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 Colt SP1...Just what to look for...
mmfly4fun  [Member]
4/14/2012 3:56:54 PM
Hello Retro Forum:

I have been lurking in the shadows for quite some time. I have enjoyed gleaning the collective knowledge shared. I have been saving my pennies and have now come to a point where I am ready to get my first AR-15. After thinking very seriously about buying a Colt m16a1 upper and putting together one myself, I have come to realize that may not be the best decision and therefore have decided to obtain a Colt SP-1, lower serial number. Now having ever owned an AR-15, I am a bit out of my element when it comes to choosing one. What should one look for? Any red flags that would make many of you run the other way? ANY help or advice is greatly appreciated.

Oh, and yes, I have studied both the stickies on the top of this forum and have been to the black rifle site...but the information I am looking for is how to know the condition. If you are at a gun show, what do you do to assess the rifle?

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LRRPF52  [Team Member]
4/14/2012 9:52:39 PM
I look for anything out of place, which is easy to see with SP-1's since they have Grey anodizing on the receivers & charge handle. It's easy to see if the correct barrel markings are there, but I always pull the BCG and check for the Colt "C" stamp on the side of the carrier, then look at the bolt to see the MPC markings. After that, I look down the bore and try to see if there is throat erosion. You will often know quickly if a gun has a high round count through it because there will be caked up Wolf residue all over, scratches galore, markes from some knucklhead who thought an SP1 would make a great rail attachment platform, etc.

For SP-1 rifles, I look at the butt plate first, and work my way over quickly doing a rapid initial assessment, which includes color matches, barrel markings, forge codes, proof stamps, proper ejection port cover, and I do look for that stupid black enamel that some whacko at Colt generously spread over the back of most of the bolt catch roll pins on every SP-1 I've seen. You also look at the serial number range, and determine what time period it came from, which will let you know that if everything is original, you will buy it no matter what if it's in a reasonable price range and is from the earlier period of amnufacture for these rifles.

Then I go into a detailed muzzle-to-butt inspection, including shotgunning the stick, covering all the ins and outs.

I look at the proof codes on the fire control group as well, as a Colt hammer will have a "C" inside a circle or box.

I saw one todat that had a Colt lower, some no-name upper, 11.5" heavy barrel with the goofy looking 5.5" flash hider, wrong handguards,and an incorrect stock, with an asking price over $1k (they're on crack). It was a shame to see it in that condition as a Frankengun, so it wasn't even worth messing with.
kfields  [Member]
4/15/2012 9:38:05 AM
I was in your shoes a year ago except that I bought several black rifles (and sold them) before I figured out exactly what I wanted.
In my case, I decided that I wanted an early Colt SP1 dating to 1969 or earlier. Why? Because I wanted to purchase one with many of the early features that was manufactured during the Vietnam War period. I finally found a rifle manufactured in '69 at a small gunshow for a reasonable price.

Hang in there!

Kim
mmfly4fun  [Member]
4/15/2012 1:21:59 PM
Amazing dissertation of what you look for while assessing for a early SP1. I now have even more questions since this post...Please bare with me, I am still trying to learn.

I always pull the BCG and check for the Colt "C" stamp on the side of the carrier, then look at the bolt to see the MPC markings


Does this statement hold true for all the Colt SP1 series, or just a certain range??

How accepting are gun show sellers to a request to take down the rifle and inspect the bolt/hammer etc? It just seems whenever I go and find an interesting piece, just asking them to inspect it externally can be an uncomfortable experience...

if a gun has a high round count through it because there will be caked up Wolf residue

Not 100% certain what Wolf residue is...assume it is the residual powder from firing...right?

rapid initial assessment, which includes color matches, barrel markings, forge codes, proof stamps, proper ejection port cover...

OK, proof stamps. My understanding is there are two types, the triangle with PV and the square with C located in front of the ejection port on the upper. Should ALL correct Colt SP1's have these marks? What if there is only the Triangle or only the Square mark? Can this be and still be legitimate?

shotgunning the stick,

Can you explain what exactly this is?

Thank you for all the assistance!!!
Michael
mmfly4fun  [Member]
4/15/2012 1:33:53 PM
Kim...thank you for your response. I am in no rush to jump on a rifle (unless the right one happens by) and really hope to find a correct rifle in the low serial number range. I would rather take the time and save the money to find that one rifle, rather than jump on something that later no longer meets my self imposed standards. I would love to see a photo of your rifle...

Michael
LRRPF52  [Team Member]
4/15/2012 7:03:53 PM
Originally Posted By mmfly4fun:
Amazing dissertation of what you look for while assessing for a early SP1. I now have even more questions since this post...Please bare with me, I am still trying to learn.

I always pull the BCG and check for the Colt "C" stamp on the side of the carrier, then look at the bolt to see the MPC markings
My understanding is that Colt BCG's have "C" stamped on the left side as a rule, and this seems to be confirmed by RBR and every Colt SP-1 I've seen so far. Same with the MPC markings, indicating that the bolt has gone through the Magnetic Particle Inspection process after shot-peening with a High Pressure Test load.

Does this statement hold true for all the Colt SP1 series, or just a certain range?? http://retroblackrifle.com/

How accepting are gun show sellers to a request to take down the rifle and inspect the bolt/hammer etc? It just seems whenever I go and find an interesting piece, just asking them to inspect it externally can be an uncomfortable experience... Many sellers are almost totally allergic to money, while a few have half a brain. You just have to ask and be polite, but find a comfortable level of directness to let them know you're a serious buyer, not some schmuck who's just looking around for the heck of it.
if a gun has a high round count through it because there will be caked up Wolf residue

Not 100% certain what Wolf residue is...assume it is the residual powder from firing...right? I see a lot of AR15's with the telltale sign of high-volume Wolf ammunition (Russian-made, steel-cased, extremely dirtypowder residue that forms more of a cake than soot). It's usually in no-name beaters with 4140 CMV barrels that are shot to crap sometimes, with no care put into them for pre-sale presentation. If they're in good condition but dirty, it offers a buyer leeway to haggle, if the seller isn't allergic to money. If I see Wolf residue caked all over a genuine Colt, the chances of me buying will usually be driven by salvaging it for parts.

rapid initial assessment, which includes color matches, barrel markings, forge codes, proof stamps, proper ejection port cover...

OK, proof stamps. My understanding is there are two types, the triangle with PV and the square with C located in front of the ejection port on the upper. Should ALL correct Colt SP1's have these marks? What if there is only the Triangle or only the Square mark? Can this be and still be legitimate? My understaning is that all Colt SP-1 uppers have a minimum of the proof marks just ahead and up from the ejection port. There were earlier military carbines with no forge codes under the rear sight assembly, but most Colt uppers have forge codes like "C M", "C K", etc., indicating the aluminum forging source for the blanks before they were machined, since all blank forgings don't come from the same source. Proof marks should be present, although some of them are very faint and difficult to see often.

shotgunning the stick,

Can you explain what exactly this is?

"Shotgunning" the AR15 refers to the act of pulling the take down pin, and pivoting the upper and lower receiver groups apart to access the internal components of the receivers, without separating them entirely. It looks like how one breaks open a shotgun with that type of action.
Thank you for all the assistance!!!
Michael


boywonder777  [Team Member]
4/15/2012 7:33:56 PM
early ones have different bolt carrier groups. they aren't C marked, no serrations, longer tail section at the bottom but still shorter than a M16, some have a chrome bolt, one piece machined firing pin retaining pin.

other differences are the square forgings, edgewaters, type d stock, skinny all the way grips, cast FSB, carbon/stainless steel early bend gas tube, divoted safety/takedown pin/pivot pin/rear sight screw, no drainhole handguards and a variety of barrels from winchester 1/14 to the later CMP CHROME BORE marked ones.

for the later ones, they tend to be C MP CHROME BORE w/ type E stocks and drainhole handguards.

The SP1 database is a good place to start to see what parts are correct for serial ranges:
http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=123&t=304266

hope i didn't confuse you more but it's really hard to say exactly what to look for since they were made for 20 years and had a variety of changes in them.

i would say give the rifle a basic check. is the rifling still sharp, any pitting or corrosion? the bolt face, carrier ramp, and hammer face will show if it's been heavily used. the upper will show brass kisses too.
2manytoys  [Member]
4/15/2012 8:01:24 PM
I have seen plenty of original early SP1s that had upper & lower mismatched color-wise.
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