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
"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
On the premium and Prewar guns these are what we have come up with so far.

21213 parts gun
21215 parts gun
21651 parts gun
21857 and 21858 parts guns
22113 parts gun
22180 parts gun*  transitional guns by the # out of order?

22154 USA gun*  transitional guns by the # out of order?
22293 cone USA
22421  cone firing pin
22934 cone USA gun

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.


    Tuesday, April 28, 2015

    Brite Nickel USFA con. sec, #s

    these are early USFA  parts guns

    This was advertised as "100% Made in the USA"
    and were show cased on the USFA SHOT Show wheel.
    I have yet to see these guns but I suspect they are parts guns as well.
    Stay tuned for the answer first week of May 2015.