Confusion about a DA - M1889 or M1892?
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  1. #1
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    Question Confusion about a DA - M1889 or M1892?

    Greetings, All.

    I need some help...

    I have a Colt DA revolver with the following stamped on the butt: "USN" and an anchor; "38 DA"; a stamp resembling a sideways trident with a bar underneath its tines; "No 7395"; "NCT"; "16"; "370".

    It has hard rubber grips with "COLT" on them (i.e. no horse). The face of the cylinder has a star, "370" and an 'F' stamped on it. The cylinder release also has a star on it.

    I know that the "370" is an assembly number and that the star indicates a Colt refurb.

    Now, here is my dilemma: According to both ColtParts.com and Proofhouse.com, if it is an M1889, then it was made in 1890. If it is an M1892-1903 New Army/Navy then it was made in 1892 - the first year.
    But, "NCT" stands for Nathan C. Twining, Lt. USN who - according to two separate sources - inspected and accepted M1895 revolvers for the Navy.


    So, 1.) If it was back to Colt and reissued to the Navy as an M1895 why are there no unambiguous markings indicating that it was upgraded? I thought Colt did that. And...2.)Was it originally an 1889 or an 1892?

    Any and all help would be appreciated. I understand that "ColtDAGuy"(?) is a recognized expert and has authored books on these models - is he anywhere around?

    Thanks.

    -Voolfie

  2. #2
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    it is a navy gun, though the grips are civilian replacements. pictures, of course, would be a tremendous help.




  3. #3
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    1889 has no locking notches visible on the outside of the cylinder. Cylinder was locked by teeth on the hand engaging two of the teeth on the ratchet.
    1892, et seq., have two sets of locking notches.


    Re: Nathan C. Twining:
    http://www.websters-online-dictionar...&sa=Search#906
    Last edited by kevin hines; 12-16-2010 at 08:03 PM.

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  5. #4
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    This is an '89



    This is a '92


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    Super!

    Guys, thanks so much for the info! So it would seem that unless the cylinder was replaced during a refurb, mine is an M1892. Thanks again. -V

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Voolfie View Post
    Greetings, All.

    I need some help...

    I have a Colt DA revolver with the following stamped on the butt: "USN" and an anchor; "38 DA"; a stamp resembling a sideways trident with a bar underneath its tines; "No 7395"; "NCT"; "16"; "370".

    It has hard rubber grips with "COLT" on them (i.e. no horse). The face of the cylinder has a star, "370" and an 'F' stamped on it. The cylinder release also has a star on it.

    I know that the "370" is an assembly number and that the star indicates a Colt refurb.

    Now, here is my dilemma: According to both ColtParts.com and Proofhouse.com, if it is an M1889, then it was made in 1890. If it is an M1892-1903 New Army/Navy then it was made in 1892 - the first year.
    But, "NCT" stands for Nathan C. Twining, Lt. USN who - according to two separate sources - inspected and accepted M1895 revolvers for the Navy.


    So, 1.) If it was back to Colt and reissued to the Navy as an M1895 why are there no unambiguous markings indicating that it was upgraded? I thought Colt did that. And...2.)Was it originally an 1889 or an 1892?

    Any and all help would be appreciated. I understand that "ColtDAGuy"(?) is a recognized expert and has authored books on these models - is he anywhere around?

    Thanks.

    -Voolfie
    Actually your gun is from a contract for 2000 Model 1895 Navy revolvers shipped in the spring of 1895. Your gun is NOT a model 1889 Navy revolver and it is not one of the original 5000 guns upgraded to Model 1895 specifications. The civilian style grips that you describle are original to your gun. The upgraded Model 1889 revolvers had the original wood grips which are about 1/4 inch bigger along the butt than the Model 1895 which came with the hard rubber civilian style grips.

    So the answer to your question is... It is neither a Model 1889 or a Model 1892, it is from the Navy Contract for Model 1895 revolvers... Hope that answers your questions ...

    Enjoy! :-) Bob

  8. #7
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    A Couple Final Questions...

    ColtDAGuy, thanks so much for the info. My last (I hope) couple questions are:

    1. Were there TWO different models of 1895? If not, then...

    2. According to Proofhouse.com the serial numbering for the models 1892,
    94, 95, 96, 1901 & 03 are sequential. According to ColtParts.com
    the serial numbers of the M1895 New Navy start at 15,500 - are either
    of these correct? If so, then...

    3. Were Navy contract guns numbered differently? If so, then...

    4. Since the contract, of which you say my gun was a part, was for only
    2000 units, what accounts for mine having a serial number in the 7000
    range?

    Give me an inch and I'll take a yard.

    Seriously, though, thank you all very much for your help.

    Warm Regards,

    J.F. Wolfington
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Voolfie View Post
    ColtDAGuy, thanks so much for the info. My last (I hope) couple questions are:

    1. Were there TWO different models of 1895? If not, then...

    2. According to Proofhouse.com the serial numbering for the models 1892,
    94, 95, 96, 1901 & 03 are sequential. According to ColtParts.com
    the serial numbers of the M1895 New Navy start at 15,500 - are either
    of these correct? If so, then...

    3. Were Navy contract guns numbered differently? If so, then...

    4. Since the contract, of which you say my gun was a part, was for only
    2000 units, what accounts for mine having a serial number in the 7000
    range?

    Give me an inch and I'll take a yard.

    Seriously, though, thank you all very much for your help.

    Warm Regards,

    J.F. Wolfington
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    What you are asking here is covered in 267 pages in my book... All of the models were just modifications made to the basic design. Your first question could be answered as "No" there is only one model of 1895, however the military liked to not have different models of the same basic design in the inventory, so Colt and sometimes the Army arsenals would bring earlier models up to the current "speciications" which is what they did with the model 1889 guns. The Navy had Colt add/change the necessary parts to bring the Model 1889s up to Model 1895 specifications. So technically there was only one model 1895 but then there were the Model 1889/95 guns that had all the same additional features of the Model 1895 except for the size and material of the grips ... confusing, but if you read the whole history it would make much more sense. The Army did the same thing with the Model of 1892, 1894, 1901 and 1903. Too much to write about here as I said it is covered in 267 pages in my book.

    The answer to your second question is a qualified "yes"... The serial numbers are generally sequencial but there are gaps in the numbers where Colt made no guns and there are duplicte numbers between the Model 1889 guns and the Model of 1892 guns both Civilian and Military. Also Colt would "skip ahead" in seial numbers and produce contracts that were numbered higher than current production but the serial numbers eventually would catch up as continue past the contract numbers. Again much too involved to explain the whole thing here... As to whether the serial number ranges given by either of those companies is correct, I would say that other than my database and book I hve not seen anyone's printed serial number list that is totally accurate on these guns... so in answer to your question, they are probably not super accurate.

    In answer to your third question ... Yes, MOST navy contract guns had the Navy registration number assigned by the navy on the butt. I have spent considerable time researching the Colt shipping records and the National Archives and other locations trying to account for all of the Navy Registration numbers. This is a several years project and I have pretty well determined how and where they belong. This will be the subject of a future book that I am working on military collectors as well as advanced cColt collectors. Suffice it to say that my original book covers them in enough detail to satisfy most Colt collectors. The Navy Registration Numbers were assigned by funding sources within the US Navy and other gov't agencies with ties to the Navy. Numbers were assigned based upon what funding source the Navy used to pay for the contract ... Again too much detail to write about here.

    The basic Navy Registration numbers started with the Model 1889 Navy Contract guns and were NOT necessarily assigned sequencially ... and their are variations on the numbers. Most are 4 or 5 digit numbers and then there are the N prefix numbers ... See my book if you want more specific details ...

    So the answer to question 4 is the funding source it came from ....

    Hope that helps ... off to a Christmas Party! :-)

    Enjoy your evening!
    Bob

  10. #9
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    OK, seriously, this is the last question...

    On the butt of the revolver it says:
    No
    7395
    underneath of which (below the inspector's initials) is stamped:
    16
    370

    Now then, the number "370" is stamped on several parts and scratched into the inside of the grips. From what I read, this number is an "assembly number".

    Q: Were assembly numbers ordinarily part of the serial number?

    Because if I look up serial number "16370", then...yes, the gun was manufactured in 1895 just as you indicated. If not, then I suppose it's possible that it is simply a coincidence that the last three digits of the serial number match the assembly number.

    I was thrown by what you've identified as the "registration number" issued by the Navy.

    Merry Christmas to all!

    -JFW

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Voolfie View Post
    On the butt of the revolver it says:
    No
    7395
    underneath of which (below the inspector's initials) is stamped:
    16
    370

    Now then, the number "370" is stamped on several parts and scratched into the inside of the grips. From what I read, this number is an "assembly number".

    Q: Were assembly numbers ordinarily part of the serial number?

    Because if I look up serial number "16370", then...yes, the gun was manufactured in 1895 just as you indicated. If not, then I suppose it's possible that it is simply a coincidence that the last three digits of the serial number match the assembly number.

    I was thrown by what you've identified as the "registration number" issued by the Navy.

    Merry Christmas to all!

    -JFW
    No problem on asking questions... some questions require considerable background to make sense and I don't have time to post whole chapters from my book here. The short answers sometimes have to be taken on faith that the support material is there to show they are true...

    I'm not sure why you are "thrown by" the Navy registration number??? ... all they are is the Navy's own serial number that they called a registration number. The number helps the Navy keep track of what guns were paid for by whom... Some numbers were assigned for regular Navy use, some for the State Naval Militia Units, some for the Revenue Cutter Service, etc .... This was because of the different funding sources that congress set up to pay for various activities that were budgeted for... During World War I most of the military contract guns, both army and navy were refurbished. There were about 19,500 of them. They were collected and Refurbished by Remington in 1918, The Navy got the bulk of the guns. After WWI they were issued out to the Light House Bureau and other Navy bureas in the 1920's ... The Navy did not assign registration numbers to these guns as they were not Standard issue arms at that time. The Navy also gave guns to the Marine Corp and the gun crews on the Merchant Ships during WWII and they also supplied some to the British Purchasing Commission for the Home Guard... No additional Navy marks on these guns but the British Guns have English Proof Marks added and Caliber changes were made to some of these guns... Its quite involved actually but it is interesting how all this evolved ... at least to me! :-)

    As for your question about the assembly numbers... There is no cut and dried answer... the answer is that it depends on the era of the contract and the number of guns in the order. Some small contracts were taken from stock on hand at Colts and inspected by Navy Inspectors and the Butt Markings and registration numbers added. Some larger contracts had assembly numbers that matched because Colt skipped ahead with the serial numbers and built the contract from scratch with the assembly numbers matching the last three or 4 digits of Colt's serial number ... Colt generally did not match assembly numbers to serial numbers... especially on civilian production guns...

    Hope that helps ...
    Bob

    PS: After rereading your question about assembly numbers, I think you may be asking if the "370" in the 16 over 370 on the butt is an assembly number. If this is what you are inferring in your question, the answer is NO ... Colt stamped the serial numbers as xx over xxx in this period for those guns. Because the Navy contract was for 2000 guns Colt skipped to the 15500 range and started production of this contract. They matched the assembly numbers to the last digits of the serial number for these guns ...
    Last edited by COLTDAGUY; 12-18-2010 at 03:24 PM.


 

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