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Colt Officers .38 King upgrades

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by cyclopsshooter, Mar 14, 2010.

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  1. cyclopsshooter

    cyclopsshooter Member

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    Looking for a little history and value of this Colt Officers I just picked up. I am a pretty well versed Smith guy but this is my first Colt revolver... It just kinda followed me home...

    It has an adjustable front sight with no markings, the rear adjustable sight is marked Kings and the hammer is a cockeyed King. SN is 618XXX yes, that is six digits. It has a very nice trigger action and there is no noticeable stacking with the leaf spring.

    Thanks for any help

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  2. 420Stainless

    420Stainless Member

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    I'm not very helpful on this topic, but I'd thought I'd give you a heads up on an article in the Feb. edition of HANDLOADER magazine. Nice article by Charles E. Petty about King Gun Works customization of Colt SAA's. In that article he gives general information about King and their customization ideas and processes.
     
  3. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Member

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    618XXX was made in 1937.

    In those days, the Officer's Model was Colt's top-of-the-line premium revolver, and the 1930's was when Colt quality was at its all time high.
    In those days, target shooting was a big, hot sport, and the Colt OM was the top target pistol, holding all the records.
    Until the Colt Python of 1955 came out, the OM was the most accurate DA revolver available and one in good condition can turn in shockingly good groups with Mid-range wadcutter target loads.
    Strange to consider, but a good OM made in the 30's is quite capable of out-shooting almost any revolver made today.

    As always, competitors wanted any edge they could get, so many had King's and other custom shops make modifications to the guns.
    The King's sights and hammer were the most popular.
     
  4. General Geoff

    General Geoff Member

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    This is very interesting. I just saw my first Colt Officer's Model on Wednesday (my friend Jim's, it was his father's):


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  5. Gordon

    Gordon Member

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    My Dad was an avid NRA competitor after WW2 settled down. He at first used a pre war Officer's Model .38 and .22 and had King's 'work it over'. After A LOT of rounds thru those guns he got good enough (and had more money in the late 50s) to buy a new set of Officer's Model Match .22, .38 and finally a .32 S&W Long. He had Colt tune them before they were shipped. He first gave me the .38 in the late 60s as he switched to a target .45 1911 for the Centerfire match , but kept the .32 as his "cheat" gun as he said it was considerably more accurate than the .38. Then in the early 70s I was given his .22 Officers Model Match as he switched to a High Standard semi auto for the .22 stage. I used the .38 and .22 a while when I competed in the middle 60s in NRA but put them away for a PPC S&W because I was an LEO. I got all Dad's guns in the early 80s , except the .32 Officer's Match when he got a stroke.He had remarried after my mom passed in 65 and I never got along that great with that side of the family. When he passed I never asked for the .32 Officers Model Match and since it was New Jersey it went ? Or his widow still has it.
    Good guns for sure. The pre war .22s seem to be a little too tight IMHO and must be kept spotless to function. Yeah I have a few Colts .
     
  6. cyclopsshooter

    cyclopsshooter Member

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    1937! vcool it cost me 335- im now guessing that was a pretty good price. anyone know?
     
  7. rmfnla

    rmfnla Member

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    That's a killer price!

    I love those old Colts.
     
  8. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    Hi cyclopsshooter,



    Wow, what a Treasure...what a lovely old Colt.


    I can not add anything knowledge wise about King modifications, but, just wanted to compliment you on how nice a Revolver that is, and, the King details are the Icing on the Cake...splendid.


    Seldom seen!
     
  9. Ky Larry

    Ky Larry Member

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    For more info, check the Colt Forum. Lots of sharp Colt fans over there. You have a treasure.
     
  10. jad0110

    jad0110 Member

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    Hey cyclopsshooter. Your Colt has the same cockeyed King hammer as my pre-10 Transitional K Frame.

    BTW, Old Fuff provided me with an excellent response to a question I had on the gun pictured below, covering these Deane King modified guns in this post: http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=6187432&postcount=6


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  11. cyclopsshooter

    cyclopsshooter Member

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    cool jad, thanks much
     
  12. ky40601

    ky40601 Member

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    Nice looking revolvers. Here are pictures of my 1930 Officers Model .22 LR.

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  13. Hardballing

    Hardballing Member

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    While the info you got regarding the Officer's Model is "mostly" correct :) (with yours seeming to be the Heavy Barrel Match model), THE top of the line pre war revolver from Colt was the Shooting Master, not the OM.

    Based on the New Service frame, it was KING of the hill and offered IIRC in .38 Spc, .357 mag, .44 special, and .45 Colt. Truly handfitted actions, machined/checkered backstraps, and could be custom ordered with a bewildering array of barrel choices for lengths and factory fitted sights.

    NOTHING wrong with the OM as it was by far, along with Smith's of various models, the true working guns of the range (bullseye was a big deal) but Shooting Master was king of the hill, as far as Colt was concerned anyway and what they charged for them. IIRC, Shooting Master was discontinued after WW2 but the OM lived on, WELL into the 1960's at least.

    I have an OM similar to yours that has Kings "mirror" front sight in ivory. The ramp (which fits right over the sight projections, minus the factory blade, and is held in place with a pin and screw) has a recess that is fitted with...you guessed it...a mirror. That was to grab the light and project it back onto the ivory bead. It works and works well. My OM is from 1938 but I believe the sight was added later.

    Mr. King died IIRC in 2006 or 2007 and the sell off of the store stock was something to see. Won't be many like him again but I understand his widow is still selling parts of the store stock...IF she likes you. Or so I was told when I tried to contact them several years ago. The website for King's was stll active then. Now? Don't know.
     
  14. jad0110

    jad0110 Member

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    The original Deane W. King actually died in the early to mid 50s, IIRC, and his company, the King Gunsight Company of San Francisco, closed shortly thereafter in 1955 or so.

    Are you referring to the modern day King Gunsight Company (also out of CA)?
     
  15. dagger dog

    dagger dog Member

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    The checkered backstrap and trigger were factory stock on most Officers Models, the King looks like it has a rear sight modification near a S&W.

    Most Pythons are not the same fit and finish as the older OM's labor was a lot cheaper, and these old guns were meticulosity hand fitted, and if in working order the timing and triggers cannot be out classed. $335.00! what a bargin! You have to shoot it!

    Here's a pic of my old OM beater, some ones duty gun left in a leather to rust,all outside corrosion though, and it shoots like a new one!

    A poor mans Python

    Thee was an article in Shotgun News abut the OM's you may be able to get a back copy, thik it was from '08
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
  16. Hardballing

    Hardballing Member

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    The original Deane W. King actually died in the early to mid 50s, IIRC, and his company, the King Gunsight Company of San Francisco, closed shortly thereafter in 1955 or so.

    Are you referring to the modern day King Gunsight Company (also out of CA)?



    You know, not sure.

    I was putting together a 1911 last year and looking for all the parts and doo dads that this entails and came across an active website for King. So here I am drooling at the parts, making a list for what I wanted from them vs Brownells and others and then when I go to purchase I call the number listed.

    I was directed to Kings Gunworks, but the guy on the phone (yep, out of CA) told the story I related. Don't know if the widow he spoke of was Mrs. King Jr or whomever, just the info I stated. He said they bought the company after "Mr King's death" in either 2006 or 07. And he told me the part about the widow still possibly having stock, but that she was hard to reach (suggested mail) and would only sell "if she liked you and your letter".

    So I didn't do business with "the guy" and was aggravated that the super cool stuff King's had on their site was no longer available apparently.

    Pretty much all I know on the topic, other than they did GREAT work in the 30's, 40's, and beyond. Made a TON of revolver and 1911 parts, as well as true custom gunsmiths on staff to boot. Sad they're not around frankly.

    Hope this clarifies my remarks.
     
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