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Old October 9, 2010, 06:23 AM   #1
Vinnie Harold
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Which FRAME for a SAA revolver?

Back again with more questions.

USFA offers two different frames for their SAA. One is a black powder frame and the other is a cross pin frame.
What is the difference between the two? I know from their site that each frame requires a different type of sight.

Also the black powder frame is "free" on their pre-war model. but a $150 up charge on the standard SAA.

Again, what is the difference, and does it really matter?
Also, what is a casehardened hammer as opposed to one that is NOT case hardened?

Thanks guys.

After all of your help, I find that I can not really decide between USFA and Colt, so I will have to get both. Indecision can be very expensive, huh!

Vinnie
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Old October 9, 2010, 07:20 AM   #2
rep1954
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Vinnie, the photo on the top is the black powder frame. It has a screw from the front to retain the base pin as opposed to a crosspin assembely that is through the side of the frame as the photo below the black powder frame. I dont have any SAA style guns with CCH to show you as I prefer that model of gun with the white sided hammer. The bottom picture is a Ruger conversion that I used to own and it has a CCH hammer to match the cylinder frame which is also CCH. I like both frames. To me the black powder frame is nicer to the eye and less parts. But almost all my Colt SAA's are 45 Colt and I have 45 ACP cylinders that I swap out back and forth when at the range and in that aspect the crosspin frame is nice to have.


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Old October 9, 2010, 07:37 AM   #3
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On the Colt's i believe they made the black powder frame up until 1892-98,so many die hard CAS shooters go for the earlier style.The biggest difference is with the black powder frame you have to have a screwdriver to get the cylinder pin out.With the cross pin its spring loaded so you just push to the side and pull the cyl. pin.There's divided opinions on both styles,some don't like the spring because it's something that can fail,others swear that the angled screw holding the cylinder pin doesn't work its way loose.
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Old October 9, 2010, 08:39 AM   #4
pythagorean
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This Colt Frontier Six Shooter has the Blackpowder frame:



It uses a slot screw to retain the cylinder and has a "bull's eye" plunger you push with your finger to eject the shells.

The regular cross pin makes removing the cylinder a bit quicker. I think the difference in choosing is mostly dependent upon what looks better for you. Sometimes the cross pin variation will allow a cylinder to bind during firing and recoil by jumping out or slipping out sideways a bit. I've had that happen a couple of times on two different cross pin variations, one in .38-40 and another in .45 LC.

The Black Powder slotted screw will NOT move during firing and the cylinder will remain in place without causing a jammed cylinder.
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Old October 9, 2010, 10:17 AM   #5
James K
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Let's be clear about one thing. USFA's use of the term "black powder frame" means that the frame LOOKS LIKE that used by Colt in the black powder era. It does NOT mean that the USFA frame can be used only with black powder loads. Except for the means of retaining the cylinder pin, the two frames are identical, made from the same modern steel.

Jim
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Old October 9, 2010, 11:08 AM   #6
Vinnie Harold
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Thanks for the pictures, but I still don't get it!

In the pics rep 1954 displayed the revolver with the white stag or ivory grip shows a screw to the left of the cylinder. The last picture of the Ruger shows that same screw next to the cylinder. Is that the screw you are talking about that a black powder frame has.
If so, Pythagorean shows a pic that he tells me is a black powder frame, but I see no screw to the left of the cylinder.

I am looking to buy a USFA SAA and the black powder frame makes the revolver more expensive. Why would that be the case?

I am buying it in .45 Colt, but will also be buying a .45 ACP cylinder. From the posts I learned that it would be easier to remove the cylinder with the cross pin frame, but there were comments of how the screw hold the cylinder"better or tighter" and without the possibility of losing a spring in the cross pin.

Which way is the best to go, or is it a matter of preference?

Vinnie
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Old October 9, 2010, 12:11 PM   #7
Jim March
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I think the cross-pin type frame is better overall, IF the pin is properly fitted and has a heavy enough spring to eliminate the pin jumping out. The "black powder type" screw retainer can get boogered up because you'll be using it a lot - I guess you could always get more screws.

One key point: USFA does NOT make an "SAA" model. They make "SA" revolvers, but the "Single Action Army" is a Colt trademark, period, end of discussion.
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Old October 9, 2010, 12:27 PM   #8
Vinnie Harold
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Thanks Jim

Nobody mentioned that point before. I guess as a newbie they were letting me get away with it, but..I'm getting older now.

Thanks. So SAA is a Colt designation whereas SA is simply a single action revolver.
Again, thanks for pointing that out.

Vinnie
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Old October 9, 2010, 12:33 PM   #9
dreamweaver
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Quote:
e black powder frame is "free" on their pre-war model. but a $150 up charge on the standard SAA.
i would go with the pre-war myself. the blue and case color is upgraded, done by turnbull. the finish is better than factory colt, imho.
colt guys, don't flame me. my other 9 sa's are colt SAA.
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Old October 9, 2010, 01:23 PM   #10
rep1954
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I've had 4 guns with the Turnbull CCH while he does an excellent job with his CCH part of what attract most people is not so much the CCH by itself but he puts a clear lacquer coat on the finish product. It is a ultraviolet protection and the way it makes the colors pop out attracts most people. I prefer a more natural look and have removed the lacquer from the two remaining guns that I own that have it. If your one who uses and cleans your guns on a regular basis it will wear off. I was my understanding that Turnbull did all of USFA's CCH.
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Old October 9, 2010, 01:44 PM   #11
Vinnie Harold
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When the lacquer wears of, does it now look natural, or does it look like something has worn off and needs to be redone...like an old paint job screams for help!

When you clean the gun, I understand the solvents will begin to dissolve the lacquer. What product out there can be used to clean the revolver without wearing away the lacquer prematurely.

Dan Turnball must know that this will happen, so he must have also come up with something that his customers could use to clean the firearm without disturbing his beautiful finish.

What might that be?

Vinnie
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Old October 9, 2010, 02:38 PM   #12
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I'm not aware of what Turnbull's lacquer formula consists of. If it is a well-cured polyurethane or epoxy based coating it should be unaffected by cleaning solvents but normal wear & abrasives will eventually take their toll. The charcoal case colors wore rapidly off vintage firearms as did the so-called charcoal blueing finish. I also prefer to see some good honest finish degradation on my replica firearms & generally refinish with a head start in that direction. The one exception is the faux Colt blue finish (Gun-Kote) on the brass frame on my .22 lr SAA. I want to keep up the ruse & not have brass show thru.
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Old October 9, 2010, 02:46 PM   #13
rep1954
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I know finger nail polish remover works pretty good after a couple of tries to take it off. How to make it last I dont know maybe Google furniture care. Smith & Wesson used it on some of thier aluminum guns I dont know if they still do. Doug Turnbull might have some advice if you call or e-mail.
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Old October 9, 2010, 02:58 PM   #14
Jim March
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Vinnie, one more thing about SAs:

We call SAs that duplicate both the general ergonomics and the internal action parts of a Colt SAA (esp. the bit about no safety, carry it five-up) "true clones" of the SAA. This includes most USFA models, most of the Ubertis, Piettas, the STI Texican, etc.

Guns that try and duplicate the ergonomics of the SAA but have modern safeties grafted in are "semi-clones" - this would include the Ruger New Vaquero, Beretta Stampede series, Taurus Gaucho and a few others.

The next step out are "SA revolvers" that don't try to copy any particular old west design all that closely. This includes Colt's own adjustable-sight variants (out of production now I think?), some of the USFAs like the weird "Omnipotent", the majority of all Rugers ever made and all of the Freedom Arms guns. The degree of "Colt SAA duplication" (if any!) varies all over the map. Ruger's "Old Vaquero" for example looks a lot like an SAA, except it's oversize, built on the SuperBlackhawk "44Magnum-class" frame. A good gun in it's own right but doesn't really even try to be "period correct". And there's nothing wrong with that, as long as you know what you're buying and want that.

Complicating things: Colt themselves radically changed the ergonomics of the SAA in the post-WW2 period. Some of the "clones" copy the pre-war ergonomics, some copy the post-war guns. The Ruger New Vaquero is a pretty good overall copy of the post-WW2 (2nd/3rd/4th generation) Colts. If you graft on a lower SuperBlackhawk hammer or buy one of the variants with the very similar "Montado hammer" (Mondato or the "SASS special" New Vaquero) it looks even less period correct, but low and behold, the hammer reach will exactly match a pre-WW2 1st gen. Colt - or a USFA Rodeo which clones the 1st-gen Colt feel out of the box.

My New Vaquero in 357Mag is circa 2005, SN just over 5,000 and I swapped to a SuperBlackhawk hammer almost immediately with no regrets...I'm a "strong side thumber" versus an "off-hand cocker". When I had a chance to compare my gun with some really old Colts I was delighted to find out I had re-created the exact feel in the hand that Wyatt and those guys knew, without realizing it.

My gun is even more heavily modified than that, and will get another round of upgrades soon . It's my daily-carry-without-fail piece and the best $500 I ever spent. If you're going to really use a single action, consider a Ruger.

If you can find one, you might even consider the 50th Anniversary 357 Blackhawk, which is an oddball because it's built with the same Colt SAA-sized grip frame and primary frame as the New Vaquero, except it has adjustable sights. CDNN was blowing them out dirt cheap for a while ($360 I think?) but rumor is they're out. You might call 'em - look up "CDNN Investments" - that's one of the best deals in the gun world ever. Or that same exact gun is built as a factory 44Spl, if you want a big-bore. These mid-frame-size Rugers (including the fixed-sight NewVaq) are all really, really nice guns, and perfectly safe carried six-up. (Mine is a NewVaq because in 2005 the 50th 357 was rare and pricey.)
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Old October 9, 2010, 03:43 PM   #15
Vinnie Harold
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Jim,

Thanks for all that information. I have saved much of what you and some others have written so I can go back at my leisure, re-read and learn.

This SA I am buying is just for fun...targets , etc., for now anyway.

Sorry to admit it but my all time carry gun is a Glock -19, backed up by the smaller Kahr-CW9.

I want a revolver for the fun of it, the sexy look, and lastly a Colt, for what it represents. My range gun shop has a Ruger Blackhawk in .357 with a second cylinder in 9mm for $500. I am going for the USFA pre-war instead.

Thanks again.

Vinnie
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Old October 9, 2010, 03:49 PM   #16
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yes, turnbull does all the color case hardening for usfa, and yes, they clear coat it. which is why it looks so good. i was referring to the bluing. usfa uses two different processes. the pre war models get the higher polish finish.
about the clear coat, it's heat stable, but it will wear from abrasion. remington wax will help protect it, as will lined holsters.
just my 2c
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Old October 9, 2010, 10:12 PM   #17
pythagorean
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Vinnie,

The Black Powder Frame cylinder retaining screw is in front of the cylinder frame just below the cylinder retaining pin (that the cylinder rotates about on).

You can't see it in a side picture, I'd have to photograph the front of the gun with the muzzle pointing towards the camera.
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Old October 10, 2010, 08:48 AM   #18
Hawg
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You can also get a knurled screw for the bp frame that eliminates having to have a screwdriver to remove the cylinder. My Uberti that was imported by Stoeger came with both.
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