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I have a Police Postive Special whose manufacturer's serial number was filed off. Judging by the physical evidence, the gun fell among thieves at some point. If I understand the letters and numbers scratched onto the gun correctly, on Jan 22nd, 1983, the pistol was seized by an LEO whose initials were RHG. At some point after that, the law enforcement agency sold the gun after putting a new serial number on the butt, but not the yoke, one prefexed with ATF.

As I said, the gun has obviously had an interesting life. It appears that it started out as a "normal" blued PPS. Then someone decided to make it his carry gun. He apparently went to a lot of trouble with this PPS. He had a local gunsmith shorten the barrel to three inches and then nickel the gun's surface ( now less than 60%). I assume it was a local gunsmith since the muzzle was not recrowned and the nickle finish blurs the rampant Colt figure and some of the lettering on the barrel. A workman like job, but surely not a factory job. Interestingly, he didn't do a "Fritz" on it. The trigger spur is intact as is the trigger guard. I don't think the serial number was filed off by the man who did the barrel work. He would have done a neater job. I think the gun fell into bad company long after the fellow who had this work done passed on.

Unfortuately, shorting the barrel and reattaching the front sight as well as the nickel job has obscured much of the lettering on the barrel. All I can see is Hartford Ct and on the line below it June 5 and what looks like 1900 ( blurred) and then at the end of the line July 4 1905. On the side of the barrel is Police Positive 38 special.

I assume these dates are patent dates. I have looked in several books on gun vlaues, but I cannot find any information about the lettering on the PPS's. Can any one here help me? Is it possible to determine the time period when this gun was manufactured from the information I have given.

I am guessing a 1920's or before manufacturing date. I'm also guessing the work was done during the depression when money was short. Can anyone tell me if I am right or wrong?

Thank you for your help.
Regards-conwic
 

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What remains of the patent dates on the barrel was used from the first year of issue, 1908, through ca. 1926. From 1909 to ca. 1913, there was a large "C" surrounding the rampant colt on the sideplate. A pony with no "C" indicates post 1913. Hard rubber stocks were used until ca. 1923, when they changed to walnut. The trigger was smooth through ca. 1928, checkered thereafter.

Keep in mind that any parts could have been swapped over the years, but this should help you a little.

B.W.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you very much, bushwacker.

The trigger is indeed smooth. The nickeling has partly obscured the colt, so I cannot be sure, but I don't see anything of a c there. Looks like post 1913, pre 1927. That narrows it down considerably. And, even better, puts it within the time period I was guessing.

The gun came with a terrible set of cheesy aftermarket grips, so that is no help. I put hard rubber Colt grips on as soon as I bought it just because they seem fitting for the little gun.

Thanks again- conwic
 

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You are aware, I am sure, that it is highly, I mean highly, illegal to possess that gun. Having a modern firearm with no serial number, or one with the serial number filed off, in your possesion is a federal offense. I would probably bury it somewhere out in the south forty and never tell anyone I ever had it. But that's just me 'cause I don't feel like going to jail. You could argue all you want about some BATFE agent or someone putting an ATF number on it and they are not going want to hear it, you would still go to jail.
 

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If the ATF officially issued a serial number for a gun with a defaced serial number....it's legal.
Issuing a new number prefaced by "ATF" is not at all uncommon.

One thing you might check, which even some law enforcement don't know, or think of...Colt also stamped the serial number INSIDE the side plate.

Remove the plate, and you may solve the mystery.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks you for the information. You are right. I had no idea that Colt serial numbers were stamped inside.

I'll have to wait until I can get a gunsmith to open it though. A screw on the sideplate has already been throughly buggered up. I'm afraid to try to open it myself. While the revolver doesn't look like much, it is working well as is. I don't want to screw up the clockwork.

Thank you- conwic
 

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Smart move.

Colt stamped the serial number in three places on their revolvers:
On the frame just below the barrel.
On the crane opposite where the frame number is.
And inside the side plate.

When guns with defaced serials turn up, you can ask the ATF to assign a serial number.
This is stamped on the gun in a manner mandated by the ATF, and this becomes the legal serial.

As I recall, the new assigned number starts with "ATF" so everyone will know it's an ATF assigned number.
 

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[ QUOTE ]
If the ATF officially issued a serial number for a gun with a defaced serial number

[/ QUOTE ]
The big operative word here is "If". Anyone can stamp a number on the butt. The first thing I would do is contact the BATFE and check that serial number to a description, year, make and model of the gun and make doubly sure that it is indeed an authentic ATF number, but then I tend to err on the side of caution. The rest is up to you.
Personally, NO GUN, especially one that is highly chopped and modified as described is worth taking a chance on when there are so many pristine examples available out there that you don't need to worry about. But again, that is just me.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you all for your information and advice.

I am conficent that the ATF serial number is valid.

Thanks again- conwic
 
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