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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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    Since R.L. Wilson went out of the picture Colt's don't seem to be interested in outside researchers. Instead they would rather sell the information. If you call their Customer Service Department at (800) 962-2658 and give them the model and serial number they'll tell you the year it was made, and nothing more. The person you're talking with will be reading off a computer screen and may or may not have any in-depth knowledge of the subject.
     
  2. lr45lc

    lr45lc Member

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    Thanks Old fuff, I asked my brother he said it also has 38 under the s/n I'm in NM he's in ohio so I can't look at the gun up close.
     
  3. dwstone1227

    dwstone1227 Member

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    Location:
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    38 Colt Police Positive Special

    a) 38 Special CTG
    b) 4 " barrel
    c) Wood grips, rounded and all wood (no metal) across bottom.
    d) 6 shot
    e) Fixed sights.
    f) 26324M. Bottom of grip is all wood, no serial number
    g) 26324M under the crane.
    There is no number under the barrel or face of the cylinder. There is no serial number at bottom of grip.
    h.) On left side of barrel: Police Positive Special, 38 Special CTG

    This is one very nicely maintained revolver. I bought it back in about 1980 for $75. I never had to time to shot much. It may have 50 rounds through it total. I recently sent my wife and kids to a local NRA instructor along with all my guns for training. The instructor refused to use this gun. Instead he came back with his own revolver and used it. After the training session he showed me an guesstimate of value for this gun. This gun is now a Safe Queen. I bring it out of it's original box once in while just to hold it and smile. My son has already claimed this revolver as his inheritance.

    Thanks in advance for the information on this gun. Sorry to bore you with the history of this gun, but this story brings smiles to me.

    dwstone1227

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
  4. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    You have a .38 Colt Police Positive Special, and the serial number dates it to having been made in 1997. The model was introduced in 1908, and discontinued in 1998 - one year after the one you have.

    The name comes from "Police" indicating its obvious use, and "Positive" to show that it has Colt's famous positive hammer block that makes it unquestionably safe to carry with all the chambers loaded.

    In later years it was cataloged to be available with 4, 5 or 6-inch barrels, while the snubby version with a 2-inch one is called the Detective Special.

    The revolver in itself is not uncommon, but so late production, "in the box," is.
     
  5. dwstone1227

    dwstone1227 Member

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    Wow. Time does fly. I would have sworn I had this gun longer than that. Thanks for the information.
    Dwstone1227
     
  6. DGilby85

    DGilby85 Member

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    Colt Anaconda Bad Barrel Serial Numbers

    I called a contact at Colt who informed me that Anacondas with serial numbers MM32463 and under are considered early production models that have the accuracy issues.
     
  7. radar1972

    radar1972 Member

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    While everyone's posting 'old Colts', I'll include a couple pix of my father-in-law's Colt Army Special. He bought it from a pawn shop in 1942. Checks of the serial number at proofhouse.com indicate it was manufactured in 1919.

    We fired it at the range today.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
  8. almarwol

    almarwol Member

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    I have a Colt Agent .38 caliber snub nose 6 shot w/ sn 123947. Finish is flat black and has shrouded ejector w/ wood handles. Need to see when manufactured. database from Colt not conslusive.
     
  9. sinisterkid

    sinisterkid Member

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    I just joined THR forum because I have been offered to purchase a vintage Colt revolver. Not sure if I'm supposed to start a new thread, but I figured this would be a good start. I believe I have a Colt Banker's Special in .38 S&W. It is nickel finished w/walnut grips. Serial number is 168XXX, and according to proof house, manufactured in 1926. All of my research today verifies that this revolver meets all the correct criteria:

    2 in. barrel
    half-moon sites
    ser. #168XXX
    Nickel finish
    square butt (walnut checkered)
    hammer spur checkered
    correct patent marks: ends with "Oct. 5, 1926"

    Here's the kicker guys---This gun appears 98-99% condition on finish! Right grip panel has front corner broken off......looking at the inside of the frame where the cylinder locks up, I swear this gun has possibly NEVER been fired! Can anyone help me out? i.e. what should I offer the seller (an honest price--my wife's boss (it belonged to his father who passed away last year). He has no clue, "just a handgun". Will post pics this weekend.
    Thanks......
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
  10. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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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.
     
  11. ka2rzo

    ka2rzo Member

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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][/URL][/IMG]

    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  12. JRH6856

    JRH6856 Member

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    It looks like a Colt New Service. If so, the 492xx SN would place the manufacture date in 1911.
     
  13. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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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.
     
  14. JRH6856

    JRH6856 Member

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    1911 is a far as I got before the pieces stopped fitting. :uhoh:
     
  15. ka2rzo

    ka2rzo Member

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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?
     
  16. JRH6856

    JRH6856 Member

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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?
     
  17. ka2rzo

    ka2rzo Member

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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.
     
  18. JRH6856

    JRH6856 Member

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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.
     
  19. ka2rzo

    ka2rzo Member

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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.
     
  20. JRH6856

    JRH6856 Member

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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?
     
  21. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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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).
     
  22. JRH6856

    JRH6856 Member

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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?
     
  23. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    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.

    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.
     
  24. JRH6856

    JRH6856 Member

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    Sounds like something I'd try to do. :uhoh:
     
  25. ka2rzo

    ka2rzo Member

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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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