The "Coltsman" series of rifles!

Discussion in 'Other firearms built on Sako actions' started by paulsonconstruction, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    While searching around for info on rifles built on Sako actions I stumbled on to a thread on the Gunbroker Message Forum from 2003. A gentleman wrote a history of the Colt "Coltsman" series & claimed he was writing a book about them. I couldn't find any evidence that he ever published this book & have know way of confirming that what he says is true & accurate, but it does seem to somewhat follow what many here have said about these rifles. This info is 15 years old, so if anybody wants to add to or correct any info, please feel free. Just FYI!
    Quoting, "RancheroPaul"

    The Coltsman Rifle was the New Model & Name for the Colt "57" line of High Power Rifles, & were announced in late 1958. The Coltsman line featured 4 different calibers in 3 models designated as Standard, Deluxe, & Custom. None of these guns were actually made by Colt. The were assembled on barreled actions furnished by Firearms International to the Jefferson Manufacturing Co. of North Haven, CT. The 30-06 & 300 Magnum were FN Mauser Model 300 actions from Belgium & the 243 & the 308 calibers were on barreled actions from Sako on L57 actions. This series of Coltsman Rifles was made in early 1959 & the entire production was completed before the end of the year. Sales were extremely slow & this run provided inventory until 1962 when some models had finally been sold out, leaving some models unavailable to buyers of that time.

    Jefferson Manufacturing Co. had sold out to a company named Kodiak after a failed attempt to market their own brand of rifle after producing the 1959 run of Coltsman rifles. This new company, Kodiak, purchased only Sako barrelled actions & made a run of Coltsman rifles for Colt in 1963. This production of guns was a redesigned line featuring a Standard & Custom model in the following calibers: 223 Rem, 243 Win, 308 Win, 264 Win Mag & 30-06. There were also a few in 222 Rem, but they were not advertised. This group of Coltsman rifles on Sako actions was identical to the Sako Standard Sporter & the Deluxe models of the time, with the exception of the Colt rollmarks. Only a very few guns were made initially in this run & all were completed by Sako in Finnland. From 1963 to 1965 you could purchase one of these guns, if it was in stock, or you could order it & wait for it to be made & shipped. Because most of these were made to order, the serial number range was not followed nor was it consecutive in any manner. You will find guns in the 30,000 range to the 76,000 range & all in between. It was the "luck of the draw" as each new order for a Coltsman was filled by taking an action off the assembly line in Finland & completing it as a Coltsman instead of a Sako. Price affected sales & public demand (or lack of it), caused Colt to allow inventory to be depleted by sales & discontinued their Coltsman High Power Rifle line in 1965.

    Depending on the caliber, these rifles came on the L46, L461, L57 & L61R Sako actions.


    Now the "short answer" to your question: If you have a Sako action rifle in 30-06, it will more than likely be a L61R. It would have been made in 1963, not 1961. If you have a 30-06 made in 1961, it would be on a Belgium FN Mauser action of that era.
    He then goes on to talk about his upcoming book. I see some errors, I think. What say you?
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018

  2. tripledeuce

    tripledeuce Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. My standard grade .223 in L461 with serial 69870 does not appear to have a factory barrel. The deluxe .223 serial 84394 has a barreled action with Sako proof marks and front and rear sights. Did someone say Holes?
     
  3. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    I think the guy was incorrect about the 1963-65 Coltsman all being made by Sako. I suspect, & others here have stated, the Deluxes were made by Sako with some minor changes like sights, engraving, logo, & stampings, but some, if not all of, the Standard Sporters could have been put together by Kodiak, as evidenced by your two rifles. Obviously he had the serial number thing wrong as well. I, also, have never heard of or seen a "Custom" model. I have a plain jane Coltsman from the first run on a L57 action with a Colt barrel & stock that is uncheckered. Not sure what model it would be. It is just stamped Coltsman on the barrel, along with the standard Colt ID.
     
  4. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Well, the old boy seems to have had some information correct, while other information appears to be conjecture, particularly the part about ordering a gun which had to be made up in Finland after the fact to fill the order. Never happened.

    He also omitted a very important caliber from the Colt line: .300 H&H. Curiously, Sako was building .223's for Colt long before it built any to sell under its own name. Go figure?

    The way I read his treatise, he indicates that all of the Colts were on barreled actions made by Sako. Uh-uh. Many of the Colts were barreled with contractor barrels after they arrived in the U.S., as well as stocked with contractor stocks. So far as I've been able to determine, all Deluxe models were completed (lock, stock, and barrel) by Sako in Finland, while most (if not all) standard models were barreled and stocked in the U.S. The barrels and stocks of the late "standard" Coltsman were very similar to the corresponding Sako barrels and stocks, but not identical.

    But the fact that Colt was totally "farming out" its bolt rifle production seems odd, since at the same time it was producing tens of thousands of AR-15/M-16 rifles as the sole contractor for the U.S. military. You would have thought that they could have made a couple of thousand commercial rifle barrels at the same time. Come to think of it, maybe we're lucky they didn't use their own barrels since the early M-16's were plagued with fouled barrels until they started to chrome line them.

    Like Paulson, I've never seen any grade other than "standard" and "deluxe". T'ain't no "custom" that I'm aware of. There was a Sako Deluxe Custom related to all of this, however. The few examples I've seen were in .223 and are almost certainly Deluxes produced for the Colt contract but which turned out to be "over runs" for whatever reason. Sako modified the markings on these slightly, marked the barrel Sako Custom Deluxe, and distributed them through their regular distribution network. I know of one SCC member who currently owns one of these.

    The part of his narrative that I appreciate most is the mention of the Jefferson Rifle Company or Jefferson Manufacturing Company. I think that Jefferson was in business longer than he gives credit. It seems that Jefferson also built the proprietary Sakos for Sears, Roebuck (around 5,000 .222's on the L46 action) and for Montgomery Ward (an unquantified number of .243's and .308's on the L57 action). I believe that they were housed in the High Standard facility, perhaps leasing a portion of it. Jefferson may have been a subsidiary or spin-off of High Standard, who knows?

    At any rate, the subject brings to mind that a large portion of the 10,000 or so L57's produced went into proprietary rifles and not Sakos. Ward, Colt, North America Arms, and various custom builders must have accounted for a great many of the L57 actions produced, meaning that the genuine Sako L57 rifles are perhaps a somewhat scarcer item than many of us realize.
     
  5. douglastwo

    douglastwo Well-Known Member

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    Great information guys. But I have two colt catalogs that have had me scratching my head for a long time. I'm a firm believer that catalogs cannot be relied on for accuracy. But here we go.

    Catalog dated 1961 on the front and back page, and the cover page has Colt's logo for their 125 anniversary dated 1836 to 1961. It has one full page that shows and describes two Coltsman rifles One of the rifles is described as a Standard that is available in three different Sako actions described as short (222 and 222mag), medium (243 and 308) and long (270, 264, 30-06, 300H&H and 375). I know, 1961 is too early for the long action. The retail price is $134.50. The second rifle is described as a Custom (no mention in the description that it is a Deluxe). The picture clearly looks like what I have always called a Coltsman Deluxe. Calibers are the same as the Standard. Retail price is $199.50. Like the Standard, the pictures show this Custom very clearly to be a Sako action and barrel. Both rifles have front and rear sights. Neither rifle has the rampant colt in the stock. Showing a rifle in a 1961 Catalog doesn't prove that in 1961 Colt produced a Coltsman with a Sako long action. But I guess there is a possibility that Colt had some early information and pictures from Sako that allowed Colt to show them in a catalog produced in 1961.

    The second catalog is dated 1965. Again, the catalog shows two Coltsman rifles with Sako actions and barrels. They are described as Standard and Custom (no mention of Deluxe). Both rifles are available in 5 calibers (223 at $139.95 for the Standard and $205 for the Custom, 243 and 308 at $142.95 and $215, and the 264 and 30-06 at $149.95 and $225). The Standard has a rampant colt in the stock. The Custom has a blued crossbolt.
     
  6. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    Based on your catalog, it appears Colt had intentions of using the long action Sako in 1961 & possibly Sako couldn't meet their schedule with their new L61R. This may be why the 1961 long action Coltsman were built on FN Mausers. Colt then went with the L61R on their 1963 run. Is what we have called a Deluxe Coltsman actually what Colt called a "Custom"? Did the Colt Rampart logo only appear on the second run? Was the 300 H&H only on the FN action or were they also on the Sako action? Seems I have more questions about the Coltsman now than when I started this thread!!!
     
  7. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Is what we have called a Deluxe Coltsman actually what Colt called a "Custom"?
    Could be. Sounds logical according to Douglastwo's catalogs.


    Did the Colt Rampart logo only appear on the second run?
    I'm not sure, but on the "standard" Coltsman the logo which is an escutcheon approximately where the stock crossbolt is found is just that -- only an escutcheon. There is no crossbolt on the standard grade (at least the ones I've seen), which is one thing that indicates that the stocks were not made by Sako.


    Was the 300 H&H only on the FN action or were they also on the Sako action?
    No, there were some on the L61R action, but the only ones I'm aware of were in the Deluxe (Custom?) grade. There were also some Coltsman .375 H&H made on the L61R.

    Seems I have more questions about the Coltsman now than when I started this thread!!!
    So what else is new? It seems the more we learn about Sakos the more we find we don't know!


     
  8. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Okay, this thread has gotten me stirred up, so I spent some time combing the Sako factory records looking for Colts.

    The first L61R Colts inspected were on 19 April 1962 and were in .264 Magnum and .270. Then in rapid succession came .300 H&H and .30-06's on 10 May 1962, followed by some .375's on 28 May 1962. At this time Sako did not differentiate between the Deluxes and the Standards in the shipping records, but when you check these serial numbers in the inspection records they are all marked "Colt Deluxe".

    Most of these have very low serial numbers -- Sako L61R serial number 6 is a Colt Deluxe .264. (However, the very earliest Sako L61R's were numbered mostly in the 1700's and were a batch of .30-06's made 7 June 1961.)

    The first few pages of the inspection ledger for the L61R is "littered" with numbers marked as "lukkol Colt magn" (action only, Colt, magnum bolt face), "lukkol Colt mauser" (action only, Colt, standard bolt face), and "Colt Deluxe .264" or "Colt Deluxe .300M", etc. (indicating a finished rifle in Deluxe grade).

    Sako did NOT keep shipping records on actions-only at this time -- those serial numbers are found only in the inspection records. So, we have no definitive record of when the actions listed as "Colt" in the inspection records were shipped, but if they were built about the same time as the rifles then we can infer that they were shipped about the same time, too. Incidentally, all of the Colt rifles were shipped to Firearms International, and not directly to Colt.

    At my age I will have forgotten most of this in just a few weeks:confused: and will be delighted to read it when I stumble across it again on the Forum:). That's one thing which makes this forum such a great place.:D
     
  9. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    Stonecreek, thanks for looking up the factory data as I know it takes precious time & it cleared up several things about the "Coltsman". If RancheroPaul ever did publish that book, based on the factory records , we know it is full of errors!!! That may be why I can find no evidence of it.
     
  10. douglastwo

    douglastwo Well-Known Member

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    Here's a photo of the Coltsman in the 1961 Colt catalog. Notice the description stating the receivers are tapped for scope bases. The description and photo in the 1965 colt catalog shows the receiver to be grooved.
     

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  11. tripledeuce

    tripledeuce Well-Known Member

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    I see the 222Mag was listed. All barrels had 12 groove rifling. Looks like the inside trigger guard release for the floor plate. Both of my .223's have the "S" release. Thanks for sharing.
     
  12. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    My memory is hazy, and I haven't seen all that many Colt-Sakos over the years, but it seems like only the L46's and maybe the L57's had non-dovetail receivers and all of the L461, L579, and L61R's have had dovetails. But don't hold me to that since I'm poking some rarely used and very rusty brain cells to come up with that.

    I do know that the two Colt-Sako L61R's which SakoSource has on their site have dovetails:
    https://www.sakosource.com/1007s-colt-06.html
    https://www.sakosource.com/-1529rs-colt264.html
    I think that the description on both of these dates them to 1964.
     
  13. Rocky

    Rocky Well-Known Member

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    The 300 H&H with L61R action did not have dovetails.
     
  14. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    My L57 Coltsman has a dovetailed receiver.
     
  15. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    Specs say tapped for scope, yet the pictures clearly show the dovetails. No wonder there is confusion!!!
     
  16. douglastwo

    douglastwo Well-Known Member

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    Stone,
    I looked at the photos of the 2 long action Coltsman offer by Sakosource and noticed that the rampant colt escutcheons are about 1/4" behind the vent hole. I thought, this is not where the steel crossbolt is located on my L61 Sakos. So I pulled a couple of my L61's out and sure enough, the crossbolts are about 1/4" in front of the vent hole. That shoots holes in my belief that the crossbolts on the long action coltsman are countersunk and the escutcheons are glued on top of them. Does that mean that certain calibers of long action coltsman with escutcheons do not have a crossbolt. I remember pictures of Rocky's coltsman 300H&H that show the typical crossbolt. I don't have a long action coltsman to disassemble to solve this mystery. Someone straighten me out on this.
     
  17. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    IIRC, the Deluxe (or "Custom") Coltsman stocked by Sako had the crossbolt, while the standard version not stocked by Sako had the Colt logo escutcheons without a crossbolt. I'm referring to the 63-65 run of Coltsman. None of the standard sporter Coltsman I have seen had the crossbolt. Would someone now post a pic of one to wipe my theory out.
     
  18. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Yes, what Paulson said.
     
  19. douglastwo

    douglastwo Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys.
     
  20. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    My L57 Coltsman, albeit not from the same run of production, has a 5 groove barrel. When you say "ALL barrels had 12 groove rifling" what exactly are you referring to & where did you obtain that info?
     

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