1901 NYPD Issue Piece ???????


August 2, 2003, 07:48 PM
Anyone have a book or something that details what NY’s Finest were carrying back around the turn of the century (1901)?

I got through dividing my late grandmother’s (Nana’s) estate a few months ago and I was given a presentation night stick made from ebony and ivory (I think) which was presented to my great-grandfather by the NYPD back in 1901. I would love to get my hands on a matching blued wheelgun (or maybe a replica?) or even know what to look for. TIA.

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Old Fuff
August 2, 2003, 08:26 PM
In 1895 Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt Became New York City's Police Commissoner, and jumped into the job with his usual gusto. It wasn't long before he discovered the Department was armed with a sad collection of sidearms of many different kinds - some going back to the Civil War. This to the future president was completely unacceptable. He ask the Colt company to design a suitable revolver for police work. They responded in 1896 with a new double-action/hand ejecting revolver chambered in .32 Colt Long. It had a 4 inch barrel, held six shots, blued finish with black hard rubber grips. It was aptly named the "New Police," and made until 1907 when it was replaced with the "Police Positive."

Occasionally they pop up at: www.armchairgunshow.com as well as other web sites.

Wil Terry
August 6, 2003, 10:22 AM
Were chambered in 32COLT NEW POLICE not the 32COLT LONG cartridge.
The 32COLT NEW POLICE was the same cartridge as the 32S+W LONG but with a flat point lead bullet.

Old Fuff
August 6, 2003, 12:31 PM

You're correct in saying that the .32 Colt New Police cartridge was the same as the .32 S&W Long except for a slightly flattened nose on the bullet. Colt simply didn't want to say anything on they're products that in any way referred to "that other company in Springfield." In turn S&W management felt the same way about the "firm up in Hartford."

Be that as it may, the .32 S&W Long was introduced 1896 along with S&W's first Hand Ejector. This was the same year Colt introduced the New Police model in .32 Colt (Long). It was several years thereafter before Colt felt the need to do anything about offering an alternative to S&W's new kid on the block. Since the NYCPD bought some of the first guns made, if not the very first ones, I am sure the early shipments were for the .32 Colt cartridge. I suspect they didn't change to the .32 (or .38) Colt New Police until sometime later. That would most likely be after Colt introduced the Police Positive model in 1908.

Wil Terry
August 6, 2003, 02:48 PM
That makes perfect sense to me also.
You're also right about the animosity between S+W and the COLT company. The Wesson boys hated that Hartford outfit with a passion!!! I have always wondered why as it seems to me that S+W gave as good as they got in their long years of competition. It must have been something personal to be so vitrioloc.
I have always imagined the delight the Wesson boys must have felt after the first M+P's came out with their new DA system, rebound slide and all, and knowing it was invented by a COLT engineer, and turned down by the COLT hierarcy. They had to LAUGH all the way to the bank.

August 6, 2003, 07:32 PM
You could try writing the NYPD Museum curator at 100 Old Slip, New York, N.Y. 10005 or call 1-212-480-3100. Their website is a stinker, no email or curator`s name.

Old Fuff
August 6, 2003, 08:55 PM

I think the battle started between Colt and Smith & Wesson because Colt refused to let S&W manufacturer revolvers until the Colt patents expired. That was 1856. But then Horace (Smith) and Daniel (Wesson) got in they’re licks by stopping Colt from making a revolver that used conventional metallic cartridges until 1872. Colt almost went bankrupt and pleaded with President Grant not to sign a patent extension. After this the war was on.

Colt had the U.S. military business locked up, but S&W kept trying. Colt made the first solid-frame/swing-out cylinder revolver, but S&W trumped then with what most people consider a better one in 1899 and then improved it in 1902 and 1905. It is noteworthy that no one has bettered the double-action speed records set by Ed. McGivern or Terry Miculek while using a double-action Colt revolver.

August 11, 2003, 05:00 PM
I'm not sure which record you're referring to, but Jerry (not Terry) Miculek broke several world's records using S&W revolvers. He fired six shots, reloaded, and fired six more shots on a single target in 2.99 seconds using a .45 ACP Model 625 using full moon clips. He also set records using an 8-shot S&W Performance Center 627, including 8 shots on 1 target in 1.00 seconds. He may well have used Colt's at some earlier point in time.

Old Fuff
August 11, 2003, 08:58 PM

You are right. My finger twitched a "T" instead of a "J." JERRY Miculek is the gentleman who set the records, and I believe he used S&W revolvers in doing it. The previous record holder was Ed. McGivern who used both Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers but much prefered Smith's. Both of these outstanding shooters used revolvers made after World War One, and in Jerry's case well after World War Two. But prior to 1905 Colt pretty well had the double-action revolver market tied up. After that S&W started to make itself a contender.

August 12, 2003, 01:13 AM
Hey I agree with you on almost all points. I believe the first 32 Long Colt revolvers for the NYPD were Colt Pocket Positives with 3" barrels.

Old Fuff
August 12, 2003, 10:24 AM

The NYCPD may of bought some "New Pocket Model" revolvers. These were introduced in 1893. But if they did it wasn't an official sidearm.

The "New Police Model" was the first department mandated revolver used by the NYCPD and the first 4,500 gun order was placed in 1896. These had 4 inch barrels, square butts, and were blued with black hard-rubber grips. There is some dispute about what chartridge they were chambered for, which I am trying to resolve.

Some say it was the .32 CNP (Colt New Police) that is identical to the .32 S&W Long except for a slight difference in bullet shape. I believe they were chambered to use the .32 Long Colt cartridge. Why? Because the .32 S&W Long - which preceeded the .32 CNP - was not introduced itself until 1896, the same year the order for revolvers was placed with Colt. It seems unlikely that Colt would have chambered these guns to use a S&W round that was just coming onto the market. Also there is no evidence that the police department specified a particular .32 cartridge - especially one that was about to be introduced by S&W. If this was of any importance it would seem they would have ordered S&W revolvers.

August 12, 2003, 12:06 PM
I seem to remember that at one time in the early days the NYPD actually carried autos .I think 380s and they weren't used long . Can anyone fill me in on this ?

August 12, 2003, 05:00 PM
Fuff is right on the first revolvers being .32 Colts. Later, in 1901, NYPD required "each, member of the patrol force shall be armed on duty with a revolving pistol of .38 caliber…stamped with a number corresponding to the shield number of the officer." Officers already on the job were grandfathered-in and allowed to continue carrying their .32 revolvers.

Mete is also right on the .380 autos. NYPD ordered 800+ .380 Colt Model M pistols (aka Pocket Hammerless Model 1908) in 1915 for issue to detectives. These bore "P.D.N.Y. No. XXX" markings, where XXX was (I believe) the shield number.

Old Fuff
August 12, 2003, 06:37 PM

Do you know what .38 revolver was adopted in or around 1901? Colt did not make a small frame hand-ejector style revolver in .38 caliber until the Police Positive was introduced in 1905. I suppose they could have been Colt model 1892's in .38 Long Colt with a 4 1/2" barrel, but these would have larger and heavier then the New Police.

Smith & Wesson was making their model 1899 Military & Police in .38 Special or .38 Long Colt with a 4" barrel, but I know of no reference mentioning this revolver in connection with the NYCPD.

They could have used S&W top-break revolvers chambered in .38 S&W (several models) but I highly doubt this was the case. 1901 seems like a strange year to go to a .38 .....

August 13, 2003, 10:46 PM
Hey I may be wrong. The SAW had many revolvers in use. The Colt 1902 was one that was found to be ineffective in combat. The 45 Long Colt SAA was brought out of arsenal storage and shopped. The SAA was a great combat pistol in Cuba. The Colt 38 Long Colt revolvers were quickly replaced with 41 caliber models or 45 Caliber models. Colt was the sole NYPD supplier until after WWII. The natural choice for Colt was to supply the former Army contract pistols in 38 Long Colt to the NYPD. The barrels were chopped to 4" and they were NYPD spec. I understand this was the first 38 the NYPD used. S&W was persona non grata with NYPD until after WWII. I have no idea why.

August 13, 2003, 11:41 PM
Looking at some of those old Colts, esp compared to the N frames and full sized autochuckers of today, they look almost dainty.. kind of like a ladysmith. Even down to the fleur de lis designed factory grips. You would think the 32 new police with short barrels were meant as pocket or concealed weapons rather than a belt gun.

Old Fuff
August 14, 2003, 09:17 AM
At the turn of the 20th century New York officers were uniformed in the style of British Bobbies. They wore greatcoats and helmets and carried nightsticks, (or “day-sticks” as the case might be) and handguns were carried under the coat or in a coat pocket, not in an exposed holster as is common today. For this reason police revolvers of the time were on the small size. The concept carried on for some time.

As an aside: My father owned a S&W Military & Police .38 with a 4” barrel. Sometime during the early 1930’s it was registered as a “pocket pistol.”

The 1901 regulation changing to a .38 revolver is correct. The only question is, “what .38 revolver?” If the answer is, “it had to be a Colt.” Then the only possibility I know of would be Colt’s commercial version of the model 1892/1901 Army revolver with a 4 ½” barrel. Unlike the 1896 regulation that specified a certain make (Colt .32 with 4” barrel) the 1901 specification didn’t mention a particular gun or its dimensions.

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