Colt DA .38


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wahoo54
March 28, 2011, 12:48 AM
I have my Great Grandfathers Colt DA .38 and want to refurbish it. It's in fair condition but not that great. Needs some trigger work, etc. The serial number is 163137. It has 225 on the cylinder release and has Aug 5, Nov 6 88, and Mar 5th 95 on top of the barrel. Is it anything I should try and restore? Is it possible to get it redone and shootable? Let me know cuz I love this old gun and would love to have it at least displayable again. Would love to be able to shoot it again if possible.

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waidmann
March 28, 2011, 09:05 PM
Unless I am mistaken you have an 1895 New Army and Navy. A blackpowder .38 (Long) Colt which is not a .38 Special by another name. It takes a larger outside lubricated bullet. Another observation is that Colt upgraded the basic model (1889) every few years. I realize and agree that family heirlooms occuppy a special place.

I imagine this project may be a challenge. Perhaps honorable retirement should be considered?

1KPerDay
March 28, 2011, 09:40 PM
It's displayable as it is. Shootable would be a question to ask a gunsmith.

Jim K
March 28, 2011, 11:30 PM
That would be the Colt New Army and Navy (or the military equivalent - the Model 1892 and successors), it will be hard to get anyone to work on it. Parts are scarce and "needs some trigger work, etc." is not a good sign. The guns are fragile and complex and most gunsmiths won't touch them.

The later guns (after 1903) were intended for use with the .38 Special (and will actually accept the .357 Magnum), but Colt did not change the barrel marking; after all they weren't going to put ".38 S&W Special" on a Colt. Needless to say, no +P, +P+ and definitely no .357 Magnum.

Jim

wahoo54
March 29, 2011, 12:45 AM
To Waidman and Jim, Thanks. Were you able to determine the year by the serial number? It belonged to my Great Grandfather who was full blood Delaware Indian and kept it for protection through the years. I want to keep it for display mostly. Doubt I'll be able to get it fireable now that I know parts are scarece, etc. Any info on how you were able to determine it's a 1895 model would help me with passing the info on to my kids etc. Thanks for the info....

1KPerDay
March 29, 2011, 01:15 AM
The "DA .38" and the patent numbers are consistent with the new army and navy to my knowledge. I have one in .41. Does yours look something like this?

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a206/1KPerDay/Guns/6da8bf31.jpg

EnsignJimmy
March 29, 2011, 11:46 AM
I have my Great Grandfathers Colt DA .38 and want to refurbish it. It's in fair condition but not that great. Needs some trigger work, etc. The serial number is 163137. It has 225 on the cylinder release and has Aug 5, Nov 6 88, and Mar 5th 95 on top of the barrel. Is it anything I should try and restore? Is it possible to get it redone and shootable? Let me know cuz I love this old gun and would love to have it at least displayable again. Would love to be able to shoot it again if possible.
A picture would confirm it for sure (or tell us if the cylinder has two sets of notches cut into the cylinder like the picture posted to the thread,) but I suspect that you have a Colt New Army Model 1901 revolver (the '95 patent date is what sets it apart from the 1892, 1894 and 1896 revisions. The August patent date should have an 84 after it, but it might be worn off.)

As has been stated, they were chambered for the .38 Long Colt cartridge, which is the parent cartridge of the .38 Special (which is a stretched .38 Long Colt.) By this time, the .38 Long Colt had switched to using "modern" .357" internally-lubricated bullets. A gun of this vintage in good condition can handle a light-loaded .38 Special (which will fit, because Colt .38 cylinders of this vintage were straight-bored to accommodate the wider externally-lubricated bullets that were still floating around, but since the .38 Long Colt has been revived by CAS shooters, there really isn't the need to do that.)

However, the 1892-type lockwork is not especially strong (it's also a bit on the complicated side.) The only parts you can get are parts salvaged off of other guns, and they'd require extensive hand-fitting by a gunsmith who knows their way around the action. Of which, there are very few; since Colt rendered these guns obsolete with the introduction of the New Police and Police Positive revolvers in the early 1900s (whose action is essentially identical to every other small-frame Colt double-action produced in the 20th Century,) and collectors have only just started to notice these guns.

dfariswheel
March 29, 2011, 08:02 PM
wahoo54

163137 was made in 1901.
1901 serial numbers started at 148000. 1902 started at 180000.

The key points:

It was designed and made for low pressure black powder era cartridges. The later models like yours used early smokeless powder loads.
It is NOT suitable for use with standard loads of .38 Special. You can use VERY light loaded .38 Special or buy expensive .38 Long Colt Cowboy loads, but ONLY if the gun is in good shape and proper timing and adjustment.

These guns are complex designs that get out of order and break very easily.
Virtually no gunsmith will touch one, and there are few if any usable parts available any more if you break it. It's probably best to make it a display gun and not to even dry fire it much.

It is a historic example of the world's first double action, swing-out cylinder revolver, which Colt invented in 1889 as the Colt New Navy model.
When the Army bought it too, Colt renamed it as the New Army & Navy Model.
It was made as both a US military issue gun in .38 Long Colt, and as a commercial model in various calibers like the .38 Long Colt and the .41 Colt.

It was the US Army New Army & Navy in .38 Long Colt that failed in the Philippines and led to the adoption of the Colt .45 Automatic Model of 1911.

wahoo54
March 30, 2011, 12:21 AM
1KPERDAY, Yes it looks just like that. Thanks.

wahoo54
March 30, 2011, 12:32 AM
Thanks to DEFARISWHEEL, ENSIGNJIMMY, 1KPERDAY, Jim, and WAIDMAN. Great info. I'll try and post a pic this weekend. Looks like I need to display this gun. My Great Great Grandfather was the Great Grandson of "Good Traveler" a Delaware Indian scout for John C. Freemont on his 5th expedition over the Rockies. I'll keep this in a glass case for my daughters and Grand Kids to admire. I did have to fabricate a new spring to keep pressure up against the cylinder rotation lever, (Don't know the actual name of the parts yet but will learn), and it functions fine now. Thanks again and if anyone else has anything to offer please do. Any more info certainly welcome.....Wahoo

wahoo54
March 30, 2011, 12:41 AM
EnsignJimmy, Thanks. Yes it looks just like the gun pictured and has 2 notches on the cylinder. Yes it also has the 84 after the Aug date.....

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