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Identity and Date of Manufacture of Colt Revolvers

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

  1. JRH6856

    JRH6856 Member

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  2. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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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 :evil: 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!!!!!
     
  3. JRH6856

    JRH6856 Member

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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.
     
  4. ka2rzo

    ka2rzo Member

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    Just thought of something guys. Could it have started out as an Eley when it has an RAC inspection mark?
     
  5. JRH6856

    JRH6856 Member

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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.
     
  6. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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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?
     
  7. ka2rzo

    ka2rzo Member

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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.
     
  8. JRH6856

    JRH6856 Member

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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.
     
  9. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Which is a Colt Inspector's stamp, and of no special consequence here.
     
  10. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Agree with #72, it is a project gun.
    It might well once have been a USGI 1909, the serial number is late in the range. Would there have been an Army inspector's stamp on a "left over frame?" I don't know for sure but doubt it.

    The barrel taper and shoulder are like no Colt I have seen, the front ramp sight looks like the one on Numrich replacement barrels of the Golden Age of Surplus (1946 - 1968) and the rear sight looks like no Colt (or anything else) I am familiar with. The checkering on the trigger looks like a shop job, and the best I can tell the 1909 did not have a factory checkered trigger.
    Looks like a decent but not outstanding reblue.

    One test would be whether it would fire a .45 ACP without clip.
    Or would chamber a .45 Colt.
     
  11. ka2rzo

    ka2rzo Member

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    Chambers and shoots .45 ACP no problem.
     
  12. ka2rzo

    ka2rzo Member

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    Even without moonclip
     
  13. JRH6856

    JRH6856 Member

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  14. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Probably not. They have extra thick rims to duplicate the .45 ACP case with a clip attached. The posted photographs show me that there isn't enough clearence between the breechface and cylinder. in theory a shortened .45 (Long) Colt case trimmed to length might work, but I suspect the case wall would then be too thick.
     
  15. JRH6856

    JRH6856 Member

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    Would the rim diameter of the long Colt case allow reliable extraction or would it slip under the star?
     
  16. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Not having the revolver I'm not sure. So far as that goes I'm not really sure what it's chambered for. :banghead:

    The most likely candidate is .455 Webley/Eley
     
  17. FHBrumb

    FHBrumb Member

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    Colt Research

    I was recently given two Colt pistols. How can I research for date of manufacture? Is there a database or website?

    Colt Woodsman in 22lr
    Colt Police Positive in 38spl
     
  18. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Be aware that if it's chambered to use .38 Special cartridges you have a Police Positive Special revolver, not a Police Positive.

    The two are serial numbered in their own series.
     
  19. FHBrumb

    FHBrumb Member

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    Would it say,"Special"? I'm pretty sure mine does not. 38 S&W otherwise?
     
  20. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    The Police Positive and Police Positive Special were identical, except the "Special" had a slightly longer cylinder and frame.

    The Police Positive was chambered as a center-fire in .38 S&W / Colt .38 New Police and .32 S&W Long / Colt .32 New Police.

    The Police Positive Special came in .32-20 WCF and .38 Special.

    If there is still a question I will look up the cylinder length dimensions.

    This all changed after World War Two, but that's another story.
     
  21. FHBrumb

    FHBrumb Member

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    Got it. Its a Special.

    Revolver 1928
    Woodsman 1942

    Thanks for the help!
     
  22. Ateam-3

    Ateam-3 Member

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    I have a Colt Cobra
    .38spl
    2" barrel
    2nd series with a ramped front sight and a shrouded ejector.

    Serial No F82xxx

    Any date information is appreciated. Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2013
  23. Snake Plisskin

    Snake Plisskin Member

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    I have a Colt Trooper Mark III 4" blued .357 magnum would like to know some information about, thanks S/N 14172L
     
  24. 792mauser

    792mauser Member

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    [​IMG]

    a) caliber- I think 38lc
    b) bbl length (from cylinder to muzzle)- 4.5"
    c) grips shape (round or square)- wooden square
    d) number of shots/cylinder bores- 6 round cylinder
    e) type of sights. Fixed round front and grooved top strap
    f) serial number, and if there is a letter in front of or anywhere near the s/n on the bottom of the grip
    Bottom of grip is numbered x09 and inside the crane is x45 w/ a F slightly above and to the right with a upside down 17 stamped just below.
    g) Model number if it is under the crane.-
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2014
  25. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    I haven't been able to bring up your picture, which in this case could be critical to correct identification. Anyway let's go in another direction.

    Are they're any markings on the barrel, in particular the top and left side?

    Are the wood stocks checkered or plain?

    Are the chambers bored straight through (back to front) or are they stepped down at the front to make a smaller diameter throat?
     

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