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Top Selling Guns | May 2024

Colt's Single Action Army appeals to blue-collar shooters and blue-chip investors alike.

Top Selling Guns | May 2024

Looking over the most recent statistics from GunBroker.com's Top Selling Report, presented by GunGenius.com, you might have noticed a bit of a single-action surprise. Both new and used Colt Single Action Army revolvers show up in top spots this month in the revolver category, with new condition guns taking the number five spot and used ones topping the list in the number one spot.

Given the long-running popularity of the model, it’s not really a surprise that they’re on the list, but what really stood out was just how far a jump new condition guns made. They rose from 34th on the list last month to fifth on the list this month. That’s a huge leap - but why? To understand that, you’ve got to understand just how deep these revolver roots run, from blue-collar shooters to blue-chip investors.

Colt’s Single Action Army celebrated its 150th anniversary last year in 2023. With the exception of a wartime hiatus in the 1940s that lasted into the mid-50s, the gun has been in constant production with more than 500,000 produced to date.

Despite the fact that little has changed in the design, the gun that’s also known as the Model P and the Peacemaker actually exists in three distinct time periods known to collectors as generations. First-generation guns were made from 1873 to 1941. Second-generation models were made from 1956 to 1975. Third-generation production began in 1976 and is what they’re still making in Hartford today.

Colt Single Action Army revolver
Author's second-generation Colt Single Action Army (SAA) revolver from 1956. (Photo courtesy of Logan Metesh)

Production of first-generation Single Action Army revolvers only stopped due to the United States’ entrance into World War II in 1941 and Colt’s need to focus on M1911A1 pistols. When the war ended, however, Colt was in little hurry to restart production, and in 1949, they announced that production was done for good.

The 1950s ushered in the era of the western on the silver screen, and with it came a renewed interest in all things cowboys. By 1955, the company answered the public’s call to bring the guns back and production resumed in 1956. The second generation of the Single Action Army was essentially a continuation of the first generation. Manufacturing stayed the same and many of the parts are interchangeable. The easiest way to identify a second-generation gun is by the serial number. First-generation guns will bear only numbers, while second-generation guns have an “SA” suffix.

By 1975, the cowboy craze had subsided and the now-100-year-old machinery used to produce the Peacemaker had seen better days. Once again, production was halted, but only so the factory could be retooled. Guns were again being made in 1976 starting with serial number 80000SA, which is regarded as the first gun of the third generation.

The continued use of an “SA” suffix on third-generation guns between 1976 and 1978 has caused some confusion among collectors regarding the generations, but in 1978, they switched to an “SA” prefix. In the early 1990s, they switched to an “S” prefix and an “A” suffix.

Little Joe Cartwright's Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army Revolver
Little Joe Cartwright's Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army Revolver from the western television series 'Bonanza.' (Photo courtesy of Logan Metesh)

You can still get a brand new Single Action Army revolver, but they’re only available on special order. All the myriad options for caliber, finish, and grips are gone. They’re currently only offered in .45 Colt with case-hardened frames, blued barrels and cylinders, and black hard rubber grips with the rampant Colt logo and eagles. You can, however, still choose the barrel length. Choices are 4.75”, 5.5”, and 7.5” and the price is $1,799.

For further variation, you’ve got to go through the Colt Custom Shop, where base models start at $3,450.

As first-generation gun prices have skyrocketed into the stratosphere in many cases, second-generation guns have become highly collectible. They maintain much of the same collectible variety as their predecessors in terms of calibers, barrel lengths, grips, and finishes. Accessories like original boxes and paper pamphlets greatly increase the value, with boxes fetching hundreds of dollars.

Regardless of the generation, condition remains king. Guns in rougher shape that are often considered “shooter grade” and are generally seen as used guns can still be had for a relatively reasonable sum of money.

High-condition guns, which exist in all generations, can still be considered as new guns by collectors so long as the condition is truly there. With most people rating the economy as uncertain at best, the high ranking of Single Action Army revolvers on the May 2024 list shows what collectors have known for a very long time: a high-quality Peacemaker is always a good investment. Like blue chip stocks, they continue to perform almost without fail.

Case in point: GunBroker.com recently announced their Collectors Elite Auctions, where you’ll find the finest luxury guns and collectibles for the discerning collector. In the inaugural sale that runs from June 6 to June 20, there are no less than 15 Single Action Army revolvers among the listings. Many are engraved by master engravers, some sport exotic grips like giraffe bone, others yet are gold-plated or inlaid, one is a special 150th-anniversary model, and there are even consecutively serialized pairs, among others. Also of note, there are six Colt Pythons and two Colt King Cobras in the mix, both of which also occupy spots in the top five for revolvers this month. The M1 Garand, which holds the top spot for used semi-auto rifles, also showed up in the Collectors Elite Auctions. One is a collectible M1D sniper variant and the other is a commemorative M1 that comes with sand from the Normandy beaches where the D-Day invasion took place on June 6, 1944. Fittingly, this first sale also starts on June 6.

Top Selling Guns Sold in May 2024

Source: gungenius.com/top-selling/

To learn more or shop for any of the guns listed, visit Gun Genius at www.gungenius.com/top-selling.

Editor's note: In the report, guns are rated from one to five within each category, with the number one gun being the most popular that month. The numbers are color-coded to show any changes in the ranks from the previous report.

Black = Steady
Green = Up
Red = Down

Source: gungenius.com/top-selling/

To learn more or shop for any of the guns listed, visit Gun Genius at www.gungenius.com/top-selling.

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