Need Help Identifying a Colt


September 10, 2012, 06:51 PM
Hi guys, new to the forums, I wasn't sure where I should post this. I picked this colt up the other day, mostly just because I can't really find anything like it. I was hoping you all could help me figure out what I have, I would rather not pay colt $75 to authenticate a gun that isn't worth more than a few hundred dollars.

The barrel is 2 3/4 in
Reads "Officers model 38" with "heavy barrel" under that on the barrel.
SN: 631xxx with an "E" under it
Under the grips in various places there are 2 5's a 4, 0, M, and a S
Cylinder rotates clockwise
Has an adjustable rear sight
Nickel and Gold plated.

Im new to revolvers, as this is the first I have owned. I thought this is something custom, or maybe I found something. Hopefully someone here can help. I was told when I purchased it that it was a '37 officers model, that was a presentation piece through colt that was given to officers as they retired, ect. Any info anyone has on this would be greatly appreciated!

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September 10, 2012, 07:14 PM

Looks like someone has chopped the barrel on what may have started-out as an Officer's Model Match.
There is no end on the ejector, the front sight is all wrong, wrong grips, bastardized rear sight and there is the situation involving a bad looking refinish.
The terms "something" and "custom" certainly apply, though not in any way flattering.
Have you shot it?
This gun has been butchered with a heavy hand.


September 10, 2012, 07:17 PM
You have a pre-war Colt Officer's Model Target revolver that's been heavily modified.

These were made as 6" barreled Target revolvers. Someone cut the barrel down, installed a different front sight and had the gun plated.
Unfortunately this destroyed the value of a fine target gun.
Back in the days when revolvers were the king of target pistols, the Colt Officer's Models were the favorite of the top shooters, and held all the records.

631xxx was made in 1939. The "E" is a factory inspectors stamp.
The stamps on the grip frame are standard inspection stamps.
They've probably been polished off when the plating was done, but it should also have an inspectors letter stamp on the left rear of the trigger guard web, and on the front left trigger guard web should be a small "VP" in a triangle.
This is Colt's Verified Proof stamp.

When it was plated, a ham-handed polisher polished off most of the fine checkering on the cylinder latch, and the grips are cheap Italian made grips that resemble genuine Colt Target grips.
These Italian made grips often turn up on Colt's missing the original grips and often have Colt medallions.
At one point, CDNN was selling these grips for as little as $9.95.

The ejector rod head is missing. These pre-war ejector rod heads have different threads then post-war so be careful what you buy if you try to find a replacement.

September 10, 2012, 07:27 PM
So basically this gun is butchered, what would you say the value on this is? I took it to a few local gun shops and heard different things from them all. Some say its something rare, others say its custom, some say they just have no idea. lol. The crowning on the barrel is awfully great to be cut, so if it was, it was by the hand of a great gunsmith. All of them say its in great shape though, average of them all was 98% this gun is tight, and has hardly been fired. You think it is possible that it could be a custom order through colt, some kind of presentation piece?

ETA: No i haven't fired it, although it seems to be in great mechanical shape, didn't want to because i thought it might of been rare. lol

royal barnes
September 10, 2012, 07:44 PM
Butchered, heavily polished prior to a refinish and with cheap grips. What's not to long as it didn't cost more than $100.00:rolleyes:

Old Fuff
September 10, 2012, 07:48 PM
My turn...

I think that it's what's left of a .38 Officers Model, target revolver that was serial numbered in the Official Police serial number series and made in 1939 (give or take). It originally had a semi-custom 6" heavy barrel and blued finish. It was, then and now, one of the finest target revolvers ever made.

Some brain-dead individual cut the barrel off, soldered on a front sight that Colt wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole, and hid the damage under a layer of nickel plate and gold wash. For some reason the ejector rod head is long gone.

The story about it being a Colt presentation piece is a bad joke. Never, ever would they put together anything that looked like this, and to confirm my opinion I will point out that the stocks never saw the inside of the Hartford factory either.

If it had been left as it was, it would probably be worth somewhere in the $500 to $700 range. Now I wouldnít want it for a paperweight.

Iím sorry to be the bearer of such bad news, and sincerely hope you didnít pay too much for it. If you can get your money back, do so.

September 10, 2012, 07:54 PM
Definitely not a Colt custom piece. Values for refinished guns are typically pegged at 60% at best, assuming that nothing else has been changed, not 98%, because it's no longer original. The modifications and missing part drop the value much more. At best, you have a good shooter. If that was mine, and I couldn't return it, I'd shoot the foo out of it and use it for a kit or truck gun. If someone offered me a couple hundred dollars, I'd take it and run as fast as I could. It should still shoot fine, but it certainly isn't anything desirable.

ETA: There's been good info from dfaris and Fuff, so I edited my post.

September 10, 2012, 08:19 PM
How far did you have to chase that rapper to steal that revolver from him?

On a serious note, someone is guilty of gun abuse.

September 10, 2012, 08:23 PM
Its a auto/truck gun now. Colt collectors won't touch it. The front sight kind of looks good but by cutting the original barrel; the elevation adjustable sight is gone. While the rear sight adjusted for windage. The gun will accept any stocks that will fit a python including rubber grips. These medium frame Colts will fire any 38 ammo including plus P. On a very good day you might get someone to give you a $150 for it.

September 10, 2012, 08:29 PM
I'm disappointed. Was hopping it was a nice piece. Looks like I took a gamble and lost a couple hundred on this one. I have $450 in it. Guess that's what I get for not knowing what I'm buying. lol

September 10, 2012, 08:45 PM
Oh my....:barf:

Where to begin? I do not intend to denigrate you personally, you would need to see what it used to be and appreciate the old bullseye guns to know what a heinous sin this truly is.

On the bright side, if you got it cheap (like really cheap), if it still functions without problems and you wanted a snubby truck gun or backup of some sort, you have a functional and truly unusual specimen. The nature of this vintage Colt and original intent may tend to work against you and since it has been mistreated in all the obvious ways I couldn't have much confidence in reliability until proven otherwise. An unmodified Taurus may have been a better choice.

That front sight is truly "a sight" and I have no idea where they got it and how it could do it's job well just at first glance. I just think that the Officers Model must have been in very rough shape to tempt anyone to these measures (at least I hope).

For these reasons the pragmatic concern must be determining if it can still function safely and with anything like reliability. The internals are from a period when Colt employed hand crafting that required skill that is largely lost today, parts would be very difficult to find and expensive to the point of impracticality for this piece, and with the idea that periodic maintenance is required much like a Ferrari engine.

As far as collector value, none.

As far as asthetics, maybe you better ask someone else!:mad:

September 10, 2012, 09:13 PM

This is one of those life-lessons that, among other things, illustrates the difference twixt friend and acquaintance. The individual that sold you the gun is the later, not the former.
I speak from experience on this issue!

If you are gun-ie (gunnish?), you will be motivated to learn, read, look, and handle all you can, er... Handle.

Go to some gun shows with zero money-in-hand, and watch, ask and listen. Read all you can about your areas of interest, net and, (whaddaya call those things, you know, they have pages and are made from old trees...) oh, yeah, BOOKS!

There is a wealth of information for you to soak-up, but no one else can do it for you.
When you have questions, go to the best available resource and ask. Heck, I even take notes!

Get back on the horse, pardner, ride the trail with friends and ride around the acquaintances.


September 10, 2012, 09:39 PM
If you bought it from a licensed dealer return it saying they misrepresented it. If you bought it from an individual... well, you are the two surfaces bonded together by a helical plane on an axis. I think it may be worth $250 or so.

It original looked something like this:

Old Fuff
September 10, 2012, 09:45 PM
Guess that's what I get for not knowing what I'm buying. lol

Hay! Don't get some wrong ideas because of the negative comments.

We all is delighted that you decided to join us, and some very savvy people will always be standing ready to help you on ANY gun-related subject you can think of. All of our considerable expertise is at your fingertips.

In the future if you spot something that looks likely, post a description (photo if you can take one) and if possible a serial number using xx for the last two numerals. Then go back and deal & dicker knowing exactly what you are doing. :evil:

Concerning this Colt. If you bought it from a dealer Iíd take it back and ask for a refund or a trade on something else. The seller misrepresented what it was in a way that borders on fraud. If they give a hard time a few words with the Better Business Bureau might be in order. Remember the seller is a professional (or supposedly so) and should know what they are selling.

September 11, 2012, 07:40 PM
As consolation to you, just about everyone who gets into guns made a mistake on a gun when first starting out in the hobby.
No one starts out as an expert. You learn as you go. Some lessons are more expensive then others.

September 11, 2012, 07:59 PM
This is how they started out in life- The 1917 is all original aside from the aftermarket sights and the 1937 with the grip adapter has Kings Sights, and a Kings action job with a "cockeyed" hammer. These kind of alterations are fairly common as others have said the Officers Models were used heavily for target shooting.

Jim K
September 11, 2012, 08:20 PM
It might be hard to get the store to admit that they lied. I would try to avoid confrontation, simply saying that they told you such and such and that experts have said that the story, on which you based the collectibility of the revolver, is not true. If they persist in the lie, and tell you where to go, go anyplace but that store in the future.


September 11, 2012, 08:42 PM
Shoot the living heck out of it, until you get your money's worth out of it.
Then, repeat, as needed.

September 11, 2012, 08:57 PM
I was told when I purchased it that it was a presentation piece through colt that was given to officers as they retired, ectMust have been a gag gift then!

They might have gave a retiring officer a pimp's confiscated gun that has been butchered beyond help by Bubba the gun butcher.

I concur that if you bought it from a reputable source who represented it a a Colt Factory Presentation piece?
You should beat feet back where you bought it and demand a refund.

You got the shaft on that right there, regardless of the price.


September 11, 2012, 09:26 PM

I feel for you buddy.

Know that none of us are immune to making a bad purchase.

There are some very smart folks here. Feel free to ask advice.

Posting a picture here could have saved you.

We are saddened by what happened to a spectacular old gun as well as the fact that u got burned.

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