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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently acquired what I believe is a 1892 Colt DA. Caliber is 38. Serial number is 0857 on the frame in front of the cylinder but there is no serial number on the butt. This serial number leads me to believe that it was manufactured in 1892. It has checkered wood grips with Colt medallions and a lanyard. Inspector initials RAC are on the frame and cylinder. I believe that the barrel has been replaced. The blueing on the barrel seems newer than on the frame and cylinder. The left side of the barrel says COLT D.A. 38. The top of the barrel has patent dates of Aug 5, 1984, July 4, 1905, Oct. 5, 1926.
What do you think about the model, mfg date, and possible barrel replacement? Also I read somewhere that the barrel may of been replaced to allow using 38 special ammo ???
 

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All of these had the serial number stamped on the bottom of the butt.
If the number is not there, it's been removed, which is a real problem because that makes the gun illegal to own.
R.A.C. is the initials of Renaldo A. Carr, the US Government inspector assigned to Colt to inspect the Colt New Army revolvers, so your gun was a US issue gun.
This is no doubt why someone ground the US Army marks and serial number off the bottom of the butt.

The number on the frame is a factory assembly number used to keep fitted parts together during manufacture. Once the serial number was stamped on the butt, the assembly number no longer had any meaning. The assembly number has no relationship whatever to the serial number.

The grips are not original.
Military models had smooth walnut grips with no medallions, commercial guns had hard black rubber grips with molded in checkering and Colt logos.

The barrel is a replacement from a much later gun, probably a Colt Official Police. Since Colt used the same threads on most barrels, most any barrel could be installed on any frame.
Since any barrel could be used, it's common to see older Colt's with a barrel from an earlier or later gun.

The barrel had little to do with the gun being able to fire the .38 Special. The original caliber was .38 Long Colt, which was originally a black powder load.
The bore of the barrel for the .38 Long Colt was slightly larger then the .38 Special so if the gun was fired with .38 Special ammo accuracy might not be great.

Only the last couple of years of production of the commercial guns were chambered for the more powerful .38 Special.
Since your gun was probably not made for the .38 Special, DO NOT fire standard load .38 Special ammo in your gun.
If you want to shoot it, and it's still in safe shooting condition, either buy Cowboy loads of the .38 Long Colt, or hand load VERY light loads in .38 Special brass.
Again, don't shoot standard load .38 Special ammo.

So, what you have is a US issue Colt New Army revolver that has been re-barreled with a barrel from a different model, the grips have been replaced, and someone had illegally removed the serial number.
At this late date I doubt that most reasonable law enforcement is going to really care about this on a 100 + year old obsolete revolver.
However, if someone does want to make an issue out of it, it's a Federal and State Felony crime to have a gun which originally had a serial number, from which the number has been defaced or removed.
Keep it at your own risk.
 

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All of these had the serial number stamped on the bottom of the butt.
If the number is not there, it's been removed, which is a real problem because that makes the gun illegal to own.......
At this late date I doubt that most reasonable law enforcement is going to really care about this on a 100 + year old obsolete revolver.
However, if someone does want to make an issue out of it, it's a Federal and State Felony crime to have a gun which originally had a serial number, from which the number has been defaced or removed.
Keep it at your own risk.
You can apply to the BATFE for a new S/N to be stamped on it; or, if it can be "raised" by acid etching, the original S/N can be applied.
 

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The number on the frame is a factory assembly number used to keep fitted parts together during manufacture. Once the serial number was stamped on the butt, the assembly number no longer had any meaning. The assembly number has no relationship whatever to the serial number.
Allow me a little correction. On all of quite a few Army Colts I've inspected, the four-digit number on the frame (which usually can also be found on the crane and the cylinder latch) is identical with the last four digits of the original serial number from the butt. There are thousands of Model 1901 Army models in collectors hands which do not have the original serial number because they were Model 1894 and 1896 models that were upgraded by Colt or an army arsenal after 1902 to the 1901 specs, which included the lanyard loop; all these had the serial number polished off and, after drilling the hole for the lanyard screw, were restamped with only the last four digits of the original number, that original number being lost to time from then on. So you don't need to lose any sleep over owning an "illegal" gun; you're quite safe using the 0857 as the serial no. if anyone asks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That sounds good! I bought the gun at an auction and didn't know what to do. Thought I might have to part it out but now I'll keep it.
Thanks
 

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Before you get too sure, you might wait until another member hopefully posts here.
I believe that would be COLTDAGUY.
He quite literally wrote THE book on the Colt New Army & Navy model pistols and is considered to be the expert.

It will be interesting to hear what he says.
 

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Totally agree. COLTDAGUY is Robert Best; I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy of his book yet, but a lot of what I know has been pilfered from his posts here in the forum over the last ten years. If you use the search function and look through old posts, you can learn a lot.
 
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