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Identity and Date of Manufacture of Colt Revolvers

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by pgmrdan, Sep 29, 2011.

  1. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Your Colt revolver appears to be a 1892 New Army/Navy model. Serial No. 281270 was one of the last made in about 1907 when the model was discontinued at or about No. 291000. It may be chambered in either .38 Long Colt or .38 Special. You can tell the difference by looking through a chamber to see if it is the same diameter all of the way through from back to front (.38 Long Colt) or has a reduced step toward the front (.38 Special).

    The 3 1/2" barrel length (measured from the front face of the cylinder to the end of the muzzle) is scarce, but they did make some. Be sure that it hasn't been cut down from a longer length and the front sight remounted.

    The number 1323 is an assembly number, stamped on the frame and certain hand-fitted parts, so that these parts would come back and be assembled in the right frame after they were finished (blue or nickel plate).

    You can buy replacement stocks that (more or less) duplicate the original ones for about $30.00.

    It was adopted in 1892 by the U.S. Army and Navy, in a 6" / .38 Long Colt version with plain walnut stocks, and was still in inventory as late as 1940.

    In it's present condition it is not especially valuable. Shooters have little interest in them, and collectors seek those in better condition. But the late production and short barrel length might work in your favor. I would say between $150 to $200, and perhaps less in some markets.
     
  2. mississippifarmboy

    mississippifarmboy Member

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    "It may be chambered in either .38 Long Colt or .38 Special. You can tell the difference by looking through a chamber to see if it is the same diameter all of the way through from back to front (.38 Long Colt) or has a reduced step toward the front (.38 Special)."

    It was loaded with .38 special cartridges when I got it, but if it has reduced step, I can't see it looking at it. I'll have to check into that more.



    "The 3 1/2" barrel length (measured from the front face of the cylinder to the end of the muzzle) is scarce, but they did make some. Be sure that it hasn't been cut down from a longer length and the front sight remounted."


    Thanks so much. After reading your reply I looked at it again, I was wrong about the barrel length, I was only measuring the actual barrel which is 3 1/2". Measuring it correctly from the front of the cylinder to the end of the barrel it is 4 1/2". The barrel doesn't look to be altered and the sights seem to be original.

    Thank you again very much for the info. I'd have never guessed it was that old.
     
  3. content

    content Member

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    Hello friends and neighbors // I could use some help with an old Colt.

    A. 38 (38sw)
    B. 4 inch
    C. Square butt, checkered wood, silver med.
    D. 6 round,, alignment slot cut into cylinder and ejector.(a nice feature)
    E. Fixed rear ,Half moon front, serrated top strap
    F. 38591X
    G. Police Positive .38

    *Marked on butt base:: P.M.P.D. No. 14

    **Fine checkering on::Trigger,hammer spur,cylinder release,ejector tip.
    ---------------
    Closest I can come is possibly a pre war contract with Canada for the Port Moody Police Department.
    --------
    Anyway way to find out?
    I'd join the Colt Forum but hope some of the fine folks from there might also be here helping.

    I'd like a second opinion on the DOM also.

    -------
    Good idea mesinge2
     
  4. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    You apparently have a .38 Colt Police Positive and the serial number dates it to 1939. It was chambered to use the .38 Colt New Police or .38 Police Positive cartridge, both of which are identical to the .38 S&W round.

    If you reload your own ammunition be aware that Colt used the same chamber throat and barrel groove specifications that they did for .38 Special. Thus you can use easily obtained .358 (or even .356/9mm) bullets rather then the odd-sized .361 diameter bullets required for other revolvers chambered in .38 S&W.

    I checked an extensive list of police markings and didn't find P.M.P.D., but besides the obvious it might have been sent to a large manufacturing plant doing pre-World War Two defense work.

    It is one of the last Police Positive revolvers that were made. Production slowed during 1939 and '40 as the Colt factory was retooled for expected war production. During the war a few thousand were made out of previously manufactured parts. When they ran out the end came.
     
  5. content

    content Member

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    TYVM for checking the PMPD

    I'm glad the date is 1939, now that you point it out I see the next(last) few years production numbers were slim.

    Also ty for the .358 tip I like saving money, time and energy,,, that will help with all three.
     
  6. jshrop6004

    jshrop6004 Member

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    Colt Detective Special

    Newly acquired Detective Special: on LH side of barrel: DETECTIVE SPEC.

    a) .38 Colt N P CTG (as exactly on the LH side of barrel)
    b) bbl length 2"
    c) grips shape round smooth, no checkering, walnut w/prancing
    pony inserts
    d) number of shots 6
    e) type of sights fixed, blade front
    f) serial number 51617X, underneath s/n is X, underneath X and
    to the left is F
    g) Model number if it is under the crane.No model #
    h) nickel finish

    Now I am curious if this is a .38 special or a .38 S&W cartridge pistol.



    Thanks,

    Joel S.
     

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  7. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    It was made in 1949, and chambered in .38 Colt New Police (which is identical in all important respects to the .38 S&W, but you couldn't stamp that on a Colt product). Colt was making these because the Police Positive line had been discontinued, and that included the Bankers Special, which had been Colt's standard snubby in .38 N.P.

    Since it is an early post-war Detective Special, not chambered in .38 Special (very scarce) and nickel plated (even more scarce if factory original) The collectable value would likely exceed that of a shooter.
     
  8. jshrop6004

    jshrop6004 Member

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    Thanks very much Old Fuff, it is in fair shape for a 63 year old. I believe the nickel to be original as the pony roll mark is strikingly deep & clear. Thanks again for the info!

    Joel S.
     
  9. jrdolall

    jrdolall Member

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    Inherited from a friend of my mother. It is pretty much mint with 100% blueing. No holster wear so probably bought for HD and put in a drawer for 50 years.

    Colt Detective Special
    SN 53508^ or S3508^
    38 special ctg on barrel
    6 shot
    According to Proofhouse this appears to be a 1949 manufacture?
     

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  10. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Check the serial number again. That particular configuration was made from about 1873 through 1986. No way was it made in 1949. The first number could be a letter.
     
  11. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    I want one of the 1873 models...:D
     
  12. jrdolall

    jrdolall Member

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    SN could be S-3508^ instead of 5-3508^. There is an X under the SN.
     
  13. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    It's a very rare, one-of-a-kind prototype. I doubt you could afford it. :evil:
     
  14. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    The "X" is an inspector's stamp, and unrelated to the serial.

    In 1978 Colt stopped issuing serial number information to researchers. The last data I have shows they ended that year at serial No. S 01001.

    You can find out when your revolver was made by calling they're Customer Service Department at:


    (800) 962-2658

    They will tell you the year it was made, and nothing more. If you want to know more some stiff fees will kick in.
     
  15. jrdolall

    jrdolall Member

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    I called Colt and, assuming the first digit in the S/N is the letter S, then it was made in 1980. Based on the appearance I would say that is about right. If it is a 5 then it was made in 1949.
     
  16. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    In 1949 the frame was different in that the wood stocks didn't wrap around and extend below the metal part of the butt. The barrel was round and there was no rib or underlug that wrapped around most of the ejector rod. With no evidence to prove it (other then the above description) I would expect a S-prefix number in in 1980.
     
  17. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Member

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    In 1978 Colt stopped issuing serial number information to researchers.

    R.L. Wilson was given the last access to the Colt archives in 1985.
    The list ends in 1985 when the book was published.
    The book is "Colt: An American Legend". In the back of the book are ALL Colt serial numbers from 1836 into 1985.

    Colt Firearms considers this to be the official history of Colt firearms.
    Pictured in the book is every model of firearm Colt ever made, most shown being profusely engraved show models.
    You can still find the book on Ebay and some book seller sites.
     
  18. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    Okay gurus...

    I have a buddy with a Diamondback Snubby and the serial number is P747XX.

    Neither proofhouse or Colt have a "P" serial number prefix.

    Any thoughts are welcome.

    Thank you
     
  19. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Member

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    P747XX was made in 1984.
    There should be a "K at the end.

    Colt started the "P serial number series in 1981 at P01001.
    In 1984 the P series started ending with a "K" at P73252K.
     
  20. slimpickens

    slimpickens Member

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    Could I get a birthdate please on S&W 625-8, .45 cal
    Four inch barrel, matte stainless, rubber grips
    Serial #CFN5003

    SORRY WRONG FORUM
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  21. Checkman

    Checkman member

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    The R.L. Wilson book is great, but it's woefully out of date. Nevertheless I own a copy. I don't know if Mr. Wilson will be writing anymore books. I belive he is out of prison and I've heard nothing about him writing anything else. He might just be laying low. Too bad if that's the case. the Colt book could stand an update.
     
  22. lr45lc

    lr45lc Member

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    old colt

    Have an old colt would like to the year it was made.
    38 police pstive special
    4 in
    square butt
    six shot
    fixed site half moon
    sn, 348xx
    police postive 38 special
     
  23. dhcustomwork

    dhcustomwork Member

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    According to that serial number; you're looking at approximately 1911 as the production date. Please post a few pics of it if you can!
     
  24. lr45lc

    lr45lc Member

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    old colt

    Hi All,
    My brother has an old colt we would like to know the year of mfg.
    beleive it is a 38 special but not sure.
    38 special
    4 in.
    square butt
    six shot
    fixed front half moon
    sn, 348xx
    police postive special
     
  25. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    You apparently have a Colt Police Positive Special.

    Serial number 34,8xx was made in 1910, two years after the model was introduced in 1908. Be sure you have the whole number. It is stamped on the frame in the crane cut-out just below the back end of the barrel. The "crane” is the hinge part the cylinder swings out on, so you have to open it to see the number.
     

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