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Colt new service question

1101 Views 9 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  up196
After playing around wit Colt Detective Specials for many years I have now gotten into the Colt New Service (imagine that) and wanted to ask a question from you guys. The cylinder release on the new Service seems to come in two styles an L shame and a knob like the official police and DS the year does not seem to matter I have seen both styles on pre war and on the last batch that Colt made. Is one style military and the other civilian? or just what was on hand at the time I thought the older ones had the L shape and the newer ones the knob but looking at different years has me wondering. Thanks for the help
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As far as I have noticed, the "L" shaped Cylinder Release was used on all the Colt Swing-Out-Cylinder DA Models originally...then, was replaced by the Checked 'Knob'...finally, replaced by the smooth Knob.

I never have known just when the transition from the "L" to the Checked Knob was, but, someone else here will let us know I hope!

Too, the transition time appears to have varied according to Model, as for when it was, the change for the New Service for example, seems to have happened much later, than the change for the Police Positive and Police Positive Special.

The Army Special I think was Checked Knob from the get-go ( 1908? )
I think on the Colt New Service the round checkered cylinder release was phased in about 1928. This does not apply to the 1917 Civilians which were parts clean-up guns and were shipped in 1932 with the square L-shape cylinder release.
also, the shooting master had a round smooth release.
Of course, every once in a while, one will see a New Service which has had the Cylinder Release replaced, with one which is the 'other' style.

My "Hacksaw Chopper" m1917 Colt, ( cut down many years ago, long before I got it ) has the later Cylinder Release on it and did when I got it. I obtained the correct early style, but, I have not installed it yet.
I believe that there was some Mix-and-Match at the very end of the New Service's production, so a few late frames got earlier parts, just because that was what was available. In my experience, late genuine NSs with the old "L-shaped" latch are uncommon, tho.

More common to have an earlier frame with the round, checkered, or round, smooth latch. Some of those were guns sent in to Colt for rebuild/refinishing (my .44-40 Old Model was one of those; has round, checkered latch from rebuild in the 1920s).

And lots of really beat-up NSs (often 1917s or .455s) got rebuilt with the newer parts Colt sold to Hudson Guns in the 1950s. I am guilty of some of that--found non-functional British .455s and rebarreled, recylindered, etc to get 'em shooting again. Easy to do with the NS and made into very shootable guns. Most of the ones (about 5) that I did were made into .44 Spls. with genyoowine Colt barrels and cylinders marked ".44 S&W Russian and Special". One was a 4 1/2" .38-40 (OWWW--we didn't know about ear plugs in them days....)

Very easy to tell these rebuilds (I've found others done by other people, too) by their serials and the mixed features. Often they have two-tone bluing, too--the cylinders and barrels don't match the frames.

Hudson may have done some rebuilding on their own, using beat up NSs from the trade, or possibly unfinished 1917 frames they got with the rest of the parts from Colt. Anybody know about that?
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Hudson may have done some rebuilding on their own, using beat up NSs from the trade, or possibly unfinished 1917 frames they got with the rest of the parts from Colt. Anybody know about that?
I don't know about Hudson doing any actual rebuilding. Colt did shipped a bunch of parts cleanup New Service revolvers to Hudson Sporting Goods in the early to mid 1930s. Some of these revolvers were the Civilian 1917s and others were chambered in .44/40, .45 Colt, .38/40. These were sold quite bit cheaper than Commercial New Service revolvers which was probably a good marketing move give the economic conditions of the Great Depression. These guns are discussed in Bob Murphy's short book on the Colt New Service Revolvers.
I got the New Service book in the mail yesterday as soon as I get done reading hopefully I'll have the answer to the question. Just looking at the pictures the books looks great
I think the change to the rounded latch occurred, in the New Service (other models already had the rounded latch), around the time the contour of the topstrap changed from the rounded, arched contour to the flattened, matted contour, a change which occurred (for the topstraps) across all the Colt's DA revolver lines concurrent with the addition of the 1926 patent date. The topstrap contour change was also a key step in the evolution of the Army Special into the Official Police.
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