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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
Picked up a Colt Army Special DA Revolver today and was wondering if anyone would be kind enough to share some knowledge. It has several proofs that I do not know what they stand for, one is "GSH in a circle above the thumb latch and under the butt beside the lanyard loop is an E and sideways M. It has the NFP proof that I imagine stands for Nitro proof fired. Under the butt beside the lanyard loop is the number 6293. The serial number is 398350, it also has the info on the right side of the barrel .38 1.15" 4 tons. Is it WWI vintage?? Any help greatly appreciated
 

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The Blue Book states they were manufactured from 1908-1927 so it sounds like your revolver could had done time in the British Service during the war. The GSH sounds like a military acceptance mark as do the E and M. The NFP is a British proof stamp as is reference to tons on the barrel. Perhaps someone with more knowledge than me will chime in.

Any chance of good pics? I'd like to see it.
 

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This gun could be one of the approximately 26,000 Army Specials purchased by the Greek Govt. between 1914-17. Your serial # is crca 1914. The butt marking is actually EB,then the sidewards "M".

Does the gun have a 4 1/2" bbl. measured from the front of the cylinder to the muzzle?? These guns originally had wooden grips or stocks,and the above lenght bbl. or 5" when they were shipped to Greece

The gun may have found its way to Britain,hence the proof marks.

What I DON't quite get is the GHS mark in the circle!! He was a U.S. Govt. inspector during World War One,handling production/inspection of our 1917 Model Colt and S&W .45 cal. revolvers. This sounds like the same "mark" that he placed on some of the 1917s.

Just "speculation"-but he MIGHT have handled the inspection of these guns before they left Hartford & went to Greece.

Thats about all I can "speculate" based upon your post,and what info I can quickly lay my hands on. Be interested in knowing the history of this gun

Bud
 

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Fascinating. The serial dates it to 1915. The 4 ton nomenclature is British, the same as they used for Lend-Lease guns in WWII. I have not heard of any Army Specials being used in WWI, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. There are good references for the WWII era, but none I know of for WWI. Another possibility is that it may have been sent to England before the U.S. entered WWII as the NRA had an appeal for Americans to send any usable weapons to Great Britain to defend against the Nazis.

Hope someone else can help you with the proofmarks.

B.W.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Wow,
Thanks for the replys!! The gun is definately a bringback. I purchased it from a gentleman that inherited it from his brothers estate. He said his brother was in Pattons 20th Corp (Ghost Corp). I also purchased a P38 AC no date that is rather rare from him and initially turned down the Colt thinking it was no big thing. I will break out the camera and post some pictures. Also the markings on the butt are definately E and a sideways M. The gun is tight, finish is 50% with scattered light pitting.
Many Thanks!!
 

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The French also bought in excess of 15,000,in the same 4.5" bbl. configuration during World War One,but I doubt if they had the "sidewards M" after the E.

Just for "laughs",these were the only 2 large military orders Colt ever got for the Army Special,but U.S. Police agencies loved them,so around 1926-27,virtually the same gun,with a few "improvements",that went through the majority of Colts line around this time,became the "Official Police",staying in production until 1969.

Ironically,our own military never bought the Army Special,but did buy some Official Polices,then a wartime version called the Commando,during W.W. Two.

The gun MIGHT have been a private buy by a British officer in World War One-but I think their personal weapons had to be .455 caliber in World War One.

Can't wait to see the photos.

Bud
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Wow,
This is kinda wierd. You were right about the GHS inspector. I found the following info on him:

U.S. military issue Model 1917. "GHS" is a U.S. military inspectors mark. The initials stand for Colonel Gilbert H. Stewart, who inspected Smith & Wesson and Colt M1917 .45 Revolvers starting in 1915. Inspector's markings and U.S. property markings are not found on revolvers that were manufactured for the civilian market. M1917 U.S. military issue revolvers should have a lanyard ring on the bottom of the grip frame.

Apparently this firearm was stamped early in his inspector career (first year) and I can find no reference to him stamping Army Specials. Odd bird indeed!!

Sounds like it is time to pay Colt for research and a letter.


Thanks!!
 

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The plain wood stocks on the gun certainly give credence to "my theory" that it is one of those that went to the Greeks. Army Specials had the black,"hard rubber" stylized "C" Colt stocks,as shipped to "civilians",except for some special orders with the finely checkered stocks normally found on the Officer Target models.

Barrel length looks to be the correct length,for these guns as described in the "bible" of Colt collecting(but not "infallible!),the Wilson and Sutherland book. They do mention a "B" between the E and sidewards M on the butt.

You really have a piece of history there,and it just goes to show that there are still rare guns out there that are still to be found!! "IF only the gun could talk",has probably been overused,but this Colt would have some tales for the 30 years before the Patton Corps vet got hold of it! Might well have ended its military career with a German who got it in Greece during the occupation in W.W. II. Handguns were in great demand by the occupying troops.

Greece was still in the British political "sphere of influence" in World War One,and this could explain the proof marks,but the "GHS" mark is baffling! I have several World War One .455 Colts and Smiths used by the Brits(including Canada) and "0" have any U.S.inspector marks!

Bud /forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif
 

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waffenwerk:
First, you need to size your photos for webpage use.
Second, the stamps are British commercial proofs, which suggest that the revolver at one time was sold on the British commercial market.
NP is nitro proof, but I find no reference anywhere to an F stamp.
In 1941 the British Purchasing Commission bought 50,000 Official Police revolvers in .38/200 (.38 S&W) from Colt, but as has been pointed out, the name had been changed to OP in 1927.
 

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FWIW - The limited BB proof marks section shows an Austrian NPF proof with the F being the Ferlach proof house. Not saying Austrian, just a thought direction for the additional letter. The "sideways M" would appear to be a Greek Sigma. /forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif
 

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I agree with A1A about the Greek Sigma symbol. That was my first impression upon seeing it, and the suggested Greek connection would support that conclusion.

The inspector stamp is puzzling. I can imagine some situations where it could have happened, but they do not seem very logical.

A factory letter is needed.
 

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ok i`ll put in my .02, the frame has to be part of the greek purchase. the brit`s however were very fond of punching proof all over a gun and britsh law required each chamber to be proofed, the cyl is not so proofed. the bbl has likely been replaced sometime after the war with a surplus {reclaimed from a destroyed gun} brit bbl.i cant explain the inspector mark but to me it doesn`t look like u.s. military mark.
 

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icdux; this "GHS" in a circle IS the mark of Lt. Col. Gilbert H. Stewart,who inspected at BOTH Colt and S&W and was for a while head of Springfield Armory. Interstingly,he was inspecting at both Colt and S&W when that Army Special was made,at least according to Pate's book. Many photos of his "mark" in Pate's book on Secondary Handguns of W.W. II.

I also own a very early S&W 1917,with the dished grips and grooved hammer sides,and it has the identical GHS mark in the same place; upper left hand corner by hammer.It is a Govt. mark,but how in ended up in a gun going to the Greeks,before we were "officially" in W.W. One,adds mystery to this gun!

Bud
 

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bud, i dont own pate`s book, so i will concede to your opinion.i dont have a clue how to explain it.sure looks like a parts gun to me, check out the pry marks on the side plate just below the ghs mark. still an interesting gun.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hi,
Just got back from the family get together and read the string. I can definetely dispel the parts gun theory. There are british proofs on the frame and cylinder! I just took the gun apart!! The side plate has the same serial number stamped on the inside as the frame does as well as the inside of the crane, all match the serial number in the frame in the crane recess. I thought the barrel replacement would be a possibility until I found the British proof marks between the cylinder stop notches at the rear of cylinder between every chamber (looks like a crown with line under it and a P under the line). This same proof mark is located on the right side of the frame slightly above the front hook of the triggerguard. The proofs are small and easily overlooked as they are only 4mm high and 2.2mm wide and are shallow. Also there is a H stamped under the barrel, above the serial number in the crane recess on the frame, also on the rear face of the cylinder. The marks on the side plate appears to have maybe occured when the side plate became loose and potruded above the frame and became dinged somehow because there are no tool marks on the inside edege of the frame. I will be happy to post photos of the same if someone will let me know how to cut the size of the photos down, I use photobucket for photo storage. I did not mean to cause problems with oversize photos and will correct it as soon as I figure it out.

Many Thanks!!
 

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You can resize them within photobucket, although I have always done it before. Select Edit for the pic and select a resize percentage. /forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif
 

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Hi,
Got the photos resized. Thanks!!
Here are the other photos of the British proofs on the frame and cylinder and of the SN's.
Will call Colt today if they are open and check on aquiring a letter.











Thanks for all the imput!! Had no idea to look for the small British proofs on every chamber and frame untill a poster pointed this out.

Initially was wondering if the gun was used in WWI. Had no idea it would have USA Inspectors mark with British Proof Marks on the frame, Barrel and Cylinder and a Sigma M, possibly headed for the Greeks!

Now, instead of finding out the answer to one question I have three questions to ask Colt.

Many Thanks!!
 

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Hi Waffenwerks,
This is a most interesting thread! Let me present a possible scenerio on your Colt that accounts for all of the markings on it.

First off your gun is definitely one of the Greek contract revolvers... all of them had the Sigma on the butt and the lanyard loop. A number of them made it back to the US after WW I and before WW II. If you look around, you can still find them from time to time.

Note the four digit number on the butt to the right of the lanyard loop in your photo. This is the same style number that is found on a number of Colt Official Police revolvers that were procured from the American market by the British Purchasing commission during 1939 and 1940. These guns received British proofs (the small marks in the cylinder flutes and the two marks on the barrel). Because of lend lease, several contracts for the Official police and the S&W pre-Victory Models that fell in the 800xxx to 999xxx were US Ordnance proofed and inspected.

Some of the civilian procured guns also were inspected and accepted by Army Ordnance personnel. Col. Gilbert H. Stewart (GHS) was assigned to the Springfield Armory between September 13, 1938 and June 10, 1942. These guns were accepted at Springfield during this time frame. The NP proof, (Check to see if the NFP you mentioned is just "tool chatter" and the "F" is just a misstamped second "P") along with the 4 tonnes marking are typical POST WW II release markings by the British. (See .380 No. 2 Revolver - Ian Skennerton)

I think your gun was a Greek contract revolver that made it back to the US between the wars. It was donated to or bought by tthe Bristish purchasing commission and was accepted by GHS at the Springfield armory during the Blitz. You gun was released by the British and re-imported into the US in the early 1950s (Tonne Markings).

My table partner bought one at the Reno show last week that has all of the features of yours except it was NOT a Greek contract gun first.

Tell me ... Is your guns chambers bored to accept the British 38-200 round? (38 S&W in US terms) ?

All of the above is documented in the official Army records on Springfield Armory and in Charlie Pate's book.Colt can give you the official info on the Greek contract ... Hope that helps. Bob Best
 
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