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Inherited Colt .32-20

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Zundfolge, Aug 1, 2006.

  1. Zundfolge

    Zundfolge Well-Known Member

    It came today!

    A couple weeks ago I recieved a letter from my Grandmother saying that her niece had my Great Grandfather's Colt .32-20 and wanted to get it to his appropriate heirs, so I arranged to have it shipped to me (C&R's a good thing).

    I assumed it was a Colt Police Positive Special, but when I got it the rollmark said "Colt Army Special". Not sure what the difference is.

    The serial number is: 350XXX

    Anyway, here's some pics (not very good ones as I just threw the pistol up on the scanner and scanned ... the flaws in the finish show up SIGNIFICANTLY better in the scan than they do when you're holding the piece) and the bluing in person is just beautiful ... again the scans don't do it justice.

    [click image for larger]
    [click image for larger]

    Overall it looks to be in tremendously good shape for such an old pistol, and I can't wait to get some ammo and take this guy out to the range. Any reason why I shouldn't shoot the off-the-shelf ammo I can find in this gun? I know originally .32-20 was a rifle round so I want to make sure modern loadings aren't too high pressure (although since most of the .32-20 shooters out there are Cowboy Action Shooters I expect most factory loadings will be rather light).
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2006
  2. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    That's an excellent find. And in very nice condition.

    It's not a PPS at all, but rather an M1908 Army Special. It was later known as the Official Police. The value on these has been going up and up and up. You used to be able to find them, along with PPS's and OP's, for under $200 at pawn shops but it's getting more difficult. Don't pay much mind to Blue Book value on this. It's going to be worth a whole lot more in the years to come because it's in fine condition, it's a vintage Colt, and nothing like it will ever be made again by anyone.
  3. Zundfolge

    Zundfolge Well-Known Member

    Oh yeah, the provenance...

    This pistol belonged to my Great Grandfather who passed away in 1932. My Grandmother was only 12 years old at the time so they gave his guns to his brother-in-law.

    In 1948, tragically, said brother-in-law took his own life with this pistol. It sat at the coroner's office for a couple of months but was mailed to the family where it sat in the envelope it came in for many years.

    My Great Grandfather's brother-in-law's daughter (my Grandmother's Niece) ended up in possession of the firearm and it sat in her husband's gun collection for many years (where it was shot only occasionally, but apparently her husband was very fastidious about gun maintenance).

    My Grandmother ran into her niece at a wedding a few months ago and somehow the discussion turned to this pistol (I believe since her husband had recently passed away they were in the process of dividing his collection up among their children). Since the gun rightfully belonged to my Grandmother (who assumed it was lost since the suicide) she should try to get it to her or her heirs.

    My Grandmother didn't want to go through the FFL nonsense and told her to keep it but my mother (who was also at the wedding) spoke up and said to contact me about it.

    As luck would have it, I have a C&R FFL so my Grandmother's Niece was able to ship the gun from Nevada to me here in Colorado with minimal fuss.
  4. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    They haven't made that .32-20 high velocity ammunition in years. Anything you get of recent production will be fine in a revolver or '73 Winchester.

    I believe I'd try to find some replacement grips for it for shooting, I bet those Big C gutta percha grips are worth a bit all by themselves and the material is kind of brittle.
  5. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    .32-20 is a great one for handloading as well, just keep it in the light to moderate class not the modern Marlin class.

    I'd suggest getting a Winchester .32-20 to go with it!
  6. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

  7. CSA 357

    CSA 357 Well-Known Member

    well its realy great you got it,my ggf too had a colt 3220 i saw it many times as a kid it was promised to my brother, but he never got it , i do remember it was realy loud! and the finish looked like glass,*csa*
  8. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    The flash and bang of the .32-20 rifle loads when fired from a Colt gave rise to the popular belief that it was something of a magnum round. That notion was immortalized in one of the most famous blues songs of all time:

    * this is often mis-quoted as "camps" or "cats," but I'm convinced "make the caps" is nothing more than an earlier southern version of "bust the caps". It makes no sense otherwise.

    And of course the .32-20 has a double meaning and also represents something else entirely, more to do with his "gun" than his "rifle" if you get my drift ;-)
  9. Zundfolge

    Zundfolge Well-Known Member

    Heh heh ... I went and downloaded an MP3 of Robert Johnson singin' that song :D
  10. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    Just don't take that old Colt to an isolated crossroads in Mississippi in the dark of a hot night. And don't let a wild eyed stranger who comes out of the woods tune the action on it :neener:

  11. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    You have a very nice revolver, but I don't know if anyone bothered to mention that it was made in 1913. Production started in 1908 at serial number 291,000 as they were numbered in a series that started in 1892 and an earlier model gun. Don't do anything to the finish! It's charcoal blued (a heat process that goes back to the cap & ball days) and can't be duplicated.

    For purposes of shooting, carefully remove the stocks and store them in a safe place. Because of age they are brittle and chip or crack easily. They were also custom fitted to that gun, and are serial numbered on the inside.

    Current stocks made to fit the Python or Official Police models will fit your revolver, including "target" or "combat" styles.

    To shoot it, buy "cowboy loads" with lead, not jacketed bullets - much easier on the revolver.

    It was built on Colt's .41 frame, the Police Positive Special was made on a lighter .38 frame. Your gun is sort of the Python's grandpa.
  12. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    Fluff--don't the latter OP's have less metal on the grip? IIRC they started cutting them off at the knees after WWII.
  13. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    No, you're thinking of the smaller D-frame (Detective Special, Cobra, Agent, Diamondback, etc.) which were shortened as you described. They started this with the short-butt Agent model and then decided to make all D-frames that way. If memory (very feeble) serves me right the change occured around 1972.

    I should mug him for that revolver - it has close to 99% of the original charcoal blue, and perfect hard rubber stocks. It's my duty to steal it... :evil: :D
  14. Biggfoot44

    Biggfoot44 Member

    I have my father's old PPS .32-20, butit's in pretty rough shape. Back in the day the .32-20 had somewhat of a following among outdoorsmen who didn't need massive power. Power was comparable to solid .38 spl RN of the day, but with flatter trajectory. Unless you feel that all revolvers of " a certain age" should useonly mild loads, the Army spl/ OP was a very strong revolver in this cal. It was considered suitable to use loads intended for SAA's. Back in the day, these were considered safe to use w/ "rifle" aka "HV" factory loads.
  15. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

    Very nice indeed, and I'm sure you will give it a good home~!:cool: Enjoy:D
  16. XavierBreath

    XavierBreath Well-Known Member

    Old Fuff is a wise old bird. If you want duplicate grips for your Army Special, you can find them at Vintage Gun Grips Inc. Reproductions are listed on page 2 for $29.99.

    It is true the prices on the Army Specials, and indeed on all old Colt revolvers are all over the map. I have seen bare metal Army Specials with broken grips being placed on lay away for $299. One of my favorite revolvers is pictured below. It is a Colt Army Special in .38 Special that I found at Kay Clark-Miculek's place this year for $275. Original grips and blue. Go figure.Here's a range report on it.


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