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Old October 27, 2020, 10:53 AM   #1
Classic12
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Colt SAA or USFA ?

I’ve been staying away from Colt SAA for over 30 years. I guess I was more attracted to more modern semi auto designs and DA revolvers.

However two ads popped up and triggered my curiosity. I’ve always been fairly eclectic and curious when it comes to firearms, I’m always happy to try different guns of all kinds, from the weirdest .22 to the biggest 44/45 such as the AutoMag and Grizzly.

So there’s this Colt SAA 7.5 inches in .357 for sale, very good condition with box, serial nbr SA 31631 made in 1986







And this USFA 7.5 inches in .45 Colt with box, fired only 24 shots according to seller, built 2011 or after







I am not familiar with either obviously.

I think the .45 Colt is truer to this gun, but the .357 Mag ammo is widely available at reasonable prices here, whereas the .45 Colt will be harder to find and pricier

I like all thinks Colt so I’m biased there, but I’ve read that USFA produced nice guns. The colour casing on the Colt seems very nice but so does the deep blueing on the USFA. Both grips are unimpressive

Both are priced similarly, ard $ 1300 or so (and I’m in Switzerland)

What’s everyone thoughts / experience? (And no I won’t get both).

TIA
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Old October 27, 2020, 11:07 AM   #2
Jim Watson
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Random thoughts:
I think the USFA is every bit as good quality as a Colt but lacks the history.
The company is out of business.

.357 (and .38 Special) ammunition is less expensive than factory .45 Colt.
A .357 SAA is a heavy gun, smaller holes in barrel and cylinder.
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Old October 27, 2020, 11:20 AM   #3
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USFA for quality, Colt if you want a name.
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Old October 27, 2020, 12:37 PM   #4
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I can understand not getting both, but my question is, why get either??

Wanting a "traditional" Single action is reason enough, of course, but if you have desires beyond that, there might be other choices to consider.

If the choice is only between the two, and the price is the same buy the Colt. It has the name. Both guns are modern made, so there's no "historical" $ value to either. Both are equally "wild west" SAA authentic fully faithful to the Colt SAA design though modern made.

.45 Colt is the traditional round (and the original) followed by the .44-40 and .38-40. If being the most wild west period correct is important to you, that may make the difference.

I've handled and shot a number of Colt SAAs and clones, but never owned any, as my personal preference is for the new model Ruger Blackhawk.

Between the two choices you have, if future resale or trade value matters to you, the prestige of the Colt name is worth more to many people.

Not to me, but I'm not them.

(also, if at some point down the road you can get a Colt .45 cylinder and barrel, a good gunsmith can convert the .357 and then you have the best of both in the traditional sense)
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Old October 27, 2020, 03:26 PM   #5
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Looking at them both as a machine the USFA is a better built and fitted revolver as you can even see in the photos. They also have increased in value on the market. I’ve handled both and bought the USFA years ago. Still works perfectly after many rounds in matches and casual shooting.
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Old October 27, 2020, 04:28 PM   #6
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Be aware the Colt has aftermarket grips, nice but not original, if that matters to you.

I'm not really very enthusiastic about small bores, so would tend to prefer the USFA in .45 Colt caliber.

Personally, for the price range you quote, I much would rather have good target sights, as on a New Frontier Colt, or a Ruger Blackhawk.

But it either fits you bill or fare, you alone have to decide.

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Old October 27, 2020, 05:54 PM   #7
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If you were comparing two, 7.5" .45s, I'd say get the Colt.
That's the classic version of a classic, and I'd want "the real thing".

A buddy has a USFA .45, and it is a really nice gun.
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Old October 27, 2020, 06:35 PM   #8
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If you are looking for a shooter, I would go with the USFA. If you are buying one more as a collector, I might lean toward the Colt. Both are great guns.
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Old October 27, 2020, 06:50 PM   #9
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I have a Turnbull Open range in 45 colt built on a USFA frame. It is superior in fit and finish to a Colt SAA. Mechanically it is outstanding.
Buy the Colt to show your friends, the USFA to shoot, and get a Ruger if you really, really want to shoot a ton!
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Old October 27, 2020, 07:24 PM   #10
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It was said, back when they were active, that USFA made a better Colt than Colt. That said, 2011 was the year they stopped making SAA firearms and shifted to whatever that awful thing was that put them out of business. Especially in Europe, where SAA examples probably don't grow on trees, I would prefer any genuine Colt over a USFA going-out-of-business model from near the end of production. It's possible that they maintained top tier quality control right to the end, but it's also possible that they didn't.
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Old October 28, 2020, 10:13 AM   #11
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Colt, mainly because I have one (.357 - made in 1979).
Attached Images
File Type: jpeg E4A45C79-E5E6-45F1-983E-BBA44FE2FA80.jpeg (92.2 KB, 31 views)
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Old October 28, 2020, 12:52 PM   #12
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1,200px × 1,066px is too big.
Colt or USFA is mostly about your budget. However, if you want a BNIB revolver, it'll be a Colt as USFA is gone as of 2017.
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Old October 28, 2020, 01:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. O'Heir
Colt or USFA is mostly about your budget. However, if you want a BNIB revolver, it'll be a Colt as USFA is gone as of 2017.
The company dissolved in 2017, but they made the last SAA replicas in 2011 or early 2012 (Wikipedia says 2011). At that time, the owner of the company sold off the SAA tooling in order to purchase plastic injection molding equipment to manufacture a new firearm of (apparently) his own design called the ZIP 22. The ZIP 22 was a marketplace failure. Production ended in 2014, followed by the dissolution of the company in 2017.

That's why I consider the USFA example being asked about to be a big risk. I don't know if USFA maintained their tight quality control until the end of production, or if the owner's attention had already shifted to the ZIP 22 and quality may have been allowed to decline. Personally, I would not take the chance. I think USFA SAA replicas have some value in the United States among cognoscenti but I don't know if they have the same reputation in Europe. I think the Colt has a much better chance of maintaining its value over time.
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Old October 28, 2020, 06:48 PM   #14
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Quote:
Colt, mainly because I have one
If I already had one, the choice would be clear: the USFA (and I'd probably pick it even if I didn't already have a Colt).
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Old October 30, 2020, 08:30 AM   #15
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First, we should point out that the Colt SAA came in three generations and that early models were very well made. In the mid 1980s Colt's quality nose-dived. A second generation SAA in .45 Colt is a nice gun but just to shoot, I am every bit as happy with a cheap Ruger New Vaquero in .357.





This is some interesting literature:

https://americanhandgunner.com/our-e...e-action-army/
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Old October 30, 2020, 10:05 AM   #16
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A reasonable idea. Who is the Ruger dealer in Switzerland?
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Old October 30, 2020, 10:35 AM   #17
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Colt SAA’s are as beautiful as it gets.
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Old October 31, 2020, 10:00 AM   #18
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In the 1980's, Colt quality was seriously hit or miss with a lot of misses. The one in the picture above being a good example of a miss. The polishing is terribly overdone and there's no telling what other gremlins are hiding in there. The USFA is a far better gun than any third generation Colt but especially one from the 80's. Prices are low on both guns so it's a matter of what is more important to you. A significantly higher quality firearm or one with the Colt name.
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Old November 2, 2020, 07:51 PM   #19
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The USFA in your pictures is USFA's Cowboy model and is one of USFA's all USA parts revolvers. They were CNC machined from 4140 solid bar tool steel and there are no investment cast parts on the revolver. At their current price range $1300 is a very good price for a USFA in very good to excellent condition as the one in your photo looks to be.

The Colt is a 3rd generation made during a time when their quality lacked a lot to be desired.

If I wanted a gun that has both quality and will shoot till the cows come home it would be the USFA, but I am biased as I own seven of them and wish I had more.

Last edited by Straitshot; November 2, 2020 at 08:12 PM.
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Old November 2, 2020, 08:35 PM   #20
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I'll join several others in saying USFAs are better guns than 3rd Generation Colts and in the case of the all USA parts guns, better than 2nd generation Colts. I owned and shot (black powder) five 1st Generation SAAs back in the 1980s and 1990s. Had to sell them to start a business. Now in my retirement I own seven all US parts USFA single actions.

Pay your money and live with your decision.

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Old November 3, 2020, 05:51 PM   #21
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The USFA is nicer but the Colt is a Colt. .38 special is just a smidgy bit longer than a .38 Long Colt which is an original Colt cartridge since 1875 if being historical means anything. I'd get the Colt and put a set of Colt grips back on it.
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Old November 4, 2020, 11:49 AM   #22
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Quote:
,,,,,,,,but the Colt is a Colt.
That obviously means different things to different people. To me it means that the Colt was built in the 1980's and looks like the grip frame and main frame were polished separately. Plus it's a 357mag, not a 38. If there is one chambering that is the antithesis to everything the SAA is supposed to be, that is it.
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Old November 7, 2020, 10:12 AM   #23
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If it isn't an actual Colt, when the sun sets, it's still just a copy.
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Old November 7, 2020, 11:09 AM   #24
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In this case I'd go with the USFA if I was looking. The caliber is right, and the USFA is the same as Colt internally and externally... except for assembler. USFA was known for 'good'/'excellent' products.
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Old November 9, 2020, 04:45 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rclark View Post
In this case I'd go with the USFA if I was looking. The caliber is right, and the USFA is the same as Colt internally and externally... except for assembler. USFA was known for 'good'/'excellent' products.
Actually the USFA frame and cylinder are slightly larger than a Colt as USFA made their revolvers closer to Uberti dimensions. If I am correct I do not believe a USFA cylinder will fit into a Colt frame but a Colt cylinder will fit into a USFA frame. Internal parts may or may not be interchangeable without some fitting having to be done. I believe Uberti internal parts will interchange with minimal fitting. I am not a gunsmith so certainly no expert in the matter. This information is what I have gleaned from others that have much more expertise than me.
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