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I just purchased a 1911 Colt and the slide is marked .38 Special Kit. This is setup for Bullseye shooting but I would like to know the history on these Kit Guns. Can anyone help me learn more about what these were and why they were built and when?

Thanks,
Steve
 

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According to page 448 of Sutherland and Wilson's BOOK OF COLT FIREARMS these were special order items for Gil Hebard Guns of Knoxville IL made 1964-1970, with serial numbers beginning 00100 and (including gaps) ending 01164, with .38 Special guns having an H suffix. (Apparently there was a .45ACP Kit, with an 0 suffix)

Sutherland states they are basically a .38 AMU, that the original guns were supplied _without_ sights, but with the slide dovetailed, and that "grips and hammer are shipped mounted on the frame, but the barrel, bushing, and other major paarts of the kit are supplied disassembled and packaged separately."

Gil Hebard is a nationally known target shooter whose business caters to bullseye shooters--I bought guns from him in the '70s. As far as I know he's still in business. I'd suggest contacting him and seeing what information he has to offer.
 

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I agree. I used to live just a short distance from his shop and have spoken to him many times. He is indeed still in business. He's also an extremely knowledgeable target shooter as well as a dealer. I moved several years ago and haven't had contact in a while but here's the old street address:
Gil Hebard Guns
125 Public Square
Knoxville, Illinois 61448
Phone 309 289-2700
 

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Some addtional imputus. I wish Gil Hebard well, but no one gets off the planet alive, and Mr. H is older than I am--and I ain't exactly in my prime. In a few decades, a letter from Gil Hebard might rank with a letter from Bill Blankenship or Ed McGivern. 'Nuff said.
 

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I have seen a couple of these up for auction on the internet recently - both .38 Special and .38 AMU kit guns. While they are not very common, they are around. They were designed for bullseye shooters in the 60's to use as an alternative in the centerfire portion of the 2700 competition which normally culminates with the Camp Perry Nationals. In the 2700, one shoots a .45 Hardball gun, a centerfire pistol, and a rimfire pistol. A lot of shooters preferred the .45 for centerfire (some used their hardball gun which was legal but not competitive) but the Colt .38 Midrange match, S&W model 52 and the various conversions by Clark and others of .38 supers to .38 Special Wadcutter guns were a hair more competitive due to less recoil. The .38 AMU is basically a .38 special that was made with a rimless case and was used for a while by the Army Marksmanship Unit at Ft Benning - hence the AMU title. The last 38 AMU kit gun that I saw had a started price on Auction Arms of around $2500 if memory serves and got no bids. A few of the .38 spec Kits have shown up for about half that. An original 38 Mid Range Match is probably on a comparable level with a .38 AMU as Colt actually made it (looks like a National Match) and comes in a similar box. But since most of these were made for competitors and most were well used it's hard to find any of this stuff any more that isn't used up, much less in the original boxes etc which collectors like so well. I suspect that more of them will be coming out of the woodwork in the near future because the age they were popular means that the people who used them are passing on to their great reward. I was only 22 when I shot 2700 competition in the late 60's and I'm not a spring chicken now. Most of the guys I shot with were double my age and older. While 2700 is still shot today, it doesn't enjoy a lot of popularity and most matches only have a handful of competitors. IPSC brought about the begining of the end for 2700 and IDPA and other combat handgun sports have helped it to slide down further. However the pistols used in the 2700 have a great deal of collector value. Among those are the original GI National Match .45's that were built by Springfield as Hardball guns, the S&W and Hi STandard .22 semi's that dominated the rimfire leg of the competition. Even the customs by Bradley, Clark, Dinan, Shockey, Giles, Chow and Nygord etc have quite a collector following when they come up in something other than worn out configuration which isn't often. Those guns were built to be used in competition and most were well used. Hope this info helps.
 
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