1924 Colt Police Positive


May 4, 2013, 10:57 AM
I just won a bid for a Colt Police Positive on Gunbroker. The gun is gorgeous for such an old piece. It locks up tight, and hardly had any usage. My problem is ammo. I reload, but I was hoping I can pick up a couple of boxes of factory ammo somewhere. I am having a hell of a time finding any in stock. Can .358" 125 or 158 gr LFP bullets be used (I use them for my .38 Spec.). I suppose I can trim down some .38 cases ( a lot of trimming.). I prefer to buy some factory ammo somewhere , any suggestions?

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May 4, 2013, 11:10 AM
38 s&w?

May 4, 2013, 11:35 AM
You could always size 9mm Makarov bullets down to .361-.362.

Old Fuff
May 4, 2013, 11:42 AM
Well I have some good news for your from a long-time Police Positive fan... ;)

Unlike other .38 Colt New Police/.38 Colt Police Positive/.38 S&W (same cartridge by different names) revolvers, Colt revolvers have the same chamber throat dimension (.358") and barrel groove diameter (.355" - .356") specifications used in that company's .38 Special revolvers. You can use regular .358" diameter lead and jacketed bullets, but you will need a .38 Special case neck expander plug to use in your .38 S&W die set.

Trimming .38 Special cases to .38 S&W length is not a good idea because the resulting cartridges have undersized diameters for the chambers.

Factory .38 S&W ammunition is lightly loaded because of the large number of middle to lower quality top-break revolvers that are still around, but you can safely increase your handloads to standard .38 Special levels. Do not duplicate .38 Special powder charges in the shorter .38 S&W case!

May 4, 2013, 12:05 PM
38 S&W ammunition and brass is available, though not always an easy find. Pay particular attention to old fluffs last paragraph. The 38 S&W is loaded to much lower pressures than a 38 special and to use any other data is inviting disaster.

May 4, 2013, 12:18 PM
What I took from Da Fuff's reply was that you can load it to .38 spl pressures/velocities in that gun.
But, trying to use the same amount of powder in that case, as in a .38 Spl would result in greatly increased pressures. Which would be bad.

Old Fuff
May 4, 2013, 01:03 PM
Exactly! But you are not restricted to using factory level .38 S&W loads that are intended to be safe in older, less-then-best top breaks.

The Police Positive hand-ejectors were always made using the same materials and heat-treating procedures that were used in Colt's similar .38 Special's.

Old Fuff
May 4, 2013, 01:19 PM
Police Positive .32 and .38 revolvers are often found in pawn or retail gun shops at very attractive prices because even these days customer demand for revolvers of any make chambered in .32 Colt New Police/.32 S&W Long or .38 Colt New Police/.38 S&W is almost nil - with a small increase for snubbies.

If one handloads their own ammunition you can safely duplicate .32 H&R Magnum performance (but not .327 Federal Magnum!) and .38 Special level loads in a Police Positive using easy to find .32 and .38 Special bullets.

Now don't you guys let any of this get around.... :evil:

May 4, 2013, 02:33 PM
I think Buffalo Bore is soon going to offer a defensive load for this caliber as well.

Edit: Here it is:


May 4, 2013, 05:50 PM
Duh, I guess it would help if I mentioned it is a. 38 long Colt. Is that the same as a. 38 S&W?
Are they interchangeable?

May 4, 2013, 06:39 PM
No. 38 Colt Long and the 38 S&W (called the 38 New Police by Colt) are not interchangable. The 38 colt long is no longer available (someone here will tell me NOW about short runs made by specialty makers). Cases for the 38 Colt long can be made from 38 special simply by trimming them to length
(1.031). You should be able to load them using 38 special dies, but MAY need a different or shortened seating die for proper crimping because of the shorter case length. My old Manual of Cartridge Conversions suggests a load of 3.0 grains of Bullseye with a 150 grain bullet

Jim Watson
May 4, 2013, 06:49 PM
Was Colt still making .38 Long Colt PPs in 1924?
I thought they went exclusively to .38 NP = .38 S&W before WW I.

May 4, 2013, 06:55 PM
I tried cutting down .38 Special brass to make .38 S&W and it almost works, but that's not good enough. I think the main problem is the rims are too thick. *Maybe* if you shave the heads down a couple of thousandths, but then the primers might be too high.

Old Fuff
May 4, 2013, 08:13 PM
Was Colt still making .38 Long Colt PPs in 1924?
I thought they went exclusively to .38 NP = .38 S&W before WW I.

No they weren't. The last Colt revolvers chambered in .38 Long Colt was the model 1892 New Army/New Navy which was discontinued in or around 1908. The .38 round used in the Police Positive was the .38 S&W, that Colt called the .38 Colt New Police, and later the .38 Colt Police Positive.

They also made the Police Positive chambered in .32 S&W Long, which they called the .32 Colt New Police and later the Colt Poice Positive. Both of these .32 and .38 cartridges were introduced by Smith & Wesson, but Colt management reinvented the wheel because it was unthinkable that anyone would find a reference to that "other company" on one of their products. :D

Today all of the cartridge manufacturers have dropped the Colt designations, but kept the .32 S&W Long and .38 S&W in their catalogs.

Old Fuff
May 4, 2013, 08:21 PM
The 38 colt long is no longer available (someone here will tell me NOW about short runs made by specialty makers)

Yup... :D

Seems the old .38 Long Colt found a new market when SASS and cowboy action shooters came along. Some of the Italian reproductions are chambered to use it.

If that isn't enough, some combat game shooters that still use revolvers have taken to the .38 Short Colt for quicker reloading while using special moon clips.

Old Fuff
May 4, 2013, 08:28 PM
I am sure the Police Positive was never chambered in .38 Long Colt because the OAL of the cartridge is longer then the cylinder. However many people get confused between two different but similar models, as they were made between 1908 and 1941.

Colt Police Positive - chambered in .22 RF, .22 WRF, .32 S&W Long (by whatever name) and .38 S&W (by whatever name).

Colt Police Positive Special - chambered in .32-20 (.32 WCF) and .38 Special.

Jim Watson
May 4, 2013, 08:36 PM
The Colt cartridge variants, .32 and .38 NP as well as .38 Colt Special, had flatpointed bullets. I don't know if those were classified as flat point or large flat point by Hatcher, which gained 5% or 10%, respectively, over the plain round nose of the S&W load, but they were clearly superior. Riiight.

Old Fuff
May 4, 2013, 09:28 PM
Those flat points are almost unnoticeable if you actually look at the respective cartridges. But they had do do something to justify having the Colt versions at all. These days the memory of them does nothing but cause confusion.

Sometimes it's fun to read S&W and Colt advertising during the dark days of the Great Depression. They could get a bit sharp! When both companies had their backs to the wall the exchanges got bitter on both sides.

Jim K
May 4, 2013, 09:40 PM
Hi, JohnnyB,

Are you sure the gun is not actually chambered for .38 Special? By 1924, most of those guns were being made in that caliber, so the first thing is to see if .38 Special fits.


May 6, 2013, 06:43 PM
I previously posted a question about a newly acquired 1924 Colt Police Positive .38. The gun has a small frame, and the cylinder is too short for .38 Spec. (which I reload for). I am trying to find out what the exact cartridge is that this gun was designed for. I initially thought it was the .38 long Colt, but I am beginning to doubt that. I am beginning to think it might be a .38 S&W or a .38 Colt New Police. Are those 2 interchangeable? Can I use .358" diameter bullets to reload for this? Will .38 Special cases work if I cut them down?
This gun doesn't appear to have been fired since the 30's or 40's, it is in excellent condition.
Thanks in advance,

Jim Watson
May 6, 2013, 06:50 PM
As said, .38 Colt New Police = .38 S&W.
There are also references to .38 Colt Police Positive, same thing.

What does it say on the gun?
Quote exactly or show a picture.

May 6, 2013, 08:39 PM
The walmart near me has about 10 boxs of 38 S&W on hand right now

May 6, 2013, 09:00 PM
You can order brass direct from star line. 500 PC minimum, $85xx

May 6, 2013, 09:16 PM
I can find ammo for my Police Positive with relative ease...much easier than my 9mm guns. If I could just find a nice leather holster...

You're gonna love that revolver!

Miata Mike
May 6, 2013, 11:27 PM
I guess I got lucky that my 1913 Police Positive is chambered in .38 special. I doo need to shoot it this year since it is now 100 years young. :D

Jim K
May 6, 2013, 11:34 PM
FWIW, the old New Army and New Navy Colts made after 1903 (about #200000) were chambered for .38 Special; Colt simply drilled the chambers straight through. That means that they will also accept .357 Magnum in most loads, but it is definitely ungood to fire them with the latter round.

Colt didn't mark the guns any differently, though. No way would they put "38 S&W Special" on a Colt.


May 7, 2013, 01:19 AM
Miata Mike, you do NOT have a Police Positive chambered for .38 Special.
You have a Police Positive Special, chambered in .38 Special.
The PP had a shorter frame/cylinder than the PPS.
People often get the two confused.
Please, don't take my reply as condescending or rude. It was NOT intended to be either. Only to be informative.

BB also has .32 S&W Long defensive ammo. Now, I can carry my 31-1 as a backup defensive gun or a trail gun.
Guess I could handload and do the same thing. In fact, I can load it hotter than what BB loads it, since the same gun was chambered in .32 Mag later on.

Funny thing, the BB .32 Long and .38 S&W ammo are moving out at the same velocities as current .32 H&R/.38 Spl ammo.
Too bad, Magtech doesn't load their .32 Long JHP ammo hotter. If it was loaded to about 900 fps, it would be pretty good defensive stuff.

Old Fuff
May 7, 2013, 10:53 AM
The problem for ammunition manufacturers is the large number of inferior quality revolvers still out there that are chambered in .32 S&W Long and .38 S&W. Combine this with the "I shoot everything I got" crowd and the liability implications become obvious. It is quite true that owners of Colt Police Positive's can safey load both cartridges to higher levels, but it's unlikely you'll find them on a retailer's shelf.

Jim Figaniak
May 8, 2013, 10:42 AM
Aim Surplus carries Privi Partisian 145 gr l rn for about $18.00 a box of 50.

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