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Old April 11, 2013, 10:31 PM   #51
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The Colt Bankers Special was a variant of the .38 Police Positive model with a 2" barrel. It was apparently introduced in 1928 at around serial number 177,000. It came about as the result of an inquire from the U.S. Postal Service that needed a small lightweight .38 revolver to arm personal working on railroad mail cars.

This would seem to cut your revolver out of the picture, but it is known that the company made a fair number of Police Positive .38's on special order that had shorter lengths then the cataloged 4", 5" and 6". At the same time a lot of similar revolvers were made into aftermarket snubbies by someone with a handy hacksaw. Some clear pictures might help us to tell, or you can pay Colt a substantial fee to research their shipping records to determine the original finish and barrel length. If it turned out that it was indeed a factory-made pre-Bankers Model the value would be increased enough to more then pay for the factory letter. If it is a cut-off the value would suffer.
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Old June 1, 2013, 04:59 PM   #52
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Not sure what it is

Hey guys,

I've acquired a seriously modified Colt and am hoping someone can help me find out what this puppy started out as. Past refinishing removed almost all markings (rampant colt, model, patents, butt, etc.) except for "A.C." on right side just above grip (R.A.C., maybe?), S/N and a small star on the front of the cylinder.

Pics are attached since I have no idea what's been replaced on this gun except for the frame. Any info would be much appreciated!

a) .45 ACP
b) 7 1/2"
c) See pics
d) 6
e) Front fixed, rear adj.
f) No makings on bottom of grip, lanyard ring cut off and hole plugged
g) Crane has 492XX with an 'X' above, crane cutout has 492XX with a 'Z'
below.

[IMG][/IMG]

[IMG][/IMG]



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Old June 1, 2013, 05:28 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ka2rzo View Post
Hey guys,

I've acquired a seriously modified Colt and am hoping someone can help me find out what this puppy started out as. Past refinishing removed almost all markings (rampant colt, model, patents, butt, etc.) except for "A.C." on right side just above grip (R.A.C., maybe?), S/N and a small star on the front of the cylinder.

Pics are attached since I have no idea what's been replaced on this gun except for the frame. Any info would be much appreciated!

a) .45 ACP
b) 7 1/2"
c) See pics
d) 6
e) Front fixed, rear adj.
f) No makings on bottom of grip, lanyard ring cut off and hole plugged
g) Crane has 492XX with an 'X' above, crane cutout has 492XX with a 'Z'
below.
It looks like a Colt New Service. If so, the 492xx SN would place the manufacture date in 1911.
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Old June 1, 2013, 05:31 PM   #54
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This one is going to take some looking into, but the number 49,2xx is Colt's serial number, and the frame at least dates from 1911 - so it isn't a Model 1917, and in 1911 they weren't making a New Service in .45 ACP. On the other hand, the cylinder latch thumbpiece dates from the 1930's. At the time the frame was made the longest cataloged barrel length was 7 1/2" so it could be an original (but highly modified) barrel.

More later.
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Old June 1, 2013, 05:58 PM   #55
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1911 is a far as I got before the pieces stopped fitting.
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Old June 1, 2013, 06:59 PM   #56
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What's really bugging me is the "A.C." stamp on the right side. If that's a scrubbed version of R.A.C., how did it end up on a 1911 NS? Is this some earlier model of Colt DA revolver and not a New Service?
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Old June 1, 2013, 09:02 PM   #57
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The adjustable rear sight probably makes it a Shooting Master (which is a New Service with adjustable sights). Early ones were chambered in .44 Russian or .44 Special. Later ones in .45 M1909 (M1909) and .45ACP (M1917). Serial # is definitely 1911 which predates the 1917 service chambering in .45ACP, so it could be a M1909 with a M1917 cylinder.

What does the R.A.C. signify to you?
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Old June 1, 2013, 09:13 PM   #58
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Rinaldo A. Carr. He was an Army inspector at the Colt factory which made me wonder why his initials would be on a civilian gun.
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Old June 1, 2013, 09:25 PM   #59
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If it is an M1909, that would make sense. The M1909 was an Army model. But I see what you mean. His tenure ended in 1909.
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Old June 1, 2013, 09:27 PM   #60
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Plus, it had a lanyard ring but someone cut it off. Did the civilian guns have lanyard rings? Not sure. So between the military inspector's mark and the lanyard ring, I was wondering if maybe this started out as a military pistol.
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Old June 1, 2013, 09:33 PM   #61
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If it is a M1909, it is a military pistol. The M1909 was replaced by the M1917. Both were Colt New Service military models.

Frank Baker apparently replaced Carr in 1909. Do you see any FB marks anywhere?
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Old June 1, 2013, 09:45 PM   #62
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The rear sight is not one made by Colt, and New Service and Shooting Master target revolvers had a flat, not rounded topstrap.

I don't think the cylinder started life as a .45 ACP, because there isn't enough clearence at the back for a half-moon clip (or so it seems in the picture). A New Service cylinder chambered in .455 Eley (an English cartridge) seems more likely, and these were cataloged in 1911.

R.A.C. was U.S. Army Inspector, Rinaldo C. Carr, who was a sub-inspector at Colt's between 1889 and 1916. Among others he inspected Models 1873 (reworks) between 1902 to 1907, 1909 New Service between 1909 and 1911, and 1911 pistols between 1914 and 1915.

Model 1909 New Service revolvers were purchased by the Army, Navy and Marine Corps with Colt serial numbers that were as high as the 53,000 range but in mixed lots with civilian commercial guns in between. All of the military production had 5 1/2" barrels and were chambered in .45 Colt (not .45 ACP).
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Old June 1, 2013, 09:57 PM   #63
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OK, then Carr is good for the 1911 date. (No surprised that Fuff has better records that Proofhouse.)

But that does look like a Shooting Master sight doesn't it? Possibly added when the gun was rebuilt as a 45ACP and refinished?
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Old June 1, 2013, 10:44 PM   #64
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Quote:
But that does look like a Shooting Master sight doesn't it?
Not even close. The Shooting Master and New Service Target models had a flat topstrap that had a small dovetail at the back for the rear sight. The sight itself could only be moved for windage (side to side) after you loosened a screw.

Elevation was built into the front sight. You loosened a screw and the blade could, within limits, be rotated higher or lower.

Quote:
Possibly added when the gun was rebuilt as a 45ACP and refinished?
At this point I don't think it's a 1917 .45 ACP cylinder. There isn't enough clearence between the breechface and cylinder for a half-moon clip and the thin rim on the back of the .45 ACP case. If it's short-chambered and not a .45 Colt I would say a .45 Eley/Webley (possibly rechambered). Still looking, but right now I think it was made up from a collection of parts. The work and refinishing was done most likely during the late 1940's or 1950's.

My views are open to change pending more investigation.
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Old June 1, 2013, 10:53 PM   #65
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Quote:
right now I think it was made up from a collection of parts.
Sounds like something I'd try to do.
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Old June 2, 2013, 08:09 PM   #66
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JRH6586: No FB mark, but gun was heavily scrubbed in the past.

Old Fuff: You're right on the money about the chambering. It's very finicky and won't close on full moonclips, so I have to use halfmoon clips. So you think this thing is a rechambered Eley? I'll buy that.

Thanks a bunch, guys!
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Old June 2, 2013, 09:54 PM   #67
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Colt New Service, .455 Eley
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Old June 2, 2013, 10:02 PM   #68
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Back in the mid-1950's the U.K. decided to sell of the remaining .455 and .38 revolvers they still had, and private citizen gun ownership laws being what they are (or were as the case may be) around the world, most of them ended up on this side of the Big Pond.

New Service Colts and Smith & Wesson Triple-Locks sold for $17.00 to $25,00 in very good to excelent condition, but chambered in .455 Eley. Many, if not most were rechambered to .45 (Long) Colt. Going to .45 ACP required a new model 1917 cylinder, but some were so changed.

Because of the exceeding high price these revolvers went for, many of them became the basis for all kinds of custom conversions.

One problem with the "Brit connection" is that the frame appears to be from a model 1909 U.S. revolver, but some were sent to England during the early days of World War Two before we got involved. They however were all in .45 Long Colt. However the folks "over there" could have switched in a .455 cylinder. Trouble is, if all this happened I'd expect all kinds of proof marks and ownership stamps on the frame, cylinder, and barrel. Also I don't think they would have changed the cylinder latch thumbpiece, nor would they have fitted a 7 1/2" barrel and aftermarket adjustable rear sight. To further confuse the picture the barrel and crane have Colt inspector's stamps which make me think that the barrel is indeed original to the frame. If so, then it wasn't a U.S. Model 1909, but these were intermixed with commercial production.

OH DARN!!!!!
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Old June 3, 2013, 12:32 AM   #69
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The back story on this piece has got to be very interesting. It almost sounds like when the Brits sold the guns, they sold someone a box a spare parts.
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Old June 4, 2013, 11:42 PM   #70
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Just thought of something guys. Could it have started out as an Eley when it has an RAC inspection mark?
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Old June 4, 2013, 11:50 PM   #71
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I did see at least one article that stated that Colt built some of the guns in both .450 Eley and .455 Eley, but I have no confirming evidence.
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Old June 5, 2013, 12:18 AM   #72
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Well this is a long shot. I have absolutely no evidence to support it. But it is known that Colt would rework parts (including frames) that government inspectors had rejected for minor reasons, and recycle them into commercial production. The model 1909 (1909 - 1912) was actually a commercial grade gun, the only difference besides markings being walnut rather then hard rubber stocks. So it is (very slightly) possible that a model 1909 left-over frame might have been used to make a .455 Eley revolver for the Brits. in 1914, and then in the 1950's or later the barrel was switched out for a 7 1/2" one and the adjustable rear sight added.

The only way to find out more - beyond speculation - would be to buy a very expensive historical letter from Colt to determine what configuration it was in when it left the factory, and when. Given what it looks like now I'd say the letter would be interesting, but I wouldn't spend the money. It is for all intents and purposes somebody's project gun. It's value depends entirely on how well it shoots. The next question is, what is it supposed to shoot?
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Old June 5, 2013, 12:47 AM   #73
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It has steps machined in the cylinders about halfway down (see prev pic) and there's about 0.1" between the rear of the cylinder and the recoil shield.

The rear of the cylinder has a witness mark that matches up with one on the star, so it hasn't been shaved down. And there's a tiny five-pointed star on the face of the cylinder.
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Old June 5, 2013, 01:39 AM   #74
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Maybe you can glean some info from this page that will help.

The .450 and .455 Eley/Webley cases have a base diameter of .480". The .45ACP is .476". The .455 case is .770" long, The .45ACP case is .898" long.

You will notice that a couple of the later Webley and Scott .455 Auto rounds are .927" long which is too long to chamber in a .45ACP chamber, but anything with a case shorter than .898" should chamber. The .004 difference in base diameter might keep Webley cases from chambering or at least they would be a detectably tight fit in a .45ACP chamber.

Theoretically, knowing the depth of the chamber from mouth to shoulder should allow you to calculate the case length, but only rimless cartridges would need to headspace on the machined step. Rimmed and semi-rimmed would headspace on the rim.
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Old June 5, 2013, 09:58 AM   #75
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And there's a tiny five-pointed star on the face of the cylinder.
Which is a Colt Inspector's stamp, and of no special consequence here.
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