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1896 Colt New Army & Navy

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by CajunMan89, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. CajunMan89

    CajunMan89 Well-Known Member

    I posted a thread on the Colt Collectors Forum and haven't received a response yet, so I thought I'd post here and see if anyone could help me since I have gotten lots of information from other members here on this gun.

    Here is what I posted:

    I am wanting to have my Colt Revolver researched by the company to hopefully get some historical information about it. I assume that the correct form to fill out and mail to Colt would be the Archive Specification Sheet?

    If so, the problem I am having is filling out the section that is given to list any writings or markings on the barrel. This gun was not taken care of over the years. The only thing that I can make out is DA .41 and possibly Patented '95.

    I did get some very helpful information on the gun through this forum and others, but I would like to get some documentation on the gun also.

    Any advice as to what I can do to get the information I need off of the gun would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    The serial number on the bottom of the butt should be the only information Colt needs to provide what information they have. Since it is a civilian gun, there will be no model date, but those pistols were all numbered in the same series so they shouldn't need any info other than the serial number.

  3. CajunMan89

    CajunMan89 Well-Known Member

    I had written a letter to Colt and included the serial number. In their reply, they told me that they could not provide me with any additional information just with the serial number. Perhaps this has changed since I wrote them a few years back?
  4. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    What information did they provide? With just the serial they should have been able to give you the date of manufacture and where it was shipped. If you give us the serial number (x out the last two digits if you want) and we can probably tell you what the patent markings are, and the approximate date of manufacture. Also describe the grips - do they have the word "COLT" in an oval or a rampant Colt?

    If you want information like who owned it or if it was involved in any noted or notorious events, Colt could probably not tell you, nor can I. Information like that would have to come from other sources.

  5. CajunMan89

    CajunMan89 Well-Known Member

    Yes, I was hoping Colt could give me information on previous owners, etc. I do have an older thread posted on this gun. I think it has the same title as this one. All of the info. that I know of and what other members submitted to me should still be up on the forum.

    On the grips, COLT is above the colt symbol. I believe there are links to pictures of a similar gun on the previous thread.
  6. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    Colt needs more than just a serial number.
    Since in those days all Colt firearms serial numbers started with serial # 1, it's possible to have a number of Colt pistols all with the same number.

    What you have is a commercial model Colt New Army & Navy Model revolver.
    Give them that model name and the serial number that's stamped on the butt in two lines.
    As example serial number:
    Is serial number 123456.
    Since the last barrel patent date is 1895, your New Army & Navy would be a model 1895, 1896, 1901, or 1903.

    Colt will not be able to tell you anything about previous owners.
    All they can tell you about the gun is the configuration of the gun as it was shipped and who it was shipped to.

    This will include the original caliber, barrel length, any special or custom features, when it was shipped, who it was shipped to, and how many of the same type guns were in the shipment.
  7. CajunMan89

    CajunMan89 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info!

    I believe you posted some info. for me on the gun before. According to your previous post, the gun was made in 1898 and it is an 1896 commercial model.
  8. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    I doubt very much that Colt can provide any information on previous owners. Colt handled almost all sales through distributors and only rarely made direct sales to individuals, usually prominent persons. Generally, all they can provide is a shipping (not really a manufacturing) date and the distributor to whom it was shipped.

    Unless there is some documentation indicating that so-and-so owned that gun, such as diaries, dealer records (and they weren't required before 1938), arrest records, etc., it is very unlikely that anyone will ever know who owned a specific gun.

  9. CajunMan89

    CajunMan89 Well-Known Member

    I guess since I cannot make out all of the dates and markings on the gun, it doesn't pay to send in an Archive Specification Sheet with a payment?
  10. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    The patent dates should read "PATENTED AUG. 5, 1884 NOV. 6, 88. MAR. 5,95."

    The gun is civilian as there were no .41 caliber military models.

    If you want the entire history of the gun, including the name, address, phone number, and family history of everyone who ever held it, you are out of luck. Colt does not have that information and no one else does.

    If you want to know when the gun was shipped from the factory and to whom, and if it had any special finish, grips, engraving or the like, a letter should get you that information. To be honest, in most cases a factory letter is a waste of money unless the gun is somehow exceptional or is believed to have been shipped to some special person, like Buffalo Bill or Annie Oakley.

  11. CajunMan89

    CajunMan89 Well-Known Member

    Thanks! Those are the same dates that I saw engraved on a similar gun online. I guess those have the exact same patent dates? Do you know if there would be any other markings or words engraved on the barrel?

    Here is a link to the simlilar gun that I found online

  12. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    The only other marks are assembly numbers (which should match), the "Colt D.A. .41" on the barrel and the circled Colt on the left side of the grip knuckle. The serial number will be on the bottom of the grip. The grips with the rampant Colt are for the "Army" model; the ones with the word COLT in an oval are the "Navy" model. They are otherwise the same.

  13. CajunMan89

    CajunMan89 Well-Known Member

    Thanks! Before the patent dates, is COLT'S PT. F A MFG. CO. HARTFORD CT. U.S.A. engraved on the barrel as well?

    I thought I'd ask since that is engraved before the patent dates on the gun from the link that I posted.
  14. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    The barrel will be marked with "DA 41" which is how Colt marked revolvers in those days.
    In the early 1900's after the New Army & Navy was discontinued they started stamping actual model names on revolver barrels along with the caliber.

    On top of the barrel, the patent dates and the company name and address, which means "Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company Hartford, Connecticut, USA".

    Serial number on the butt in two lines, the Colt Pony on the side, and assembly numbers on smaller parts.
    These assembly numbers were used in the factory to keep fitted parts together until a serial number was assigned and stamped on the butt.
    The assembly numbers have no meaning once the serial number is applied.
    The assembly numbers will not match the serial number, but the assembly numbers should match each other or parts have been replaced.

    Back in those days we didn't have actual firearms distributor companies like we have today.
    You gun might have been sold directly to an individual or to a hardware company or some other type of store. You never know until you get an Archive letter.

    In all probability considering that your revolver is an ordinary model, the Archive letter will tell little you don't already know, except for the date it was shipped, who it was shipped to and how many guns of the same type were in the shipment.
    That info may or may not be worth the $75.00 cost to you.
  15. CajunMan89

    CajunMan89 Well-Known Member

    Unsafe to shoot?

    I thought to see if my gun's cylinder locks like my other revolver's do, and for some reason, it rotates freely. However, it locks whenever the hammer is cocked....and it does wiggle a bit when it locks if I try to rotate it. Is it unsafe to shoot and if so, what can I do to fix it. Would there be any gunsmith that would consider working on a gun this old?
  16. savit260

    savit260 Well-Known Member

    I'd tend to disagree with that statement.

    The factory letter will verify if a gun has had it's basic configuration altered or not.

    This may not be all that important on a well worn 60's vintage Official Police, but it may be VERY important to the value on some other models.

    An example would be a 38 Special 1st gen SAA. Very rare from the factory, but a bunch were converted later on.

    Even more common SAA's have been cut down or had barrel and or cylinder swaps. A letter will be helpful and add value if it's all as it should be.

    A factory letter would help confirm or refute if the gun was orginal no matter if Annie Oakley or Joe Blow from Idaho was the original owner.
  17. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    These Colt's only lock up tightly when the trigger is pulled.

    One problem with the New Army and Navy was that some models didn't lock the cylinder UNTIL the trigger was pulled or the hammer was cocked.
    When the action was at rest, the cylinder was free to rotate.
    This was a defect in the design since it was possible for the cylinder to rotate unnoticed, and when the trigger was pulled, a fired case could be struck instead of a live round.

    The only way to know if your Colt is safe to shoot is to have a good gunsmith check it out.
    Remember, these old Colt's are over 100 years old and the action wasn't all that strong to start with.
    They break or get out of order rather easily.

    Due to the highly complex action and the lack of any usable spare parts, virtually no gunsmith will even look at one of these.
    There are a couple who will, but they're specialists and don't work for minimum wage.
  18. CajunMan89

    CajunMan89 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the advice! I might just need to keep it as a show piece.
  19. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    It is a historic pistol.
    Colt invented the world's first double action, swing-out cylinder revolver in 1889.
    This was the Colt New Navy. In 1892 the Army also adopted it and these became known as the Colt New Army & Navy models.
  20. CajunMan89

    CajunMan89 Well-Known Member

    Is it worth anything, and since it's badly rusted and pitted, can anything be done to preserve it?

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