View Full Version : opinions on my 1878 Colt DA.
picked this Gem up last nite, late production 1878 Colt DA, in 32-20..nice crisp action, times well for a Colt, nice pearl grips, finish is nice for a pistol over 100 years old.
serial number 50579 i belive thats 1903..slight ring in the barrel. not deap and you have to look real hard to see it, but its there..brite bore..if i had a box of 32-20...id take her out and shoot.
thought about getting a Colt letter, but 100.00 and a 5 week wait seems like a bit much.
i did some research, they only made 970 model 1878 Da,s in 32-20..and offered pearl grips as an option...think a letter would increase its resale value enough to spend and wait?
Beautiful old Colt......and it works!!! If it were an 1877 I don't think I'd shoot it no matter how nice it was, those little guns are just too fragile. This 1878 might be worth putting a few rounds through. I have a buddy who feels that the .32-20 is about the only .32 really worth it's salt, of course he said that before the new .327 magnum came out.
It's a valuable enought gun, since it's in working condition, that it might be worthwhile to you to get that Colt letter.
It's a crap shoot on the letters. Most were shipped to hardware stores which add nothing to the value. Collectors use to say that if you got a letter on a Colt SAA that said it was shipped to Simmons Hardware Co. in St. Louis, Missouri, tear it up and let the next owner think maybe it went to the Copper Queen Mining Co.
Colt was running three or four months behind in getting letters out.
The letter will probably show the grips as not listed. Grips appear to be aftermarket since they don't have the Colt medallions.
A little off topic but Colt letters can be interesting. I remember reading an article a long time ago about Bat Mastersons guns. He ordered straight from Colt and his revolvers with one exception were nickle plated 4 3/4" or 5 1/2" Colt Single Action Armys with black hard rubber (gutta percha) grips. He ordered a new one every two to three years. The one exception to his nickle plated guns was a blued one with hard rubber grips. The information for the article came directly from Colt and of course dosen't include any he might have bought from a place like "Simmons Hardware."
Any he bought from Simmons Hardware will forever remain unidentified.
just had a Colt buddy tell me that 14 of these came with factory Pearl grips. the way these fit and match the gun, i wouldnt be suprised if they are original.
Whatever, that is a really, really nice piece! And in .32 WCF yet! I would shoot it, too, and I have some .32-20.
There was bound to have been 14 1878's that came from the factory with pearl grips as there was almost 200 factory engraved Model 1878 revolvers, and a high percentage of those came with pearl grips.
im still researching the pistol, i picked it up to resale it, if it had military or police markings id hang onto it.. not much of a Colt wheel gun guy,,but i like money..and im sure it will fetch that lol..it is one of the nicer vintage Colts iv owned.
Johnny, did the pearl grips on these even have medallions? Have never seen one with these grips before.........
Wilson's book on Colt firearms places that serial number in the 1904 range.Trying to make comparisons of the grips pictured in that book with yours it appears the screw escutcheons in yours are different than those pictured but it is hard to tell as the pictures are in b&w.The top of the grips appears cut differently also.If there were 14 with pearl grips from the factory,5 of them are pictured in Wilson's book,all engraved and nickel plated.The two I have,have the hard rubber grips so hard to make a comparison.Also noted was that shipments made after Oct.14,1898 had precautions against using smokeless powder.
I'd bet given the post-1900 manufacturing date that your piece was shipped to someone like Simmons Hardware,they were the biggest Colt wholesaler west of the Mississippi.I tend to agree with another collector on the value of getting a Colt letter given the cost,most of the guns of any notoriety have already been discovered.Unless it's a gun of significant value anyway it's a waste of time.I've been told if someone sends them a gun that turns out to be owned or provenaced to some famous or infamous person or shipped to a western dealer the cost of the letter goes up accordingly,sometimes in excess of $1000.
I forgot the amount of the price increase, but you are correct if the gun has "notoriety" attached...........it's huge.
i have Wilkersons book on the Colt DA...very nice book..yes, it puts this pistol 1904. some cool facts... 32 20 cal, is pretty rare in itself..only 970 total were shipped. 305 were blued 5 1/2 , with special stocks..blued 5 1/2 barrel, 1 with wood, and 1 with ivory, doesnt list pearl, so looks like these are an ad on..but likely Colt grips, as they match the color pictures in this book, if not, they are a perfect fit, with very nice age.
to find one in the condition of this pistol is rare as well, i have i have it listed on GB, that was my original plan anyway, if it was US martial marked or PD marked id likely keep it..
thanks for the honest imput...oh and too answer...no the pearl or ivory grips had no colt logo or medalion...
I looked at Gunbroker and didn't see yours. Saw this one though. He got a letter on his. Read it and you can see what Johnny P was talking about. Sure don't get much for $100.
thought about getting a letter, 100.00 for standard pistols, 200.00 for special order..and a 5 week turnaround.. if it were something i was in love with, i would have already jumped.. maybe the new owner will do so, and share then info with me.
my pistol came from Nebraska out of an estate likely it has was sold in that same area when new, i have purchased a few Colts from the family, next couple weeks they are trucking the rest of his gun stuff for me here, they have plans for the home, and the gun parts pile isnt part of that plan, was told they have boxes and boxes of parts, barrel of barrels, stocks, tools, ect.. ill keep you all posted if anything comes up thats neet.
Several years back I bought a Colt SAA in a period holster. The Colt had been carried in the holster for a long time, but still retained about 50% original finish. I decided to gamble on the letter as the Colt was bought in Texas. When I received the letter it was shipped to a store in Los Angeles, California, and while the pistol had a 5 1/2 inch barrel, the letter indicated a 7 1/2 in barrel. I was 99% sure the barrel was original to the pistol and called a Colt SAA collector/dealer I knew. He said that it just happens occasionally when the pistol was recorded in the ledger it was recorded incorrectly. The letter was dropped in the trash.
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