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Thread: Any Info on these old Colts appreciated

  1. #1
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    Any Info on these old Colts appreciated

    My dad called me today, and asked me if I could find out anything about a couple of old Colt revolvers he has, so I thought I would check in here to see what you all know.
    The first one is a Colt Official Police in .38 special. He purchased it in the early 80's, from a recently retired Pennsylvania State Police corporal, who had been carrying it since it was issued to him sometime in the 50's. Upon retirement he was allowed to purchase it from the state. He didnt want it ,but my dad got him to buy it, then he purchased it from the officer. Here are a couple of pics I took. ( Dads almost 80, and has limited internet skills, thats why he called me)
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    I guess we have a fair ammount of info on the Official Police, but have no idea as to value. The gun is in fair condition.
    The next one was given to my dad by his father in law in the late 50's. The story is that it was a Royal Canadian Mounted Police gun, but I cant verify that. On the barrel it says Colt's PTFA MFG CO. Patented 1884 Nov. 6 1888 (and something else I cant make out) Also on the left side of the frame in front of the cylinder it says Colt DA 33 (or maybe 38..its worn) The serial # on this one is 8787, and it has an oval ring on a swivel for a lanyard I guess on the bottom of the grip. Here are a few pics of this one
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    Thanks in advance for any help
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    Second gun is a .38, most likely a black powder .38 Long. Have the cylinder measured by a good smith. If it specs at .38 Long you can buy ammo for it from Track of the Wolf. Good round, I have a smokeless powder .38 Long Basque made revolver that is butter smooth to shoot. I have shot .38 Special through mine, DO NOT do that with yours, yours pre-dates cylinder tempering by a couple decades.

    Official Police, like the Smith and Wesson M&P, is almost dirt common. Around here they run $400 or so depending on condition, but a primo example will fetch a lot more. M&Ps can be had as low as a couple hundred bucks.

    The older gun around here would run from $700-1200 depending on its looks and operable status.
    I am NOT totally useless... I make a great bad example.

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    Thanks for the info. I have been doing a bit of digging myself, and here is what I have come up with so far: I dont think the number I listed (8787) is the serial number, more likely it is an assembly number to mark which parts went wwith what gun...will look for serial number tomorrow. It seems to be a Colt New Army, possibly model 1901, as previous models didnt have the lanyard ring. It could be an older model that was factory upgraded however. Once I get the actual serial number I should be able to determine when it was made.
    My dad said he has never shot it, and I definately wouldnt without having a smith go over it to make sure it was safe to shoot.

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    I'll tell you from a second look she's missing a couple ejector rod parts. They can be found, but it takes some digging. These guns were hand built, no two are exactly alike. Don't waste money on the overpriced and hard to find cowboy loads. If the gun checks out as a shooting grade, buy the ones I mentioned above.

    Find a gunsmith who specializes in antiques fire arms. A modern gunsmith isn't going to touch it, these guns are very easy to knock out of timing and almost impossible to get back in order. For a military spec gun they are rather, um, delicate. If the timing seems a bit funky, shadow box it. I've got decorative revolvers here, no shame in retiring one.

    Serial number should be by the lanyard ring.
    I am NOT totally useless... I make a great bad example.

  5. #5
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    Thanks again. I really have no plans to shoot it, I just mainly want to find out what it is. I honestly dont think its been out of the gun cabinet drawer in 20 years. I also noticed that the ejector rod was missing its end cap, and I didnt even look down the barrel to see what kind of shape its in. Is there any way I can tell if this was a military issued fire arm? I just posted over on the Colt forums to see what they say about it. I suppose without the SN I wont get too much more info, so I'll get that posted as soon as I get it

  6. #6
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    Look for an inspector's acceptance mark, usually three letters separated by periods. Unlike Continental European military issue, most USA issue don't have unit identifiers on them. Generally just US Property or USMC, USN, USA (Army), sometimes USCG.

    When they are in good order vintage revolvers tend to make new ones seem clunky and rough. My early 1930s S&W is 1000x the gun my farmhands late model S&W revolver is. Your early DA Colt is a good gun, if it checks out shoot it occasionally. I've got an 1800s shotgun here I'm rebuilding to put back in service. Simple, smooth, works. I'd take my original 1876 Winchester lever action over my 1967 lever action any day of the week and twice on the weekends. Better gun.
    I am NOT totally useless... I make a great bad example.

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    I picked one up back in the summer when I was at the lgs and a fellow traded this Official Police in on a newer gun. I paid $300 otd and I was very satisfied. A decent one goes for $300-$400 here in Indiana. Here's a pic of mine. Regards DickName:  100_0617.jpg
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    IGNORANCE IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE COMMODITY THAT YOU CAN OWN

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    I looked the New Army over again today. There are no markings on the butt at all, but I did find the letters RAC on the cylinder face.

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    RAC is the ordinance department inspector's mark. Google Colt .38 1901, look at the reviews in some of the other forums. Pretty collectable.
    I am NOT totally useless... I make a great bad example.

  10. #10
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    OK, will do. Its in decent condition, especially the grips. There are no chips, scratches or cracks on them. My dad says he would consider selling it for the right price, then he could buy a couple of newer guns.


 

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