Colt Forum banner

1 - 20 of 34 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
12,527 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
001.JPG

002.JPG

003.JPG


I bought this gun from an antique & firearms shop, via Gunbroker, in September, 2011. I had no reason to place any particular emphasis on it other than its being a well-kept, ‘first year’ separate series, Officer’s Model Target .22. It is Serial #508, made in 1930.

I briefly listed it for sale a couple months back, here in our classifieds. But shortly thereafter, with no activity, I withdrew its listing and instead ordered a Colt Archive Letter on it.
I recently received the letter and it indicates that #508 was first owned by, then U.S. Army Major, Julian Hatcher.


Colt’s Archive Letter:


Julian Sommerville Hatcher was born in Hayfield, Virginia on June 26, 1888. He died December 4, 1963. Major Hatcher was well known as a firearms expert and writer of books on ballistics, military weapons and automatic weaponry. He authored, among other publications, “Hatcher’s Notebook” (1947), “Book of the Garand” (1948), “Pistols and Revolvers and Their Use” (1927) and the “Hatcher’s Scale” (probably the first attempt at determining stopping power of handgun rounds by a formulation system; developed in the 1930’s.)

Hatcher's Theory Of Relative Stopping Power

As a writer, Major Hatcher accounted for 23 works in 112 publications in 1 language and 1,093 library holdings. He served in the military during both WWI and WWII. He retired from the U.S. Army as a Major General and served as Technical Editor of NRA’s magazine, “The American Rifleman”. He appeared on the cover of the December 1954 issue of that magazine. (See the first photo, above)

Ironically, he graduated, in 1909, from Annapolis’ Naval Academy with honors, but voluntarily transferred from the Navy, after 14 months, to the Army’s coast artillery. He became Chief of the Small Arms Division in the Ordnance Department and the Assistant Commandant of the Ordnance School.

Proficient with long arms and handguns alike, he worked closely with Springfield Armory as an engineering trouble-shooter in resolving early production issues associated with the initial iterations of the M1 Garand Rifle. He appeared (see below), in an ad for Colt and specifically the Colt Officer’s Model Target .22. Looking at the timeline of the Archive Letter and Major Hatcher’s June 2, 1930 letter to Colt’s, reproduced in the ad, it’s quite evident that the gun he references was this one, the #508 Officer’s Model Target.


Earlier history on Lt. Hatcher, that I found on the internet, disclosed that in 1916, the Hotchkiss M1909 Benét-Mercié machine gun was in general use with the U.S. Army and was seeing action during the Punitive Expedition against the bandit Pancho Villa. But reports of its use in Mexico indicated the gun was not functioning properly. Investigation revealed that the chief problems were the 30-round metallic feed strips used in the gun and inexperienced gunners. It was Lieutenant Hatcher who was sent to the border to solve the problems. He found that none of the soldiers had been taught the proper use of the weapon. He set up the Army's first machine gun school and was soon turning out trained crews. Soon, the Benét-Mercié proved to be an effective weapon.

Major Hatcher was later instrumental in developing a solution to the vexing problem of brittle metal in early M1903 receivers built by Springfield and Rock Island Arsenals. His solution to the "grenading" of receivers when shell cases failed catastrophically was to drill a gas vent hole in the left side of the receiver adjacent to the breech. This hole would allow gases escaping from a ruptured case to be exhausted safely and away from the face of the shooter. Dubbed the "Hatcher Hole", the modification was typically added to receivers at overhaul.

He was the first Commanding General of the Ordnance Training Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground – from January 1, 1940 to June 1, 1942 – and was Chief of the Military Training Division, Office of the Chief of Ordnance, from June 2, 1942 to February 1, 1943. From February 2, 1943 to July 31, 1945, General Hatcher was Chief of Field Service, Ordnance Department, the most critical years of World War II.

From what I was able to research, Major General Hatcher kept this Colt Officer's Target revolver, and the balance of his firearms collection, until his death in 1963. At some point after about 1949, the series became the “Officer’s Model Special” and was subsequently offered with a Wide Hammer Spur. Apparently, the Major General liked the new feature so well that he incorporated a new wide spur hammer into #508’s frame. A superb installation job, it functions flawlessly.


Julian Sommerville Hatcher is buried at Arlington National Cemetery:


My Archive Letter and succeeding research on the Major has been a fun and rewarding journey. And I sincerely want to thank Paul Szymaszek, of the Colt’s Archive Department for his gracious guidance on the Colt Officer’s Target #508.
 

·
The Consummate Collector
Joined
·
7,190 Posts
Tony. That is terrific and I am glad that you decided to letter it. One never knows what might just show up and now you have a nice piece of history. Great layout and photo's that you did for display. I wish I had bought it for my Officers Model display when you had it for sale.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
408 Posts
Thanks for an interesting and informative posting...my kinda stuff sir!!!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Colt-SL

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,852 Posts
Incredible news. That's something the NRA would probably love to have in its museum.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Colt-SL

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,174 Posts
This is like an add for archives. Paul had done the same for me with more than one but closest example to this would be an Officer’s model that I got at a good price in very good shape with high quality custom stocks and original stocks also, boxed etc. This one Paul let me know was shipped directly to A.M. Stanwix a world champion pistol shooter in the 30’s, Appearently Fitz’s best friend “makes me think Fitz did the stocks and though not listed the action is kinglike sweet so I think he may have went over that too” and like the guy in your letter he was referenced by colt marketing and was the only person known to have an engraved fitz special. That fitz is listed in Colts books of engraving and in the pic it is from Fitz and says to my friend A.M. Stanwix engraved onto it. So cool when you get a letter like that.
Soo, is it still for sale for what you had it up for a couple months back lol. I bet you will have some takers now even adding in the extra cost of the letter ;) Paul and the archives dept. can really make what appears to be a common Colt into something special when they do their work and give you info like you got. They do great stuff there and I certainly appreciate it and always so polite and nice to work with. Congrats, excellent officers and letter/story, research and write up. Nice job and good for you.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
12,527 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Congratulations on the great letter! I sorta know how you feel...



Thought they'd look good together. :)
Very cool Scott! Thanks for including this!

The Major General sure knew his pistols & revolvers. He mentions, in his, "Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers" shooting the 1911 and Officer's Model Target and their accuracy.

And apparently even Elmer Keith took notice of the status of the Major General as one of the "greatest authorities on pistols and revolvers in the world." Here's that caption in Elmer's book, "Sixguns by Keith". (Is that a S&W he's shooting?)

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,169 Posts
Awesome history.

That's why you gotta love the pre-war2 stuff.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Colt-SL

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,101 Posts
Getting archive letters is like playing the lottery you may hit the jackpot!

Jim
 
  • Like
Reactions: Colt-SL

·
Registered
Joined
·
195 Posts
I noticed on the letter where it reads: "Charged To:", then shows "Arms Selling Expense", which I take to mean they were shipped to Julian Hatcher at zero expense to him, as in free handgun. S&W also done this for a number of yrs. I have documentation copied from a USRA Olympic report in which it showed all the handguns they used that yr. were supplied by S&W and Colt, it was 1920. I believe Colt supplied prototypes of the Camp Perry single shot .22lr for the pistol competitions [S&W supplied their 3rd model Perfected single shots] as it tells of the Brazilian team was loaned a Colt .22lr after their pistol broke [I take it they had been sharing one pistol], as well as given U.S. made ammo by A P Lane, resulting in one of them shooting their way into 2nd place in the individual competition. The man who wrote it was the USRA President & four time Captain of the U. S. Olympic pistol & revolver teams, Dr. R H Sayre, who was unable to attend the games & sent a Col. Snyder as captain in his place there. I own a S&W 1st model of 91 single shot .22 which was shipped to Dr. R H Sayre and a /roy Jinks letter to that affect, which was later modified for indoor range shooting by H M Pope for the doctor with sleeve in 22 short and the barrel is stamped H M Pope with a Pope serial number dating to about 1909. Roy Jinks confirmed that S&W sent free handguns to the top shooters back in the day.
 
1 - 20 of 34 Posts
Top