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View Full Version : Picked up a .40 caliber Colt wheelgun the other day.


Timber Wolf
December 04, 2008, 21:28
An old .38-40 SAA actually. Hard to believe I have been “collecting” guns for 35 years and really like old Colt revolvers but just now got a “Peacemaker”. To be honest, it is the first one I have ever even had in my hand! Just lucked into it. A casual acquaintance (older fellow) inherited it from his dad and did not want to leave it to his kids. His exact words were “they would just sell it, and if it is going to be sold then I will do it”. We have been talking about it for a year and he just this week made up his mind to “pull the trigger” on the sale. I did not argue and wrote the check for his asking price which was close to twice what I have ever paid for a gun before and yet still about half what it is worth.

So, what did I get? A really nice early 1920s (1st generation) 7 ½” .38-40 SAA, 45 rounds of old (early sixties) Remington factory ammo, a single cavity bullet mold, and an old Winchester brand nut-cracker type reloading tool. I did not yet get the Colt factory letter his dad ordered up back in 1963 on the gun, but he is looking for it. Gun is interesting as to condition. The grip, frame, and cylinder are pristine. And I do mean really, REALLY nice, I took it to my FFL buddy and I thought he was going to wet himself as he eased it out of the sock it was in and saw the grip end first. The barrel and ejector rod housing are however not so nice having had 50% of the bluing worn or eaten off by bad storage. The front site is also flat-topped having been filed sometime in the past. I hope it shoots to point of aim as-is.

Anyway, it has come to a new home and will be very comfortable with my even older .38-40 Colt New Service and .38-40 Marlin 94 rifle. I am ashamed to say I have not shot any of them, but that is going to change soon. I can’t believe my good fortune in blundering into a SAA in the exact caliber I would have picked given the chance!

Retired Bum
December 04, 2008, 22:12
It sounds like you did very well for youself on the Colt SAA. The .38-40 was the third most popular chambering for the SAA after the .45 Colt and .44-40 WCF.

The original blackpowder load consisted of a 180 grain flatnosed lead bullet over 40 grains of BP. In the 7.5 inch barrel, muzzle velocity was rated at 975 fps. It gave good penetration and almost the same energy as the .44-40.

I had been wanting a .38-40 revolver for some years and then I found one of the Ruger "Buckeye Special" convertible Blackhawk revolvers at a local gunshop. It had both .38-40 and 10mm Auto cylinders and was still NIB. I bought and then started "tooling" for it by acquiring a set of Lee dies, new unprimed W-W brass, and an expensive box of factory 180 gr JSP ammo. I had three bullet molds for assorted .40 designs and was good to go.

The W-W factory load chrono'd at 930 fps out of the 6.5 inch barrel. Not too shabby for such an old load. I worked up loads with the cast bullets and finally settled on one using a 200 gr truncated cone design that I load in the 10mm. Accuracy was excellent at 25 yards once I got the sights adjusted.

I hope you do shoot the Colt and enjoy it not only as a product of a bygone era, but as a shooter as well.

And so it goes.


The Retired One

Timber Wolf
December 05, 2008, 06:11
That Buckeye is a nice gun. I had an opportunity to buy either or both of two, NIB years ago at a small gun shop but left with a Savage Model 99 in .358 and a nickel High Standard .22 Mag. derringer instead. His price escapes me now but it was right and he would have made a real deal had I taken both, oh well. The funny part is I was into 10mm then and that was the reason I was interested in the Ruger back then but now would love to have it for the .38-40! I will shoot an enjoy the SAA. It is nice enough to be proud of but not so nice (or old) to be scared to shoot it. I have a couple of boxes of that high dollar WW ammo to shoot and then will start reloading. Maybe I will try to reload two or three rounds on the old nut-cracker.:D If I can figure it out!