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The Consummate Collector
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Colt New Service was introduced in November of 1898. The .44 Russian caliber was marked: NEW SERVICE FOR 44 S&W CTG. This marking ended in the beginning of 1901 which meant that they were only marked like this for the first two years. Since Colt only built just over two thousand of the New Service revolvers in the first two years and offered it in seven different calibers this meant that only a small quantity of this marking exist. I was finally lucky enough to find one of these through a dealer friend in England. He agreed to bring it to the Las Vegas show last week so I was able to buy it. If any of our Forum members should happen to have one marked just like this I would certainly enjoy seeing it. Colt also made a few marked like this in the target model. I am still on the hunt for one of those.



 

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Outstanding!
Any Colt of that era with a barrel stamping that gave credit to S&W for the chambering is a rare duck. Combine it with 44 Russian, and one has a very rare N.S.
Congratulations Cam.
 

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If you'll pardon my asking, but if the gun is stamped ".44 S&W CTG" why do you say its chambered for the .44 Russian? I would assume it was meant for the .44 S&W American cartridge.

What about chamber and bore dimensions? Is this the key to identification?

Bob Wright
 

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The Consummate Collector
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
If you'll pardon my asking, but if the gun is stamped ".44 S&W CTG" why do you say its chambered for the .44 Russian? I would assume it was meant for the .44 S&W American cartridge.

What about chamber and bore dimensions? Is this the key to identification?

Bob Wright
This gun is marked for the .44 S&W cartridge which evolved into the .44 Russian in the New Service. Colt changed the barrel marking to .44 Russian in 1901. From John Taffin's article:
Before the .454 Casull (1980), before the .44 Magnum,(1956), before the .357 Magnum (1935), before the .44 Special (1907), yes even before the .45 Colt (1873) there was the .44 Russian. And even before the .44 Russian was the parent cartridge, the .44 Smith & Wesson American. In 1869 or 1870, depending on which authority is accepted, Smith & Wesson stunned Colt by bringing forth the first big bore centerfire single action sixgun. Colt was still producing cap-and-ball revolvers and had to wait until Smith & Wesson's Rollin White patent ran out before they could come back with the Colt Single Action Army in 1873.
That first Smith & Wesson single action was chambered in .44 S&W American and also .44 Henry Rimfire. The story goes that the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia was in this country hunting buffalo with Bill Cody, saw and used the .44 Smith & Wesson, and ordered them for the Imperial Russian Army with a slight change in the ammunition.
The .44 S&W American cartridge carried an outside lubricated two-step bullet with a larger diameter outside the case than inside. The resulting .44 Russian carried an inside lubricated bullet and became one of the real benchmarks in cartridge (and sixgun) evolution. The .44 Russian brass carried a 246 grain lead bullet over 23.0 grains of black powder, and is not only an important development in its own right, it also sired the .44 Special, which would later father the .44 Magnum. The Russian was lengthened two-tenths of an inch to become the Special and the Special was subsequently lengthened one-eighth of an inch to become the Magnum.
 

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But the two .44s would have different bore diameters, and likely different chamber throats. So if the New Service were made for the Russian, likely the .44 American would not have chambered without some effort due to the larger bullet diameter?

Bob Wright
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
But the two .44s would have different bore diameters, and likely different chamber throats. So if the New Service were made for the Russian, likely the .44 American would not have chambered without some effort due to the larger bullet diameter?

Bob Wright
Yes, correct. But Colt chose to mark there barrels with the S&W marking when in fact it was chambered for the Russian. They corrected this after two years. My .44 Russian ammo chambers perfectly in this gun.
 

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Seems like it took a while for Colt to standardize their caliber markings. Mine 1902 is marked Cal .44 and chambers .44-40. Apparently the .44-40 or .44WCF was so popular that they expected people to assume that caliber unless marked something else.



Wonder how they had always marked their SAAs in .44-40. Also did Colt mark the early New Service in .38-40 only Cal .38? Not that it matters to me since I don't have either type of gun, other than my interest in inconsistency in markings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Seems like it took a while for Colt to standardize their caliber markings. Mine 1902 is marked Cal .44 and chambers .44-40. Apparently the .44-40 or .44WCF was so popular that they expected people to assume that caliber unless marked something else.



Wonder how they had always marked their SAAs in .44-40. Also did Colt mark the early New Service in .38-40 only Cal .38? Not that it matters to me since I don't have either type of gun, other than my interest in inconsistency in markings.
Yes, the early New Service was marked .44 and then the later models were marked 44-40. The barrels for the 44-40 and .44 Russian/S&W Special had a very small 44 stamped on the bottom of the barrel next to the frame as these barrel blanks were used for both chambering's. The 38-40 caliber New Services are marked .38 W.C.F. on the barrel.
 
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