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Old October 4, 2012, 07:41 PM   #1
Joe_Pike
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I Don't Think I Buy The "Too Expensive To Make Colt DA Revolvers" Arguement Anymore

I was reading the newest American Rifleman and they reviewed the Colt New Frontier single actions in .44 Special and .45 Colt. The guns were gorgeous (except for the grips, as was noted in the review). The list price was $1,455 each. The review stated that, while there was a lot of machining of the parts, there was also a lot of hand fitting on each revolver.

Now, I have read over and over on various forums that the reason Colt doesn't make any DA revolvers is because it would be too expensive, a lot of that due to hand fitting parts while making the revolver. I don't know that I really buy that any more. $1,455 for a SA is alot of money for a gun, but I imagine that they will sell quite a few anyway. I realize street price may come in a bit less, but it seems to me that if they can do a high quality SA that sells in this price range, then why can't they do a DA even if it costs a bit more?

In all fairness, I probably wouldn't buy one anyway since I never got bit too bad by the Colt revovler bug. I have owned three Colt revolvers, but have since sold all of them, but I know there are a bunch of folks out there that would jump on one if they started making them again.
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Old October 4, 2012, 09:12 PM   #2
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Even at $1000, there'd be a big price differential between new Colts and offerings from Smith & Wesson or Ruger.

More so, the new Colts would be declared to be inferior in some way by the purists, who would lay waste to countless internet forums and blogs proving their point.
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Old October 4, 2012, 09:13 PM   #3
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DA revolvers, ESPECIALLY the old style action Colt revolvers are considerably more complicated with many more parts than a Single Action.
They required a lot more hand fitting and adjusting then any SAA.
The days when any major gun company can spend the time and effort to build a low selling Ferrari level revolver are over.

I don't know about now that Colt reintroduced the New Frontier, but a few months ago Brent at Colt told us that ONE MAN in the Custom Shop was building ALL of the SAA revolvers.

Colt has been discussing bringing a DA revolver back sometime in the future, and my belief is that when they do, it'll probably be a Magnum Carry small frame type DA revolver.
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Old October 4, 2012, 09:21 PM   #4
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If Colt was making new DA revolvers in the $1400 MSRP range, they'd be competing directly with the S&W Performance Center products, not the regular production catalog. Even then they'd be on the high side.

While the wheelgun market consists of very determined customers, it is just not a huge market. Prices of even a pedestrian regular production revolver ends up running somewhat more than the popular poly framed semiautos, and that's where much of the firearm market goes.

I think it's not so much that there's NO market, but that Colt doesn't see ENOUGH of a market to do it. If they make them for even $2000 and generate a profit on those, is it enough of a profit for them to even bother with it?
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Old October 4, 2012, 09:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe_Pike
why can't they do a DA even if it costs a bit more?

My guess is that even if they were interested, the machinery & tooling (assuming they still even have it) would need some serious updating to compete in the marketplace. That's some serious capitol investment for a small market. It's likely the same reason we don't see others (Freedom Arms, for instance) making quality DA revos.
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Old October 4, 2012, 09:26 PM   #6
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It changed in the '60s when labor costs went way up .It was difficult to find skilled workers .Even polishing a revolver takes great skill . An M27 S&W cost 30% more than the lesser polished M28 ! Most people now are not willing to spend the years in training.
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Old October 4, 2012, 09:34 PM   #7
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Even at $1000, there'd be a big price differential between new Colts and offerings from Smith & Wesson or Ruger.
But, the same can be said about the Ruger Vaqueros for $600 and the new $1,455 Colt New Frontiers.

S&W has the "new" model 27 listed at roughly a grand, and I'm sure they sell them. You can buy a used one for less but some people prefer to buy new only. If Colt could build a "New Python" and sell it for $1,750-$2,000 and do it as a custom shop type of thing, people would be lined up even if they had to wait. You can buy a used one for less, but it's that whole "new" thing again.

I read that "Colt actions are complicated and few people know how to work on them/build them anymore". So, teach some people. Surely we haven't lost the capacity to learn. Lots of things that are complicated are taught every day. It's a mechanical device and it can't be impossible to get a handle on it.

I would prefer to hear that Colt just doesn't want to put any effort into DA revolvers ever again and leave it at that.
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Old October 4, 2012, 09:41 PM   #8
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Colt does not make much in the current field maybe because:

1. Unions
2. Military contracts
3. Fat, Dumb, and Lazy.

Or more likely a combination of the above.

I have a few older 'collectible' Colts but unless they totally modernized their machinery with CNC, come out with something innovative revolver/auto concepts, and seriously try to get some of the Glock/S&W/Sig trade through hard bargaining, I doubt they will even think of it. Just to easy to get the military contracts and live of the 'Colt' name. No risk for them.

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Old October 4, 2012, 09:48 PM   #9
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Chiappa Rhinos are pretty complicated and they are sub $1000. There have also been a ton of advancements in the manufacturing processes as well, most of which includes automation and superior tolerances. So, yeah, I don't buy this either.
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Old October 4, 2012, 10:07 PM   #10
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If "one man" in the custom shop is building their SA revolvers, I doubt they have much production potential. Only the most diehard Colt fans will buy them.

The DA market is different. Both S&W and Ruger are strong producers with good reputations. I don't see Colt being able to sell sufficient quantities to make any needed investment profitable. Just my opinion. But I hope they come out with a small D-frame revolver for the home defense/concealed carry market.
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Old October 4, 2012, 10:36 PM   #11
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The Chiappa Rhino is an interesting design, but I have no idea how labor-intensive the manufacturing and assembly are...nor do I know where the parts are manufactured or the revolvers are assembled. Yes, it is nominally an Italian company, but in our Global Economy, the pieces could be manufactured in China and assembled in Algeria.

I cannot see how Colt could either match that business model (and alienate it's Made in USA followers) or build the snakes in the US at a prohibitive manufactuiring cost.

If you look at modern S&W revolvers, you will find that many "old-timers" want nothing to do with them. If this aversion is justified or not, it really makes no difference....in the end, there is a large body of S&W owners who will not buy a new S&W.

If Colt started producing "new" snake-series revolvers and priced them starting at ~$1000, many/most old-timers would look down their noses at them, in much the same way that "new" S&Ws are viewed as a lesser product by many long-time S&W guys.

Start with bluing--trying to duplicate the bluing of the older Pythons and S&Ws is...well, perhaps "economically unfeasible" might be a good start. Not that it cannot be done, but it could probably not be done at the necessary price point.

Now, consider the fact (okay, the thesis) that there is a relatively fixed number of revolver buyers/shooters. That is a (relatively) fixed-sized pie. Add one more manufacturer into the mix, and (absent some market-changing variable) each manufacturer gets a smaller slice of said pie.

I think that Colt has done it's market research and figured out that trying to re-infiltrate what is likely a saturated revolver market would be a great way to lose a lot of money.

In contrast, they are specializing in what pays the bills (1911s and ARs).

JMHO.
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Old October 4, 2012, 10:45 PM   #12
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"Too Expensive To Make Colt DA Revolvers" doesn't mean that it is impossible to make one, it means it would not be good from a profit or business side. I am not sure why you do not "buy" the agrument. It is not like Colt is hiding or lying just because they don't want to make it. If the thought it was profitable they would
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Old October 5, 2012, 12:24 AM   #13
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If this brings any bearing into the argument, I have an old 1928 Police Positive with a rebound lever/cylinder latch issue that is far too cost prohibitive for me to address (I know, I've tried). We all know that the old Colt DAs have become wallhangers because of their low demand/high cost-not easy to find parts. What kind of a market would they have just refurbishing old DA revolvers from yesteryear rotting in closets all over the country?
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Old October 5, 2012, 06:25 AM   #14
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I Don't Think I Buy The "Too Expensive To Make Colt DA Revolvers" Arguement Anymore
Ok. I that case, develop a business plan, get the funding, buy the equipment, and start production.

Until you do, I'll just have to take their word (or, their silence) as evidence that they know more about it than I do.
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Old October 5, 2012, 08:01 AM   #15
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There is a full blown, small but very profitable market of niche, luxury items. Leica cameras seem a perfect comparison. Some years ago it was a struggling company, offering some of the best (and most expensive) lenses and cameras extant to the wrong market: the serious photographers that could get similar quality (but not luxury, or snob appeal) from top-of-the-line Nikon and Canon. Notice that collectors were (and still are) paying insane prices for used Leicas.

Than, it dawned on them: let us cater to our real market, the ones who use the cameras not only as superb picture taking machines, but also as status symbols, as jewelry if you will. And the company took off. Not only they could continue hand building their cameras straight from the 50's, but they made enough money to pay for the R&D so now they can offer fully modern digital cameras made with mechanical-optical rangefinders à la 1950. And they sell like hotcakes at $6.500 without a lens http://www.amazon.com/Leica-M9-Digit.../dp/B002NX13LC- which is absurd when you think about the whole lot of $1000 cameras that perform the same- but without the legend, the tactile pleasure, the snob appeal if we go harsh.

I used Leica as an example because I know it well. Of course I oversimplified the story, but you get my drift. There are many luxury brands that make excellent profits with tiny, hand made productions based on nostalgia, image and legend. Of course, quality is a must.

Colt could do the same. A small but very profitable business for those willing to pay for the legend. They already do that with the SAA, so they must know by now that it works.
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Old October 5, 2012, 09:54 AM   #16
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There is a full blown, small but very profitable market of niche, luxury items. Leica cameras seem a perfect comparison. Some years ago it was a struggling company, offering some of the best (and most expensive) lenses and cameras extant to the wrong market: the serious photographers that could get similar quality (but not luxury, or snob appeal) from top-of-the-line Nikon and Canon. Notice that collectors were (and still are) paying insane prices for used Leicas.

Than, it dawned on them: let us cater to our real market, the ones who use the cameras not only as superb picture taking machines, but also as status symbols, as jewelry if you will. And the company took off. Not only they could continue hand building their cameras straight from the 50's, but they made enough money to pay for the R&D so now they can offer fully modern digital cameras made with mechanical-optical rangefinders à la 1950. And they sell like hotcakes at $6.500 without a lens http://www.amazon.com/Leica-M9-Digit.../dp/B002NX13LC- which is absurd when you think about the whole lot of $1000 cameras that perform the same- but without the legend, the tactile pleasure, the snob appeal if we go harsh.

I used Leica as an example because I know it well. Of course I oversimplified the story, but you get my drift. There are many luxury brands that make excellent profits with tiny, hand made productions based on nostalgia, image and legend. Of course, quality is a must.

Colt could do the same. A small but very profitable business for those willing to pay for the legend. They already do that with the SAA, so they must know by now that it works.
I think this sums up my point better than I did.

Quote:
Ok. I that case, develop a business plan, get the funding, buy the equipment, and start production.

Until you do, I'll just have to take their word (or, their silence) as evidence that they know more about it than I do.
I have no desire to do this and really don't care what Colt does. My point was that there is always a group of people out there saying that it can't be done. They treat Colt DA revolvers as if they were made by magic elves and no mortal could ever understand them or build them.

There's a market for Korth revolvers and they are incredibly expensive.
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Old October 5, 2012, 09:55 AM   #17
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Some of you should put some investors together and pitch it to Colt. Here's $XX,XXX,XXX of capital to get the ball rolling. Have them make a custom shop in their new Florida facility and turn out new Pythons.

Notice how few gunsmiths even work on Colt DA revolvers anymore? Wonder why?
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Old October 5, 2012, 10:08 AM   #18
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Notice how few gunsmiths even work on Colt DA revolvers anymore? Wonder why?
I do wonder why. I wonder why a lot.

See, I have worked on Colt's DA revolvers. There's nothing mystical, magical or otherwise requiring superhuman abilities inside them. Just care, patience, and a solid grasp on how the thing works. And regarding parts, most, if not all the internal parts are reproducible with the proper tools and knowhow- nothing out of this word. I fail to see the big deal.

Maybe it is because in my other hobby I repair the quite more complex innards of vintage cameras. Maybe I wasn't spoiled by working on S&Ws (never seen the insides of one of them). But I honestly can't see the DA Colts as something out of the reach of a handyman who is willing to work and learn with patience and common sense.
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Old October 5, 2012, 10:51 AM   #19
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I also disagree about the price point. People buy Korth revolvers, so there is a market - if a small one - for mechanically complicated, expensive, DA revolvers.
I thought the issue was that they no longer have the machines to make their DA revolvers, and so they'd basically have to start from scratch.
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Old October 5, 2012, 11:13 AM   #20
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You don't start a business if you think you can't make money at it. Obviously Colt thinks they cannot make money making revolvers for a price-sensitive, shrinking market, so they don't.

A Colt Python cost about $1,000 in 1990, that would make it a $2,000 revolver today. Ruger turns out $800 revolvers, S&W turns out $1,000 revolvers, and Taurus turns out $500 revolvers and gets a lot of the low-budget shoppers dollars. Obviously Colt doesn't want to play that game.

If you think you can do it better, get the funding, get a CNC machining center, hire a bunch of experienced gunsmiths and metal workers, and start turning out Pythons. I agreee that it should be a lot easier to do nowadays with CNC machining, but a lot of the hand work is in the polishing.
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Old October 5, 2012, 11:28 AM   #21
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For those citing Colt's place as a niche maker, have any of you looked at their actual production numbers as opposed to other competitors in the niche revolver market?

In 2010, Colt produced only 2,086 revolvers while U.S. Firearms, their closest competitor in the niche SA revolver market, produced 12,007.

http://www.atf.gov/statistics/downlo...ort-report.pdf

At 2,086 revolvers per year, Colt has basically become a specialty custom gunmaker like Les Baer, Wilson Combat, or Ed Brown with similar production numbers. Successful specialty makers like Baer, Wilson, and Brown are able to remain profitable despite their low production numbers because the specialize in just a few basic gun designs thus simplifying their production. Colt has also chosen to do this by paring their product line down to AR-15's, 1911's, and SAA's.

Adding DA revolvers back to the line would complicate things and drive up costs in several ways. Most, if not all, of the Colt employees who produced and were familiar with Colt DA revolvers have either retired or passed away. This means that not only would new employees have to be trained for a completely new-to-them product, but that there are very few people left to teach them.

Secondly, the machinery necessary to build DA revolvers is most likely long gone. It is doubtful that Colt has kept old, unused machinery sitting around gathering dust and taking up space for 10+ years and, by many accounts I've heard and read, the DA revolver machinery was getting rather long-in-the-tooth when production ceased. This means that Colt would likely have to invest in new machinery which would be extremely expensive.

You see, at this point it would not be a simple matter of firing up the machines and resuming production. At this point, they would basically be starting from scratch all over again. Even if Colt could make such guns profitably, which is arguable, it would still require a very large intial investment that I just don't believe Colt can afford to make right now.
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Old October 5, 2012, 11:38 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by micromontenegro View Post
I do wonder why. I wonder why a lot.

See, I have worked on Colt's DA revolvers. There's nothing mystical, magical or otherwise requiring superhuman abilities inside them. Just care, patience, and a solid grasp on how the thing works. And regarding parts, most, if not all the internal parts are reproducible with the proper tools and knowhow- nothing out of this word. I fail to see the big deal.

Maybe it is because in my other hobby I repair the quite more complex innards of vintage cameras. Maybe I wasn't spoiled by working on S&Ws (never seen the insides of one of them). But I honestly can't see the DA Colts as something out of the reach of a handyman who is willing to work and learn with patience and common sense.
You given good example on why it CAN be done but none on why it SHOULD be done. If it takes more time, patience, and work to learn it and do it, then it should cost the gun owner more to have it done. Is there enough of a market willing to pay higher prices to justify someone banking part of their career on it.

There are several things I could learn how to do but I don't have the time to learn them all. I have to choose what provides the most return on enjoyment (hobby) and profit (business)
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Old October 5, 2012, 12:22 PM   #23
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Quote:
Notice how few gunsmiths even work on Colt DA revolvers anymore? Wonder why?

I do wonder why. I wonder why a lot.

See, I have worked on Colt's DA revolvers. There's nothing mystical, magical or otherwise requiring superhuman abilities inside them. Just care, patience, and a solid grasp on how the thing works. And regarding parts, most, if not all the internal parts are reproducible with the proper tools and knowhow- nothing out of this word. I fail to see the big deal.

Maybe it is because in my other hobby I repair the quite more complex innards of vintage cameras. Maybe I wasn't spoiled by working on S&Ws (never seen the insides of one of them). But I honestly can't see the DA Colts as something out of the reach of a handyman who is willing to work and learn with patience and common sense.
I learned how to work on Colt DA by reading articles by Skeeter and other gun writers back in the 1970s etc. It isn't rocket surgery. The slow speed gear train on a machanical 35 mm or a between the lens shutter is a lot more complicated.
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Old October 5, 2012, 12:56 PM   #24
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How hard does your camera recoil against those parts?
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Old October 5, 2012, 12:59 PM   #25
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As much as I enjoy shooting my revolvers, the reality is that wheelguns are a shrinking market. And while a Python is a great revolver, I believe the market for an expensive new masterpiece would be small, especially in today's economic climate.
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