32 Colt Revolver


October 31, 2009, 11:35 PM
I recently found a 32 Caliber Colt Revolver when I was cleaning out my parents house.. The serial number is 274832. It has a 7.5 inch barrel. From what I can gather from family sources this revolver was used by an uncle that may have been a detective for the Missouri Pacific Railroad in the early 1900's.

Can anyone give me any information about this weapon and approximate value? I really have no interest in selling this weapon. Prefer to keep it in the family but would be interested in knowing about this handgun..

Thank you in advance for your help

If you enjoyed reading about "32 Colt Revolver" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Old Fuff
November 1, 2009, 07:24 AM
Colt made a number of different models chambered to use .32 caliber ammunition, including .32 Long Colt, .32 Colt New Police (same as .32 S&W Long) and .32-20 (also known as .32 WCF). To help you a lot more information is needed, and if you could post a photograph it would be a big help.

Is your revolver one that you swing out the cylinder to the left side to load, or something else?

Measure the barrel length from the front face of the cylinder to the end of the muzzle, and confirm its length.

Does the side of the barrel have markings such as: .32 D.A., or the words "New Police," Police Positive, Police Positive Special, or Army Special?

November 1, 2009, 10:33 AM

Post a picture and Old Fuff will be able to tell you model, year of production and perhaps the names of the kids of the folks that assembled it.

Except for his hatred of vintage shotguns (especially Browning designs such at the Remington 11) he is a great source of information.

Old Fuff
November 1, 2009, 01:21 PM
Except for his hatred of vintage shotguns (especially Browning designs such at the Remington 11) he is a great source of information.

I don't actually HATE those square-back shotguns... I mean Col. Askins still had a model 11 under his bed, "just in case" when he passed away. Considering his reputation they couldn't have been too bad... :uhoh:

It's just that I get confused when it comes to changing rings and spacers when it come to going from low-base to high-base loads. :rolleyes:

It's so much easier to put a little hole in the barrel and vent off a little gas. :evil:

November 1, 2009, 02:16 PM
Good Morning:

Thank you for replying.. I am not sure how to
post a picture on this forum.. While i am figuring that out I will pass along the following information..

The left side of the barrel is marked 32 W.C.F. That is as you are holding the weapon as if you are intending to fire it..

On the right side is a spring loaded cartridge ejector.. You open a little door on the right side of cylinder.. Pull this little handle toward you and a rod ejects the spent cartridge..

I cannot get the cylinder out.. There is a little pin under the barrel that I assume you pull up to release the cylinder.. Looks like somebody has been tugging on it with a pair of pliers.. Buggered it up a little.. I have only tried my fingers.. Wanted to find out more about this before i tried pliers...

To load the weapon you open the little door on the right side of the cylinder..drop your cartridges in there then close to fire..

On the left side near the trigger is the following

Pat Sept 19,1871
July 2.72 Jan 12.73

The weapon seems to be in fair to good condition..

I think that is about it.. I am going to work on the picture post in a little bit..if anyone could enlighten me on how to do this it would be appreciated...

Thanks in advance for your help


November 1, 2009, 02:18 PM
By the way, I measured the barrel as you requested.. It is 7.5 inches

November 1, 2009, 03:54 PM
Well son, what you have is a Colt Single Action Army chambered in 32-20 WCF or Winchester Center-Fire.

To remove the cylinder base-pin, you push in on the spring-loaded plunger under the front part of the frame. That should release the base-pin to pull straight out unless it is rusted in.

Due to the present value of a good Colt SAA of your vintage, I would suggest you do no scrubbing, polishing, or otherwise remove the old patena. Screwing with it can quickly cost you close to a thousand bucks in collector value.

It would be wise to take the gun to a qualified gunsmith familiar with the Colt SAA if you can't get the base-pin out without pliers..


November 1, 2009, 04:06 PM
Sounds like it could almost be a twin for this one: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=476996
The serial number's even close. My friend's gun was made in 1906.

Old Fuff
November 1, 2009, 05:42 PM
Well the additional information that dan6764 has given us makes it possible to narrow the possibilities down to just two.

One is the famous Colt Single Action Army - known to all Western movie fans. The second is a similar model, called the Bisley. It was named after shooting range in England. Both of these revolvers were numbered in the same serial number series, and number 274,832 would have been made in or around 1906, which fits the known history. At this time (the turn of the 20th century) the .32-20 or 32 WCF cartridge was especially popular because one could buy a rifle or carbine made by Winchester or Marlin (plus others) that fired the same ammunition.

The easy way to identify a Bisley is that the top of the hammer where you put your thumb to cock it is wider then the rest of the hammer.

Without a photograph I can't make a positive identification, but if someone posts a picture of either a Single Action Army or Bisley Model, we should be able to decide very quickly, one way or the other.

Also most (but not all) Bisley's were marked "Bisley" on the side of the barrel.

November 1, 2009, 08:14 PM

Here is the link that should direct you to the pictures of this weapon.. I am going to post this and hope it works..

November 1, 2009, 08:27 PM
Yep, SAA...

November 1, 2009, 08:35 PM
I concur with Old Fuff, that's a 1906 mfg. Colt Single Action Army. If it has railroad markings on the butt of the gun the value can go up as well.

If all the serial numbered parts match, (look at the front of the trigger guard where it meets the frame) you can easily say it's worth 2 grand.
If it's marked by a railroad, even more.

Nice old Colt. First generation Colts (pre WW2) are very collectable, and they hold thier value well.

November 1, 2009, 08:37 PM
I think the photo link is going to work.. This weapon has no other markings on it other than the one I described..

The top of the hammer of this revolver is the same width as the rest of the hammer..

All the buttons seem to work on this but I cannot get the cylinder out.. There is some wear on this gun but there is only a little surface rust..

rcmodel stated that screwing around with this gun could easily cost a couple thousand dollars in collector value.. Just how much is this weapon worth?? I do not want to sell it but from the sounds of things this weapon needs to be in a safe deposit box

November 1, 2009, 08:48 PM
Alright.. There is serial numbers on three spots.. one on the barrel assembly, one just in front of the trigger guard and one on the butt of the gun.. All of these numbers are the same.. The grip has the Colt emblem on the right grip.. The left grip does not have the Colt emblem there. But, it does not look as if it really belongs there..
The owner was a railroad man.. I have been doing some checking today.. He worked for the Mobile and Ohio.. Not the Missouri Pacific as I stated earlier.. From all indications he was a railroad detective of some kind.. I can find no special markings on the butt of this weapon... Are railroad markings obvious??

I really appreciate the help you guys have given me on this


Old Fuff
November 2, 2009, 08:04 AM
Most railroad detectives of that time were men that were hired to prevent tramps and others from hitching rides in boxcars - or from stealing whatever they might find that was useful among the cargo.

They generally purchased their own sidearms, and more frequently then not used them as clubs. A heavy, solid-frame, long barreled revolver - such as the one you have - would have worked well in this context.

Also at this time the .32-20 (.32 WCF) carridge was enjoying a spurt of unusual polularity, and during some years Colt actually made more of them then the mostly standard .45 Colt and .44-40.

If you are willing to pay $100 give-or-take (a fee I consider outrageous) the Colt Company will research its old records, and then send you a formal letter that includes such information as the original caliber, barrel length, finish, stocks, and to what distributor or dealer it was sent to, and on what exact date. Given the importance of the revolver to your family it might be worth it.

Without considering the gun's history or background (which would add to the value if confirmed), the current book value is between $3,000 to $4,000.

November 2, 2009, 01:05 PM
If you cock the gun, you can see the rear end of the base-pin showing in a hole in the frame just below the hole for the firing pin.

Squirt some penetrating oil on it and where the pin goes through the front of the frame let it soak overnight.

It is also possible the base-pin is froze on the cylinder bushing and penetrating oil on that joint may help too.

Then, you might be able to use a slim brass punch or hardwood dowel rod next to the cocked hammer to tap the rear of the pin enough to get it moving.

(Be sure and make sure you have the cylinder release plunger pushed in all the way while tapping.)


November 2, 2009, 01:47 PM
Fuff that seems high given recent auctions. No doubt it COULD go that high, esp. if the economy bounces back, but I'd say closer to 2 grand at the moment. I'd INSURE it for twice that.

If it was me, I wouldn't put it away in a safe deposit box. I'd clean it, oil it and I'd be shooting it occasionally. Those old Colts are tough.

Old Fuff
November 2, 2009, 06:26 PM
Fuff that seems high given recent auctions. No doubt it COULD go that high, esp. if the economy bounces back,

My numbers were book value, but that said I have a news flash! The better antique and classic gun auctions (not Gunbroker nor GunsAmerica) are not suffering from any resession. There are plenty of American as well as foreign collectors and investors that have money to spend, and are doing it - especially as the U.S. dollar plunges.

November 2, 2009, 10:38 PM
I want to thank you guys for the help you have given me.. I really appreciate it.. This has turned into a most interesting project..

This pistol was one of two I found above a drop ceiling.. There was also an old single shot 22 caliber rifle up there.. The other pistol is also a 32 caliber.. It is a small nickel plated gun with a five shot cylinder.. I strongly suspect it came from the same individual but there is no family recollection as to who it belongs to.. I below is the link where I have posted the photos.. Could anyone help me to identify what type of pistol this is.??


Thanks again for your help


November 2, 2009, 10:52 PM
That would be an H&R Premier .32 top break

If you enjoyed reading about "32 Colt Revolver" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!