Trying to I.D an old colt DA


July 5, 2011, 10:59 PM
Hi all, I am trying to identify an old Colt DA revolver. It has black rubber grips with the Colt logo. On the bottom of the frame between the grips is the number 82, under that is the number 32. Under the crane, and on the back of the cylinder is the number 980. My first guess on this was a New Service, however the sight is a half moon, and the only locking mech for the cyl. is the ratchet, which is very loose. Both the barrel and the cylinder have an I.D. of .40" so I'm not sure of the caliber. There are no other markings on the gun.
Thanks for your time, Bill

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Jim Watson
July 5, 2011, 11:33 PM
Best I can tell, it is a Navy DA, Model of 1889, made between 1889 and 1894.
This a civilian model with hard rubber grips instead of Navy walnut.

I guess it could be a .41 Long Colt but more likely a .38 Long Colt depending on the accuracy of your measurements.

Lack of company and caliber markings indicates a heavy handed refinish to me.

Jim K
July 6, 2011, 12:00 AM
The gun appears to have been heavily rusted, then wire-brushed, polished and reblued. The value is minimal; I would guess $100 or so.

July 6, 2011, 01:13 AM
The revolver is an old family heirloom on my wife's side. It definitely had a rough refurb. The navy models were supposed to have the horse in the medallion, not the word colt. Perhaps it had the grips changed at the same time.

Jim Watson
July 6, 2011, 09:19 AM
My book says the actual Navy issue 1889s had walnut grips, the commercial models had hard rubber Colt grips.
The later 1892-1895 military guns still had wood grips, the commercial model of Navy pattern had hard rubber Colt grips, the commercial Army had hard rubber "horsie" grips.
Yours looks like a standard commercial 1889 by that description.

Jim K
July 6, 2011, 10:22 PM
Those commercial model stocks on the Model 1889 "New Navy" are the same as the stocks on the "Navy Model" version of the commercial New Army & Navy Model. That whole range of revolvers (1889-1901) had two styles of grip frames. Military contract guns up to the Model 1903 had large grip frames, with a flare like the SAA. The civilian models had a small grip frame like the later Colt revolvers. All the "small" stocks are interchangeable, as are all of the "large" stocks. It was not until the Model 1903 contract revolver that the military accepted the small grip, making it the same as the civilian.

The Model 1903, BTW, was also the first of the New Army & Navy guns to be chambered for the .38 Special (no shoulders in the chambers), though the barrel marking was not changed.


July 7, 2011, 10:20 PM
I can't add much to what Jim has said, other than that old gun is a cantidate for putting in a shadow box display. 41 and 38 Long Colt are pretty rare and expensive to shoot.

Old Western Scrounger makes small lots of it, but you seem to indicate it doesn't lock up very well. I don't think I'd plan on shooting it.

July 8, 2011, 12:55 AM
Thanks for all the help, it sure saves me a lot of hair pulling. Yes, Dr. Rob I think a shadow box would be the way to go. I can't see spending the money to try to get repaired, only to shoot some pretty expensive ammo.
I still can't find any photos on the gun without the cylinder locking slots. As the date on manf. seems to be 1890, according to Proofhouse, I would guess these would have been added in later years?

Again, Thanks for all the help, Bill

Jim K
July 8, 2011, 03:06 PM
The Model 1889 had no cylinder notches; it locked on the ratchet like the Model 1878.

That arrangement was not very solid and could loosen up rapidly. (The 1878 didn't have an extractor type ratchet, so it was more solid.)


July 9, 2011, 04:59 PM
The 1892 came out with the cylinder notches. Your 1889 can have value depending on condition, but the action is very fragile (hard to find one that isn't broke), and once broken they're near impossible to fix (no parts and no one with knowledge on the workings).

I suggest you not work the action but for cleaning and put it on display.

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