Recently a Single Action Colt Army (SAA) with the very low serial number(s) 5089 came to us. My first reaction was, WOW! could that possibly be a Custer (7th Cavalry/Little Bighorn) gun? Here is what was found out. There is an interesting story here.
After some digging and closer examination, we find the serial numbers on the bottom of the frame and trigger guard and the US on the left side of the frame have been re-applied by someone at some point. Why would they do such a thing?
Interesting. So several other Colts with very similar serial numbers also had their patent dates and U.S. markings rubbed off (probably because they were Indian capture guns). Did 5089 meet the same fate as its brethren of close-serial-number proximity? Who knows.
There is a strong possibility that part (at least 50% and more likely 75% of this gun being original) was a 7th Cavalry issue and therefor at the Little Bighorn. How does the alterations and replacement parts affect the value? Obviously it does. Documented Colts with Kopec letters of authenticity stating positive association have sold at auction anywhere from the $30,000 range to over $400,000! (Condition and provenance played a major role in the wide sales amount ranges.) An unaltered Colt with a fairly strong association would probably be expected to fetch at least $10,000 to $15,000. Any Colt with a serial number of under ten-thousand should sell for at least $7,500 to $10,000. So what about this one? Well, we are going to find out what collectors think. It goes to auction on Jan. 5th, 2019. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Colt uses a series of numbers and letters in the serial numbers, each denoting a different aspect of the firearm, but knowing what each prefix, numeral, and suffix means can be confusing for first-time serial number readers and even experienced Colt owners alike.
As you can see, using and interpreting the serial number on your Colt could lead to some uncertainty. Still, fortunately, Colt provides less frustrating and more manageable ways to find out more about your gun.
Colt Single Action Army was manufactured in 1937 and is accompanied by a copy of a hand-written letter from dealer Pete Harvey that states: "Called Marty Huber at Colt Factory Colt #356019 came into Shipping Room July 16th, 1937 as a 357 Mag. No other info available". Colt introduced the .357 Magnum caliber to the Single Action Army line in 1935 around serial number 355200. Colt manufactured 525 Single Action revolvers chambered for the.357 magnum cartridge before production ceased in 1941. The revolver has the Colt pre-war commercial blue finish on the barrel, cylinder, trigger guard and back strap. The frame and loading gate are color casehardened. The trigger and top of the hammer are blued, and the sides of the hammer are polished bright. The checkered hard rubber grips have the Rampant Colt trademark embossed in an oval at the top. The left side of the barrel is roll-stamped: "COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY.357". The top of the barrel is roll-stamped with the one-line Hartford legend. The left side of the frame is roll-stamped with the Colt two-Line/three-date patent markings followed by the Rampant Colt trademark. The left front of the trigger guard bow is stamped with a "4" assembler's mark above the Colt triangle "VP" proof mark. The face of the cylinder is stamped with a five-pointed star that denotes the use of special grade steel. The assembly number "729" is stamped on the inside of the loading gate. The full serial number "356019" is stamped on the bottom of the frame and the right side of the back strap and trigger guard underneath the grip. "356019" is lightly scratched on the inside of both grips. All of the visible serial numbers match. The cylinder is not serial numbered. The frame retains the fouling cut-out in the top strap which was eliminated shortly after this revolver was manufactured. The revolver is complete with a royal blue cardboard carton. The blue and white label on the end of the carton reads" "5 1/2 Colt's Army S.A. Revolver 357/Rubber Blue". Colt advertising labels are stamped on the inside of the lid and the bottom of the carton. The revolver serial number "356019" is written in grease pencil on one end of the carton bottom.
4th Model Deringer Chambered in .22 RF short. Serial numbers have N or D suffix.D serial number suffix manufactured 1959-1963.N serial number suffix manufactured 1960-1963. Total production (D suffix) about 89727.Total production (N suffix) about 22880.
Model 1861 Navy Circa 1872-1878. Calibers .38 rim fire & center fire, serials from 1-3300, shared with 1851 Navy conversions, and range of percussion arms below number 10356. Mostly center fire. Total production about 2,200.
A serial number of 160000 would indicate a manufacture date of 1895. The type of barrel address depends on the length of the barrel. A 7-1/2" or a 5-1/2" barrel will have the Colt Hartford address in one line. A 4-3/4" barrel will have the address in two lines, but the address is the same: COLT'S PT F.A. MFG CO HARTFORD CT U.S.A. The gun's caliber will be stamped on the left side of the barrel, near the frame. Is that what you wanted to know?
I have a COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY .357 MAGNUM, Barrel length 4 3/4, Serial No. 201228, it has it stamped on three places. I have read that the serial numbers either end or start with the letters SA, but mine has no letters.
First generation (the original) Colt Single Action Army revolvers did not have letters as part of their serial numbers; later generations did. Based on your serial number it was made in 1901; however the .357 cartridge wasn't developed until after 1930 so there is a discrepancy. It would seem that both the barrel and cylinder have been replaced to accomodate the .357 cartridge. What does the Colt stamping on the barrel say? Your grips are totally correct, although very worn.
Another sought-after Colt was actually a prop firearm with a formidable Hollywood connection. It was one of a pair of .44-caliber Colt 1851 Navy percussion replica guns used by Clint Eastwood in the 1976 film The Outlaw, Josey Wales, and was accompanied by two signed certificates from Paramount Studios. One of the certificates identified the gun by serial number and attested to its having been used by Eastwood in his starring role in the classic Western. It also noted that the companion gun is now part of the Smithsonian collection in Washington, DC. The example offered by Milestone sold for $17,400 against an estimate of $5,000-$10,000. 1e1e36bf2d