Custom Colt Single Action Army 1st Gen SAA 38 Special Revolver 1876 Antique
SOLD FOR: $4114
Model: Custom Single Action Army, 1st Generation
Serial Number: 25009
Year of Manufacture: The frame was made in 1876, the revolver was most likely altered in the 1950s when conversion to .38 Special became possible and popular.
Caliber: .38 Special (note: this revolver has a black powder frame and may not be safe to fire with standard smokeless cartridges)
Action Type: Single Action Revolver with Side Loading Gate Cylinder
Markings: The left of the barrel is marked “COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY .38 SPECIAL”, the right is marked “COLT’S MFG. CO. HARTFORD, CT. U.S.A.”. The left of the frame is marked “PAT. SEPT. 19. 1781 / PAT. JULY. 2. 1872.” and with “U.S” (the U.S marking is not genuine). The bottom of the frame is marked “25009”. The trigger guard is marked “144012” and the butt is marked “144 / 012”. The rear of the loading gate has assembly number “5170”. The rear face of the cylinder is marked with a rampant colt logo, the front face is marked “0”.
Barrel Length: 5 1/2″
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a blade fixed to the front of the barrel. The rear sight is a “V”-notch at the rear of a groove in the top strap.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are two-piece smooth walnut panels. The grips have some scattered nicks and scratches, mostly minor, and general light handling wear. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grips are in Very Good condition as not original to the gun.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: Refinished, the barrel, cylinder, grip frame and likely other small parts are not original to the frame.
Bore Condition: The bore is bright and the rifling is sharp. There is no erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This revolver retains about 20% of its current metal finish. Most remaining finish is in the left flats of the trigger guard and the top of the backstrap. Most other surfaces have worn to white, showing old, worn cold blue and some minor discoloration from oxidation. There are scattered nicks, scuffs and scratches. The frame shows surface erosion scattered throughout, including around the cylinder. The head of the cylinder bushing has heavy wear and erosion, but the shaft of the bushing is in pretty good shape. Several screw heads are sharp and likely replacements. Other screw heads show tool use but have serviceable slots. The markings range from clear to worn and incomplete. Overall, this revolver is in Very Good condition as refinished and customized Antique.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The trigger is crisp. The cylinder has very little rotational play when locked and has a little end-shake, likely due to the wear on the removable bushing. The trigger is light and crisp. We did not fire this revolver. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None.
Our Assessment: Colt’s Single Action Army is, perhaps more than any other, an iconic American pistol. It was the U.S. issue sidearm for the last two decades of the 19th century, used by pioneers, outlaws and lawmen across the expanding nation, and captivated audiences on the silver screen and television (and still does, today). This example has been custom-built on a “black-powder” frame made in 1876. The frame has this designation by collectors as it was made before the SAA frames were specifically designed and made with materials which would put up with the use of smokeless powder. Nonetheless, someone updated the revolver with a .38 Special barrel and cylinder, likely in the 1950s when such upgrades were popular. The revolver shows its age, though we suspect that the barrel and cylinder have been artificially “antiqued” to better resemble the frame. Someone has also applied a “U.S” marking to the frame, though we have found no records of U.S. Model 1873s in the 20,000-30,000 serial range. The result is a revolver which is interesting and unique. You may wish to replace the cylinder bushing, but once that is done its great bore and strong mechanics should make for a fun shooter with black powder .38 Special loads. Please see our photos and good luck!