Need help, Colt Officers Model 38?


June 30, 2008, 05:30 PM
I am mainly a Smith and Wesson kind of guy but, couldn't resist this Colt at a gun show this last weekend. It is marked only on the six inch barrel as Officers Model 38 Heavy Barrel. Serial number 6186XX It has a 3/8 inch wide by 2 1/2 long front sight ramp that extends in the lettering on top of barrel. Has fully adjustable rear sight. Barrel cyclinder gap is almost non existant (no drag marks on cyclinder face). Grips have gold Colt Medallion. Gun is in excellent shape and I suspect that it will be a tackdriver. Is this someone's custom gun? How would I be able to tell if this gun has been to the Colt Custom Shop? If this gun is not original, the gunsmithing that was done to it is superb. Thanks for your help.

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Jim Watson
June 30, 2008, 07:31 PM
The Colt Officer's Model was a standard item in the Colt lineup from 1904 through 1969.
No custom shop involved, back then they made them ALL nice.
There were three main versions, and some variants of those, the Officer's Model Target before WW II, the Officer's Model Special for a short run in the late 1940s-early 1950s, and the Officer's Model Match from 1953 til 1969. There were even a few Officer's Model Mk III on the coil spring action after that, but not many.

I don't have full serial number information, it would take a picture for me to tell which version you have.

Old Fuff
June 30, 2008, 08:27 PM
Without a picture your gun is a problem. The serial number doesn't fit any model that matches your description, and it would be most unusual (like unheard of) for Colt to mount a front sight that covered up any markings.

Judging from the serial number, it could be an Officers Model .38 that was made in 1937, and later had the adjustable rear sight and ramped front sight added. Such sights were made by the King Gunsight Co. Before World War Two, and you might look for the word "King" stamped anywhere on the sights.

Otherwise I can't help you, but the quality - if it hasn't been messed with - is equal or better then a Python.

Be sure the serial number isn't 61,86x not 618,6xx

June 30, 2008, 09:41 PM
Sorry but, I am technilogically challenged and do not know how to post a picture. The gun does have a leaf spring and the serial number is definitely a six digit number. It does have a letter"V" stamped under the serial number on the frame in the yoke area but, I assumed that would be either an inventory control number or inspector's mark. I double checked and the sight does not have any marks on it. I am familiar with King Gun Works( I have a King gun in a Smith and Wesson). Thank you again for taking the time to post your info on the gun.

Old Fuff
June 30, 2008, 09:54 PM
I can only conclude that you have a 1937 Officers Model .38 with an optional (Colt) heavy barrel. It originally came with a rear sight that could be adjusted for windage, and a front one with elevation adjustments. These were apparently replaced using aftermarket sights, most likely made by King or Micro. If so they should have some markings. The stocks you described sound like something that was made for a Python or Officers Model Match.

If I am correct it is an excellent revolver, made with Great Depression era care and workmanship. It should indeed be a tack driver.

June 30, 2008, 10:49 PM
The Officer's Model was introduced by Colt in 1904. It was produced until 1943 when it gave way to the Officer's Model Special which was produced until 1952 when it was replaced by the Officer's Model Match. All of the variations I've seen have either plastic or wood grips with silver medallions. The very old ones had diamonds on the grips around the screw. Your grips and sights may not be original, but you have one of the sweetest shooting revolvers that has ever been made. I have a later model that I shoot regularly and always marvel at the craftsmanship that went into producing these revolvers.

July 1, 2008, 09:36 AM
Here's a 22 Officers Model Target from 1930. The 38 caliber version would be the same save the bore size. The original front sight was adjustable for elevation and the rear sight moved side to side for windage correction. Not everyone liked this front sight and perhaps someone changed it on your gun at some point.

I believe the Officers Model Target continued longer than some have suggested. This 38 bears the same markings as the older 22 pictured above but dates from 1950. Maybe the Officer Model Targets and Officer Model Specials overlapped production for a few years after the war?

July 1, 2008, 01:31 PM
The OMT actually ran until 1949 so finding one for 1950 is reasonable.

July 1, 2008, 04:22 PM
I checked some more and found that the OMS started in 1949 at serial 783,001 and my OMT has serial 780,180 so I suspect that although the chart says my number was made in 1950 it was probably actually turned out in 1949 and was soon replaced by the OMS models.

Old Fuff
July 1, 2008, 05:32 PM
Officers Model revolvers are an sticky mess when it comes to identification. This is so because at various times they borrowed serial numbers from unrelated series. Part of this was because production of these very fine revolvers was limited during the later years, and one variant might be in production while they assembled another using previously made parts.

Then to add to the confusion, target shooters frequently had their guns modified in various ways - especially by changing the sights and stocks.

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