoot grandpa’s .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.
     
  13. redneckrepairs

    redneckrepairs Member

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    Well then how about a 1st gen .45lc what would you say to it ?? Its not pristine by any means .
     
  14. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    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.
     
  15. redneckrepairs

    redneckrepairs Member

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    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 )
     
  16. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    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.
     
  17. PotatoJudge

    PotatoJudge Member

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    "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.
     
  18. redneckrepairs

    redneckrepairs Member

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    Yes its pre 1900 , and thanks for the info , I had not shot it yet .. but was considering it with mild handloads .
     
  19. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    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.
     
  20. Majic

    Majic Member

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    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.
    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.
     
  21. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    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.
     
  22. mutt

    mutt Member

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    Colts

    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
     
  23. Jamie C.

    Jamie C. Member

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    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.
     
  24. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    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!!
     
  25. gezzer

    gezzer Member

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    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.
     
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