32-20 Police Positive Colt Revolver

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Jun 6, 2009
I recently aquired a Colt 32-20. Sadly it is only in fair condition. It has no serial number that I can find, but says Pat'd, Aug 5 1884, June 5 1900, July 4 1905. Do you know how I can determine its age?
Scotts404, the Colt Police Positive all had a serial numbers stamped on the crane and on the frame facing the crane. Depending on the year of manufacture it will be either a 5 or 6 digit number.

Steve Mace
Be aware that if it's chambered in .32-20 it's not a Police Positive. :what:

It's a Police Positive Special, which is a different model.

After you locate the serial number, go to: www.proofhouse.com and you can find the year of manufacture.
Old Fuff is very correct! If your revolver is chambered in .32-20 it would be a Police Positive Special. My mistake that I should have caught.

Steve Mace
You're right, it is a special and the serial # (thanks Old fluff) places it with a 1918 mfg. yr.

Is it true that it will also fire a 38 special round?
Not if it's chambered in 32-20. The 38 Special will not even fit, different cartridge. Not making fun of you, but sometimes these questions scare me.:uhoh:
Ron, not as much as the guy I once met who had a .38 Special and had tried a .357 Magnum cartridge in it. It didn't go in all the way, and the genius wanted to know if it would go in if he pounded it with a hammer.

I've been reading up on this piece and have come across web multiple citations that either say it fires a .38 or a .38 special.
I was quite surprised to read that it would, but had serious doubts. the 32-20 round is hard to find, so i was hoping to use another, more standard round.
thanks for setting me straight.
It does get a bit confusing... :confused:

Between 1908 and 1942, the Police Positive was chambered to use the following cartridges.

.22 RF (short, long or long rifle)
.22 WRF (Winchester Rim Fire - a unique .22 round)
.32 Colt New Police (same as .32 S&W Long)
.38 Colt New Police (same as .38 S&W)

At the same time the Police Positive Special was chambered in:

.32-20 WCF (originally designed to be used in Winchester lever action rifles & carbines)
.38 Special (also would fire .38 Long Colt, but not .38 S&W)

Following World War Two the Police Positive was discontinued, but the Police Positive Special remained in production. At that time the .32-20 option was dropped, but for a short time the .32 S&W Long and .38 S&W chamberings were added. Some were also made in .22 Rim Fire.

Clear as mud? :scrutiny:
What? Colt production, markings and serial numbering not clear? Impossible!

What? Colt production, markings and serial numbering not clear? Impossible!

Good! You're my man... :uhoh:

I want you to go straighten out the serial numbers on Colt's Officers Model, Officers Model Target and Officers Model Match revolvers... :evil:
A side question, if I may. I have a Colt made in 1934, by the serial number. The barrel is marked "POLICE POSITIVE .38 SPECIAL" Is this a Police Positive, or Police Positive Special? These Colts confuse me no end. Thanks, Jim
I'm an expert now, expert at being confused that is.

Understood: I'm going to try to make this easier. The Colt Police Positive and Police Positive Special are for the most part identical revolvers, but the Police Positive has a slightly shorter frame and cylinder.

The Police Positive cylinder is 1 1/4 (1.250) inches long. This is easy to measure with an ordinary ruler.

The Police Positive Special cylinder is longer, so forget the confusing barrel markings and which cartridges fit whatever model, and simply measure the cyliinder length. If it comes out 1 1/4 inches, or close it's a Police Positive. If it's noticeably longer then 1 1/4 inches it's a Police Positive Special.

Remember that each model was serial numbered in it's own series.

Now is this better? ;)
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