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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
This is my first post here on the site, normally I just lurk. However, now I have a question I'm hoping someone can assist in answering.

Recently, I came into possession of a Colt Model 1903(?) civilian issue .38 long Colt DA revolver. The question mark is because I looked up the serial number on the Colt site, and it lists models from 1892 to 1903, and so there's some confusion on my part, which will be explained in the next few sentences. The frame/cylinder/grips are in VERY good shape and probably about 95% of the original bluing. The cylinder is very long and will chamber and cycle a .357 WHICH OF COURSE WOULD BE INSANE TO TRY AND SHOOT IN IT! (Just heading off the comments in advance that would state the same.) I mention the long cylinder because after some research I discovered that people commonly would shoot .38 special rounds out of these old guns and crack the barrels, which apparently happened to this gun, because someone replaced the barrel with a parkerized Colt Commando .38 Special 4 inch barrel. It was obviously a hack job, and looks like crap.

I've scoured the different parts sites, and have only found one original barrel, but it is badly pitted, has almost no bluing, and very little rifling. Honestly, the barrel looks like someone found it in the bottom of a lake. So...my question to you, the brain trust, is where someone might be able to find an authentic barrel for this great old revolver.

Second question is whether anyone knows of a good Colt gunsmith in the Pacific NW?

Thank you in advance for any help.

Bill
 

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Welcome to the Forum from mid-Michigan! As you have been previously lurking on the site, you know that someone will be along with guidance. In the meanwhile have you checked Gunbroker, aGuns International and eBay?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Welcome to the Forum from mid-Michigan! As you have been previously lurking on the site, you know that someone will be along with guidance. In the meanwhile have you checked Gunbroker, aGuns International and eBay?
Thank you from Oregon! Yessir, I have checked those sites, along with Numrich, Sarco Inc.,Jack First, Gun-Parts, and a couple of others. I'm totally up against the wall, so I figured the forum here was my best bet for good suggestions.
 

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I don't know if he will do a New Army, but the forum recommended Colt revolver pistolsmith is Frank Glenn.
His pricing, turnaround time, and quality of work is first rate.........

Frank Glenn-Glenn Custom Complete Gunsmithing Service Glendale AZ

I don't know any Colt-qualified pistolsmiths in the Pacific NW, but you need to be very careful since few of today's general gunsmiths either have the proper tooling, or know the correct procedure to rebarrel a revolver.
It would be a shame to spend money on a barrel only to get the gun back with a bent or cracked frame.

Finding a usable New Army barrel is going to be a matter of just watching and looking at the above sources and waiting for something to pop up.
After you get enough posts, you can post a wanted ad on the forum Classified section and hope someone has something.
 

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Keep checking gunbroker and ebay for parts guns or old colt 38 barrels. I remember finding a military version of what you have with a piece missing from the forcing cone at a Las Vegas gun shop. I pointed it out and they wouldn’t move on the $200 price tag. I believe most likely the timing was off and that caused the crack. I would speculate that firing a standard pressure 38 special in these would not cause a problem and the bullet is undersized. The only 38 special ammo that somewhat works is hollow base wadcutters or if your able to find proper discontinued 38 long colt or 38 short colt ammunition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
... I would speculate that firing a standard pressure 38 special in these would not cause a problem and the bullet is undersized. The only 38 special ammo that somewhat works is hollow base wadcutters or if your able to find proper discontinued 38 long colt or 38 short colt ammunition.
When you say the bullet is undersized, are you talking about the standard .357 circumference of the .38 special round vs. a .38 long Colt? I remember reading that the .38LC was a healed bullet, is that what makes the difference? I don't have a reloading manual yet, I just have used my uncle's as he's teaching me reloading.

Thank you for your reply! Obviously there's a LOT more to learn about this gun than I thought!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

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The .38 Long Colt bullet is a heeled round, like the .22LR bullet and larger in diameter then .38 Special.
For this reason the bore diameter is larger then the standard .357 size of the .38 Special and 357 Magnum.
Accuracy is usually not great due to the size difference in the bullets.
If you reload you can use a larger bullet that fits better.

If you stay with very light loads, you can shoot standard .38 Special in the New Army, but again, accuracy won't be great.
Happily, you can still buy .38 Long Colt brass and even new .38 Long Colt ammunition from the Cowboy ammo makers.

As for a barrel, you might be able to get a usable barrel by buying a junk New Army model complete pistol, as long as the barrel itself is in good shape.
Unless these are in good condition and working, New Army models don't cost a lot.
Another possible option......There are a few Cowboy shooting gunsmiths who specialize on the old period type guns, and a couple are reported to work on the New Army models.
You might get onto the Cowboy shooting sites and find out who they are. It's possible one of them might have a barrel.
They could also do the rebarrel, but wait times will be very slow, and probably expensive.
 
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