Colt Border Patrol


July 28, 2005, 03:43 PM
Hi, Can anyone tell me on what frame the Border Patrol was made. I would like to get a better set of grips for it. Pic. attached, Thanks

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July 28, 2005, 04:42 PM
I'm assuming you are referring to the Border Patrol Second Issue in .357 mag manufactured between 1970 and 1975. If so, its the J-frame - same as the troper MKIII, Lawman etc. The original Border Patrol was in 38 spec and was on the New Service frame ( I think) . They only made 400 of those in 1952 and I sure as heck wouldn't be changing the grips on one of these.

July 28, 2005, 05:22 PM
Your right, It's a second issue. I wanted to find a set thats in better shape because I think I'm going to sell it. If the trooper's are the same I'll get a set of them. They only made 1152 of these. Thanks. where you at in Oh. ? i'm in Niles by Y- town

July 28, 2005, 06:05 PM
It reminds me of a security six or such.

July 28, 2005, 08:31 PM
The Second Issue Colt Border Patrol was nothing more than a Colt Trooper Mark III, POSSIBLY with a slightly less-well polished finish, and the Border Patrol barrel stamp.

From 1970 to 1975 Colt made 5,356 in blue and 1152 in bright nickel.

Since the gun is just a "J" frame Mark III gun, grips for the Trooper Mark III are the same.

Johnny Guest
July 29, 2005, 01:50 PM
Very nice, BBBS. I think you'll find out that the stocks illustrated are the proper ones for that revolver.

I don't think they are very comfortable, but if 'twere mine, and if I cared about originality, I'd leave them in place. If you intend to shoot it at all, though, I can see how you might want to install something in a tasteful black rubber . . . .

jaybar - - regarding the first issue Colt Border Patrol. I recall Skeeter Skelton writing about these, saying they were a Police Positive Special with a special, VERY heavy barrel.

Ah, here it is - -
The Book of Colt Firearms, by Robert Q. Sutherland and R. L. Wilson, first edition, 1971, p. 392. Yup, built on the PPS frame, with checked plastic stocks, with rampant Colt in circle at the top. (I'll bet there weren't many of these that didn't get the plastic replaced by wood.)

And this: "Barrel: An unusual shape, without taper, and heavy in weight."
Marked on L. side of barrel:

That barrel must have been VERY heavy - - TBOCF shows weight as 35 ounces, and the standard 4" bbl. PPS weighing 23 ounces. :confused:

Also, BBBS -- Same reference shows a page from the 1970 Colt's catalog, which indicates that the Trooper Mark III was offered with both "service" and "Target" style stocks. I'd really believe the USB{ would have ordered theirs with the target style.

One more aside - - A local district court bailiff, Guinn Simons, used to carry a blue second model Colt BP revolver with target stocks. I thought it was a Trooper and mentioned it one day. He corrected me, and later let me examine it. It had been issued to Guinn by Texas Department of Public Safety, and he had purchased it on retirement from that agency. At that time, DPS issued S&W Highway Patrolman revolvers to most uniformed personnel. I later verified they had taken delivery of some for issue to non-Highway Patrol services - - Drivers License, License & Weight, and so forth.

Does your revolver have any agency markings, such as USBP, TDPS, TXDPS, or the like?


July 29, 2005, 06:04 PM
Just one set of strange numbers and letters under the grips.....NCO9200095 now that you bring it up. Wonder what it means? They were put there with a engraver of some sort.

July 30, 2005, 12:11 AM
The original Colt Border Patrol revolvers from 1952 were made on the Official Police frame. Sutherland stated that "about 400" were made in all.

The reason I'm sure is that I had four in inventory at the time Sutherland's book came out. Sent him a lengthy letter of what I knew about them, detailed descriptions, and photos of the guns we had on hand to include the serial numbers. (Which did not correspond with the serial number range he listed in his 1971 edition.) He responded that he had gotten correspondence on this from a variety of people including Bill Jordan. Without going into detail he observed that he had "really opened a can of worms" on these guns. He was of the opinion that there were five variations termed "Border Patrol" guns. Unfortunately he did not elaborate.

Sometime back in the 1930s the Border Patrol under the influence of Charley Askins bought a quantity of New Service Colts in 4" barrel and .38 Special, which was probably the genesis of the 1952 guns. My father was issued one in the 1940s. I suspect that the factory probably referred to these as BP guns but they had no special markings to my knowledge unless they were stamped with the initials of the agency. (Speculation on my part.)

Never saw any of the Trooper Mk III BP guns but the M19 S&Ws were far more popular with the troops.

Thanks to various Kennedys all surplus government weapons were routinely destroyed irrespective of interest or value.

There is a Border Patrol museum down in El Paso that has some guns on display--not sure what, though. There is a retired BP association and newsletter and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the old pistoleros might know more if asked.

Johnny Guest
July 30, 2005, 12:59 PM
Dienekes -- -- you're definitely miles ahead of most of the rest of us relative to the first model Colt Border Patrol .38s. I was reporting on what I'd read by Skelton and Sutherland/Wilson, but of course I've never even held one in my own hands. And you had FOUR in stock at one time!

Now, these were on the Official Police frame, huh? I must admit, I had a hard time picturing the (relatively) dinky Police Positive Special frame as being stout enough for the rather rough-and-tumble usage of the Border Patrol during that violent era. The good ol' .41 frame would be far better suited. And Colt's would probably have had a lot of that size plastic handles left around, from production of the Commando model during WW II.

Did those you had sport the markings as detailed in TBOCF? And, is the reference I quoted all messed up as to weight? A standard OP with 4" bbl weighed about 32 ounces - - Would such a large diameter, untapered, barrel only add some three ounces?

I love this game - - I learn something new every day. :)


July 30, 2005, 10:05 PM
Johnny--My letter to Sutherland dated 12/7/77 states "Barrel markings are as described" ...which is good as I don't specifically remember now. I also mentioned that "U.S.B.P." was stamped on the backstrap in letters approx 1/4" high with tops to the RH side of the gun. Stocks were both wood and plastic on the ones we had. Other than the heavy barrel and the markings they were your normal OP .38. DA was typical Colt, not bad but with a tendency to stack. SA was of course excellent. As firearms instructor I issued myself one for a while to see how it performed.

I never had occasion to weigh one, but the heavier barrel made the gun definitely muzzle-heavy--about like an HB Model 10. In those days the issue load was still the 158 RNL; but with the more modern loads it wouldn't be a half bad gun even now.

INS had its own armory and gunsmith at Port Isabel TX. I talked to one of the old gunsmiths about the BP Colts around 1973. He stated that it was fairly well known that they were something of a rarity and potentially collectable, but would most likely be destroyed at the end of their service lives. Don't really know their ultimate fate.

I still have a copy of what purported to be a comprehensive inventory of INS-owned guns circa 1980 or so. There were some pretty unusual pieces in small numbers but no indication of how they got into the inventory. They probably wound up as scrap, unfortunately.

July 30, 2005, 10:42 PM
So do you think mine has any value, or should I sell it as planned?

July 30, 2005, 11:29 PM
I assume your BP is nickel????

My "Blue Book of Gun Values" is an older edition, but it shows a nickel Colt Border Patrol in 90% condition at $400. and in 98% at about $600.

Likely the price WILL go up in coming years since there were only 1152 made in nickel.

April 21, 2011, 02:41 AM
The original 1952 Colt Border Patrol revolver was designed by Chief FBI
gunsmith at the time Joe Varnich. It was indeed the same frame as the
Official Police model with a heavy barrel. The first one made was presented
to Joe for being the creator of the design. A friend of mine who was also a friend of Joe was given that gun by Joe's wife after Joe passed away. That particular gun has an interesting history. Joe engine turned the side plate,
put a set of Roper grips on it, drilled two holes in the bottom of the grips,
and cemented the eyes from a stuffed owl into them. Joe often wore this gun
at the FBI Academy according to my friend, and when asked why he cemented
the owl eyes into the grips, He would reply, "I want to make sure I see what's behind me." I have held this gun in my hands, and last saw it with my friend,
it's owner at the time, in Fredericksburg, VA.

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