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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey all,
I am new to the forum and this site but it appears you all know your stuff. I recently acquired this gun and have a few questions. I am definitely aware that this is in fact one of 200 (serial # 15151) sent to an army contract before Colt started selling these commercially. I believe a very rare find and already contacted Colt to get a letter for it. One question that I have is the gun appears to be original finish as I have looked very closely at the lettering and they are not dished out which would be from buffing to create the high polish it has, but.... there are the tiniest of dings in a couple areas that should be silver from the damage but are black. Also in all my research, the trigger, pins, and screws should be a bright blue and are not. I am curious to know if the first 200 built for the Army didn't have the fire blued parts and everything was chemical blued? Either way it is a rare find and bore is in great shape. Looks like it has never been fired or very little but I am no expert on old firearms. Here are some pictures. Oh and If this is in fact original finish I would have to put it around 98%.



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Lucky you, you own a very historic classic. I'll let the experts speak on the finish, but it looks pretty right to me.
 

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According to Doug Sheldon "Colt's .38 Automatic Pistols" the small parts of the 200 pistols delivered to the Military for trials would have also had the "fire blue" finish on the small parts you mentioned. No reason to suspect otherwise but does the slide S/N match the receiver? Also, this serial number is listed in this book as one of the known survivors in the 200 Contract Pistols so information as to its history should be readily available.

Welcome to the forum....quite the first post.
 

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I acquired one of those a little earlier in the production run with serial # 143XX manufactured in 1903. It was the 413th Colt 1902 manufactured according to what I was told. Yours is better blued but mine is pretty close in preservation with all surfaces smooth and markings perfect. Haven't got a good pic but yours is a better looking example with the blue finish. I believe they were heat blued so the blue was lighter and prettier than later guns. Here's one pic
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Thank you AZSHOT however i will not be the end user/owner.

T-May I agree on the fire blue however Lowell Pauli's collection in he blue book is all black hmmm i believe another collection has an all black one.

BigG The serial number of these actually started at 15000-15200 in 1902 then went to 14999 then descended down to 11000. They then jumped back to 15201 and went up to 43000 ish so your serial number would be an early production.

The question I have is is it possible they chemical blued the entire gun rather than leaving the small parts mentioned the royal blue color i assume from the heat treat process and they thought "hey cool lets leave it".

Kryten The story not so exciting as it just walked in the store. Wish there was more to it than that. Thank you guys for the replies. Hopefully someone knows the answers lol. I am very puzzled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Oh and the serial number on the slide matches the frame. I will post pictures tomorrow with a white background. Brown background doesnt do it justice.
 

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Oh and the serial number on the slide matches the frame. I will post pictures tomorrow with a white background. Brown background doesnt do it justice.

Hi Jake1911,


Wonderful old '02 Military!


Indeed, more and if possible 'Natural outdoor Light' images would be great.

Does it have the Nickel ( or maybe Blue, I forget now which this would have come with, or it may have come with either one ) with Patent Date Magazine?


Looks like maybe Nickel in the image, where the tip of the floor plate is visible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well as promised, I am shedding some light on this gun. No pun intended. Here are the natural light background photos. One thing came to light last night that I definitely was not aware of. A "k" stamped into the frame rails indicates a factory refinish. Not quite sure how much this help or hurts the gun but it is a relief that at least Colt refinished it and hopefully will state as such on the letter. Also here is the photo of the magazine it came with.

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There are a couple professional Colt appraisers around. It sounds like you're gearing up to resell it. It may be worth getting an appraisal to help your case. That's why I said nothing about the finish, I'm no expert on what the military contract specified. Again, your gun looks great, but if refinished it will knock 50% off the value, or more. If you're looking at blue book values or others that break down condition for each price point, consider a reblued gun about a 10% condition. I'm not saying it was, I'm hoping for you it's a mint, original.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well if that is the case hopefully rarity makes up for it. My skepticism on the condition is what lead me to joining this forum.
 

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I hear you. I bought a Colt New Service once at a gun show. In the florescent lights, it looked great. Only when I got it home, in direct sunlight, could I tell it had been professionally reblued. Since this could be a high dollar gun, it would sell best with an iron-clad description of why you know it's original. Or worse case, a description of what occurred.
 

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You did see it was listed here as "known in collections?" You may be able to find the ownership history.
http://www.coltforum.com/forums/colt-semiauto-pistols/68722-colt-1902-military-1st-200-built-army-contract.html

Also, see this: "The finish on the early Military Model was the same as on the Sporting Model--a mirror polished rich charcoal blue with the small parts fire blued. According to Douglas Sheldon, the finish changed color somewhat around 1915, and less polishing was done prior to the bluing process. "
http://unblinkingeye.com/Guns/1902ACP/1902acp.html
 

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Yes...the "k" in questin would be an inspector's Mark.

One sees a "k" fairly often when examining the earliest Militarys and Sporting Models ( mine have the "k" just as yours does ).

Images are too washed out or over-exposed for purposes of evaluating the Finish.

My first impression was that we are looking at an old, well done re-Blue.

You can take some images in the shade, outdoors, and likely come out much better!

Slide Stampings seem a little less crisp or vivid than what I would expect for an original finish, and the color seems 'off' also, but, better images would help decide this.
 
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