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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Late(?) and \"strange\" O.Police Mk.III

Picked up a 98% Mark III O.P. today. Has a 4"bbl.-BUT it is the heavy barrel,as found on the Lawman Mk.III and the Metroplitan. Has the lower sight,and the "step" for ejector rod head to clear. Weighs 36 oz. on my postal scale,same as the above mentioned 2 guns. Friend has a 4" Mk.III,with regular bbl. and his only weighs 34 oz.

Yes the gun is marked OFFICIAL POLICE MK III,and below it
* .38 SPECIAL CTG. *

The serial number does NOT have a J,and is 3698x U, which puts it later than my ending 1978 list of serials. Official Police Mk. III was listed last around 1975,IIRC. Cylinder stamped 38 SP in rear,by ejector.

Stocks,are gold medallion target,but with the rounded front and back corners by the butt,as I've seen on some Trooper Mk. IIIs.They even had the last 3 serial #s on the inside of each. I am thinking "parts cleanup"???

Serial# is same on crane,frame and inside sideplate.(of course I had to give it a cleaning and lube,despite it showing little use-but not cleaned either!).

Having been very unhappy with a 4" Mk.III Trooper in .22 lr. than I once owned,and a Lawman snub,that had a hammer push off,I vowed never to get another "J Frame"(not even S&W J frames-but thats another story!). This gun just called out to me,with its nice fit and finish. If no snow/rain tomorrow, and potential buyer for a couple of my SAAs doesn't show up,I will take it "out back" to my range and see which one of my .38 +P reloads it prefers.

Any "ideas" or "facts" would be appreciated as to its "pedigree".

Thanks,
Bud /forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif
 

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Re: Late(?) and \"strange\" O.Police Mk.III

That IS weird.
Basically a heavy barreled .38 Special Mark III "J" frame is a Colt Metropolitan Police.

3698x U was made in 1982.
That year the "U" series numbers started at 31290U, and went to an unknown number.
1983 started at 15398V.

The rounded butt grips were a feature of the late Mark III guns.

Unless it was an over run for some police purchase where they demanded the "Official Police" marking instead of the "Metro Police" marking, I have no idea why they'd do this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Re: Late(?) and \"strange\" O.Police Mk.III

Thanks,dfariswheel. My books "stop" at 1978,as I usually buy just older Colts.

The Metropolitan,of which I have seen "2" in real life,was catalogued from 1969-72,and the Official Police Mk.III, from 69'-75'-so this gun of mine was made 7 years after that!

There are NO markings,as to an police dept., anywhere inside or outside the gun. Trigger is smooth,but hammer is target type and nicely case hardened. Backstrap is grooved,and I don't know if this was "standard" for fixed sighted Mk. IIIs or not?

My "guess" is on the same line as yours: That it was built for those agencies who did NOT want the .357 Magnum chambering.as in the Lawman Mk.III. Even then "P.C." and lawsuits about overpenetration,were in vogue. S&W specially chambered some of their .357 magnum revolvers,like those for the CHPs. and some 581's and 586's for the Transit Police and Conrail cops in .38 Special.

Who knows,maybe it was a prototype for the NYPD etc. who were "restricted" to .38 Specials by department policy and "political correctness".

One "gunsmithing" question; When I disassembled it,using an illustrated book by J.B. Wood(I hadn't touched a Mk.III action in over a decade!) the photos showed a small coil spring that fits over the front arm of the trigger return spring. This gun did NOT have one,and in looking over,illustrated Mk.III "parts lists",NO coil spring there is shown,or listed.

Any idea what it is for,or was for! Wood is using a regular Trooper Mk.III for his step by step photos. Gun functions fine without it,before and after my cleaning and light lube. Wonder if it has something to do with what appears an "allen" or set screw in the trigger underside??

Thanks again,

Bud
 

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Re: Late(?) and \"strange\" O.Police Mk.III

There's a misunderstanding here.

I'm NOT talking about the 2" or 4" Colt LAWMAN.
There was also a Colt "Metropolitan Police" model.

This is a fixed sight "J" frame Mark III revolver that looks just like the Lawman 4", but which came only in .38 Special.

It has the Lawman heavy barrel, and is really just a .38 Special-only Lawman, for departments that didn't use the .357 Magnum.

That's why I find the heavy barreled Official Police Mark III to be really weird.

Why would Colt basically mark a Metropolitan Police as an Official Police Mark III??????
The Metropolitan Police was a heavy-barreled revolver, and the hallmark of the Official Police since the early 1900's was the skinny OP barrel.

I would think that someone wanting a heavy barrel, .38 Special Mark III would just buy the Metro Police.

As for the tiny coil spring on the trigger return torsion spring:
This was a trigger return spring "guide".

This is the same spring as a crane lock spring.
That's the spring that fits under the cylinder retention cap screw on the right side of the frame.

This "guide" spring helped prevent the trigger return torsion spring from dragging on the frame wall.
As the trigger return spring sweeps up and down, the guide rolls across the frame, reducing friction.

Strangely, this spring wasn't always used.
I've seen the SAME model of guns both with, and without it, and there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to whether a gun had it or not, other than possibly the year produced.

I've seen the guide on all the later Colt's from the Mark III to the V, to the King Cobra.

I have a 1972 .357 Trooper Mark III with the guide, a 1979 .22 Trooper Mark III without it.

Recently, an old customer asked me to check out his late father's Trooper Mark V, and it was without.

I repaired a relatives 6" King Cobra a few years ago, and it was WITH the guide.

Even more strangely, the Colt exploded views also vary.
Some schematics show the guide on the King Cobra and on the Mark V, but NOT on the Mark III guns.
Recent Colt drawings do not show it on the King Cobra or Anaconda.

It seems as though Colt used the guide whenever they felt like it.

If your gun has it, use it.
If it doesn't, it likely isn't needed.

The Allen set screw in the bottom of the trigger is a trigger stop screw.
This was set and Loctited at the factory to regulate trigger over-travel.

I do NOT recommend changing the adjustment since if you set it too close, it can cause the hammer to drag on the sear, or even fail to release.

This really wasn't intended to be used by the owner to adjust the trigger, it was simply an easy way for the factory to adjust the action without all the hand fitting required on the older action guns.
 

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Re: Late(?) and \"strange\" O.Police Mk.III

I think a lot of odd things were happening at Colt in the 1970s and 1980s. I have a Metropolitan with a serial that seems to indicate a manufacture date of 1975 but these supposedly were made only until 1972. They may have been using up various parts on hand to assemble guns as they disappeared from the catalog or perhaps they were filling special police orders for strange combinations? Maybe lonewolf's gun was built using a Metro barrel because that's what they had on hand at the time or perhaps some small PD ordered a batch of guns and wanted the heavy barrel on the OP model. These are the sorts of things that keep collectors guessing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Re: Late(?) and \"strange\" O.Police Mk.III

Thanks, Saxon Pig. That's the major reason why I bought the gun,as it is "strange" or weird!

This would NOT be the first era that Colt had a "parts clean up" and/or built some uncatalogued guns.

The strangest thing about it is the Official Police markings on the bull barrel,as found on the Metropolitan,or Lawman(yes dfaris,I know the differences and listed production dates ot the O.P Mk.III,Metropolitan,and Lawman,

and what you were talking about!!-no "misunderstanding",except on your part!).

Friend brought his "regular" 4" Mk.III Official Police today(made in 1970) and markings are identical on the 2 barrels,despite the larger diameter on mine.. His has the regular issue "service stocks.

Despite the 20 degree temp and wind,which made it feel like ZERO,we had a shoot off in my backyard range! The bull barrel makes my new Official Police a good pointer and recoil with some 158 gr. lead handloads in the 925-950fps. range is less than his,and "recovery" is quicker.

Bud /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
 

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Re: Late(?) and \"strange\" O.Police Mk.III

I suspect "factory error" as the explanation for this revolver's markings. I once had a Third Model Targetsman (it had the standard adjustable sights) with the slide stamped "Huntsman." It lettered as a Targetsman.

The type of error is also found on Smith & Wesson revolvers with mismarked model numbers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Re: Late(?) and \"strange\" O.Police Mk.III

No Judge, no "factory error". Reading the entire post,you would see that the gun has a 38 special marked cylinder and "roll markings" on the bull barrel,for an Official Police Mk.III.

It was also made(1982) well after the Official Police Mk. III was discontinued,at least in the catalogs(1975). The Metropolitan,which was the heavy bbl. in .38 Special,and so roll marked,was only catalogued,69'-72'.

This seems like a gun that was built as a parts cleanup(Colt must have "found' some unmarked heavy 4" bull bbls. that could be use on any fixed sighted J frame,including the Lawman, and built it on a gun with a .38 Spec. cylinder and roll marked it as an Official Police.

Or,it was an "overun" from an order from an agency that ONLY would allow guns chambered in .38 Special-NOT- .357 Magnum. S&W did this to numerous models,that were catalogued" as .357 for those P.D.s and agencies(such as the Conrail freight railroad) that caved into "P.C." and/or were afraid of lawsuits from overpenetration by the .357 rounds.

Saxon Pig seems to feel the same way.

Most of these Smiths are catalogued in the Supica and Nahas "SCSW" book. Colt collectors desparately need a similiar book,that is updated and covers rarer variations.

But sadly,most of the "powerful" Colt Collectors are well enough off to collect SAA's,1911's and percussion types,that have many books about them.

Its time for us "working Colt Collectors" to have a comprehensive study of D.A.s,including "recent production",that would have the same excellent format of the SCSW(Standard Catalog of Smith and Wesson),which is coming out in its THIRD UPDATED edition!

Bud /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif
 

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Re: Late(?) and \"strange\" O.Police Mk.III

[ QUOTE ]
Its time for us "working Colt Collectors" to have a comprehensive study of D.A.s,including "recent production",that would have the same excellent format of the SCSW(Standard Catalog of Smith and Wesson),which is coming out in its THIRD UPDATED edition!

[/ QUOTE ]

Amen, brother!
 

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Re: Late(?) and \"strange\" O.Police Mk.III

I still believe it could be factory error, although parts cleanup may be a better explanation. Why not get a letter and see what it shows?

I do not put so much faith in the serial number range due to personal experience. I have a 2-inch Police Positive Special serial numbered in the 1928 range, but delivered in 1926. I have an Officers Model Match .22 WMR delivered in 1959, but the OMM .22 WMR model was not catalogued until 1961. On Page 399 of TBOCF is .22 Trooper Number 69640 shipped in March 1955. The 69000 range shows on the charts at 1968. An "advanced" Colt collector once told me that when Colt was going to make something unusual or special, for reasons unknown, Colt would select a serial number far out of the current range and use it for the special gun. Based on these examples, the serial number range may not be closely related to the shipping date.

Let us know what the letter says.
 
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