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Officers Model Colt

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by hermannr, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. hermannr

    hermannr Well-Known Member

    I have a Colt double action revolver that has "Officers Model 38" flanked by Maltese crosses on the left side of the barrel and a two line inscription on top of the barrel that includes Colt's PT FA MFG CO, Hartford CT. USA and second line PAT'D Aug 5 1884, June 5 1900, July 4, 1905 (SN 532261 U) It is in excelent condition (minor holster rub) (6" barrel)

    It was originally owned by a NYC police officer that was a good friend of my FIL, and when the original owner died, the man's son gave it to my FIL.

    My FIL gave this revolver to me about 45 years ago, along with the original 1928 NYC permit to carry, so I am assuming it is pre-1928 (I think it is a 1927? am I correct?)

    Anyway, I keep it around the house as a self protection weapon, and have only shot it very occationally with light target loads. (shoots super, adjustable front and rear sight, smoothest double action I have ever handled and single action is incredable)

    Now the question for those of you much more knowledgeable than I am: I was wondering...can I shoot modern +P 38 special ammo in it without risking the pristine qualities of this revolver?
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2011
  2. MikeJackmin

    MikeJackmin Well-Known Member

    That's a very nice vintage target gun you have there. I believe they were optimized for 148 grain wadcutters, give it a try if you can find a box or two.

    I'm guessing here, but my impression is that a box or two of +P is not going to hurt anything, but the more you of them you use, the faster the gun will loosen up. Hopefully one of our colt experts will be by shortly.

    Got any pics?
  3. hermannr

    hermannr Well-Known Member

    If I can find (and I cannot at the present moment) my old digital camara I can take a couple pictures. (if the grandkids haven't absconded with that old camara) I live up on a mountain, and am on dialup, so I don't post many photos.

    I might also state: the cylinder to barrel gap is about 0.0025 (that is a 0.0025 feeler guage will fit snugly, 0.0030 will not), cylinder locked up at full trigger pull. Rotational slack: I cannot measure any with a +/- 0.0001 side feel dial indicator guage frame to cylinder flute.

    That is why I am leary of +P loads, I do not want to loosen it up, it is in too nice shape,,,,but then,,, I also would like to upgrade my self defence loads from the light target loads that are in it.

    Thank you for your input.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2011
  4. MikeJackmin

    MikeJackmin Well-Known Member

  5. hermannr

    hermannr Well-Known Member

    thanks again, I will check them out
  6. hermannr

    hermannr Well-Known Member

    Here is an attempt at a pic.

    Ok, here is my Officers Model Colt 38. I think it is a second model manufactured in 1926 or 1927?

    Attached Files:

  7. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    Colt OM 532xxx dates to 1926, so you were close. The OM carried on in the same serial range as the old Army Special and they are the same gun except for the marking on the barrel.

    They are strong guns and I doubt a reasonable number of +P loads would hurt it.

  8. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    1. Even the older I frame Colts are sturdy with thick cylinder walls.

    2. +P ammo is not loaded above maximum allowable for the caliber.

    3. In the 1940s Colt advertised the Office Police (fixed sight service version) as OK with 38/44 ammo which is MUCH stouter than +P.
  9. hermannr

    hermannr Well-Known Member

    Is it the cylinder, or the lock mechanism that is damaged by too much pressure?

    Something I noticed last time I had the pistol out was, when the trigger fully engaged, and the hammer has been lowered, the cylinder moves forward and actually contacts the forcing cone, at which time there is absolutely no movement in the cylinder. (rotational, or front to back).

    When the trigger is released the cylinder backs out and leaves the maximum0.0025" cylinder to barrel gap. One of these nights (when it's a bit warmer, it's snowing right now) I think I'll take it out and fire a round or too, but specifically look at the flash at the forcing cone.

    When everyone says the cylinder should not move at all, that is only with the trigger fully to the rear and the hammer down? correct?

    One other thing I noticed is there is a "milled?" relief? in the underside of the topstap directly above the cylinder/barrel interface? It is the same factory blue colour of the rest of the gun so I am assuming it was put there at the factory. Any idea why?

    I am trying to wrap my mind around this. I am a retired Engineer, but electrical, not mechanical. I am not mechanically inept, but you know engineers, we always want to know the why, especially when it is not in our field.
  10. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

    with a Colt this is full lockup and there should be ZERO rotation, as in NONE, NADA, ZIP. If there is do not shoot it until you repair it or you will have an expensive bill on your hands.

    Smiths are of a totally different design and require a little movement.
  11. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Until about the middle 1930's Colt revolvers had what was called a "fouling cup," which was a oval groove in the bottom of the topstrap above the cylinder/barrel gap. The purpose was to give black powder fouling a place to collect or exit, so the cylinder would not get tied up and refuse to turn.

    Going way back, this is the reason early Colt cap & ball revolvers were an open-top design.
  12. hermannr

    hermannr Well-Known Member

    THANK YOU Old Fluff! An answer for that milled area that makes sense. Some others (not here) have talked about flash errosion, but that cannot be in this case because it is obviously machined, and blued like the rest of the weapon. Thanks....wohlverstanden

    The other part was:

    When the trigger is pulled all the way back, but the hammer is forward, there is no movement of the cylinder in any direction, but also, there is no visible gap between the cylinder face and the forcing cone. This is what I was asking about, that flash gap, it closes when the trigger is all the way back.

    When the trigger is NOT pulled, and the hammer is forward, there is a 0.0025" gap between the cylinder face and the forcing cone.
  13. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

    there should be a gap

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