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Old 11-15-2019, 11:06 PM
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Default Beat up old pony

I found this little gem while making my rounds of the local pawn shops today.

Rust pitted, poorly polished - even over polished. Reblued, hammer and trigger lightly jeweled. Latch in the white. Mismatched grips with a chunk broken out of the toe of the left one. Missing ejector rod knob. Lockup is OK, with a little play. Nice smooth action though. Bore & cylinders look shiny but well used.

I'm not even sure what model this is. New Army Double Action? New Navy Double Action? Something else? I know very little about Colts, as the only one I own is a Government Model 380. Any Colt guys here that can tell me more about it?

For a hang-tag price of $120 I'm seriously considering it just to have a Colt revolver, even if it is just shooter in poor condition.
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Old 11-15-2019, 11:27 PM
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I’ll take a stab. Looks like a 1892 Colt New Army .38 - not a .38 Special as the tag says, but a .38 Long Colt. I’d buy it for 120, but its probably not a rational decision.
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Old 11-15-2019, 11:34 PM
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I’ll take a stab. Looks like a 1892 Colt New Army .38 - not a .38 Special as the tag says, but a .38 Long Colt. I’d buy it for 120, but its probably not a rational decision.
LOL, what does being rational have to do with buying (another) gun?
If our buying decisions were rational, nobody would have more than a half a dozen tops!

It might be a 38LC. Though this shop has some pretty knowledgeable people, so I'd be pretty surprised if they mislabeled the caliber. But it could happen.
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Old 11-15-2019, 11:44 PM
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Not trying to fuel the flames, but if it is actually a 38LC, Star Line makes brass for it!
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Old 11-15-2019, 11:55 PM
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Not trying to fuel the flames, but if it is actually a 38LC, Star Line makes brass for it!
LOL, no flames here. I'll probably drop by with a piece of 38 spl brass to try in the chamber to determine the caliber.
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Old 11-16-2019, 12:01 AM
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Is it a Police Positive?
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Old 11-16-2019, 12:11 AM
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Is it a Police Positive?
I don't know - is it? It doesn't look like the schematic of the Police Positive posted on Numrich's site.
Colt Police Positive Revolver Parts | Gun Parts Corp.

That's really my number one question.
What is it?

My guess of a New Army Double Action or New Navy Double Action was based on the fact that it looks the most like those schematics on Numrich's site
Colt New Army Double Action 38 Parts for Sale
Colt Double Action New Navy Revolver Parts | Numrich Gun Parts

But I really don't know...
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Old 11-16-2019, 12:35 AM
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Why not ask here: Colt Forum
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Old 11-16-2019, 12:53 AM
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Why not ask here: Colt Forum
Because I'm not a member?
To be honest, I'd rather not join another forum and get on a bazillion more mailing lists just because I'm thinking about buying an old gun.
I already get several dozen spam emails a day as a result of the forums I've already joined.
But I appreciate the suggestion anyway
If you are already a member there, you could always do a brother a solid and post it for me
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Old 11-16-2019, 01:14 AM
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LOL, no flames here. I'll probably drop by with a piece of 38 spl brass to try in the chamber to determine the caliber.
Its a .38 Long Colt, and a .38 Special will drop right in. A .357 Magnum case will go in, too. They only made them in .38 LC and .41 LC.

I have a Colt Lightning in .38 LC and I shoot it with powderpuff loads in .38 Special cases.
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Old 11-16-2019, 01:21 AM
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Default Per Colt, LLC sn lookup

you have a born in 1905 example of:

"NEW ARMY & NEW NAVY MODELS (DA 38 AND DA 41 WITH SWING OUT CYLINDERS, MODELS OF 1892, 1894, 1895, 1896,1901 & 1903) - SERIALS ON BUTT"

Colt's Manufacturing LLC
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Old 11-16-2019, 01:38 AM
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Its a .38 Long Colt, and a .38 Special will drop right in. A .357 Magnum case will go in, too. They only made them in .38 LC and .41 LC.

I have a Colt Lightning in .38 LC and I shoot it with powderpuff loads in .38 Special cases.
How's that work?

The 38 LC case is 1.031" and the 38 spl case is 1.155" - a difference of just under 1/8" - and a .357 mag case is 1.29" - more than a full 1/4" longer than the 38 LC.

Is the 38 LC cylinder bored straight through without bullet-diameter throats that start at the depth of the case mouth? Is the cylinder length long enough for it to still spin when you chamber a 38 spl or .357 mag round? I glanced at the chambers, but didn't even think to look for throat ridges.

If all that is true, that sounds VERY dangerous, 'cause I'd about bet my 401k that this old revolver wouldn't stand up to the pressure of even one .357 magnum round!
And I guar-an-damn-tee you I wouldn't be the one to pull that trigger - or even be within about 20 yards of anybody crazy enough to do it!
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Old 11-16-2019, 01:49 AM
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you have a born in 1905 example of:

"NEW ARMY & NEW NAVY MODELS (DA 38 AND DA 41 WITH SWING OUT CYLINDERS, MODELS OF 1892, 1894, 1895, 1896,1901 & 1903) - SERIALS ON BUTT"

Colt's Manufacturing LLC
How'd you make that determination? When I put in the serial number on the butt it comes up with 9 results and of those at least these 3 all look like they could be it.

1) Year of Manufacture: 1905
Model: NEW ARMY & NEW NAVY MODELS (DA 38 AND DA 41 WITH SWING OUT CYLINDERS, MODELS OF 1892, 1894, 1895, 1896,1901 & 1903) - SERIALS ON BUTT

2) Year of Manufacture: 1922
Model: POLICE POSITIVE SPECIAL

3) Year of Manufacture: 1929
Model: POLICE POSITIVE .38 CALIBER (NOT 38 SPECIAL - 1 1/4" CYLINDER LENGTH - INCLUDES POLICE POSITIVE 32 CALIBER)

I'm not arguing, just trying to learn. I agree that the first one looks the most likely since (as I previously observed) the Numrich New Army & New Navy DA models look the most like it - at least a lot more so than their schematic of the Police Positive. The fact that it specifies the SN on the butt also would seem to be a very good indication that this is the correct identification - assuming that having the SN on the butt isn't a feature that multiple Colt revolvers have in common.
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Old 11-16-2019, 02:01 AM
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How's that work?

The 38 LC case is 1.031" and the 38 spl case is 1.155" - a difference of just under 1/8" - and a .357 mag case is 1.29" - more than a full 1/4" longer than the 38 LC.

Is the 38 LC cylinder bored straight through without bullet-diameter throats that start at the depth of the case mouth? Is the cylinder length long enough for it to still spin when you chamber a 38 spl or .357 mag round? I glanced at the chambers, but didn't even think to look for throat ridges.
Now here‘s my half-remembered version of the actual story; this late at night I might get something wrong, but it‘s too difficult right now to dig out Bob Best‘s book, which is the bible on these:

The .38 Special is longer but the same diameter as the .38 Long Colt because S&W was hoping to sell the military on the new .38 hand ejector and this way both cartridges could be fired from the same gun, making the S&W attractive both to civilian and LEO shooters who wanted the hotter Special and the US military who wanted to use the Long Colt.

The DA Colts were bored through until at least 1903, meaning .38 Special will chamber without a problem. In fact, once S&W started writing “.38 S&W SPECIAL & US SERVICE CTG” on the barrels, Colt began advertising that their DA revolvers too could shoot both cartridges; this was not accompanied by any engineering changes like reinforcements, but large-scale blow-up disasters are not reported in the historical record.

At least some models, like the Officers Model, were supposedly actually shouldered for the Special, and from 1903 a slightly smaller barrel diameter was adopted for better accuracy with .38 Special. I do not recall the exact circumstances.

Obviously, don’t even think about any .357 Magnum loads.

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How'd you make that determination? When I put in the serial number on the butt it comes up with 9 results and of those at least these 3 all look like they could be it.
.
No, they can’t. To anyone familiar with old Colts, the PP and PPS look so different from this DA Colt that it is immediately obvious, the way you could probably tell a Model 36 from a Model 15 right away.

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Old 11-16-2019, 02:11 AM
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Quote:
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How'd you make that determination? When I put in the serial number on the butt it comes up with 9 results and of those at least these 3 all look like they could be it.
No, they can’t. To anyone familiar with old Colts, the PP and PPS look so different from this DA Colt that it is immediately obvious, the way you could probably tell a Model 36 from a Model 15 right away.
That last statement seems like a bit of an exaggeration. The differences in the photos in the articles I link below aren't nearly as pronounced as the differences between a fixed-sight J-frame and an adjustable sight K-frame. I mean, after all, the Colts are all 6-shots, similar sized frames, and had several barrel lengths in common. There are some differences but nothing as glaring as your M36 vs M15 example - at least not that I'm seeing. Though I have already admitted I'm not one who is "familiar with old Colts".

I did a little more research and from what I'm seeing on Wikipedia (I know, I know, not a definitive source - but usually pretty good) the Police Positive looks a lot more like this one than the schematic on Numrich would lead me to believe.
Colt Police Positive - Wikipedia

However, when I looked at the Wikipedia article about the Colt New Army Double Action all doubts were put to rest.
Colt M1892 - Wikipedia
The photos look almost identical to this revolver. Notice the notch in the backside of the trigger that is missing in the photos of the Police Positive. The clincher is the barrel markings in the photo right below the window that lists the specifications. Enlarging that photo it clearly reads
Colt DA 38
Which is exactly the same barrel marking you can see in my third picture in post #1.

I was actually hoping it was 38 spl instead of 38 LC. But if I can make up 38 LC level loads in 38 spl brass, that's not a deal breaker. I may even trim some 38 spl brass to 38 LC length and color the cartridge heads with a sharpie just to make the ammo more obviously different from the rest of my 38 spl loads.

I think I'll go back tomorrow and if I can't find anything more mechanically wrong with it, I'm gonna give this old pony a new home. I've already found a set of repro grips and an ejector knob on Numrich for about $60.

Thanks for all the info & input guys!
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Old 11-16-2019, 02:15 AM
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Personally, I would sock your money back and try and find a better Colt to buy. The Police Positive Special came in .38 special and .32-20. A so-so PPS shouldn't cost much more than that.
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Old 11-16-2019, 02:32 AM
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That last statement seems like a bit of an exaggeration ....

....the Police Positive looks a lot more like this one than ....
Well, yes, picking fixed-sight vs. adjustable-sight is a bit more dramatic than is justified

Iíve probably spent too much time with these. The Police Positive is such tiny gun compared to the Army/Navy DA and I find the grip shape and the trigger guard/cylinder alignment give it a very different appearance. But for that it helps to see them in the same picture. Unfortunately I havenít got one right now.
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Old 11-16-2019, 02:46 AM
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Personally, I would sock your money back and try and find a better Colt to buy. The Police Positive Special came in .38 special and .32-20. A so-so PPS shouldn't cost much more than that.
Maybe in your neck of the woods.

As far as I can recall, this is the first Colt ANYTHING that I have seen priced at less than $350 anywhere in my area in the last 6 years of cruising the gun & pawn shops in this town - and about every other town in WA that I've visited in that same period.

It's in kinda rough shape, but it's so dirt cheap I don't have to even give the least thought to any damage I might do to it.
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Old 11-16-2019, 05:15 AM
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That old Colt is almost certainly out of time, not an easy fix. Shooter and
poor condition are often mutually exclusive terms with old Colts. If you just
want a $120 paperweight that says Colt on it then it might be ok. I would
save the $120 to apply toward something usable if I were you. Some old
clunkers really are just too far gone to be worth pouring money into.
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Old 11-16-2019, 05:21 AM
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That old Colt is almost certainly out of time, not an easy fix. Shooter and
poor condition are often mutually exclusive terms with old Colts. If you just
want a $120 paperweight that says Colt on it then it might be ok. I would
save the $120 to apply toward something usable if I were you. Some old
clunkers really are just too far gone to be worth pouring money into.
Interesting. Is being out of time a common problem for old Colt revolvers?

I'm pretty sure that if I took it to the range and found that it is out of time they'd let me bring it back. This is one of those places I go all the time and I have bought several guns there.
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Old 11-16-2019, 06:04 AM
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Interesting. Is being out of time a common problem for old Colt revolvers?
It's more than common, more like being the norm. And if so it
may be virtually impossible to fix because of the parts needed and
the lack of gunsmiths that are able to work on old Colts. Getting
it back into safe shooting condition could easily cost more than
the price of the gun. Really, step back and slow down on this
thing.
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Old 11-16-2019, 08:58 AM
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Be there when they open and buy it. Turn it into a Fitz special. Skip a couple of restaurant dinners if money is that tight.
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Old 11-16-2019, 09:29 AM
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Take the wife out fancy to the Palisades Seattle, sit by the window front and forget about this 'little gem'.
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Old 11-16-2019, 09:47 AM
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Here's another vote for not buying it. The PP and Army Special revolvers are much less likely to be out of time and are just much better built than the 1892 type that you are looking at, not to mention the better caliber selection.
For a couple of hundred dollars more, you can get a revolver that is not only better mechanically, but that shoots easily found ammo and has an original finish.
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Old 11-16-2019, 10:09 AM
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If it helps any, let me are to the confusion.

If I remember correctly, the side plate on all of the Police Positives and Police Positive Specials were on the left side of the frame and had straight lines in their design. I do not recollect ever having seen a New Army or New Navy, so I can't speak to their side plate.
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Old 11-16-2019, 11:26 AM
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A Commercial Model 1903 New Army revolver,,is my guestimate.

Commercial sales as it has no US Army or US Navy markings on it . Both would be on the butt.
USN w/ an Anchor and Model #
US /Army/ Model #

Maybe they were lost in the refinish?

Serial number from the lists I have puts mfg in 1904
By that time the Model 1892 New Army and Navy revolver had gone thru several Model changes and in had become the 1903 New Army and Navy in that year.
Most changes were small mfg internal differences. Others were plain to see like the early change from the rear of the cylinder face locking notches on the 1892 to placing them on the outside circumference of the cylinder on the '94 version.

Colt did make a change to the bore/groove dimension on the 1903 Model of these.
But I cannot for the life of me remember what it was all about.
It was one of the ways to check to see if the gun was actually a 1903 Model and not an earlier version. Common calibers were 38Colt and 41Colt. But late in production civilian Models were offered in 32-20, and IIRC some in 38S&W.


Civilian /commercial sales of the revolver were offered in 2 versions.
The New Army,,,and the New NAvy.

Neither commercial version had US Military markings of course.
But the New Army had black hard rubber grips with the rampant Colt pony logo in the top rounded area of the grip.
The New Navy commercial version had black hard rubber grips but with
'Colt' in a round area moulded into the grip.
Aside from the grips & name being different, the two commercial versions offered for sale were the same revolver AFAIK.

The grip plates on a Model 1903 New Army and Navy should be slightly thicker (?) than the orig grips fitted to all the other versions. Don't have a spec for you.

Grips should be ser# matched to the gun. Usually hand scratched on the inside, sometimes simply penciled.



Colt used a bored straight thu chamber for cal 38 Colt (38Colt Long)
You find the same straight bored thru chamber (no shoulder with separate throat) in the SAA and the Colt 1877 Lightning when chambered in the same cartridge at the factory.

The straight through chambering will allow a 38Special and even a 357Magnum to drop into the cylinder.
OAL of the latter two bulleted rounds determine wether the gates can be closed and the cylinders revolve or not.
The 1877 was(is) commonly shot with 38Spl W/C ammo as it's out of the box OAL didn't interfere with anything and the little Colt seemed to handle them OK.
Not too awful many orig 38Colt chambered SAA's around anymore. The bbl & cyl switchers made them into 45Colts and the like. But they show up once in a while.
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Old 11-16-2019, 11:45 AM
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At that price, I would buy almost anything of a quality brand that worked.
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Old 11-16-2019, 12:28 PM
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Definitely a .38 LC New Army and Navy as noted above. The "grips" on civilian models were hard rubber and military ones almost always smooth walnut, with the exception of late production versions for the USMC with checkered walnut panels. Based on the SN and lack of U.S. military rollmarks it is either a model 1894 or 1895, produced in 1905 per Robert Best's book.

If you are buying it for display and occasional shooting it should work fine. The charge holes are bored straight through so it will take .38 Specials (and unfortunately for some in the past, also .357 Magnums). However, a "little" play with the action closed and the trigger fully to the rear is a sign of more to come, and it is difficult to find anyone to work on these.

Good luck in your decision.
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Old 11-16-2019, 01:09 PM
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I just sold an Army version of the above yesterday. Honestly, I am quite glad that it moved on.
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Old 11-16-2019, 01:52 PM
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Definitely a .38 LC New Army and Navy as noted above.... Based on the SN and lack of U.S. military rollmarks it is either a model 1894 or 1895, produced in 1905 per Robert Best's book.
....
Okay, got my Best copy now. Using his comprehensive catalog section by serial range, we can now be even more precise:

I’ll assume the grip panels are original; they are the only obvious difference between the civilian New Army and Navy versions. The serials ran concurrently.

This is a Civilian New Army Model of of 1894. This iteration was made from mid-1904 to late 1905 between 222xxx and 254xxx. So one can extrapolate this 243867 into the first half of 1905. It should have the reduced-diameter barrel for .38 Special, as that started in the first quarter of 1904. But the barrel marking did not change from earlier and still just says COLT D.A. 38.

As for buying it, maybe talk the guy down to a Franklin using all the doom and gloom arguments here, but then buy it for the education. It’s not a collectible, but for that price, you can learn all about them and maybe later find an all-original military model.

As for the mechanics, I don’t do internals, but in talking to people who do, my impression has been that they are on the more complex side, but still just a mechanical device that can be fixed, and the difficulties of repair have become “conventional wisdom” and grown as it gets passed on. You may indeed need a gunsmith who can do more than field-strip a Glock

This model and its variants deserve more attention for their historical importance. They suffer a lot from the caliber being bad-mouthed as part of the .45’s creation myth.
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Old 11-16-2019, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Absalom View Post
Okay, got my Best copy now. Using his comprehensive catalog section by serial range, we can now be even more precise:

I’ll assume the grip panels are original; they are the only obvious difference between the civilian New Army and Navy versions. The serials ran concurrently.

This is a Civilian New Army Model of of 1894. This iteration was made from mid-1904 to late 1905 between 222xxx and 254xxx. So one can extrapolate this 243867 into the first half of 1905. It should have the reduced-diameter barrel for .38 Special, as that started in the first quarter of 1904. But the barrel marking did not change from earlier and still just says COLT D.A. 38.

As for buying it, maybe talk the guy down to a Franklin using all the doom and gloom arguments here, but then buy it for the education. It’s not a collectible, but for that price, you can learn all about them and maybe later find an all-original military model.

As for the mechanics, I don’t do internals, but in talking to people who do, my impression has been that they are on the more complex side, but still just a mechanical device that can be fixed, and the difficulties of repair have become “conventional wisdom” and grown as it gets passed on. You may indeed need a gunsmith who can do more than field-strip a Glock

This model and its variants deserve more attention for their historical importance. They suffer a lot from the caliber being bad-mouthed as part of the .45’s creation myth.
Great info man. Thanks for all the effort to research and post it.

One question, and I don't know if it affects your identification or not, but did you notice the mismatched grips? One with the rampant pony, and one with the COLT marking? From what 2152hq posted above, one is from a Navy model and one from an Army model? Then your info says both the Navy and Army models had smooth walnut grips. So at this point to me the mismatched grips just add to my confusion when trying to pin it down.
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Old 11-16-2019, 06:04 PM
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I have a .38 long Colt US Army marked. 38 Long Colt can be found but generally is expensive. I’ve shot mine for function test and worked just fine. Have a few rounds and box left for posterity. Story was it came from a widow woman’s estate and belonged to her husband who was a young 1st Lt prior to WWI. Wish I could authenticate the provenance. Could have been in combat with the Moros or in Cuba!
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Old 11-16-2019, 07:27 PM
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One question, and I don't know if it affects your identification or not, but did you notice the mismatched grips? One with the rampant pony, and one with the COLT marking? From what 2152hq posted above, one is from a Navy model and one from an Army model? Then your info says both the Navy and Army models had smooth walnut grips. So at this point to me the mismatched grips just add to my confusion when trying to pin it down.
Oops, didn't look at all photos up close and just caught the Army style in the first few. So it could be a civilian New Navy; same serial range, identical for all practical purposes; the two different commercial versions really were just a marketing gimmick.

The smooth walnut was on the military models only; these can be recognized by two things: no Colt logo on the left back frame above the grip, and much more stuff on the butt. To confuse the grip situation just a bit further, the military Navy version (I think from the 1895 contract) also had hard rubber like the civilian, but the butt looked a lot different; see attached (not my gun).

Beat up old pony-colage-jpg

PS: For comparison, here is a US Army Model with smooth walnut; this one is mine. It shipped to Benicia Arsenal in October 1901 and possibly to the Philippines.

Beat up old pony-collage-jpg
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Old 11-16-2019, 09:28 PM
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Very nice Absalom. I appreciate the education.
I'm really still on the fence with this one. I have until Tuesday to make up my mind.
FWIW, I'm not really in pursuit of an old Colt. This would just be a purchase of opportunity, and if the timing issues are as common and significant as ralph7 and awslate have posted, I'm more than just a little bit leery of this one.
It doesn't appear to have been abused, just used and shot quite a bit, and surface pitted - maybe due to poor storage - and then just a so-so refinish with a bit of a heavy polishing.
I'm still open to more input, and especially want to hear more from the folks with lots of experience with these older Colts.
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Old 11-16-2019, 09:43 PM
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...this is my Colt Police Positive Special...

...I always wanted a Colt...and this one is my Dad's birth year...1919...

...and it shoots 38 Special...



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Old 11-16-2019, 11:40 PM
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And for completenessí sake, here is a standard Police Positive 38. Compare it to ParadiseRoadís PPS, and you really notice the shorter cylinder.

This one is a few years older and shipped to Frank Audleyís shop, of holster fame. It has a NYPD shield number on the butt and the name engraved on the frame.

Beat up old pony-e00afb1a-b31d-4456-bbdb-5bb2da67d251-jpg

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Old 11-17-2019, 06:59 AM
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The .38 Long Colt, and .41 Long Colt, was originally loaded with a heeled bullet like a .22 S/L/LR, so the cylinder chambers were bored straight through.

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Old 05-23-2020, 11:52 PM
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Just a follow up on this one. I bought it back in November for $125 OTD. I spent another $40 on a set of repro grips and an ejector rod knob.

I trimmed some 38 special brass down to 1.03" and loaded 30 rounds of 146gr LSWGs over 2.8gr of HP-38.

The outdoor ranges have all been shut down since the weather broke, but so today was the first chance I've had to shoot it.

I'm pleased to report that this old girl shoots just fine. Lockup and timing are good, no shaving or spitting lead. Very pleasant to shoot, mild recoil and report. Seems to shoot to POI very consistently.

Fun old shooter.
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Old 05-24-2020, 12:16 AM
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^^^ Glad to hear it works!

I don't know why, but folks are waaaaaaaaaaay too eager to get the vapors that is is an old Colt so it has to be out of time and no one can fix them anymore.

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Old 05-24-2020, 12:24 AM
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^^^ Glad to hear it works!

I don't know why, but folks are waaaaaaaaaaay too eager to get the vapors that is is an old Colt so it has to be out of time and no one can fix them anymore.
Yeah, I thought that was kinda strange too.
I guess a lot of them this old have been shot to death, but this one obviously hasn't. It seems to be in great shape functionally.
The finish looks OK - obviously NOT gonna be mistaken for original, but for a plinker, that doesn't bother me one little bit.

It was fun shooting this one and my little 32 HE that are both 100 years old (give or take a couple). Some of the other folks at the range seemed to think working guns that old are pretty cool too.
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Old 05-24-2020, 02:13 AM
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Glad you got some use out of it. The poor refinish would have shooed me away.

Here's a couple old ponies.



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Old 05-24-2020, 02:38 PM
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Glad you got some use out of it. The poor refinish would have shooed me away.

Here's a couple old ponies.



Very nice.

Ain't it grand that there are examples out there to suit every taste and pocketbook?
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Old 05-24-2020, 04:08 PM
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Very nice nay nay roscoe.
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Old 05-24-2020, 05:06 PM
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Not gonna state that anyone else should do this, but I shoot plain ol' 148 grain wadcutters over 2.8 grains of Bulls Eye put up in .38 Special cases through my U. S. military .38 Long Colt when I'm too lazy to load up the same bullet in proper .38 Long Colt cases. The load is mild. The .362 diameter bore of the revolver appreciates the hollow base which expands to fit and the flush seated wadcutter .38 Special cartridge chambers with room to spare. Accuracy is decent out to 15 yards or so.



I do load up .38 Long Colt cartridge case using that bullet, but as I don't frequently shoot the revolver I'm not too picky about which cartridge case I have loaded with the wadcutters when I take the revolver out for exercise.

I have three of the old wheezer Colts. Beside the US military contract Colt, there are a couple of commercial New Navys here, one in .32-20 and one in .41 Long Colt. I have shot all of them though the .32-20 is a project that still isn't completed. The New Navy is very uncommon in .32-20 or I wouldn't have bothered. The New Army wasn't produced in .32-20

Stocks style differences are the most immediate way to tell the difference in what is otherwise the same gun in all respects. The other way to determine if one has a New Navy rather than a New Army is to open the cylinder and find an "N" roll marked on the inside of the front of the frame.

New Navy revolvers with their characteristically styled hard rubber stocks.

.32-20 from 1906. This one was the basket case that I'm rehab'ing.


.41 Long Colt from 1901. This one was purchased off GunBroker for cheap some years ago as a doner to rob parts off of for the .32-20. It was the victim of an unfortunate auction description, unfortunate for the seller, but fortunate for me. Once it arrived I couldn't bear to dismantle it for it is still sound (for what it is). So, I took it out and shot it instead. I'd long wanted to play with .41 Long Colt so this became the first of two .41 Long Colts gathered in so far.


I said these are old wheezers earlier and I do mean wheezers. In my view it's a deceptively modern looking and stylish revolver design, but crummy in the extreme. The lock work of these late 19th century designed Colt swing out cylinder models is absolutely fiendish! Despite the obviously fine workmanship the design must be one of the worst to have ever been fielded. I can't imagine that the U.S. Military of the late 1880s actually selected such a turkey of a design as its issue handgun. Flimsy in the extreme, every part performs multiple roles. One would think that this feature would cut down on the number of internal parts but nope, there are plenty of parts in there and some are strange looking indeed. It is completely powered by flat springs which perform multiple functions as well. And these can't simply be adequate springs. They have to be able to double as overload leaf springs for the rear suspension of a '54 GMC truck. The action is terribly stiff, unnecessarily so in my view. The first generation Smith & Wesson K-Frame Model of 1899 is also powered by flat springs including trigger return, but gives an action feel so light, smooth, and so positive that later Smith & Wessons pale by comparison. This model Colt is a clunker by comparison.

The Colt New Army/New Navy may have a couple of redeeming qualities despite its undeniably primitive design however the trigger isn't one of them. Its single action trigger, crisp if somewhat heavy, may be easily mastered once one becomes familiar with it. The double action trigger gives an extremely poor pull. Finger-straining heavy, one gets the feeling that something inside the revolver will break before the hammer finally drops. The revolver would best be employed double action at powder-burning point blank range only.

I've seen a very late one that was tight. It was an early Colt Officers Model. Officers Models were first built on New Army/New Navy frames and for only a few years. I've looked at lots of New Army and New Navy revolvers over the years and they are all loose ... bullet shavin' loose. I fear to shoot mine double-action much for lock up is so hinky.

They're neato to own and even to shoot on occasion for the historical exercise and learning aspects of it all. Some say they aren't safe to shoot, but I never was too bright. Shoot 'em or don't shoot 'em, but be assured that they aren't very satisfactory to use.
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Old 05-24-2020, 05:09 PM
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I agree with the first opinion you received from sigp220-45. I am no
expert on Colts although I do have a few. I believe it is the Colt New
Model Army Revolver. .38 LC caliber. As long as we are just guessing,
it could be the one Theodore Roosevelt carried up San Juan Hills in 1898.
Although it has been said that the .38 LC didn't inspire a lot of confidence,
Teddy said "Two Spaniards leaped from the trenches and fired at us, not
ten yards away. I closed in and fired twice, missing the first and killing
the second. He doubled up as neatly as a jack rabbit." Roosevelt later
received the Medal of Honor for his actions that day.
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Old 05-24-2020, 05:14 PM
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I am a confirmed bargain hunter. I would not pay $120 for that unless you were buying it to sell parts and thought you could make money on it..It is just too ugly, probably inside and out. My $0.02, that pony is grist for the glue factory.
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Old 05-24-2020, 05:58 PM
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For what you paid for that you did OK even if it was just a wall hanger. My Dad's Police Positive will never leave the family. It is my only Colt.
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Old 05-24-2020, 08:49 PM
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The bank guard on the Andy Griffin Show's name was Asa. My first thought was it looked like his gun.
Sorry. Not trying to be mean. Just trying to make a funny.
If I had that and it shot bullets out the barrel it would make me happy.
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Old 05-24-2020, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
Not gonna state that anyone else should do this, but I shoot plain ol' 148 grain wadcutters over 2.8 grains of Bulls Eye put up in .38 Special cases through my U. S. military .38 Long Colt when I'm too lazy to load up the same bullet in proper .38 Long Colt cases. The load is mild. The .362 diameter bore of the revolver appreciates the hollow base which expands to fit and the flush seated wadcutter .38 Special cartridge chambers with room to spare. Accuracy is decent out to 15 yards or so.

I do load up .38 Long Colt cartridge case using that bullet, but as I don't frequently shoot the revolver I'm not too picky about which cartridge case I have loaded with the wadcutters when I take the revolver out for exercise.
Funny, but I was thinking of doing exactly the same thing! I've only been able to find loads for two bullets for the 38 long Colt - both on the Hodgdon site. One is a 125gr LRN and the other is a 150gr LRN. The odd thing is that they both show using about the same range of powder weights - within 0.01gr for HP-38 (2.6gr min for both and 3.2gr max for the 150gr vs. 3.3gr for the 125gr). The really odd thing is that the COL for the 125gr is 1.400" and for the 150gr it is 1.390". So the longer bullet gets seated 0.010 DEEPER, with basically the same powder charge?

Anyway, I have some 124gr LRN, some 146gr LSWC, and some 148gr LWC. I to load up the 145 LSWC with 2.8gr - just a little over the 2.6gr min. I was thinking the same charge under the 148gr LWC with the same COL in the standard 38 special case would leave even more space in the case and therefore even a little less pressure. Your experience is a good sanity check on that thinking.

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Stocks style differences are the most immediate way to tell the difference in what is otherwise the same gun in all respects. The other way to determine if one has a New Navy rather than a New Army is to open the cylinder and find an "N" roll marked on the inside of the front of the frame.

New Navy revolvers with their characteristically styled hard rubber stocks.
I knew about the difference in stocks, but the "N" marking is new info for me. Mine had one of each style of stock so that wasn't a clear indicator. Since mine doesn't have the "N" marking in the yoke (crane) cutout, I guess that makes it an Army model?
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The Colt New Army/New Navy may have a couple of redeeming qualities despite its undeniably primitive design however the trigger isn't one of them. Its single action trigger, crisp if somewhat heavy, may be easily mastered once one becomes familiar with it. The double action trigger gives an extremely poor pull. Finger-straining heavy, one gets the feeling that something inside the revolver will break before the hammer finally drops. The revolver would best be employed double action at powder-burning point blank range only.
Funny but the trigger on mine doesn't seem that bad. A little heavy, but not unmanageable, and pretty smooth. But I have pretty strong hands.

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I've seen a very late one that was tight. It was an early Colt Officers Model. Officers Models were first built on New Army/New Navy frames and for only a few years. I've looked at lots of New Army and New Navy revolvers over the years and they are all loose ... bullet shavin' loose. I fear to shoot mine double-action much for lock up is so hinky.
I must have just got really lucky with this one - or else the person who did the refinish really knew his stuff and refurbed the action too, because this one really does seem to lockup well.

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They're neato to own and even to shoot on occasion for the historical exercise and learning aspects of it all. Some say they aren't safe to shoot, but I never was too bright. Shoot 'em or don't shoot 'em, but be assured that they aren't very satisfactory to use.
I guess I'm right there with you in the "not bright" group, 'cause I had fun shooting mine and it seemed to shoot just fine to me. Maybe I just don't know the difference.
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Old 05-24-2020, 10:52 PM
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We both must listen to Warren Zevon BC38.

"Funny, but I was thinking of doing exactly the same thing!"

The ol' faithful hollow base wadcutter load and Bulls Eye can't gen up any pressures in .38 Special that are worth considering.


"Funny but the trigger on mine doesn't seem that bad. A little heavy, but not unmanageable, and pretty smooth. But I have pretty strong hands."

Heh! I'm a pretty big ol' boy. Are you implyin' that I have wussy hands?


"I must have just got really lucky with this one - or else the person who did the refinish really knew his stuff and refurbed the action too, because this one really does seem to lockup well."

You are fortunate. I've observed quite a few of these Colts through the years and not one of them could be said to lock up tightly save for that Officers Model. I had just about decided that's the way the non-target models were designed to function.


"I guess I'm right there with you in the "not bright" group, 'cause I had fun shooting mine and it seemed to shoot just fine to me. Maybe I just don't know the difference."

Shoot it in good health. I'm always glad to read of folks giving vintage guns the occasional airing. You might watch the chambers when firing the gun double-action to be sure they adequately line up with the barrel. My .38's best, but all three will occasionally spit lead and particles if used double-action. It's enough to be annoying.
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