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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone. I have a question about bullseye guns.

I have a nice old Colt Officers Model Special (ser# 614XX) in .22 LR. I know that this revolver was made in .22 and .38 Special and I plan to look for a .38 to go with it, but my question is this. What would be a correct .45 caliber target revolver for the same time period? I know that 1911s are the mainstay now, and I know that S&W made target revolvers on large frames, but was there an equivalent Colt?
 

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Your Officers Model Special was made in 1950 and at the time Colt was not making a large frame target revolver. A pre-war shooting master in 45 ACP or Colt is going to cost you over 4 grand.
 

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Welcome to the Forum.

A few years after Colt introduced the large frame D.A. New Service swingout cylinder revolver,they made a target version of it,with 7.5" bbl. and adjustable sights(front & rear like the Officers). Original chambering was .44 Russian for U.S. and .455 for "Brits". This was followed in .45 Colt and other large bores. Produced,with "engineering changes" 'til the end of the N.S. production on the eve of W.W. II.

Around 1931, the "Shooting Master",was introduced on the New Service frame. 6 inch bbl. and slightly rounded grip frame. Originall in .38 Special,the .357 Magnum as well as the "big bores" such as the .44 and .45 were added a tad later. This gun too was sadly dropped from production at start of W.W. 2.

This is just a quick summation of Colt's big bore target revolvers,and hope it helps.

Bud /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I had heard the Shooting Master name, but I don't believe I have ever seen one. I had hoped to build a set of Bullseye guns around this .22, but I think I will be content if I can find a matching .38.

Many thinks for the information, it is interesting that it is 2 years older than I am. I knew dirt existed then, but I wasn't too sure about cartridge guns.
 

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[ QUOTE ]
Hello everyone. I have a question about bullseye guns.


[/ QUOTE ]
Back in the day (at least in the 1950s), the Colt Officers Model Match in .38 Special ruled the center fire category, and was the gun several custom gunsmiths modified for even better match performance. The .45 category was almost exclusively shot with semi-autos such as the Colt Gold Cup. Many shooters used their .45s in the center fire category as well, since it did not specify anything other than "center fire". Frankly, I don't remember the .22 entries as well, but I believe this was most often shot with a semi-auto as well. Maybe someone with a better memory can add to this.
 

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Even though they didn't chamber it in the OMS or OMM, if you got money to burn the OMT also came in the .32 caliber.
 

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If robba gets a whiff of this thread, you'll probably see a real nice Shooting Master. Do a search on the forum cause pics have been posted before.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The .32 sounds like fun, but as far as money to burn goes, only in the Jeep. I have seen some great pictures since I found the forum, I look forward to browsing the archives.
 

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Here you go. A Shooting Master bought about a year ago.







I would love to have the 45. Ouch on the price!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
That is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful handguns I have ever seen. That blue is incredible, it is hard to imagine that it could come down thru the years looking like that.

I can see that I have some investigating to do about Colt revolvers. Time to start looking for some reference books.
 

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RonS:

Here are some pictures of my NIB, Colt Officer's Model Special .38(Ironically, made in 1950, like your OMS .22!):

 

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Here is a New Service Target in .45 Colt from ~ 1929 or so, although I suspect it shipped a year or two later. I need to letter it. The New Service Targets, as described by Bud above, were first released in 1900 and continued to be available from the factory up until WWII.


This picture comes from the Kull and Supica auction site where I purchased this gun.

They were thus contemporaneous with the Shooting Master, released in 1931. Initially the Shooting Master went for $52.50, list, to the NST’s $50, but by 1939 both were listed at $52.50. Walter Roper, a renowned pistol shot of the day, commenting in his book Pistol and Revolver Shooting, says of the two, “… after a lot of shooting of both guns I am frank to say that I can find no difference whatever in the operation of the New Service Target and the Shooting Master. Both are wonderfully smooth and easy working and, of course, they will both shoot far better than anyone can hold them. Except for a slightly different shaped handle, the guns are alike, and personally I prefer the more square ‘butt’ of the New Service, as the rounded back strap of the Shooting Master seems to let the muzzle point low with me.” (pps. 63-64) The NST’s were 7.5” in standard length, and I believe the Shooting Master’s were only available in 6”.

I understand that the .357 Shooting Master only came with a square butt. (I also get a kick out of Walter referring to the “handle” when so many of us frown on that nomenclature today.)

I recently purchased a Shooting Master as well, although not in as fine condition as robba’s, and look forward to comparing the two.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Those are some nice looking guns, I look forward to the search for a .38. Are the stocks on the NST .45 original? I had forgotten the amount of pains manufacturers used to take to get all of the details just right, these revolvers make just about any modern gun look like an M3 grease gun by comparison.
 

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The grips on the NST are certainly period correct, if not original to the gun. (They may well be original to the gun. I am not sure how to check -- with S&Ws of the era, the grips are individually serial numbered to the gun. Anybody know how to check/confirm with Colts?)

These types of grips were for target models, but seem to have phased out by about 1930 or so, as near as I can determine from my reading so far. The style is called “fleur-de-lis,” and is done by hand. They are not shown in the 1940 advertising for the NSTs that I have seen, where the grips look like the typical, fully checkered “service grips” of the period. This is also true of the 1930s examples of NSTs pictured in Bob Murphy’s book on New Services.

Interestingly, Colt had a machine that did “checking” or what today we call “checkering,” at least in the 1930s, and perhaps well before: “The filing and sandpapering and hand finishing require patience that only those who are satisfied with nothing less than the best, possess. Perhaps the most outstanding machine in this department [the wood working shop] is the checking machine. I was thrilled to watching this ingenious automatic machine that, with mathematical precision, cuts the tiny but deep groves that result in checked stocks.” (p. 75, A Cenury of Achievement, 1836-1936) So it seems on the standard grips anyway the work was both by hand and machine, as is of course true of the guns as well.

The book above makes clear that Colt built many unique machines for specific processes in its factory. The impression I have is that the Colt factory in Hartford in the 19th century was probably one of the most modern on the planet, but it began to fall behind -- in terms of modernity and efficiency, i.e., mass production -- as the 20th century progressed. I have also read, tho I do not recall the sources, that during WWII Colt had a hard time keeping up with production requirements due to antiquated machinery, and that the tooling for some models was pushed out into the parking lot, to make way for wartime production, where it rusted never to be reclaimed.

So I, and a lot of others, think, in terms of the quality of the guns produced, that the 1930s are the absolute peak. Highly skilled labor -- handwork, craftsmanship, artisanship -- coexisted with modern factory machinery and high-quality steel. Since it was the Great Depression, good jobs were valued, and these highly experienced artisans put the time and effort into building the best possible guns they could. World War II then happened, and the world, including gun making, was forever changed.
 

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Factory tooling

I've heard this story too. It was said that it was the New Service tooling that got pushed out into the parking lot and rusted away. That was supposedly a major factor in Colt's not reintroducing the New Service after the war.
 
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