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Old January 21, 2013, 03:14 PM   #1
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Was the quality of Colt in the eighties bad?

I've been looking for a single action 22 for fun target practice, and I've been looking at a Ruger Single Six or Ten. But I also stumbled upon this Colt on Gunbroker:

Although it looks overpriced, it looks really nice and its brand new with the box. Would this be a good alternative to a Single Six/Ten? I've heard that Colt made some pretty bad stuff during this time due to the strikes. Would it be too much of a risk to get this revolver? Thanks!
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Old January 22, 2013, 12:24 AM   #2
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You can't buy guns based on the year made, guns aren't vintages of wine. There are no "good" or "bad" years just good or bad guns.
During the 80's Colt strike quality did fluctuate, but Colt made far more good guns then bad, and everyone else's quality was down too.

When you buy any gun new or old you run a risk of getting a lemon.
I'd suggest making sure the seller offers a standard three day inspection period, and make sure the three days don't start the instant your Dealer gets it.
If it does, make sure the Dealer will let you check it over in the store.
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Old January 22, 2013, 06:52 AM   #3
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Was the quality of Colt in the eighties bad?
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Old January 22, 2013, 07:57 AM   #4
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Was the quality of Colt in the eighties bad?
Kind of a blanket statement and it ain't necessarily so. I have a 1984 production Colt single action that I bought NIB a couple of years ago. The fit and finish on it look as good as any other Colt single action I have seen. It is reasonably accurate (I can't see that well anymore) and has as good a trigger as the second generation Colts I have handled.

All that being said, I would not recommend buying any gun without inspecting it first.
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Old January 22, 2013, 11:15 AM   #5
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I know the Series 80 1911 was bottom of the barrel garbage. Couldn't sell it fast enough!
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Old January 22, 2013, 11:26 AM   #6
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There are no "good" or "bad" years just good or bad guns.
Not true. There is no doubt that certain year Winchester 94's were poor enough to classify them as bad years, same with some of the current Marlins, same with many guns. I suppose you would say that american auto companies were't making **** poor cars in the late 70's too? Guns are no different. Saying there was no bad years is like saying there are no bad designs.
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Old January 22, 2013, 11:31 AM   #7
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Within what DFariswheel says, which is quite true, and in my very limited experience, Colt revolvers tended to be very good in the early 80's. Autoloaders, not so much.
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Old January 22, 2013, 12:02 PM   #8
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Quality in the 80's wasn't great ...but you sure can't say that all Colt's made in that period were bad.

But I suggest you buy your guns thru a local dealer where you can inspect them carefully vs over the internet...unless they're new guns that you can't get locally for some reason.
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Old January 22, 2013, 12:10 PM   #9
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Let's get beyond the specific question. Those Colts are pretty, and the quality is good. But that gun is (IMHO) overpriced. Further, it is not untouched because it has drag marks.

The question for Rambutan is whether he wants a pretty gun to look at or a gun to shoot.

If he wants to use the gun, my advice is to buy a Ruger which will keep going about forever and not have any collector value to lose every time it is fired.

If he wants a nice gun for a collection and doesn't mind paying for the Colt name and appearance (and paying $800 for a $600 gun), then he should go with the Colt.

Jim K
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Old January 22, 2013, 01:20 PM   #10
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Thank you everyone for the help. It looks like I will pass up on this one. For a lot less money I can get a Single Six which will be a lot cheaper and probably more reliable, too. I went to the store the other day and handled a Single Six and it fit my hand perfectly. It's balance was great and I think it looks great too in stainless steel. I agree that its best for me to see a gun in person before buying, too. Thanks Jim, for also pointing out that cylinder line. I would have taken their word that it is brand new and would have missed seeing that detail.
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Old January 22, 2013, 03:04 PM   #11
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If you like the single six by all means buy it. But also pay attention to what dfariswheel said. He is 100% correct!
Mark Lane to William Buckley: "Have you ever referred to Jessee Jackson as an ignoramus?"
Buckley: "If I didn't, I should have"
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Old January 22, 2013, 03:35 PM   #12
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Dfariswheel is correct, sort of. There are no "good" or "bad" years in firearms production, not in specific companies or in general. But there are periods when a company, for whatever reasons, allows its quality control to slip or its production quality to decline. That might be due to worker morale, union problems, strikes, speeded up production, worn out machinery that can't be replaced, lack of liquid capital, and/or more.

The first quality control has to begin with the individual worker. He or she must spot the badly machined part, the wrong temperature in the heat treating, the poor polish job on the frame. By the time a product gets to final inspection, it becomes very expensive to fix problems and there is a tendency to "let it go."

What can companies do? The list of problems pretty well includes the solutions. But solutions are easy to determine, not so easy to implement, so we will continue to have "good" and "bad" periods. As an example, there has been a lot of criticism of a certain foreign company over QC issues. Their designs are first rate, their materials the best, their machinery world-class, yet their production workers and inspectors either are not motivated or aren't paid enough to really care about quality. The result is a large number of complaints, an overwhelmed Customer Service, and loss of repeat buyers.

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Old January 22, 2013, 03:45 PM   #13
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Colt indeed had some labor issues in the mid to late '80s that seemingly affected Q/A. I am more familiar with the auto line than the revolvers, but I can attest that many of the new guns that came my way needed a little work to get running right. Cosmetically, they looked OK, but functionally they could not compete with Springfield, whom I believe was probably their biggest competitor at the time.

In the early '90s, I remember Colt making a concerted and very public effort to turn this perception around once the labor issues were resolved and new management was in place. This was around the time Colt changed the 1911 product line a little with the introduction of the Enhanced models as well as the budget 1991.
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Old January 22, 2013, 09:50 PM   #14
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Colt's quality was not bad during the 1980's. Many fine DA revolvers were made during this time. Some of my favorite Diamondbacks were made during the 1980's. There were some lemons. I personally would buy the Ruger to shoot.
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Old January 22, 2013, 11:01 PM   #15
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If you are looking for a "user" revolver, get a Ruger and use the $ you save for ammo. The Colt is priced as a collector's item.
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Old January 22, 2013, 11:13 PM   #16
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colt quality

I worked in a GS part time in the 80s and I would have to say that quality was lacking not only at Colt, but S&W was putting out some real trash also. Had a Colt Trooper come through that had NO rifling at all, smooth as a babies butt. Had a Model 24 Smith that the front sight was canted way to the right. However I will say that all the Colt SAAs were damn near perfect. They seemed to take a lot of pride and care in making that gun.
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Old January 23, 2013, 11:34 AM   #17
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thats why it is important.....

to personally inspect every gun you are considering for purchase. All of the companies have gone thru some poor quality times.

I personally handled a Ruger Speed Six that looked absolutely gorgeous....upon closer inspection, the barrel had never had the bore cut in it! Solid block of steel! Everything else was functional.

Can you imagine the surprise if that thing was loaded up and fired by someone who didn't inspect the gun or wasn't familiar with revolvers at all?

The owner had a huge price on the revolver since it clearly was something special, but only as a conversation piece. It certainly wasn't a revolver!
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Old January 24, 2013, 05:43 PM   #18
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Guns, like the men and women that use them, are find the good and bad in any vintage. I've got a Series 80 Gold Cup that's a tack driver...but gotta be honest here...I prefer the ones made before the lawyer generated "fix" to the trigger mechanism. I'd not be put-off by the manuf. date...inspect, then decide.....Rod
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Old January 24, 2013, 09:46 PM   #19
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I own and shoot a couple of 80's Colts. A 1911 and a SAA. I like'em both. The 1911 was a cheap Colt, with a rough finish. Shoots great. Works fine. So does the SAA.
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Old January 26, 2013, 06:42 PM   #20
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The big 3 handgun makers had serious problems in the late 70s -early '80s. Lots of labor problems ,companies forced to hire unqualified workers.rapidly rising labor costs etc. Colt had the additional problem of ownership.Those of us who had to repair brand new guns had a very distastfull job .I set up a check list like an aircraft flight check. Compliants were frustrating to hear from new shooters .S&W was the worst, then Colt ,then Ruger .One cop friend checked a box of new S&Ws ,closed up the box returned them and ordered Rugers for his dept.
And Watson , bring your revolver !
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Old January 26, 2013, 08:25 PM   #21
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Bought a Series 70 Colt Combat Commander,

NIB, got home and racked the slide back and GLARED at the spring plunger housing flopped on the table.
Looked at the box the proudly proclaimed: "Proudly made by the UAW."

Local smith replace and staked in for $40, because of someone could do their job.

As said above the SAA were basically flawless.
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Old January 27, 2013, 01:39 PM   #22
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The late 70's and early 80's were high inflationary times. There was tremendous pressure to keep costs down. I bought a house in 1981 and many were paying 18-19% interest on home loans. Then they had the problem with labor. Everything was working against Colt (and sometimes they seemed to make some odd decisions). Law enforcement were transitioning to semi-autos things weren't so great for revolver manufacturers. Eventually by 1986 most of the old style DA revolvers were discontinued, but the Python and a few others remained. Colt had an ownership change in 1990 after declaring Chapter 11 in 1989 (as I recall).
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Old January 28, 2013, 08:36 PM   #23
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Old January 28, 2013, 11:18 PM   #24
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I saw some pretty bad Colts in the 80's and I actually think that had a lot to do with Kimber making such a quick rise to stardom...that and the fact that the early Kimbers were great guns and a great value.
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Old January 31, 2013, 08:51 PM   #25
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I bought a NIB bright stainless King Cobra that was extremely out of time out of the box. It was so bad it wouldn't fire during slow DA pulls.
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