Monday, October 28, 2019

Base USFA info?

The info presented on this blog is for my own use and  that of fellow USFA enthusiasts.   The info and the photos are copy righted material.     What it is not, is "free info" to be stolen and used by others for any commercial purpose including on their web sites like has been done brazenly done by Alex Hamilton,  of Tenring Precision in El Paso, TX.  Even after it was pointed out to Hamilton that he was using  our copy righted material, it still remains on his web site month's later.   It is knowingly theft.  Think about that if you ever need his services.

"All photos on my Web site are my own.....  However, once photos are published on the Internet they are public domain and can be used by anyone at any time.
 Alex B. Hamilton"

My photos and info published here on the blog years ago.  It is not public domain.

"One sure way of knowing if your USFA receiver is a Uberti or a “made in USA” USFA is to look at the pivoting area of the loading gate when the loading gate is open.  The Uberti frame loading gate has a gap at the three o’clock position and the USFA loading gate pivot area completely fills the area without a gap."

(USFA/USA on left)  (Uberti Frame on right)

Our original Shootist's blog photos that you'll see in an earlier post here.



The info you see here on the blog, could be organized better.  But the basic info of what USPFA or USAF gun will be all Italian parts , a combination of USA and Italian parts or just all USA parts should  be here and easy enough to find if you take a few minutes to look around.   I have looked at and examined in person and  well over 1000 USFA guns by now.   And been lucky enough to have recorded the serial numbers and seen detailed photos of many, many more.

A pair of my early USFA guns, with carved ivory,  that were mostly part Italian parts guns.  (although I didn't know it at the time)   Beautiful guns but nothing like USFA would produce later in their history.

My first USFA guns were purchased in 1999.  My first USFA, USA made guns in 2008.  I started gathering this info in 2009.   Turned out as USFA was closing its doors in  2011 I suddenly had a lot of free time on y hands and started seriously collecting what I could on USFA info and guns.  Later with the help of the CAS forum's membership and my own  gun purchases I was able to put a  extensive serial number catalog together.  Much of what I found useful for my own USFA collecting during those years is documented here. 

I didn't publish the info I had collected until 2013,  which was after I had bought the majority of my own  USFA collection, for obvious reasons.  Prices were already going out of sight for my meager pocket book.  And they continue to climb skyward to date.   I finally made some of the info public by 2013 here on the blog and have  updated that first info a number of times to what you see now in the 2015 post.    I've also added other info as I found a sub topic interesting within the USFA and previous USPFA gun when I thought it might be useful to others shooters and collectors.   Early on, after the end of production @ USFA I saw a lot of guns being sold for high prices that really couldn't be justified by the best of the USFA production quality.  I had hoped that a little knowledge would save others some of the heart break I experienced buying guns that I shouldn't have.  

As prices continue to climb on the secondary market here are a few things I have not found Italian guns to be  at the level of a all USFA made gun.   Please!  Buyer beware there.    The serial numbers pretty much tell that story if you bother to look and have the info.   available.   But there are other subtle details as noted within the text.  If you have a question I am happy to attempt an informed answer.

USFA likely did almost as many "one off" guns as they seemingly did production guns.  Not really but there are so many variations  it  might really pay to look closer and again..when you think you have something with the USFA logo.   I have learned to never, say never.  And  that if anyone actually knows all the details or was at USFA and USPFA prior for the duration they aren't talking, let alone writing it down for public consumption.    


(10/28/19)   Much to their chagrin it seems Standard has taken on the mantel, CNC machines, skilled personal and CNC progams.    I have one of the Standard guns in 45.  It is a nice gun no doubt.   But without question in my mind it is not, in my opinion, on the level of the best that USFA produced.  Details are missing.

I think the easy comparison would be 1st, 2nd and 3rd gen Colts.   Reverse the  idea and you have some thing similar  in current Uberti, Standard and USFA guns.   Not a perfect comparison but you can get  the idea if you are a collector or just a shooter of any of these guns.    Make sure you are getting what  you think you are paying for.

Current Ubertis (from Cimarron) in 44 Special and 32-20. (Spring 2019 production)   Guns that are hard not to like.  And frankly after rebuilding many Colts of all generations and a good many USFA guns I can say the Ubertis are  typically better timed (and easier to fix if they aren't) and  shoot to point of aim where a Colt seldom does either very well.   You want a gun to shoot?  Buy a Uberti or the Pietta.  The Pietta is  more keeping with a traditional Colt for parts and size.  Colt comparison?   Uberti, USFA and Standard are not a traditional Colt for parts or size of the guns.   Parts are for the most part interchangeable (might not be perfect but you can get a working firearm again)  between the last three mentioned.

I know this..…. having done just that on the guns.

32-20 Uberti

Three Uberti 44 Specials.

One of my favorite USFA guns  which started life as a USFA made Rodeo.  Matte blue Rodeos are the perfect basis for a engraving project.  I've only owned own USFA USA made gun that didn't shoot POA/POI.   They are generally exceptional shooters.  I have one I call the "Cutter" for its ability to cut playing cards at any distance I can see the edge of a playing card.

The "Cutter".

A classic pair of special order, USA made Rodeo II guns, NIB,  with Nutmeg ivory

And a pair of classic Colts being used as intended :)

I hope the info offered here helps the next guy!    Keep it on target and your powder dry :)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The earliest USPFA guns...

A quick look at the early USFA guns built from Uberti parts.

Back of the hammer with a small screw on the top of the hammer.

this is what a later gun will look like under the hammer

and the extra milling done on the earlier guns under the hammer for the hammer safety.

And the hammer that fits the early additional milling on the Ubert/USPFA frames.

These USPFA gun will typically have a P stamped above their Serial number on the frame.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Italian date stamps

Italian date stamps
Note! The stamp is not a part in the serial numbers, and it is normally found on Frame in [ ] brackets

Year Mark Year Mark     Year Mark   Year Mark   Year Mark   Year Mark  Year  Mark
1940        1953 IX       1966 XXII    1979 AE    1992 BB     2005 BZ     2018  CT
1941        1954 X        1967 XXIII   1980 AF    1993 BC    2006 CA     2019  CU
1942        1955 XI       1968 XXIV   1981 AH    1994 BD    2007 CB      2020  CZ
1943        1956 XII      1969 XXV    1982 AI     1995 BF    2008 CC      2021  DA
1944        1957 XIII     1970 XXVI   1983 AL    1996 BH    2009 CD      2022  DB
1945 I      1958 XIV     1971 XXVII  1984 AM   1997 BI     2010 CF       2023 DC
1946 II     1959 XV      1972 XXVIII 1985 AN   1998 BL     2011 CH      2024  DD
1947 III    1960 XVI     1973 XXIX   1986 AP    1999 BM    2012 CI       2025  DE
1948 IV    1961 XVII    1974 XXX    1987 AS    2000 BN    2013 CL      2026  DF
1949 V     1962 XVIII   1975 AA     1988 AT    2001 BP    2014 CM      2027  DH
1950 VI    1963 XIX     1976 AB      1989 AU    2002 BS    2015 CN      2028  DI
1951 VII   1964 XX      1977 AC      1990 AZ    2003 BT    2016 CP      2029  DL
1952 VIII  1965 XXI     1978 AD      1991 BA    2004 BU    2017 CS      2030  DM

Thursday, August 23, 2018

USFA loading gate info can help spot a Uberti

The loading gate axle/ shaft configuration can sort out a USA made gun pretty quickly but not always. It is just one part and the USA versions made by USFA will fit either a Uberti USFA or a USA made USFA frame. Just another target indicator.
This is a USA made USFA gun looking down at the gate when it is open and cylinder out. Not the small shadowed "V" in the bottom right/center of the photo where gate and frame meet.

This is a USA made USFA gun looking down at the gate when it is open and cylinder out. Not the small shadowed "V" in the bottom right/center of the photo where gate and frame meet.

This is a 1s Gen Colt. Much smaller V in the same place.

and a unfired 2nd Gen with grease in the seam line but same as a 1st Gen gun.

a 3rd Gen second year production and a much larger "V" at the frame/gate transition.

and a later 3rd Gen in nickel

Ad this is a square cut notch on a current Uberti gun (8/25/18)  and the earlier USFA/USPFA guns.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Uberti or USFA or a parts gun?

Is it Real or is it Parts?

The more I know about USFA the more I realize that how the guns were built often follows no rhyme or reason for parts or serial numbers.

Don't get me wrong I think the 100% USA made USFA guns are some of the finest SAA hand guns ever built.  But not every USFA gun is of the same quality either.

Much of the famed quality built into the USFA guns from the very beginning, is without a doubt in my opinion, based on the exceptionally skilled craftsmen that put them together.  That despite the quality of parts used at different times in the company's short history.  I wish I had a list of the very skills craftsmen that put the guns together. 

I'd like to thank them personally for the guns that I get to shoot and pass on to my family.
Hopefully this info will help others find value and a lttle of the history in their own USFA guns.

There are a number of things I put on a check list to tell a Uberti frame from a USA made frame, and a "parts gun" labeled USFA but built on either frame with a mismatch of parts.  None of these "checks" how ever are a full proof means of identification on a "parts guns".   A check of the frame at the loading latch, with the cylinder out of the gun is the only known  definitive test for a Uberti frame compared to a US made frame.  And even with that I would not ignore the obvious if things don't jive.  One thing I have learned with USFA..."never say never!"

As a start. "Uberti parts were still used up through the 20XXX and 21XXX serial range."

Credit must go first to past employee of  USFA,  Gary Granger, for giving us all a look inside USFA while he was working there.  He was the "face" of the company for may of us originally.  And has continued to help the USFA owners long after the company was history.     

The frame hole at the pivot pin bottom/recoil plate, bottom left of the picture on a Uberti frame.

The lack of frame hole on the pivot pin, recoil plate, bottom left on a USFA frame

Other details I now look at /for.

USFA marked on the barrel.  Not USPFA. 

Front sight profile?  Uberti is generally more rounded and ramped on the front side.  USFA are generally more vertical on the front side or even slightly over hanging and less curve across the top and back down to the barrel.

Classic USFA profile front sight

and the classic Uberti profile front sight

As Gary Granger has posted for patent line roll marks:

"I'm sure there 's exceptions."

2 Line/2 dates:   Uberti guns and Ainsworth
(I own two guns that are 2 line/2 date, BP frames, USA guns)
3 Line/3 dates:  US BP guns
2 Line/3 dates:  Cross pin frame and Bisley"
Wood grips on the US guns?  Pronounced flats on the grip to frame junction might well indicate a Uberti gun.  USA guns have better profiled grips behind the frame and trigger guard.

Neddleton gun's serial numbers?

Serial numbers:
123093 is a early Uberti Neddleton with a USFA roll marked barrel built "under the blue dome".

HN 47169 Uberti gun
HN 47191 Uberti
HN 47238  Uberti

HN 47239

USA made "Custer" labeled gun...NIB late production all USA parts, 5.5", Custer Series (artillery numbered from an original Colt) from USFA

HN 47239  (this is a 5.5" Neddleton the owner says is all USA made, compare to Uberti 47238 below)
HN 47241 USA gun
HN 47280  USA gun
HN 47346  USA
HN 47350
HN 47472  USA

well used Uberti # HN 47238

Uberti is typical a 1st generation style cocking serrations on the hammer.
Which is checkered and bordered.  Hammer is also cast.  Best way to tell
a 1st Gen style Uberti hammer for ma 1st Gen USFA hammer is feel
how sharp the checkering is.  Really sharp likely hand cut and a USFA
hammer and not cast.  Below are three hammer cocking serration styles.
All USFA cone firing pins.  Hammer in the far left has the 1st Generation
 Colt style hammer checkering/serrations which are commonly used by
Uberti as well but on a cast hammer.

Firing pins?  USFA used both on occasion.  Uberti only the tapered pin.
Typical Uberti firing pin with a cast hammer and dull cocking serrations:
More typical USFA Cone shaped firing pin. a milled hammer and hand cut and sharp cocking serrations.
Serial numbers?
Cowboy                        starts with CB500
Gunslinger                    starts with 57XXX or 58XXX.  I've only seen 58XXX numbers
"7-1/2" 45 Colt Gunfighter is No. 58811."
"USFA Ser # 58988, .45, 4 3/4, BP frame, walnut grips. Ordered new from USFA around 2005/2006."

The aged finish of a "Gunfighter" model built on a BP frame.

Lightning rifle                2000
Buntline                        28XXX
Lend Lease 45ACP      357XXX
JW Red River D            RRXXX
Rodeo Sheriff               SKAXXX
Rodeo II Sheriff            SMBXXX
Cowboy Sheriff             SMCXXX
Sheriff SAA                   SMDXXX  
Sheriff Bisley hammer/old Ivory grips/ circled US/long fluted cylinder    US1XXX
Rodeo                           Serial begins with various single letter followed by 3 digits
China Camp                  CCXXX
Gunslinger  model        57XXX  or 58XXX

On the premium and Prewar guns these are what we have come up with so far.
Start at 21XXX and continue to the end of 28XXX and into early 29000 range..  Some of the late 28900 rage were Buntlines. 28958 and 28959 were 7.5" b/c engraved guns.

I'm unaware of any 29XXX but have been told there are some.

21213  parts gun
21215  parts gun
21651  parts gun
21857  and 21858 parts guns
22113  parts gun

22154  USA gun* cone firing pin, transitional guns by the # out of order?
22180  parts gun*  transitional guns by the # out of order?

22293  cone USA
22358  cone 4 3/4,  38-40 True Ivory aged 2 piece grips
22421  cone firing pin
22566  cone 7.5, 38-40 and fire blue screws
22934  cone USA gun

Serial numbers on these guns will go to the early 29000s

The best of the USFA Prewar guns...
Check out the back strap ears and bottom back of the hammer mating done here!

Hammer to back strap ears?  Easy give away here.  If they are NOT a perfect match in profile it is likely not a USFA USA gun.  Look just above and below the two back strap retaining screws and base of the hammer/hammer strut.   Then see if the hammer profile and back strap ears match as they do on this Colt.  USFA is typical even better!
More to come...but that seems to be the basics.

Uberti guns and "parts guns" in general?

Don't dispair.  The "parts guns" are nice guns.  Just not the quality of the all USA built guns and not worth the premium prices that the USA guns demand now and will continue to do so in the future.

The master SAA pistolsmiths @ USFA, Turnbul Restorations, Adams and Adam's engravers and other selected and exceptionally skilled craftsmen turned Uberti parts into some beautiful SAA guns and then roll marked them as USPFA and USFA guns.  But they are in fact beautiful Uberti guns or a combination of Uberti parts and USA frames.  You as a consumer have to decide where the actual value is.

The effort behind this post is to give you the knowledge to make educated buying decisions for the USFA brand name.   In the world of the Internet and a world wide economy...knowledge is priceless. 

And I'd don't mind saying it here....buying USA be it USFA or doesn't matter...there is a certain pride of ownership and quality in both. 

What follows is a classic examination of a "USFA" gun.
  1. Not trying to hijack this thread..but would like the USFA experts opinion/comments on this USFA Sheriff....

    When I bought it, it looked like this; I replaced the US grips with the one piece wood.

    I remember Swamp asking about that one when he acquired it. I know a little bit more now. Here is a photo of the cylinder ratchet comparison of the Uberti USFA versus the USA parts USFA cylinders. Top one in the white is USA. Bottom antique blued is Uberti origin. The ratchets of tour cylinder resemble more the Uberti in the way that if you follow the way if you were to draw a line down the center of any tooth, it points to the chamber across from it, whereas the usa parts cylinder, drawing a line down the center of a tooth points in between the chambers across from it. Now I don't know how Colt cylinder ratchets compare.. But I'm pretty sure Swamps cylinder was not machined at the USFA factory. I'm wondering what the cylinder number stamps match up with? If we see a good photo of the hinged area of the loading gate, these guys now know what a Uberti main frame, and hammer and firing pin of Uberti and USA parts look like with photos of those too. As requested, here are more pictures:

  • Here is my 2cents...worth what you paid for it.

    Barrel? Colt? really?
    frame? my bet is Uberti with a loading gate "window" @ the pivot point
    cylinder? Uberti (funny as I have a very similar gun with a USA cylinder)
    hammer? no question it is a cast Uberti part
    firing pin? tapered cone Uberti
    trigger? Uberti..but also too short in OAL
    hand? Uberti
    bolt? Uberti

    and lastly one point I missed until now. IMO the frame started out as a SAA not a Sheriff's model. Take a look at how badly over buffed and rounded the frame is on the right side front at the barrel.

    compare the previous pictures and what is posted below.

    a honest USFA early model Sheriff's built on a Uberti frame

    A Colt's Sheriff/Storekeeper

  • Great example of a early USPFA gun and the paper work.