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Old 05-06-2016, 11:18 AM
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Update: 1920 Colt Factory Modified "Keith No. 5" for C.M. McCutcheon Update: 1920 Colt Factory Modified "Keith No. 5" for C.M. McCutcheon Update: 1920 Colt Factory Modified "Keith No. 5" for C.M. McCutcheon Update: 1920 Colt Factory Modified "Keith No. 5" for C.M. McCutcheon Update: 1920 Colt Factory Modified "Keith No. 5" for C.M. McCutcheon  
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Default Update: 1920 Colt Factory Modified "Keith No. 5" for C.M. McCutcheon

This gun was labeled as a King modified gun when I bought it. I mostly collect King guns these days and I immediately fell in love with it, since it appeared to be a pre-war Keith no. 5 style gun, something I've lusted after since I first picked up a copy of Sixguns.






With the gun in hand this morning I'm pretty firmly convinced that King had nothing to do with it. If they did I have zero doubts King would be stamped on at least the front sight. Instead I have this ambersand:



Which is repeated here:



and here:



So I thought maybe that was something put on by a particular gunsmith. After digging around on the forums here it appears that this was a Colt Factory Rework mark? Can anyone confirm that for me? If that is the case would that mean that Colt did at least the sight work on the gun?

The stocks are numbered:



Here's another shot of the frame:



And the Rear sight, which seemed to me to be a S&W pre-30's sight, but I don't have any other single screw rear sights to compare it to yet and confirm that.




The last thing that I had a question about was the chambering.

I tried dropping a .357 in there and it won't chamber. .38 Long Colt does work just fine (as I expected), but so does .38 special.

I am suspecting that the gun was modified for .38 special, and possibly even sighted in for .38 special at the time it was modified. Would this gun be ok to shoot with standard .38 special? Is my suspicion possibly correct?

Edit: Poking around a bit more on forums prompted me to look one place I neglected to look:



So the numbers under the frame seem to be rework numbers? They aren't the S/N which is 3100XX

Update:

I came home from my last business trip to find it sitting at home:



I guess Cowan's had it sitting there and sent it along.

The 1920 date seems... really special. This thing pre-dates Keith's No. 5 by quite a few years. Anyone know if Harold Croft worked for Colt in 1920?

Edit: Life finally gave me a chance to get the letter:



I wonder if there is a way to get Montgomery Ward's records? I would be curious if the gun went straight to McCutcheon originally.

Last edited by Modified; 01-28-2018 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 05-06-2016, 12:54 PM
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Very interesting old colt.My understanding was the ampersand was stamped on a factory rework at times,but not always.How does it shoot?
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Old 05-06-2016, 01:20 PM
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AWESOME !

Standard 38 special should be just fine. Range trip is in order !
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Old 05-06-2016, 03:31 PM
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Interesting piece. Perhaps someone's version of a Colt SA .38-44, used for 'reaching out' a bit.
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Old 05-06-2016, 04:15 PM
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Holy Cow!!! That's really nice. I had no idea copies of Elmer's #5 were built. Thank you very much for the education. You have moved to the head of my "Hero" list.

Ed
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Old 05-06-2016, 04:26 PM
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Holy Cow!!! That's really nice. I had no idea copies of Elmer's #5 were built. Thank you very much for the education. You have moved to the head of my "Hero" list.

Ed
From what I found online there should be at least a handful of such guns made before the war. Even though the design is now the Keith No.5, if I understand the history correctly it was actually Harold Croft who built some and introduced them to Elmer.
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Old 05-06-2016, 05:04 PM
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The rear sight looks like the rear sight on my lettered 2nd model target (4/1922). Same same.
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Old 05-06-2016, 06:47 PM
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The rear sight looks like the rear sight on my lettered 2nd model target (4/1922). Same same.
Similar, but looking at your picture there are some differences. The built up piece around the rear screw is smaller on this one. I think it may have been polished down a bit. It's possible that this was one of those and modified for this use.
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Old 05-07-2016, 12:45 AM
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It's in pretty darned good shape for sure! I love the old grips too. There is a lot of steel in that cylinder, I would suspect standard lead loads would be just fine.
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Old 05-07-2016, 12:57 AM
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What a beauty!
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Old 05-07-2016, 02:01 AM
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Maybe a step by Keith and Harold Croft en route to the No. 5, or a copy.

But Keith would have used a .44 or .45 probably, not a .38.

Wouldn't use hot ammo in it unless you determine the age of the cylinder.

I'd bet it was made up by a fan of Keith's writing.
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Old 05-07-2016, 02:36 AM
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Default I'm clueless...

But I really like that one.

You are so far ahead of me on these it ain't funny.
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Old 05-07-2016, 10:27 AM
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Date of manufacture would go a long ways in determining what it could be chambered in.
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Old 05-07-2016, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
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Date of manufacture would go a long ways in determining what it could be chambered in.
1909

I'm pretty certain it was originally chambered in .38 Colt. The question more is was it converted to .38 special. Heck, with everything else going on here it seems to me that might not be the original cylinder.

I must note that the cylinder itself is not bored straight through, it does have a step in it. .38 Special fits, .38 Colt fits, .357 Magnum does not.


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But I really like that one.

You are so far ahead of me on these it ain't funny.
The wonderful thing about the weird pre-war modified target pistol game is that there is no real *ahead*. All this stuff is effectively unique. Even if someone did the same job to two guns there's probably going to be some kind of variation.

I personally enjoy sucking up as much random information regarding any old gunsmiths and modifications that might exist, in the hopes of finding examples of such guns. I find that even my imagination doesn't really account for the stuff I come across, especially mechanically.

Last edited by Modified; 05-07-2016 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 05-08-2016, 02:07 AM
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Open the loading gate and see if the same # that is stamped on the cyl, trigger guard and backstrap is also stamped on the frame there.

Colt usually stamped those parts and sometimes the bbl (under the ejector housing) with a re-work# or assembly# while in the shop to keep the parts identifiable.
(Of course, an independent gunsmith could have done the same as well)

Prior to about 1913, the Colts had their ser#s on the trigger guard and backstrap visable on the outside with the gun assembled and grips installed. After that, the trigger guard and backstrap ser# were stamped on the inside surfaces of those parts on new production.

The original frame finish would have been case color hardened of course. A gun w/a blued frame usually is suspect to anything but factory work. But the fit of the trigger guard and backstrap parts to the frame, their polish and finish look sharp and precise. A very good argument for factory work or in the very least done by someone talented enough to qualify for the job.

The ambersand (and asterisk?) are Colt rework symbols IIRC. But being simple hand stamps readily available, they are also easily applied by anyone. I can only recall Colts being stamped in one place, usually the rear of the trigger guard on handguns with a re-work mark. Not in multiple places.

I think the pre WW1 38Colt cylinders were bored thru. After the War starting in the early 20's the 38Colt cylinders were chambered w/ shoulder in them.
The 38Special cylinders appeared in the early 30's.

Neat gun,,

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Old 05-08-2016, 10:25 AM
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Awesome, great information. One of the things about the gun that I must say is that to me, whoever did the work, doesn't affect how much I love it. Mostly it's the mystery.


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Open the loading gate and see if the same # that is stamped on the cyl, trigger guard and backstrap is also stamped on the frame there.
The frame has 310095, loading gate is 53138.

The only numbers on the back strap I could find are in one of the pictures.

I'm guessing to check the trigger guard I will need to disassemble the gun?
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Old 05-09-2016, 12:34 AM
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The # on the bottom of the frame visible with the gun all assembled is the ser#of course.

The # on the loading gate itself that you can see when you flip it open is an assembly # that was applied during original mgfr.
There should be a matching assembly # to this one on the bottom of the frame that you can only see if you remove the trigger guard.
These matching #'s applied to match the gate to the frame which were fitted and polished as one unit .
These were applied before the gun was ser#d, so it's a lotterys chance that the gate and frame assembly # would match the guns ser# stamped later in production.

All that said,,
They have nothing to do with re-work #'s stamped on various parts of the gun by the Colt service dept.
These are separate #s applied to the cyl, backstrap, triggerguard, bbl and frame,,sometimes the ejector rod housing. All or some of these parts were stamped depending on the work being performed when a gun was returned to Colt.

Your revolver has a # different from the guns ser# stamped on the cyl, triggerguard and backstrap (the latter is along the lower edge of the grip frame on the left side and is visable in the picture also showing the # on the trigger guard). These could those repair #'s.,,could be..

If the frame were to be stamped with a repair assembly #, it would be on the frame in the concave loading cut exposed when the loading gate is in the open position.
You'll also be looking at the gate assembly# described above at the same time, but they are unrelated and will not match.

The bbl was sometimes stamped on the surface covered by the ejector rod housing. The ejector rod housing sometimes stamped on it's concave underside.

All this done to keep track of the parts for a gun where extensive work and sometimes modification was being done. The part(s) may be gone from the service dept for a time to perhaps the machine shop or other specialty. The assembly# was unique, like a work order# and would avoid 'What's this go to?' and other mysterys.
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Old 05-09-2016, 06:41 AM
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I would have no compunction about firing any available .38 Special ammo in any Colt SAA/Bisley, with the possible exception of top-end .38-44. If your cylinder turns out to be of late mfr., I'd even be ok with limited use of the hot stuff.
But hey, that's just me - YMMV.

Larry
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Old 05-09-2016, 07:57 AM
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Absolutely beauty,where do y'all find all these wonderful pistols? I'm new at this collection game. I am going to buy six more pistols over the next few years. I want to fine something like this fine pistol for my collection.
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Old 05-10-2016, 04:39 PM
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Absolutely beauty,where do y'all find all these wonderful pistols? I'm new at this collection game. I am going to buy six more pistols over the next few years. I want to fine something like this fine pistol for my collection.
I'm always scrounging around online and walking into every gun shop I come across. You have to look through a lot of guns to find the really wonderful ones. Or you could just talk to David Carroll

Personally I have a lot of fun with "the hunt". Finding them may actually be the most important part to me.

The best piece of advice I think I can give you is to make sure you only buy things you love. My rule now is that if a gun doesn't prompt some sort of emotional reaction, it's not worth buying or it's time to part with it (excluding some shooters I keep for range time).

I've found the guns that I buy because they are a great example just don't thrill me like they should. If you like the gun in this thread you are probably quite a bit like me in that regard.
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Old 07-16-2016, 01:19 PM
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I came home from my last business trip to find it sitting at home:



The significance of this is something I can't even comprehend. Can anyone explain just what the heck it is I bought?

I mean, the frame sure looks exactly like Keith No. 5, but 1920... Colt Factory Work? What?

edit: yesterday was a 22hr work day and I am pretty fried right now, I realized a bit ago after coffee that I actually bought this gun from Cowan, so they must have found this and sent it along? In any case, if anyone from Cowan is reading this, please understand that this was a major kindness to me, more then you may know.



from: http://www.cornellpubs.com/downloads...1912-11-21.pdf

Pretty cool to find a picture of him.

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Old 07-16-2016, 04:50 PM
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VERY Neat gun! The invoice mentions adding grips, but doesn't mention modifying grip frame (It looks larger to me than standard Bisley grip, is it?). Maybe done by someone else before sending to Colt? When he sent it in to Colt they would have likely reblued it since topstrap was milled for sight, maybe he wanted grips fitted to frame at same time before reblue? Croft, Sedgley, and others were modifying SAA's long before Elmer. We need a range report!

In the pic you found is Capt A.H. Hardy, famous exhibition shooter and leather maker.
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Old 07-16-2016, 05:00 PM
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VERY Neat gun! The invoice mentions adding grips, but doesn't mention modifying grip frame (It looks larger to me than standard Bisley grip, is it?). Maybe done by someone else before sending to Colt? When he sent it in to Colt they would have likely reblued it since topstrap was milled for sight, maybe he wanted grips fitted to frame at same time before reblue? Croft, Sedgley, and others were modifying SAA's long before Elmer. We need a range report!
Actually it does; The 4th line says: "Add single action trigger guard"

Which describes the job I think. Mating a SAA trigger guard/front strap to a Bisley backstrap.
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Old 07-16-2016, 06:01 PM
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That gun is so beautiful. And I know absolutely nothing about guns like that...couldn't tell you the first thing about it. It just seems so complete in its appearance and functionality. It needs no further enhancement.

The fit of the grips look almost flawless, and I love that little worn area on the right one. Is that an inlay in them?

What I do know is that if it was my gun, I, too, would be interested in its build/ownership history, but frankly, I wouldn't care if it had been factory reworked by Rin Tin Tin...just as long as it belonged to me.

You are one fortunate gun owner.

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Old 07-16-2016, 06:16 PM
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Not sure what you mean by the worn area. The invoice says "Add Custom checkered wood grips with gold plate". There's some gold plated plates in there, that might be what you are referring to.

Also, thank you, I agree. The thing is the gun fits in the hand beautifully too, amazing trigger, points very naturally. I can imagine this being a prized possession way back when. Heck, it's a prized possession for me now. Even if I didn't have the invoice I wouldn't change how much I love the gun, I was quite pleased to own it before this invoice, it's just a bonus. A very very cool bonus.
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Old 07-16-2016, 06:29 PM
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OK......OK...I'm sure of it...I hate you!!! Really, you win, just one question is this a transition model or a pre-Keith #5? AMAZING!! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 07-16-2016, 06:29 PM
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Very Nice.

Everything there mentioned in the letter including the grips w/the gold plate.

re;The replace trigger 'w/modification' notation..
it looks to me that they were asked to stick with the Bisley style trigger with it's more pronounced curve than the standard SAA.,,
But to modify it so the trigger was further forward in the guard than on a standard Bisley model where they sit nearly all the way to the back of the guard opening.
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Old 07-16-2016, 06:54 PM
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Sixguns:

What a beautiful, unique and complete package. Congratulations on your magnificent aquision. The invoice answers many of the questions you had, and finding the photo of the original owner makes the whole picture complete.

Best Regards, Les
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Old 07-16-2016, 07:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SixgunStrumpet View Post
Not sure what you mean by the worn area.
If you look closely at your photo of the gun's right side, you can see some slight wear/flattening of the checkering between the diamond and the inlay. It looks to be just where part of the hand of a right handed shooter would grip the gun.

Or perhaps it's just a bit of dirt or the finish has faded just a bit?

Whatever, it certainly doesn't detract from the gun's beauty.
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Old 07-16-2016, 07:17 PM
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Fantastic gun AND provenance- congratulations!
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Old 07-16-2016, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WATCHDOG View Post
If you look closely at your photo of the gun's right side, you can see some slight wear/flattening of the checkering between the diamond and the inlay. It looks to be just where part of the hand of a right handed shooter would grip the gun.

Or perhaps it's just a bit of dirt or the finish has faded just a bit?

Whatever, it certainly doesn't detract from the gun's beauty.
Ahh, got it, yeah it's certainly been used. That's what you are seeing there.
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Old 07-17-2016, 01:35 AM
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anyone notice anything on the hammer?.... it appears to be two pieces joined. with that side view....
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Old 07-17-2016, 02:12 AM
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Croft had a hybrid grip similar to this on at least one of the light weight SAAs he brought to EMKs ranch, on his first visit. EMK used these SAAs as part of his ideas that led to the #5. It was then featured in the AR magazine in 1927, I think. Croft was from back east, I think Pa. This would be a lot closer to Hartford. Revolver target shooting was popular and I'm of the opinion that there was correspondence among the participants. Just some thoughts.
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Old 12-26-2017, 06:04 PM
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Life finally gave me a chance to get the letter:

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Old 06-28-2018, 11:28 AM
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Life hasn't really permitted me much time to dig into this further, but I do need to assemble as much information on Mr. McCutcheon as possible at some point and properly document this gun inside and out.

I had a couple minutes waiting for a business email to come in and thought I would google C.M. McCutcheon again. Came across this, thought some of you might enjoy reading it:

http://www.classicoutdoormagazines.c...utdoorLife.pdf











I'll have to see what I can do about finding a physical copy of this magazine I think.

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Old 06-29-2018, 10:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S&W ucla View Post
VERY Neat gun! The invoice mentions adding grips, but doesn't mention modifying grip frame (It looks larger to me than standard Bisley grip, is it?). Maybe done by someone else before sending to Colt? When he sent it in to Colt they would have likely reblued it since topstrap was milled for sight, maybe he wanted grips fitted to frame at same time before reblue? Croft, Sedgley, and others were modifying SAA's long before Elmer. We need a range report!

In the pic you found is Capt A.H. Hardy, famous exhibition shooter and leather maker.
Captain Hardy was certainly an interesting part of the history of holster making in the USA. One of Hardy's innovations was known as the "Hardy Strap", consisting of a narrow strip of thin leather designed to be inserted into the hammer recess of the Colt Single Action revolver frame, with the hammer then lowered placing the firing pin into a hole in the leather. In use, the hammer had to be cocked as the revolver was drawn from the holster, releasing the "Hardy Strap" and allowing the revolver to be drawn.

So, a retention device designed to prevent loss of the revolver from the holster, which required that the hammer be cocked while the revolver was holstered in order to draw the weapon! Not too much could possibly go wrong with that, huh?

In today's world of retention-level-rated holsters, covered trigger guards to prevent unintentional discharge in the holster, public and private ranges demanding certain holster designs and banning others, and lawsuits a distinct possibility after every unfortunate incident, I don't think Captain Hardy's "Hardy Strap" holsters would be viable in the marketplace!

Great post! Beautiful old Colt! Great information!
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Old 10-14-2021, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
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I'll have to see what I can do about finding a physical copy of this magazine I think.
Man, that took a while.







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Old 10-14-2021, 02:27 PM
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Man, that took a while.

Yeah, but it only cost you 15 cents!
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Old 10-14-2021, 02:58 PM
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Wonderful thread!
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Old 10-15-2021, 02:35 PM
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Most excellent thread; greatly appreciated. That read from 1915 was a wondrous window into skills of yesteryear - and such a write up.
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Old 10-15-2021, 10:05 PM
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Since the Colt letter lists the caliber as .45 Colt, was the barrel and cylinder changed at some point?
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Old 10-16-2021, 08:18 AM
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Quote:
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Since the Colt letter lists the caliber as .45 Colt, was the barrel and cylinder changed at some point?
Yeah, not sure why it's not listed on the invoice but it's pretty clear that Colt did that too. The numbers they stamped on all the parts they added in the invoice can also be found on the cylinder.
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Old 10-30-2021, 08:33 PM
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Nice find Caleb!!
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