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Old February 15, 2006, 05:59 AM   #1
omegapd
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Colt collectors- Viper question

Hey All,

A pawn shop near me has a Colt Viper for sale. It's been there awhile and I've looked and looked at it and I think I'm going to take the plunge and buy my first Colt. It's in about 95% condition with excellent blueing and just a few everyday scuff marks...mainly on the grips. The guy is asking a good price but there's no box or papers.

Now, the problem...started searching the Net and trying to figure out how collectable they are. I ran across this article:

Ok, we need to do some clarification here.... The Viper was a 4", fixed sight D-frame Colt built on an alloy frame. It looks identical to the Police Positive Special. Colt didn't make too many of them (1977 only), and Gun Parts Corp bought all of their extra barrels and sold them for a VERY good price. A BUNCH of folks rebarreled Colt Cobras with Viper barrels and tried to sell them as original Vipers....except the serial number range was wrong (oops...)

Can anyone help me out on what the serial number range should be on an original Viper?

Whats the latest blue book value on this gun too? The ones I saw on gunbroker, etc. were in the thousand dollar range.

Thanks so much. I'll let you all know what I find out tomorrow and if it goes on lay-away or not.

EW
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Old February 15, 2006, 10:08 AM   #2
Johnny Guest
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VIPER - - A shrouded barrel, four-inch Cobra or an LW Police Positive Special?

Hi, omegapd - -

I'll give what superficial help I can furnish. Uh, where did you get the thing about the Viper only being produced in 1977? I'm not saying you're wrong, but this doesn't tally with some old memories I had of the model. Anyway - - -

There's a minor conflict here concerning serial numbers and dates of manufacture. The R. L. Wilson book, Colt An American Legend
has little to say of the model. For a time, the only D-Frame Colt revolvers produced were Diamondbacks and Detective Specials. The redesigned D frames, with he shrouded ejector rod, were phased in gradually. On p. 275, Wilson writes:
Quote:
In 1978 two double-actions classified between the Diamondback and the Detective Special were announced. The Police positive is . . . .

The Viper is a "lighter version of the Police positive constructed with a high-strength aluminum alloy frame. The ideal Colt for those who want a lightweight 4" 38 Special revolver." Numbers fall within the cobra and Agent serials.
The same book has serial number tables in the back. You mention 1977 as the sole year of production of the Viper. Cobra and Agent numbers for '77 are 71904M -- 97999M and 60001R -- 63400R. Numbers for 1978 begin at 63401R.

Stoeger's Gun Trader's Guide, 25th Edition (2002) p. 64, shows:
Quote:
VIPER DA REVOLVER NiB $419 Ex $335 Gd $194 Same as Cobra, Second Issue, except has 4-inch bbl., is 9 inches overall, weighs 20 oz. Made 1977 -- 84.
The Wilson book lists several series of numbers for the D frames between 1978 and 1984. Give the serial number on the one in question and we may be able to pin it down a bit for you. (Example: P732??K.)

Gun prices have risen in the last four years, just like most everything else. The GTG price range looks pretty good today. I've recenly been looking for a three-inch Cobra or Detective Special for around-town carry, and happened onto a four-inch Cobra round butt which is a little darlin'. As with my Agent, it squirms around a lot with full loads, but I don't plan to practive with +P loads. I'd advise you do NOT get the Viper with the idea of enjoying a lot of plinking or "fun shooting" with it. The recoil is just a bit sharp for that. The full weight Police Positive Special is far easier to shoot well, and is still fairly light in weight.

Let us hear from you.
Best,
Johnny
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Old February 15, 2006, 02:29 PM   #3
omegapd
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Hey Johnny

Quote:
Uh, where did you get the thing about the Viper only being produced in 1977?
Here...mainly...on the Internet. I did a search on this forum and others and thats what has come up. I do have the same book you have, though, and noticed the dates in that area, so have no idea as to what's right.

Anyway, I put a few bucks down on it today. The guy was dead set on 350 and I think it's worth that. Plus, he does my FFL transfers for a good deal.

This will be a safe queen more or less, I think. I have enough old Smith model 10s to plink with and have wanted a Colt for many years just so I can see what all the fuss is about. Now, I'll see I guess and maybe have a semi-collectible gun in the process. Thanks again, Johnny. I'll post pics and a range report when it comes out of "hock". LOL.

EW
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Old February 15, 2006, 02:40 PM   #4
boa2
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Although at the moment I don't recall the source, it is true that the Colt Viper was only made in 1977! Once the Colt Snake collector's had learned of this fact, these Viper's became instantly collectible-and the prices started to skyrocket! To be real collectible, you would need to have a Viper in NIB condition with box and all papers! The Colt Viper is very important to any Colt Snake collector-as he must have one of these to complete his snake collection(Assuming that he has all of the other required Colt snake revolvers?)!

Here is a picture of my Viper! I don't have the serial number handy-or, I'd report it for you here!:
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Old February 15, 2006, 06:37 PM   #5
Majic
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Vipers were only made in 1977. They came blued or nickeled. To get collector's value it should be NIB with all papers. When it becomes a shooter the value will be no more than any of the other common D-frames so $350 for that Viper is a good price.
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