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Colt Official Police frame size?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Al Thompson, Jan 3, 2003.

  1. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Staff Member

    Have one in for a rebuild and wondered about the correct designation for the frame size.

    Pretty sure it's not a "D" and the python is an "I". Would "E" be correct?

    FYI, 835xxx is S/N, .38 Special caliber.

  2. bfoster

    bfoster Well-Known Member

    You're correct. The Colt official police is an "E" frame.

  3. Lone Star

    Lone Star Well-Known Member

    Older hands will know it as Colt's .41 frame size, as it was created when they still offered a .41 Colt chambering. That's one reason why it was beefier than S&W's K-frame, which was always meant for .38 Special.

    Lone Star
  4. Daniel Watters

    Daniel Watters Well-Known Member


    From the serial, it appears to have left Hartford in 1954. Python speedloaders and stocks will work with the E frame. The main differences between the E and the I frame are the firing pin/hammer (except on late E frame production) and the frame contour near the barrel.

    Planning on challenging Wayne in IDPA? ;)
  5. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    Technically speaking your gun is a Colt "I" frame.
    The Pre-War Colts of this size were the "E" frame. After the War, Colt made a few changes and renamed it the "I" frame.

    All post-war Colt mid-sized revolvers are "I" frame guns. These include the Colt Official Police, .357, Trooper, Python, and Officer's Model Match.

    If your gun has a single large diameter screw on the right front of the frame, it's an "I" frame gun. This "screw" is actually a hollow cap that retains the cylinder retainer stud and spring.
  6. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Staff Member

    Dfariswheel, no screw head on the right side of the frame in the vicinity of the hammer. Thanks!

    Dan - good to see you!!! Brian and I were talking about you last IDPA match. Ears burn? :) Wayne has no competition from me - he's gotten faster! (Really!)

    Looks like I can order those grips from http://www.pickagrip.com with some assurance that they will fit. Thanks!
  7. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    Al Thompson:
    The "screw head" is on the right FRONT of the frame, just in front of the trigger guard.

    If you have an "E" frame gun this will be a figure "8"-like arangement of a screw and stud. When the screw is backed out, a flange on it pulls the stud up, releasing the cylinder.

    If you have an "I" frame gun, there is a larger single "screw" described above. This is a cap with a stud and spring underneath.
  8. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Staff Member

    Ah Ha!

    It's an "I" frame. The screw does in fact reveal a spring and stud.

  9. bfoster

    bfoster Well-Known Member

    I have a 1969 Colt Dealer and Parts catalog at hand.

    The Colt Official Police is listed as model E-1.

    The Officers Model Match is listed as model I-1.

    The Python is listed as Model I-3.

    The Trooper as model I-4.

    I'll be happy to provide scans for reference, if someone desires.

  10. Patrick Henry

    Patrick Henry Well-Known Member

    Would it be correct to infer from this that the O.P. (in good condition) can easily handle +P loads? Anyone know?
  11. buttrap

    buttrap Well-Known Member

    Colt used to claim they would take the 38-44 hotter than new .357 stuff. I think thats a bit of a streach on the part of Colt there. I would expect the thing to do just fine on +P though.
  12. Blacksmoke

    Blacksmoke Well-Known Member

    "...older hands will know it as the Colt .41 frame size." Older hands? What year did Colt stop making .41 Colt revolvers? It was something like 1920, right? Just curious.
  13. ironfoot

    ironfoot Member

    Why wasn't the Official Police ever chambered for .357 magnum?
    What is the difference between a python and an official police, other than the python has adjustable sights, a ventilated rib on the barrel, and a nicer finish?
  14. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    The OP was a police service gun and the vast majority of police agencies forbade the 357 Magnum. Add adjustable sights to the OP and you have the Trooper which was offered in 357 Magnum.
  15. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    First, I mis-stated the "E" and "I" frame info above. Must of been having a dumb day.

    As above, the "E" frame Colt's have the firing pin on the hammer, the "I" frame have it in the frame.
    Also, Colt didn't start giving their frames letter codes until after WWII, so "technically" a pre-war Official Police is not an "E" frame.

    As to why Colt never offered the original Official Police in .357 Magnum, is as above, it wasn't intended to be a Magnum revolver.
    Also, there's more to a Magnum than just chambering the cylinder. The frame and cylinder had special heat treating to strengthen them to withstand the Magnum ammo.
    That's why you can't just re-chamber a .38 Official Police.

    The differences between the Op and the Python are, the Python was heat treated for use with Magnum ammo, had adjustable sights, the firing pin in the frame, the heavy tapered bore Python barrel, the finest blue job ever done on a production revolver, and an action that was hand fitted and and honed for the finest trigger pull.

    The Official Police was Colt's cheapest gun and was intended for use by police. The Python was essentially a semi-custom hand built revolver intended to be the finest double action revolver ever built.
    Sort of the difference between a cheap Chevy and a Rolls Royce.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2010
  16. ironfoot

    ironfoot Member

    Thanks for the replies. Was the Trooper heat treated for .357 magnum, like the Python was? Other than for the handfitting, from a function standpoint it sounds like the Trooper was pretty close to being a Python.
  17. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    The pre-Mark III Troopers (and "357 Magnum") were essentially Pythons with a standard barrel and less deluxe final finishing. Internal workings were the same.

  18. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    The early .38 Special Troopers were not heat treated like the Python.

    The early 1953 to 1961 Trooper was only available in .22LR and .38 Special.
    In 1961 Colt discontinued the 357 Model (Both the caliber and the name of the model) and started making the Trooper in .357 also.
    At the same time, they changed the Trooper from the hammer mounted firing pin "E" model to a frame mounted "I" frame model.
    The .357 version was heat treated to Magnum specs like the Python, the .38 was not.

    The Trooper and the 357 are often called "Poor man's Pythons" since the action and frame are the same.
    The Trooper is noticeably lesser finished and fitted than the 357, and the 357 is not up to Python standards of fit and finish.
    The Trooper was intended to be Colt's budget adjustable sighted holster revolver and the 357 was to be the premium model.
    The Python confused this since it was a super-premium model better then even the 357.
    Since the police and people wanting a cheaper gun were buying the Trooper and those wanting the best bought the Python, the 357 was odd man out ,and Colt discontinued it in 1961.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2010

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