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colt army special 38 pre 1905

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by hillshunter, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. hillshunter

    hillshunter New Member

    Feb 25, 2011
    I have just recently acquired a Colt Army Special 38 revolver from my father. The pistol was passed down to him from his father. The markings on top of the barrel are as follows: colt 6 PT F.A. MFG.co. Hartford ct.USA.....Pat. Aug 5 1884 June 5 1900 July4 1905. Most of the blueing is gone and the cylinder is very tight with very little slack if any. Some of the markings are worn a bit but these that I have shown here are as close to what I can tell, are correct. I am currious about the history of this particular pistol as I have read that a lot of the colt army 38 specials were used by prison guards , sold to the Greek police and I'm sure used else where other than in the Army. It's got a 6" barrel and the grips are original colt black plastic, I am assuming. There are no indications that the pistol has been worked on at any time. I have found that it shoots very well, at least for me. Others have difficulty with its accuracy. If any one can fill in the missing pieces for me, I would certainly appritiate it. Thanks
  2. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Mentor

    Dec 26, 2002
    The barrel patents indicate previous Colt patents that applied to design features.
    This doesn't indicate the year it was made.

    The Army Special was made from 1908 to 1927.
    You can check the year made on this data base:


    The Colt Army Special was the perfected Colt double action, swing-out cylinder first made by Colt as the New Navy and then New Army & Navy revolvers. These were made in various models from 1889 to 1903.
    In 1908 Colt introduced the Army Special which was to be Colt's medium frame revolver design up to and including the Colt Python.
    In 1927 Colt simply renamed the Army Special the Official Police, and made it up until 1969.
    The design changed virtually not at all from 1908 to the last Pythons of 2003, and grips and many parts would still interchange.

    The Army Special was an immediate hit with police, prison guards and others wanting a .38 Special medium size double action revolver.
    It was sold to the Greek army, which was the only army to ever buy it.
    Since the American army didn't buy it, but the police did, in large numbers, Colt changed the name to the Official Police.
    That's pretty much what it was up until the 1960's.... THE official police revolver of most of the big police departments and the FBI.

    The Army Special was made in .38 Special, 32-20, various obsolete .38 caliber cartridges like the .38 Colt Short and Colt Long, and the .41 Colt.
    Barrel lengths were 4", 4 1/2", 5", and 6".
    Finish was blue or bright nickel, with black, hard rubber grips with molded in checkering and Colt logs up until 1924, then checkered walnut with silver Colt medallions after that.

    The Army Special is safe to shoot with standard loads of the .38 Special, but it's not recommended to shoot +P ammunition due to the age of the gun.
  3. hillshunter

    hillshunter New Member

    Feb 25, 2011
    great site

    Thanks for the information on the colt army special 38. It answered several hanging questions our family had been discussing. Great site great researchers. Thanks

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