View Full Version : Old Colt SAA Info?

T- Bone
January 4, 2006, 04:43 PM
I have a friend who inherited an old Colt single action. He was going to try to shoot it and I talked him out of it until I found out some information about it. It has the serial#490xx on the frame and what might be a HN above it. It is a 5 1/2 inch barrel. It has Pat Sept19,1871 July 2, 72 Jan,19 75 on the left side of the frame, and US stamped beside it. The number on the trigger guard does'nt match the one on the frame. It has what looks like could be J6T8 on the right side of the barrel. I can't actually find anything that says Colt or the symbol anywhere on it, but I didn't have a magnifier handy. The grips were wooden and someone had tried thier hand at checkering them. Does anyone know what He may have?

T- Bone
January 6, 2006, 09:59 AM
Somebody with antique colt knowledge, please help me out?

January 6, 2006, 10:19 AM
Not an expert.
If it's a Single Action Army, it was made in 1879, according to Wilson.
Military models (US) should have 7.5 inch barrels.
The stock should have an inspector's cartouche.
US issue was in caliber .45 Colt.
The barrel should have the maker's (Colt) address stamp.

January 6, 2006, 10:33 AM
I afraid it's going to take a picture or two to identify this one. What are the full dates on the frame.?
It sounds like it's pretty well worn if you can't find any writing other than what you posted. Until it is identified, I wouldn't try shooting it. If it is a Colt, it could be too valuable and, with that serial number, would be a black powder frame and not safe with smokless. If not a Colt, who knows?


Jim Watson
January 6, 2006, 10:44 AM
If it is a real Colt, SN 49,000 was made in early 1879. It is a black powder gun and shooting it with modern smokeless ammunition is not usually recommended.

The 5 1/2" barrel and "US" on the left side of the frame are characteristic of the "Artillery Model." Original 7 1/2" "Cavalry Models" were sent back to Colt or Springfield Arsenal 1895 - 1903 where the barrels were shortened and the guns overhauled and refinished. Non-matching serial numbers on different parts are correct, they did not keep each individual gun's parts together throughout the overhaul. "HN" might be the inspector's initials, I don't have the reference books to check that out. I don't know what the stamp of "J6T8" means. Checkering on the grips was probably done by some later owner for better grip on an army surplus revolver.

The bad part is the lack of a barrel address. If there is a Colt SAA that was not originally marked "Colt's Pt. F.A. Mfg. Co., Hartford, Ct, USA" on top of the barrel, I can't find mention of it. Even the Italian copies have something there just to look right at a glance. Was the barrel polished smooth at the rebuild? Was it replaced with a non-factory part sometime? I don't know. It is too obvious an omission, an intentional fake would be properly marked.

They did not start using the "horsie" trademark until later.

James K
January 6, 2006, 10:15 PM
Well, HN is the mark of Henry Nettleton, a Springfield Armory sub-inspector assigned to Colt. That and the "US" definitely indicate a military revolver, and the 5 1/2" barrel could well be the result of the "Artillery model" conversion. The absence of barrel markings is uncommon but if a barrel was badly rusted on the outside but good inside, they might well have polished it down during the rebuild, especially at Springfield, which would have no particular interest in making sure Colt's name was not defaced.

Could the barrel marking be either J.T.T. or J.E.H.? Both were inspecting arms at Springfield in the 1901-1902 timeframe when some of those SAA's were rebuilt once again for issue to the Philippines. J.T.T. would be (then) Capt John Taliaferro Thompson, of "Tommy Gun" fame; J.E.H. would be Capt. Jay E. Hoffer. They are also the people who designed the Hoffer-Thompson device to allow firing .22 Short cartridges in an altered Model 1903 rifle.

All in all, an interesting gun, with, I think, a potential to be quite valuable.

T- Bone
January 9, 2006, 10:29 AM
Wow, I knew there was a wealth of knowledge here! I will try to get some pictures, and post them. Do you think the letter from Colt would have any information if this gun actually went back to the Springfield armory for the post manufacturer modifications? The gun is missing the ejector rod And tube, any ideas where he may find authenic replacement parts? I think he found something on the net, coltparts.com, or something like that, I don't know if he has been in contact with them yet, though. I truly appreciate all of your help with this.

James K
January 9, 2006, 10:12 PM
If you are willing to consider Colt parts as "authentic" enough, they are easy enough to find. If you definitely want parts that are closer to the original, you might try U.S. Firearms Co., which builds replicas of the older Colts and whose parts might come closer to the original than modern Colt parts.

I think a Colt factory letter now costs about $130; whether they could tell you for sure about that gun you wouldn't know until they respond.