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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have just obtained two Colt D.A. 38 revolvers from auction that were both described as 1896 models. The first has ' US ARMY MODEL 1896' marked on the butt strap, along with various R.A.C. inspector marks on the frame, cylinder face,grip bottom, and a R.A.C. cartouche on RHS grip. The LHS grip has what appears to be a 1901 J.G.B.cartouche. Interestingly the rhs frame has an Australian Service acceptance mark( The post 1911 D-Broad Arrow-D ).It barrel is 6 inched long
Both revolver are marked 'COLTS PT F A MFG CO.HARTFORD CT. U S A. PAT AUG5 84NOV6 88 MAR5 95' on the top of the barrel. The serial Number is 143XXX.


The second revolver I picked up, also described as 1896 Model, appears to be a civilian model with no issue markings. It has hard rubber grips and a Rearing Colt in circle stamped above the lhs grip.It has 4.5 inch barrel.It has a knurled ejector rod knob, whilst the "Army" marked example's is plain.The knurling on the cylinder release is also different as the"Army" example is knurled within a plain edged border, but this one is knurled across the entire rear piece with no plain border. The cylinder stop recesses are also longer on the"Army" marked example.
The serial number for this revolver is 244XXX.

Any information that would distinguish these models would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Craig
 

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Hi Gun Mad Dad,
The Army Contract Model of 1896 revolvers were all built on the Colt "New Army Model of 1894" model frames. The Army placed two orders for the Army contract "Model of 1896" that totaled 9500 guns. It is thought that the Army changed to the "Model of 1896" designation from the "Model of 1894" designation as they were being funded from money designated to rearm the various State Militia units after the Spanish American war.The two contract orders were placed on August 3 and December 29, 1899. The cartouche on the grips appears to be "J.T.T." not "JGB"... JTT was the acceptance initials used by John T Thompson of the Thompson sub-machinegun fame. The "1901" indicates the acceptance date, so the grips would not be original to this gun, since it was delivered in late 1899 or early 1900...
The Army and Navy contract models had a long history ... 19000+ were refurbished for WWI at Remington in 1917 and 1918. They were used by the Navy and a Number went to the Coast Guard. Then in 1940 England was given a lot of these revolvers as lend lease... Yours was most likely one of them as it has the "D broad arrow D" marking...

The civilian model you have in the 244xxx serial number range was named "New Model Army" by Colt not "Model 1896" ... that is a collector's name...It has the "Rampant Colt" style grips which Colt used to designate "New Army Model" guns as opposed to the "New Navy Model" guns which had the word "COLT" in an oval at the top of the grip.

Hope that helps! Bob Best
 

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D/Arrow/D is an Australian property stamp. How this old timer got there is anyone's guess. There are no records I can find in Pate that show British Purchasing Commission (pre-Lend-Lease) orders for this revolver.
JT
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Bob and Jacobtowne, thank you both for your informative replies. Bob just a clarification on the authenticity of the grips. I checked my serial number at the proofhouse.com site and the revolver appears to manufactured sometime in 1900.Perhaps a 1901 acceptance date would therefore be possible?

Unfortunately I can't get a photo of the acceptance mark,as my camera doesn't have the focal length, but the acceptance stamp really doesn't look like J.T.T but maybe even J.E.B (It really is difficult to make out the stylised script).
Both grips are also stamped at the base with the R.A.C. marking if this helps.

Either way thank you both for taking the trouble to respond. I am all the more knowledgable for you efforts.

Thanks Craig
 

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I had a refinished M-1901 a while back. It was stamped RAC on the frame in the usual place and, I believe, LEB just above the grips. Perhaps your cartouche is LEB?
 

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Hi Gun Mad Dad,

You wrote:

"I checked my serial number at the proofhouse.com site and the revolver appears to manufactured sometime in 1900.Perhaps a 1901 acceptance date would therefore be possible?"

The only two army contract dates for the Model of 1896 revolvers was the ones I gave you above. The information I have came from the Army Annual Reports in the National Archives, and I had the opportunity to visit Colt and do research in the shipping records for my book on these guns... The shipping records at Colt also confirm the two contract dates given above...

As for the cartouche on the grip. It was hard to see in the photo (it looked like it might be JTT from what I could tell). If it is J.E.H., then it would be Captain Jay E. Hoffer as the accepting officer... I have not located any record of Captain Hoffer accepting Model of 1896 contract revolvers... Just my humble opinion... Bob Best
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks Zulu6 and Coltdaguy, I'm thinking L.E.B is the most likely cartouche. Again thanks very much for the help. Its such fun trying to work out the history of such firearms.

Thanks Craig
 

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Here is my 1901.
 

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Hi Gun Mad Dad,
I don't think LEB would be your best choice for the cartouche on the grips of your revolver! LEB was Captain Leroy E. Briggs who was a Reserve Ordnance Officer that was assigned to Remington during the 1917 period when Remington was contracted to refurbish the early Colt DA .38 caliber revolvers for WW I use... He placed his L.E.B. in the metal on the left side of the frame which was standard practice in 1917. The Army changed from putting a Cartouche on the Grip to stamping the accepting officer's initials on the left side of the frame in 1902. Briggs was just a kid then... Also, the Army listed the Officers assigned to accept various firearms contracts in their Annual Reports... these reports are on file at the National Archives and a few other locations... In the 1900 period you had John T. Thompson (J.T.T.) and Jay E. Hoffer (J.E.H.) and Odus C. Horney (O.C.H.) assigned and Ranaldo A. Carr (R.A.C.) (a civilian sub-inspector who accepted a few guns during a brief period) ... there wasn't anyone else... The script letters are hard to read unless you are really familiar with them... so it makes it difficult to decipher the letters... Check the annual reports and you can verify this ... Your inspector's cartouche is either JTT or JEH ... it was hard to see the cartouche well in your photo... Most likely it is JEH... Bob Best
 
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