When is a Model 1901 Colt DA38 an Antique?
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Thread: When is a Model 1901 Colt DA38 an Antique?

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    When is a Model 1901 Colt DA38 an Antique?

    I bought this one today and was quite puzzled by the serial number and Model 1901 marking. The gun has matching numbers including the last 4 of the serial number on several parts. Pages 176 to 180 in the Best book for New Model Army and Navy Pistols it explains that guns refinished by Colt had the markings ground off and replaced with the Model 1901 mark indicating it had a lanyard loop installed. The cutoff for the pre 1899 guns is 115000 or thereabouts.

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    As you seem to have figured out, that gun was originally (likely) a model 1892 that was refurbished and had the lock updated. Once done it was remarked on the butt as a "Model 1901". All of this series of guns had consecutively running serials so assuming that Colt kept the correct serial number, then it should be a pre 1898 made revolver. That would make it an antique. Nice looking Colt!
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    A Colt historical letter would certainly help. If the situation ever arose about the date try explaining it's history to an ATF agent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyP View Post
    A Colt historical letter would certainly help. If the situation ever arose about the date try explaining it's history to an ATF agent.
    I agree. From my reading of the laws pertaining to “age” with both C&R and antiques, if the gun was modified then the calendar starts over.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Longhunter View Post
    I agree. From my reading of the laws pertaining to “age” with both C&R and antiques, if the gun was modified then the calendar starts over.
    I have never heard that before. As to antiques I have always understood it to mean if the receiver was manufactured prior to 1898. A C&R gun that is modified past a certain point is no longer C&R eligible due to it no longer have collector interest and it's value is based on being a shooter. Some surplus dealers only went so far in modifying a gun to be sold as a C&R to avoid this rule.
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    Keep in mind that this "modification" was not done just to make a change. Virtually all of the 1889 and 1892 Colt DA revolvers were sent back to Colt (and a couple of other places) to have the action updated. The military DAs, even with the update are just as collectible as before the change. Basically, the change made the gun inoperable until the cylinder was completely closed. Essentially a safety update. Lots more info about this topic in Bob Best's book. I can't imagine any question of the gun not being an antique coming up.
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    In practical terms of enforcement, it’s an irrelevant question. No ATF office is going to take an interest in this esoteric distinction unless the gun is used to assassinate someone important or such.

    The very practical issue that I see is that, based on my experience, there won’t be a lot of potential buyers, as well as transfer dealers and shippers, the kind of people you need in any transaction except in-state face-to-face, whom you’ll be able to convince that a gun stamped Model 1901 is an antique made before 1899. A Colt letter may or may not help.

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    Nice looking Colt, if it is (was) an 1892, the flat notch cut on the top of the frame, behind the hammer is about 19/64" in length. From what I understand all the later ones have a longer notch.

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    This gun was made in 1895 and has the longer notch / slot found on the model 1894. From my limited research the 1892s all had short notches or slots.
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    If you decide to shoot it, remember that it probably has the .375" bore so it will be most accurate with the heeled bullets. One easy way to tell is if the cylinder is bored straight thru it is the .375 bore. If there is a small "lip" at the front of the chamber then it will most likely have the .357" bore and you can use cast 38/357 bullets. Happy shooting!


 
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