6" Colt Police Positive - advice please


January 10, 2013, 12:08 PM
Hey all. Just got this home yesterday. I had been wanting to find a good 6" version for a while now. Found this one for a price that I couldn't pass up. I knew it wasn't ever going to be more than a shooter so I didn't mind the finish problems much. The action is great and it all locks up tight as it should. Surprisingly, the bore and cylinder interior were free of any real pitting.

Now I know the typical feelings toward refinishing any old Colt, and I also know this has been asked before, but I just can't decide what to do. There is minor pitting in several places; the worst being on the cylinder exterior. It looks like its been cleaned up before and possibly even touched up with cold blue. Given the current finish condition, I'm doubting that having it re-blued will hurt its value any. Probably would help it actually. What do you all think? Re-blue? Just try to buff it lightly with 0000 steel wool and oil it to leave as is? Thanks in advance for any advice you can throw at me. :)





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January 10, 2013, 04:38 PM
i like youre idea of buffing the revolver up with the 000 steelwool.
if you keep it oiled well , i would be a very good looking colt !

January 10, 2013, 06:09 PM
I'd either leave it alone and shoot it or spend the money and have it professionally (by that I mean send it to someone who specializes in Colts, not a guy who does it part time in his garage) done. I WOULDN'T steel wool it.

Old Fuff
January 10, 2013, 06:50 PM
Police Positive Special .38 revolvers enjoy very little collector interest, especially with a long 6" barrel. Therefore if you spend much money for professional refinishing it's unlikely you'll live long enough to make your money back.

On the other hand, they make excellent shooters. With the right ammunition they can drive tacks. What ever the finish is it won't affect the way the gun shoots.

Go to: www.proofhouse.com and you can look up the year it was made. What you find should convince you that hot loads are not a good idea. Because it has a positive hammer block it is safe to carry with the cylinder fully loaded.

If I had it I would make sure that it's clean and lubricated, and then leave it as it is. After a bit of shooting you'll come to a conclusion about how much you like it or not. Then, and only then, decide how much money (or not) you want to spend on refinishing.

January 10, 2013, 07:04 PM
Don't steel wool it, unless your going to refinish it. Unless there is much case color left (not seen in the photo), then it doesn't have much collector value... now. IMO, that may change in a few years, but not now.
The finish is already ruined, so do what you like with it. Leave it, blue it, etc.

January 10, 2013, 08:01 PM
You have one major issue with your Colt.

Someone has replaced the cylinder retention stud screw with a Phillips head screw.
That's not good, and is a symptom that either the part was lost or the frame was damaged and someone jacklegged some sort of expedient repair.
In either case, it's possible the frame threads are damaged.

January 11, 2013, 12:40 PM
If its for carry, self defense or woods walking, I'd use brass wool and a good gun oil to clean it up and keep it as is! That gun has many stories to tell and they're etched into the finish for all to see.

People that use guns hard understand that it doesn't take long for them to end up looking exactly like yours does and that refinishing them really isn't worth it when all is said and done.

In a way the finish gets to a certain point and doesn't get much worse in the years to come, similar to flame cutting, it seems self limiting if that makes any sense. That said it doesn't mean the owners neglect their guns, in fact the insides are usually very clean and they operate like new.

It's your money so follow your heart and spend it wisely....you can buy quite a few boxes of ammo instead of turning your shooter into a safe queen.....:)....good luck with your new project and keep us informed on your decisions.

January 11, 2013, 02:46 PM
Thanks everyone for the advice so far. I'm going to take it down today and do a full cleaning. I suspect that there really isn't any original finish left other than on the trigger and spotty on the frame. Once its fully cleaned and degreased, I'll figure out where to go from there. If its as bad as I suspect, I may just fully strip it down with naval jelly. That will remove all the finish, original and anything added later, and expose exactly what's up with any pitting or metal issues. From there it can be refinished correctly whether cold blued or sent in for a true bluing.


Got the PP taken down. Holy cow this thing was nasty inside. The finish basically just wiped off/dissolved while cleaning with break cleaner. That doesn't happen with factory blue for sure. At least all the mechanics look very good once the crud is off. Should be very functional when back together. Ordering that crane lock screw today as well(if its still in stock)!





Well .... looks a bit different now. Figured that it would never be a safe queen, but sure did look like the wrong end of the horse. While I had it torn down I went ahead and stripped it bare. Lots if pitting on the cylinder exterior, but all in all cleaned up fairly well. Should take a new blue finish rather well from here.


January 12, 2013, 10:21 AM
That's a graceful frame for true.

January 12, 2013, 11:39 AM
Doesn't look too bad all stripped down. It is going to be beautiful when you get it prettied up.

I have a 4" with an adulterated front sight (I actually like the insert the former owner put in) and grips (I don't like the varnish job or urathane finish he performed). It is a great shooting .38 in a wonderfully handy size.

January 12, 2013, 09:21 PM
If I wanted it to be gorgeous, I'd seriously consider sending it to Colt for refinishing.
If it's just going to be a working gun, It wouldn't be hard to grit-blast the outside and give it a matte blue, or maybe just Parkerize it.
Guess it depends on whether you want a beach babe or a winter woman.

January 13, 2013, 07:43 PM
Dude, please go back and edit your posts and put a carriage return between each picture.

Nice find.

Ky Larry
January 13, 2013, 10:17 PM
I have a 4" Colt Police made in 1932.The double action trigger just shames anything made today.

January 14, 2013, 01:03 AM
You'd mentioned earlier about putting Naval Jelly on it, DON'T DO THAT, thats for Naval vessels, not firearms! That stuff might eat up whats left of that poor Colt! Seriously, send it out for a bluing job if you want, sure won't hurt anything now that you've got it cleaned up.

January 14, 2013, 10:01 PM
Update:Polished it down a bit further then ran my bluing process using Birchwood Casey Perma-Blue. Took a couple rounds, but ... well you guys be the judge.





January 14, 2013, 10:12 PM
Well, it's blue! :)

Looks like a nice shooter to me. Does anyone know how much Colt charges?

January 15, 2013, 10:29 AM
Well, it's blue! :)

Looks like a nice shooter to me. Does anyone know how much Colt charges?
Well, thanks. It's definitely blued. Knew it would never be a safe queen again, so figured it was worth a shot. I think it turned out ok; especially for a cold bluing job. What do the rest of you guys think?

Think Colt would have been in the $150+ ballpark at least. Not bad at all, but maybe not quite worth it for this one.

Here's a couple better pics from outdoors. Much better lighting.




Bull Nutria
January 15, 2013, 10:38 AM
looks really nice to me, really good job on cleaning her up!!


January 15, 2013, 10:50 AM
Well done, looks great, and off to a life of freedom instead of dreary dark years in a metal box. You can really see the Colt Bisley influence on the Police Positive grips in your photo.

January 15, 2013, 11:09 AM
I've never had good lasting results with any cold blue. Colt is a little pricey - BUT, you get what you pay for. Last time I had one done it ran around $250 at their Custom Shop (Tel: (800) 241-2485 / (860) 232-4489).

1. Your gun is not a rare item that will ever (in your lifetime) command a high collector price.

2. If you decide to have a professional re-blue - have Colt or other similar vendor do it. David Chicoine www.oldwestgunsmith.com is one of the best out there. I have had work done by both. You can find cheap, and they will probably not do the hand polishing required. Buffers round edges, stretch lettering and remove metal that cannot be replaced.

Personal choices can be difficult in a situation like this. I'd say enjoy it as is. Save your money and when the time is right to move forward. Do it right.

January 15, 2013, 03:52 PM
Thank you gentlemen. I'm happy with the results more so than I thought I would be. While having Colt do it would be nice; I doubt I'd have ever recovered the cost in increased value.

A couple before/after collages:




January 17, 2013, 08:07 AM

She's all prettied up now.....how's she shoooot?

January 17, 2013, 10:24 AM

She's all prettied up now.....how's she shoooot?
Thanks! Turned out better than I expected.

I'm waiting to hit the range until I get the crane lock screw back to original. If it shoots as good as it times and locks up; I'll be a happy camper.

Jim K
January 18, 2013, 03:23 PM
You put in a lot of work and it looks darned good. But I have to add: for now.

Cold blue just won't last. Sorry about that, but if you want that cold blue to last the gun has to go back to being a safe queen as it takes very little use to rub off the cold blue.

Someone compared cold bluing a quality gun to painting a Cadillac with Home Depot spray cans. It sort of works, and looks sort of OK - from a distance and for a while.


January 18, 2013, 10:38 PM
Looks great! Hope yours shoots as nice as mine!

January 18, 2013, 11:55 PM
Thank you Jim & Clint. :)

Jim; I was pretty sure this blue would be less durable than the caustic hot blue. I had never done a full refinish in a cold blue, but had done a rifle and shotgun barrel. Both of those have held up well; especially for the use they get. I'm ok with this piece having to be touched up eventually; even periodically, as its just not the collectible type Colt nor would it ever be given its previous state. I'm wondering if a heating / treating process gives it a little more durability. Baking in each coat at 250 for 5-10 minutes really sets in the color a bit better. At least it seems like it.

January 23, 2013, 09:15 AM

The side by side set of pictures is really impressive, you did good and made the right decision. I much appreciate the brownish patina those old Colts develop as the years go by, it's very near perfect to my eye.

Spending all that money for a Colt refinish only to keep it in a safe for fear of a scratch doesn't do that fine ole revolver justice. Shoot it, enjoy it, let the finish wear off gracefully and appreciate it for what it is.

January 23, 2013, 10:31 PM
Looks good!

January 24, 2013, 09:42 AM
Yeah it looks fine. Ultimately it's your gun and your money. There isn't any real collector's value so do with it what you want. I've known guys who have taken older revolvers with no collector value and had them hard chromed, nickled, re-blued and so on. Several years ago I had a couple Model 28's parkarized and teflon coated. There were some who were critical of that choice, but they aren't rare, the finish is very durable and they are my guns. I still own the 4" Model 28 and I've never regretted having it done. Enjoy.


Hondo 60
January 24, 2013, 10:33 AM
It purdied up right nice.

You'd never recoup the cost of re-bluing, but I don't think the process has anything to do with economics.
A re-blue job is for the aesthetics and peace of mind for the owner.
Much less of a chance of rusting.

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