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Old August 15, 2012, 09:31 PM   #1
MogrenE
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Colt 1860 Army Revolver - 2nd or 3rd Generation?

I recently purchased a Colt 1860 Army cap and ball revolver. It is definitely NOT a European replica - there are no non-Colt stamps or markings whatsoever. I think it is either a second or third generation Colt ... but:

The serial number is 250821. My understanding is that the 2nd generation 1860 Army serial numbers only went to 212835.

I also understand that the 3rd generation colts were "Signature Series" carrying the signature of Sam Colt engraved on the backstrap. This pistol does not have that engraving.

So, is this a second generation gun (perhaps the run went past 212835)? Or is it a third generation that did not get the signature engraving? Or is it something else?

Thanks.
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Old August 15, 2012, 10:43 PM   #2
Fingers McGee
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Quote:
The serial number is 250821. My understanding is that the 2nd generation 1860 Army serial numbers only went to 212835. They went to 212540

I also understand that the 3rd generation colts were "Signature Series" carrying the signature of Sam Colt engraved on the backstrap. This pistol does not have that engraving. Then it probably isn't a Sig Series

So, is this a second generation gun (perhaps the run went past 212835)? Or is it a third generation that did not get the signature engraving? Or is it something else? Sounds like it is probably something else.
1st, 2nd, and Sig Series 1860s had the complete serial number on the barrel, frame, triggerguard, arbor, and wedge and inscribed in pencil or pen in the backstrap channel of the grips. The last four digits of the serial number were on the cylinder and backstrap. If the serial number isn't found in these locations, it's probably a defarbed Italian replica.
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Old August 15, 2012, 10:53 PM   #3
Willie Sutton
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Pics?


Willie


.
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Old August 16, 2012, 10:55 AM   #4
MogrenE
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Fingers / Willie:

Thank you for the replies. I'll have time to take and post pictures this weekend.

I appreciate your help - this is driving me crazy!!
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Old August 19, 2012, 09:00 AM   #5
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Photos and Markings

Here are pictures. There are full six-digit serial numbers on the barrel, frame, and trigger gun, aligned just forward of the trigger guard.

The last four of the serial number is stamped into end of the backstrap.

There are no serial numbers on the wedge or cylinder. I'm not sure what Fingers means by the "arbor." I did not take the handle apart, so don't know whether the serial number is penciled on the grip.

The cylinder is engraved with the usual sea battle scene, "ENGAGED..." statement, and "COLTS PATENT NO" "PAT SEPT 10TH 1850."

The cylinder is also stamped with the letters "PN" under a circled five-pointed star.

The top of the barrel is engraved with "ADDRESS COL SAML COLT NEW-YORK US. AMERICA-"

There are no other marks or stamps on the barrel, frame, or trigger guard. It does not appear that any previous markings have been filed or ground off.

Any thoughts?

Last edited by MogrenE; August 19, 2012 at 09:04 AM. Reason: Photos did not upload
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Old August 19, 2012, 09:04 AM   #6
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Photos didn't upload

The photos didn't upload - will try again.
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Old August 19, 2012, 09:20 AM   #7
samcolt1860
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Quote:
The cylinder is also stamped with the letters "PN" under a circled five-pointed star.
That mark is the Italian proof mark for black powder, thus your gun is or Italian origin.
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Old August 19, 2012, 10:13 AM   #8
MogrenE
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Here are the photos:

Barrel length is 8"; weight (unloaded) is 43.0 ounces.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Left side.jpg (64.9 KB, 82 views)
File Type: jpg Right side.jpg (67.3 KB, 72 views)
File Type: jpg Barrel.JPG (28.6 KB, 70 views)
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Old August 19, 2012, 03:23 PM   #9
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PN under a star is an Italian black powder proof.
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Old August 19, 2012, 03:46 PM   #10
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What Hawg said.

Looks & sounds like an Armi San Marco made around 1982, before Colt sued them.

Look at the bottom of the barrel under the loading lever for marks.
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Old August 19, 2012, 03:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Looks & sounds like an Armi San Marco made around 1982, before Colt sued them.
That's what I was thinking but I wasn't going to say so.
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Old August 19, 2012, 07:40 PM   #12
MogrenE
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Thanks, guys.

There are no markings on the barrel other that the address line on top and serial number.

What's the story on the Armi San Marco?
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Old August 19, 2012, 08:49 PM   #13
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Colt Black Powder Arms Co.(not affiliated with Colt)acquired license from Colt to make the 3rd gens. Apparently they overestimated production and contracted ASM to make barrels. When production ceased ASM was stuck with a lot of Colt marked barrels. So to lessen their loss they used them on their own guns and Colt sued them.
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Old August 19, 2012, 10:43 PM   #14
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I think it's a right pretty pistol. Do you not shoot it? I'm one of the guys that if I can't shoot it I don't want it.
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Old August 19, 2012, 11:18 PM   #15
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MogrenE - that is a great-looking replica, and if it is more than ten years old, moreso relative to its present condition. But there is no-way, no-how you will ever find an original 1800s percussion revolver in that condition unless it has been totally (and fairly recently) reconditioned, which would change its value a whole lot (down). The bluing from those days could not remain in that condition, for one thing. Hawg and Fingers were tactful (which I have appreciated when I wandered off track and Hawg corrected me).

Clue #1: shiny grips. Clue #2 - old, worn grips on a bright, shiny frame (refinished). All those affect value and help determine authenticity, but they don't affect fun. If you bought the gun to shoot it, go ahead and enjoy the Clint Eastwood moments, because they are a lot of fun. Like ShotPut, I don't buy anything I don't plan to shoot. Ever.
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Old August 20, 2012, 07:42 AM   #16
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I bought an ASM 1851 .36 that was only marked with a faint ASM under the loading lever. There were no Italian proofmarks or any lettering anywhere, not even the Colt address on the barrel top. I don't think it was defarbed. I've heard some bad reports about ASM but this little 1851 is smooth and tight and pretty - a great shooter.

Quote:
But there is no-way, no-how you will ever find an original 1800s percussion revolver in that condition
I suggest you check out the James Julia auction in Maine this fall. They sell many pristine, untouched, perfect originals. Very pricey but they exist.
http://jamesdjulia.com/firearms.asp
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Old August 20, 2012, 10:52 AM   #17
MogrenE
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Thanks, everyone.

Based on Fingers and Hawg's comments, it looks like this is one of the ASM products with a Colt barrel from 1982. There are no markings on the barrel - either under the loading lever or anywhere else - other than the address line on top and serial number on the bottom.

The give-away should have been the Italian star PN stamp on the cylinder.

Shotput: Yes, I do intend to shoot it. I've got a Euroarms replica 1851 Colt Navy, .44 cal, that I bought in Germany in the 1970s. Love shooting it, but it's starting to show its age.

Hawg (or anyone else who might know): By any chance did Colt also contract with ASM for the frames and trigger guards? That might explain the lack of foreign stamps on those parts, although it doesn't explain the missing "Colts Pat" on the frame and "44 CAL" on the TG.
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Old August 20, 2012, 12:48 PM   #18
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Colt didn't contract with anybody. They sold license to Colt Black Powder Arms Co. who contracted with ASM. AFAIK it was just barrels. Trigger guards don't normally have foreign markings. Sometimes there will be a logo and/or an import mark on the butt. Fingers may can shed more light on it or if bprevolver comes in he can answer a lot of questions.
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Old August 21, 2012, 10:35 AM   #19
MogrenE
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Epilogue

Thanks again for everyone's help on this question. Here's how things turned out:

The guy I bought the revolver from runs a small muzzleloading supply shop outside of a small town in Oregon. He was selling the pistol on consignment for another of his customers. This other customer bought it (used) from a vendor at a trade show about 15 years ago. Both thought it was an authentic Colt based on the barrel markings and the lack of any obvious foreign stamps or proof marks. This other customer shot the gun a few times, then went to single shot muzzleloaders. It's been sitting on the shelf in his closet for the past ten years or so.

The price I first paid for it would have been very reasonable for a used authentic Colt. But it was way high for a used Italian replica, even one in as good condition as this is.

I took the gun back yesterday. The shop owner got his other customer on the phone. I shared the information you all have provided with them. Both were perfect gentlemen about the situation. They were surprised - not to mention a little embarrassed. We renegotiated a price that kept all three of us happy. The upshot is that I ended up with a great-looking gun in excellent condition for a very reasonable price. And it came with the bonus of having a terrific story behind it.

Gentlemen: thank you all for your help on this question. I do have a quick follow-up question for Hawg and/or Fingers (or anyone else that might know):

- Hawg and Fingers thought that the pistol "looks & sounds like an Armi San Marco made around 1982, before Colt sued them." Hawg said in a later post that he thought ASM made the barrels under contract with Colt BPA Co. for the third generation run.

- The chronology here doesn't seem quite right. It's my understanding that the 2nd generation production by Colt (all models) ran from 1970 to late 1982. It's also my understanding that Colt Black Powder Arms Co. produced its third generation guns from 1993 to 2002.

- If that's correct, then it sounds like either the ASM-produced barrels were for the 2nd generation Colts, or that the date of the ASM production (and subsequent lawsuit) was misstated. Can anyone clear that up?

Thank you all again. Next stop is the range. After all this drama, I'm eager to see how this thing shoots!!
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Old August 21, 2012, 01:47 PM   #20
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Should have been 2nd Gens. ASM was out of the gun business in 2000 so wouldn't have been making guns after Colt BPA quit making them in 2002.

Just a little more trivia. In 1982 Colt's listed their line of Stainless steel BP revolvers, just at the time when the decision was being made to suspend the entire BP line. There were a few 2nd Gen 1860s (1270), 1851s (490), and 1861s (8) made and sold before the end. There are also SS 1860s, 1851s, 1861s, and 1862s out there that were made by Uberti and ASM in the 1983 to 1987 time frame that were more than likely the original parts kits that were supposed to become 2nd Gens.
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Cynic: A blackguard whose faulty vision see things as they are, not as they should be. Ambrose Bierce
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Old August 21, 2012, 02:05 PM   #21
MogrenE
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Fingers: Thank you for the clarification.

I've seen on other discussion threads complaints about the fit and action of 3rd generation Colts. You comment makes me wonder if those guns were put together with the left-over Colt parts and mis-identified as 3rd gen guns.
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Old August 21, 2012, 03:42 PM   #22
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Yes, Fingers is right. Sorry about the misinformation.
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Old August 21, 2012, 06:00 PM   #23
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I will defend the 3rd Generation Signature Series Colts till the day I find a bad one. I have two and they are as good as they come.
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Old August 21, 2012, 07:15 PM   #24
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While I've never owned a Sig Series Colt, I know a few people that have, and I've seen and handled a bunch of them. The fit and finish of every one I've seen and handled is excellent and the polish and blueing is equal to any high end custom. In every instance, those that I know that have used them have had nothing bad to say about them The actions have all been smooth. They are very nice purty guns. As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing wrong with them. When I started collecting C&Bs, I went with the 2nd Gens because there was a lot more information about them, known quantities, and history, and the fact that Colt's would lettter them. Even now, here isn't a whole lot of info about how many Sig Series guns were actually made. Maybe once I get all of the 2nd Gens, I'll start on the Sig Series.
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Fingers (Show Me MO smoke) McGee - AKA Man of Many Colts - Alter ego of Diabolical Ken; SASS Regulator 28564-L-TG; Rangemaster and stage writer extraordinaire; Frontiersman, Pistoleer, NRA Endowment Life, NMLRA, SAF, CCRKBA, STORM 327, SV115; Charter member, Central Ozarks Western Shooters
Cynic: A blackguard whose faulty vision see things as they are, not as they should be. Ambrose Bierce

Last edited by Fingers McGee; August 21, 2012 at 10:36 PM.
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Old August 21, 2012, 08:30 PM   #25
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Hands down, the 2nd Generations are the most authentic "modern" BP revolvers. They're COLTS. I've handled several and was impressed. I see the 3rd Generations as a gun someone might have brought into a gunsmith's shop back in the day and said, "Make it fancy." I know the Signature Series aren't "authentic" Colts but I haven't met one I didn't like for what it is.
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