colt officers model 38


September 16, 2011, 08:35 PM
In reading several post from Feb 1, through Feb 6, 2008 I found information very close to information on a gun I have. The gun was supposedly acquired in Pearl Harbour by an artilleryman stationed at Scoffield Barracks on that infamous day. The gun is a Colt 38 Officers Special, Heavy Barrel (cross before and after heavy barrel on the second line only.) Top of barrel is marked, Colt PTFA MFG Co. Hartford, Ct. U.S.A. Patd Aug 5 1884, July 4, 1905, Oct. 5, 1926. The barrel is 6" with a slight taper. Front sight has a vertical adjustment. Rear sight has windage adjustment. Matte finish on sight ramp in front of rear sight with 5 groves (adjustment marks) in front of the rear sight. Walnut checkered grips. Rear strap, hammer, cyclinder release, trigger, checkered. Silver Colt medallion on grips. Blue steel. Serial # is 643813 and it appears to be y stamped below the frame # but no Y anywhere else. Information sought is for sentimental reasons. Information on the 2008 post suggested that gun was built in 1937. This is a little later serial number. Not a Target Model. Thanks for any information.

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Jim Watson
September 16, 2011, 08:55 PM
Your physical description is for an Officer's Model Target (not Special) Heavy Barrel, but the serial number is in the range of the Official Police for 1940, as shown at

I can't explain it but will note that Colt is not as careful about such things as you might think. My 1978 Service Model Ace has a serial number in the range of the Mk IV Series 70 .45 Government Model. It was bought new by me with no chance of it being a Conversion on a GM frame.

Jim K
September 16, 2011, 10:27 PM
Quote from Wilson:

"The Officers Model category of revolvers represents one of the most involved and perplexing ... in the Colt field... the earliest of these revolvers was known as the Officers Model (1904-1930). In 1930, when the .22 Long Rifle was introduced, a separate serial sequence beginning with 1 was started and continued to c. 1949. The caliber .38 ... continued being numbered in sequence with the New Model Army and Navy, Army Special, and then with the Official Police."

So that Officers Model Target is numbered in the Official Police series, and the gun was made in 1940.



P.S. Wilson's small book is confusing here, listing a separate Officers Model series beginning with 1 in 1930. That list is included after the Official Police .22 and is for the .22 caliber Officers Model which was introduced in 1930 and began with number 1 as noted above.


Old Fuff
September 17, 2011, 10:36 AM
Throughout it's long history the Officers Model series of target revolver (by whatever name, and there were several) is a convoluted mess when it comes to trying to date one by the serial number. This is because at different times Colt stuck the target model in various different serial number series, often associated with a different model. Part of the reason was that production was relatively limited and they didnít see any reason to start an exclusive serial number series for it, an exception being the .22 version.

The heavy barrel was a special order option, and consisted of modifying the shank on a barrel usually fitted to a larger New Service or Shooting Master frame so that it would fit on the smaller Official Police (target) one. Again on special order, they also made some Official Police service revolvers with the same barrel.

In this case I think the 1940 date is probably correct.

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