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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Guys,
I've read with great interest Colt38's New Service thread. A close friend has come in to a Colt that we have decided is a New Service Target. The serial number dates the gun to 1901 and I feel it is in remarkable condition. Its cylinder accepts 44 Specials. That brings me to the crux of this post. I feel the gun has been rechambered from 44 Russian since the Special cartridge didn't come on to the market till a few years later.

The gun also has had the barrel shortened to 6". The job was done very professionally. The forcing cone has been cut for what I feel are wadcutters and resembles the angle on my Shooting Master. Of course, the grips are replacements. I am wondering how these changes would affect the desirablity of this gun. I feel they take the gun right out of the collectible category. However, the overall condition of the gun is remarkable given its age. Any comments would be greatly appreciated. The bluing is of a type that is not seen today and is in wonderful condition. Here is a picture:



Tom
 

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Tom, can you tell us the SN, full or partial, and also describe ALL bbl markings?

Some of these guns were in fact chambered for .44 Special but marked 44 Russian. The 1912 catalog was the last to list the 44 Russian, and from 1913 the catalog listed the so-called dual caliber 44 Russian and Special.

In Murphy’s book, where I got the above info, he states that in his survey the highest number he has for a gun like this, NS Target marked 44 Russian but chambered for 44 Special, is 58516 shipped April 8, 1913.
 

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Tom; I think you have the correct feeling about the gun NO Longer being collectible.Lengthening,or replacing of cylinders on .44 Russian guns was fairly common,especially as that ammo became scarce following W.W. Two(I think 1955,was when the last factory rounds were built-Remington(?))

This is a VERY early New Service Target,and would be worth a great deal IF it was original. The only 2 chamberings on these earliest target models were .455 Eley for the Brits(usually with Medford rifling and non-screw adjustable sights to comply with their rules of competition) and .44 Russian.

Original stocks would have been non medallion fleur de leis walnuts,

I have a nicely reblued early N.S. Target,all original,except the cylinder was reamed to .44 Special,probably by the same gunsmith who reblued it. It is super accurate,a "pocket rifle" with that 7.5" bbl.-but my S&W Triple Lock Target,with the rare 7.5" bbl. will outshoot it in my hands,but I think that is the ergonomics of my body just preferring the smaller S&W N frame(and Colt E frames.

Is the finish original??? Even after the surgery on the bbl???

There is a slight chance that Colt did the work and there would be an amperstand mark (&) on the gun,usually on the trigger guard,as well as rework dates under the stocks on the grip frame.

If rework was factory,along with that "never to be seen again"Colt pre World War One polishing and bluing,if gun hasn't been refinished value would be higher,than the "shooter value" that it has now.

Should be a great shooter,but I would use mild loads in that 105 year old steel.

Bud /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
 

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Where can some aftermarket grips be obtained for the(Round butted, smaller grip frame)1934 vintage New Service .38 that I'm very strongly, considering to buy? The reason that I'd want to obtain these grips is because I might want to just shoot this N.S. .38, to try it out a few times and I don't want to risk anything happening to the original Colt walnut grips! What about the availability of some Colt plastic(Original style grips)that I had recently seen(on line)in a review of an 5-inch barreled, N. S. .357 revolver?

How about the availability of some nicer wood grips as well as some target grips? These would be to "Doll up" this gun, for displaying it!

Colt factory N.S. bluing?: How is the correct factory Colt bluing supposed to look like on an 1934 vintage N.S. .38 revolver? I know that the bluing on the gun that I'm considering to buy, doesn't look anything like in the above picture of the very early N.S. revolver! Since Lonewolf had mentioned that this bluing was only done on pre war guns and had never returned again after the war-then how much different were the 1930's type of bluing? Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Onomea,
The serial number is 58xx.

Bud,
As near as I can tell the finish is orginal. The man who owns the gun and I are both far more knowlegeable about S&W but neither of us can see any signs of a re-finish. I used to own quite a few Americn double shotguns and feel I know the signs to look for but anyone can be wrong. I have wondered about the possiblity of Colt's having shortened the barrel given the quality of the fit and machine work. Thanks for the info on the markings. As I mentioned this gun is not mine so the next time Leo and I get together I am going to check of the markings.

We do shoot the gun some. It's accuracy is impressive. I believe the boxes were marked with 6.6 gr of Unique and that he had a 245 SWC loaded. Here is a typical target:



I load and shoot some newer 44 Specials and feel this load should be ok but I'm not real familiar with loading for guns 105 years old.
Tom
 

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58XX makes it an Old Model, all right¬Ö.

The shift from a fixed firing pin to a pivoted firing pin occurred in 1904 at about SN 10,000. Standard bbls for the targets were 7 ½” until the 1930s when 6” bbls were also offered…. NS Target # 4570 – the first in Murphy’s book -- shipped in 1900…. At about the time of the change to pivoted firing pin, Colt changed the hammer from color case hardened to fire blue, polished bright on the sides…. (That looks like yours, Tom, to me.) … Murphy estimates Old Model Target guns from 1900 to 1909 to be somewhere between 500 and 1000….

I have trouble distinguishing between the topstrap profile changes. New Services start out with a topstrap similar to the SAA. At about #14000 in 1905 the front and rear top corners of the topstrap were cut down¬Ö Maybe somebody could post good pix?

This is all from the 1985 Murphy book, and newer research may have changed some of this. I dunno.

I was also wondering if the bbl might be 5 ½” and not 6”? 5 ½ was a standard length for the non-targets.

I am also wondering if the above reference to “standard” bls were 7 ½” for the targets might mean that you have a non-standard factory length?

Interesting stuff – this is a fun thread!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Onomea,
I'm sure the barrel was cut. You had asked about the barrel markings. Keep in mind this is not my gun so I don't have it in had to check. However, the markings were to the rear to the point that I knew the barrel had been set back. I'll check the length again but I'm sure I measured it at exactly 6" from the front of the cylinder to the muzzle.
Tom
 

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Well, that seems pretty definitive on the bbl. I did not realize that bbls could be shortened from the rear end, as it were, and had been wondering how in the heck whoever shortened the bbl got that front sight on it so nicely. Makes sense now. I recall now that later models, post WWI, had the “bolstered” or “tapered bbl,” which I guess means the swelling at the rear, so the approach of shortening from the rear would have only worked for the early models.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
[ QUOTE ]
I did not realize that bbls could be shortened from the rear end,

[/ QUOTE ]

Yeah, Since I've last seen the gun I've been wondering about that, too. If you saw the lettering and how it was moved to the rear you just naturally assume it was shortened from the rear. When I think about it I know its not normal procedure.

Here are the only other pics I have of this gun. Perhaps someone will find them interesting.




If I get time tomorrow we are going to the range. The guy that owns this gun is coming down. I'll call him and remind him to bring it along. I want to check for those refinishing marks. I don't hink I'll find them. The bluing on this gun is a type that I've not seen before and I've seen and owned other pre-war Colts and Smiths.

Tom
 

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pre 1905 frames can be id`ed by the straight profile where the frt trigger guard meets the frame. pre 1905 guns are not vp punched at frt of t/g bow.
 

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Re the bluing, if the bluing is pre WWI (one) and by Colt, I have read that it is “charcoal bluing.”

Post WWI (one), Colt’s bluing changed to a more modern form of bluing, perhaps the “carbonia” process that also disappeared with WWII (two). (I know the pre-WWII S&Ws used the carbonia process.) That, too, is very beautiful compared to what is available today.

Murphy says, page 18, “The end of this pre-war [pre WWI] period of production marks the end of Colt’s lustrous deep blue finishes. They went to war and never came back…” And on page 37, he says, “Post-war [again, WWI] blued finishes were not so finely polished and blued as before 1917, and lacked the mirror-like depth of pre-war bluing.”

Looks like your friend’s gun also had a trigger shoe installed, although I don’t think I’ve come across one before that called for a hole in the trigger. I love that fine checkering shown on the trigger and grip frame. That is hand work, and factory.

Modified or not, I think that is one beautiful gun.

Thanks for the later tapered vs earlier straight bbls pix, icdux1. That’s helpful. Now, how about the topstrap differences I refer to above? Do you have a gun with the old “flat top” top strap to post a pic of too? In looking at my Murphy book, I can’t really tell the difference…. The topstrap in your photos and in the topstrap in the photo of Tom’s pal’s 1901 gun look the same to me, but that should not be the case, based on the reading I have done. This confuses me…

RE, "pre 1905 frames can be id`ed by the straight profile where the frt trigger guard meets the frame. pre 1905 guns are not vp punched at frt of t/g bow," now THAT, I can see! Thanks! /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
 

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sorry but do not have a pre 05 n/s to photograph. i was unaware the top straps were different.surely some forum member has a early gun they can photo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
[ QUOTE ]
Looks like your friend’s gun also had a trigger shoe installed,

[/ QUOTE ]

I believe that was a trigger stop.

I did have a chance to look at the gun again today. We were going to the range and got sidetracked in a local gunshop. If that gun is a reblue the lettering and markings were all re-done at the same time. There are absolutely no signs of any type of refinish. If I can get some better pics you would see that there are marks and bluing wear. The gun is not as perfect as it appears in the photos that I posted. It is in remarkable condition for a hundred year old gun, though.
Tom
 

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In looking at the bottom photo on a different computer, I agree that the finish may be original. The top photo, with the bogus stocks and glare, caused me to jump to the conclusion that the gun is a refinish. The bottom photo causes me to think it may not be. There I can see the wear and the sharpness of the edges.
 

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[ QUOTE ]
In looking at the bottom photo , I agree that the finish may be original.

[/ QUOTE ] i agree, there is no duplicating that blue. the bottom photo tells the story. top photo from a distance looks simular to a fords refinish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I had hoped to get some more pictures yesterday which would show the finish more clearly. The pictures that I posted were for another Forum, which I help moderate, and I wanted to show the gun at its best to kind of brag up old Colts. If the gun was a refinish it was done a long while ago. The closest I can describe the color is that it is similar to very early A. H. Fox shotguns from about the same time period. The polish is better than my 1980 Python. The edges of the gun generally show some wear and there are some slight nicks and handling marks from over the years that don't show in the picture. Actually, I think its is always nice to have a correct and orginal gun. The fact of the barrel being cut kind of takes this gun to the point where, from an econoic viewpoint, it really doesn't matter about the finish. I did just want to share this fine old revolver with the Colt Forum. It has received many worthwhile comments. When something like this comes along I always feel its too bad that all we can do is communicate via the internet. The gun is truly a pleasure to handle, shoot, look at, and even discuss.
Thanks guys,
Tom
 

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Tom,
That gun is a delight just to stare at!
Doesn't really matter about the barrel...After all, 'in the day', people bought and USED their guns, and there was one heckuva lot more modifying going on than we'd like to believe.
I always find it kind of funny (maybe downright foolish) that we act like high-and-mighty collectors, assigning penalties or plusses to guns, depending on our opinion of them now, after the fact!
I get the feeling our rating criteria (this goes for S & W, too) would have been laughed out of every gun store in the country, back when guns were meant for shooting.
Don
 

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[ QUOTE ]

Doesn't really matter about the barrel...After all, 'in the day', people bought and USED their guns, and there was one heckuva lot more modifying going on than we'd like to believe.

Don

[/ QUOTE ] very good point don, we must remember that after ww2 there were no large caliber colt revolvers for quite some time. the n/s were just used guns at that time and many of the old timers would not trust any thing but a colt, and most of them didn`t trust any caliber that didn`t start with a 4. as a result many were modified and still used instead of newer guns available at the time.
 
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