Friday, November 5, 2010

Hank Williams Jr. Colt SAA 1st Gen. goes custom via Hamilton Bowen

I've seen a lot of "firsts" in firearms since I started working at a gun shop almost two years ago. This week, I saw two firsts in one, my first Colt Single Action Army 1st Generation Revolver and my first former Hank Williams Jr. gun.

The Colt SAA is probably the most famous firearm ever made, according to Bluebook:
One of the most well known handguns, and certainly the most collected revolver in the world, the Colt Single Action Army has been produced almost continuously since 1873, with only a minor interruption between 1940 and 1955. It is without a doubt, the most copied revolver with over fifteen clones currently in production.

Better known as the "Peacemaker", this firearm has appreciated in value at an accelerated rate over the last fifty years. Spurred by the popularity of television westerns in the 1950s and 60s, a standard pre-war, 1st generation single action in excellent condition has gone from $250 in 1960 to approximately $8,000 today, and in some cases much higher.
The Colt SAA .44 Special 1st Generation with Bisley grip frame the gun shop purchased is in excellent condition, but it's probably not worth the Bluebook value, which in the case of all Colt pistols, is usually quite a bit lower than market prices. This one has been customized, which is pretty close to blasphemy to Colt collectors, but on the other hand the connection to Hank Williams Jr. may well offset that with its value to Hank Jr. fans as well as Colt fans.

The story on this Colt begins with gun writer Mike Venturino, who gave Hank Jr.'s fax number to John Bivins of Charleston, S.C., as a possible source for a Colt .44 Special revolver that he wanted to purchase and customize. Venturino is a long-time friend of Hank Jr. and has written numerous articles about Williams' gun collection.

This SAA Colt was purchased from Hank Jr. in 1999 by Bivins, who directed Williams to send it directly to Hamilton Bowen of Bowen Classic Arms in Louisville, Tenn., for some custom work. It arrived at Bowen's shop with a 5.5" barrel, which was replaced with a 7.5" EMF barrel, and here it is.
Bowen also did quite a bit of other custom work, including installing Micro adjustable target sights front and rear, gold-plated trigger with overtravel-screw adjustment, custom wood grips, replacing hammer/trigger springs, action tuning, stamping Colt rollmarks on the EMF barrel and rebluing the entire gun.

The original 5.5" Colt barrel was sent back to Williams by Bowen at Bivins' request.
At some later date after his 1999 purchase and custom work, Bivins sold the Colt and we purchased it from a third party. One thing I've learned at the gun shop is that customized guns are hardly ever worth what "stock" ones are, and usually the value drops precipitously. In this case, if it was still in original condition, we'd probably be asking more than $10,000 for this 1st Generation SAA, even if it had no connection to Hank Jr.

We're asking $4,500 for it and only time will tell whether some Colt fan and/or Hank Williams fan will buy it.

1 comment:

BobG said...

Nice looking gun. I have a Bisley 38-40 that was manufactured in 1894, still shoots great.