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Thread: What do I have?

  1. #1
    Junior Member jimmymac46 is on a distinguished road

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    What do I have?

    New to the forum today. While I have owned and currently possess many Colt Autos, other than a Diamondback, this is currently my only revolver. Candidly, I have had it for at least 20 years and 'believe' it was given to me by my father, which he inherited from his grandfather. Confusing? Me too!

    My modest research indicates that it is a model 1896 Colt DA 38, but what I am not certain about is the actual model itself. With my limited knowledge I am not sure if it is a 89, 92, 95, 96 or 1901 for that matter. The top of the barrel shows the following:Colt PT F A MFG CO HARTFORD CT USA PATENTED AUG 5 1884 NOV6 88 MAR 5 95. The left side barrel indicates COLT DA 38. I expect these were produced in high volumes.

    The serial number is 98 over 6xx. I believe that makes it circa 1898/99. It has black hard rubber stocks and '916' on the crane, yoke and cylinder release. I will provide a photo when I learn the procedure to do so, but until then, I thought you more enlightened members could provide some information.

    It is in remarkably good condition with blue faded evenly over the entire piece. The action is very tight and the bore is mirror like. The gun has absolutely no rust or pitting, which indicates to me it was possibly used little and stored frequently. The grips are also in near perfect condition with none of the usual signs of being handled often.

    I would appreciate knowing more about the model and perhaps I might garner some of it's history with that information. It is a well made and fitted gun, showing clearly the days of quality manufacture. I realize these guns were Spanish/American War era, however were any made as commercial models? There is no lanyard nor any indication of one being added as an option....not without alteration.

    Thanks in advance for any information you can provide. Again, I am interested in the exact model and a rough value, if possible, without at least a photo.

  2. #2
    Supporting Member DCWilson is on a distinguished road
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    Jimmy, I'll give you a provisional reply while we are waiting for somebody knowledgeable to come along. I am pretty new to Colts as well, and for some reason I am finding the learning curve for DA revolvers of the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th to be kind of steep.

    I think you have the model called the Colt New Army and Navy. It is chambered in .38 Long Colt. The charge holes may be bored straight through and will chamber a .38 Special or a .357 Magnum, but these last two rounds MUST NEVER BE FIRED IN THIS GUN.

    The patent stampings show that the gun necessarily postdates 1895, and the serial number, as you seem to have found at Proofhouse, says 1898.

    This is the model with side plate on the right, correct? And does the cylinder rotate anti-clockwise like a S&W instead of clockwise like most DA Colts?

    If I'm wrong, someone who really knows these guns will be along to correct me and inform you in short order.

    You can use PhotoBucket or any image hosting service to post photos in this forum. Just set up a PhotoBucket (or whatever) account, upload some photos to it, then post the links to those images in your post on this forum. If you precede and follow the links with [IMG] and [/IMG] tags, you will see the actual image embedded in your post rather than a link.
    David Wilson (My avatar is a seemingly unfired Commando)

  3. #3
    *** ColtForum MVP *** dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all

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    Some of the real experts will be able to give you an idea of the actual model, but here's what I can add.

    In 1889, Colt invented the worlds first double action, swing-out cylinder revolver.
    The first model was the New Navy Model 1889.
    When the Army also bought it in 1892, the name was changed to the New Army & Navy.

    Colt put the new revolver through a rapid series of improvements and each improvement got its own model number.
    The models were the 1889, 1892, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1901, and 1903.
    Production continued up to 1908 when a new perfected revolver was introduced as the Colt Army Special.
    The Army Special was the basic medium frame revolver Colt made from then to 1969. The Colt Python was the last model based on the Army Special.

    The New Army & Navy was sold as both a US issue gun and as a commercial model.
    US issue guns will be stamped with US Army or US Navy stamps on the butt and government inspectors stamps.
    Commercial models with have only a serial number on the butt, and factory assembly numbers on major parts.
    The assembly number was a number stamped on major fitted parts to keep them together during manufacture until an official serial number was stamped.
    "916" is a factory assembly number.

    The military versions were chambered for the Colt .38 Long.
    It was this gun and caliber that failed during the Philippine Moro uprising in the 1890's, and led to the adoption of the Colt 1911 .45 automatic.
    Finish was blue with a 6" barrel and smooth walnut grips.

    The commercial models were available in .38 Colt Short, .38 Colt Long, and the Colt .41.
    Finishes were blue or nickel, with barrel lengths of 3", 4 1/2", and 6".
    Grips on the commercial were black, hard "Gutta Percha" rubber with molded in Colt logos and checkering.

    While these guns will chamber the .38 Special, and even the .357 Magnum, they are NOT safe to shoot with modern ammo. These guns were built to use black powder and early lower pressure smokeless powder loads.
    These guns have extremely complicated actions that are rather weak. If broken, no gunsmith will work on them, and no usable parts are available.

    These are historical guns as the worlds first modern revolver, but values are low until you get up into the finer condition guns.

  4. #4
    Junior Member jimmymac46 is on a distinguished road

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    Quote Originally Posted by dfariswheel View Post
    Some of the real experts will be able to give you an idea of the actual model, but here's what I can add.

    In 1889, Colt invented the worlds first double action, swing-out cylinder revolver.
    The first model was the New Navy Model 1889.
    When the Army also bought it in 1892, the name was changed to the New Army & Navy.

    Colt put the new revolver through a rapid series of improvements and each improvement got its own model number.
    The models were the 1889, 1892, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1901, and 1903.
    Production continued up to 1908 when a new perfected revolver was introduced as the Colt Army Special.
    The Army Special was the basic medium frame revolver Colt made from then to 1969. The Colt Python was the last model based on the Army Special.

    The New Army & Navy was sold as both a US issue gun and as a commercial model.
    US issue guns will be stamped with US Army or US Navy stamps on the butt and government inspectors stamps.
    Commercial models with have only a serial number on the butt, and factory assembly numbers on major parts.
    The assembly number was a number stamped on major fitted parts to keep them together during manufacture until an official serial number was stamped.
    "916" is a factory assembly number.

    The military versions were chambered for the Colt .38 Long.
    It was this gun and caliber that failed during the Philippine Moro uprising in the 1890's, and led to the adoption of the Colt 1911 .45 automatic.
    Finish was blue with a 6" barrel and smooth walnut grips.

    The commercial models were available in .38 Colt Short, .38 Colt Long, and the Colt .41.
    Finishes were blue or nickel, with barrel lengths of 3", 4 1/2", and 6".
    Grips on the commercial were black, hard "Gutta Percha" rubber with molded in Colt logos and checkering.

    While these guns will chamber the .38 Special, and even the .357 Magnum, they are NOT safe to shoot with modern ammo. These guns were built to use black powder and early lower pressure smokeless powder loads.
    These guns have extremely complicated actions that are rather weak. If broken, no gunsmith will work on them, and no usable parts are available.

    These are historical guns as the worlds first modern revolver, but values are low until you get up into the finer condition guns.
    Sorry for my delay in thanking you for your information. From it, I am relatively certain I have a model of 1896, commercial, with a manufacture date of 1898. I have never planned to shoot the gun in that I was aware of the cartridge being 38 Long Colt and a black powder designed weapon. Thanks again.

  5. #5
    Junior Member jimmymac46 is on a distinguished road

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    Quote Originally Posted by DCWilson View Post
    Jimmy, I'll give you a provisional reply while we are waiting for somebody knowledgeable to come along. I am pretty new to Colts as well, and for some reason I am finding the learning curve for DA revolvers of the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th to be kind of steep.

    I think you have the model called the Colt New Army and Navy. It is chambered in .38 Long Colt. The charge holes may be bored straight through and will chamber a .38 Special or a .357 Magnum, but these last two rounds MUST NEVER BE FIRED IN THIS GUN.

    The patent stampings show that the gun necessarily postdates 1895, and the serial number, as you seem to have found at Proofhouse, says 1898.

    This is the model with side plate on the right, correct? And does the cylinder rotate anti-clockwise like a S&W instead of clockwise like most DA Colts?

    If I'm wrong, someone who really knows these guns will be along to correct me and inform you in short order.

    You can use PhotoBucket or any image hosting service to post photos in this forum. Just set up a PhotoBucket (or whatever) account, upload some photos to it, then post the links to those images in your post on this forum. If you precede and follow the links with [IMG] and [/IMG] tags, you will see the actual image embedded in your post rather than a link.
    Dave,

    Thanks for your information on my old Colt. It does in fact have a side plate on the right side and a counter clockwise cylinder rotation. I believe it is a model 1896 with the date of manufacture being 1898. It is a commercial model, with the black grips and no other markings. It is a keeper, due to it's relatively great condition and 19th century manufacture date. It is the second oldest gun I possess, my oldest being a Winchester 73' Sporting Rifle, octagon barrel in 44-40 from 1888......another keeper. Thanks again and see you on the other side (SWForum).

  6. #6
    Senior Member mike hudson is on a distinguished road

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    several companies make .38 long colt rounds in both black and smokeless powder that may be used with the new/army navy models in the condition you describe.

    i had an army issue gun with me out in western nevada last week and, putting it through its paces, found it to be remarkably accurate. the 158-gr. flat tipped slug left the muzzle with enough authority to penetrate both sides of a 55-gallon drum at 30 feet or so, which surprised me a little bit.

    these old girls have a lot of history associated with them and are a lot of fun as well.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Frank V is on a distinguished road

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    Jimmy, I can't shed any light on your gun, but would like to welcome you to the forum.
    Frank
    U.S.A. " RIDE FOR THE BRAND OR LEAVE!"


 

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