About the Archive Letter

The Colt Archive Letter


Considered one of the most unique and prestigious services offered in firearms collecting, the archive letter is recognized as an unparalleled investment in firearms collecting. We will search through Colt’s vast archives to provide you with accurate, documented details confirming the original specifications and delivery of your particular Colt firearm. You will then receive a personal letter outlining all of the fine points of your firearm, written on the Colt Archive's distinctive stationery, embossed with the official seal and signature of the Colt Historian.

Whether your Colt is a treasured family heirloom or a more recent purchase, a Colt Archive Letter can provide fascinating and valuable information of historical or anecdotal importance. The collectible value of your Colt is often  enhanced when it is authenticated in this fashion. Colt Archive Letters can provide descriptive details about custom engraving and other special features that will ensure the value of the firearm for future generations to treasure.

For more information, please review the Frequently Asked Questions below.   

Archive Letter Frequently Asked Questions

 What type of information would be provided on an archive letter?

Answer: The archive letter provides original shipping details, including information on original configuration, shipping date, and the original shipping destination. Specifications will typically include the original caliber, barrel length, finish, type of stocks, and any custom features which may have been original to the firearm. Once this information is verified by the historian, the letter is signed, stamped, and shipped flat in a cardboard envelope to help prevent any damage.

Will the archive letter increase the value of my firearm?

Answer: Many things contribute to the value & collectability of your firearm, some of which would be provided on the archive letter. Confirmation of original configuration and the shipping destination for a firearm in many cases help in determining an accurate value.

The specifications for my firearm on my archive letter do not match my firearms current configuration. Why?

Answer: Many older firearms have been changed from their original configurations for various reasons. Caliber, barrel, and finish changes are very common on older firearms as well as aftermarket embellishments such as fancy grips or engraving.

I want to know the individual owners of my firearm. Will the archive letter tell me this?

Answer: No. Our records are limited to original shipping information and ownership is not traced through our records. Additionally, the attachment of individual names to our shipping ledgers is also very sparse.

The dates stamped on my firearm do not match the date on the archive letter. Why?

Answer: The dates stamped on the firearm are patent dates, which relate to patent filings for parts & design of the gun and do not reflect manufacturing dates. As an example, current production Single Action Army revolvers still bear patent dates from 1871, 1872, and 1875.

Why does the manufacture / ship date on my letter not match what come up on Colt’s database, or in any of the serial number lookups?

Answer: All serial number lookups, including the one on the Colt website, utilize approximations. As Colt firearms are almost never assembled or shipped in consecutive serial order, this is extremely common.

There are markings on my gun that are not addressed in the archive letter. Why?

Answer: Many of the markings on our firearms are standard model markings including assembler marks, inspector marks, military, and government markings. The specifics of these markings were not recorded in our shipping records.

Will the archive letter tell me the type of original packaging my firearm was shipped with, and can I buy packaging?

Answer: No. Our records do not contain any information about standard packaging, such as original style cardboard packaging, box labels, or included paperwork. We do not sell period style packaging.

Do you have information on fully automatic firearms, such as M16’s, Thompson submachine guns, or BAR rifles?

Answer: No, these records are not maintained by the Colt Archives and research services are not available.

How long does it take to receive my archive letter once I order?

Answer: Current turnaround for the standard, non-expedited service is approximately 90-100 days from the day you order your letter. Your credit card will be charged at the time the research has been completed.