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16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First off, thanks to everyone who helped me out with my Python questions (1980 8" nickel)a little while ago.

I just picked up a 4" Trooper #J451XX. Blueing is very good, maybe 95%+. Some slight wear on grips. Lockup is just a frog hair looser than my unfired Python. Single action trigger is nice, but double action seems a tad stiff. Stiffer than my S&W 686.
Is this normal for this pistol? Please tell me all you can bear to about this baby! Age? Value? History? Thanks again!!

16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Thank you dfariswheel!!

A ton of great info! I'll never sell it(keeping it in the family, like the Python) but what do you think is an average value?

Thanks again!

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Just too many variables in gun pricing. Examples:

EXACTLY what is the condition? Bubba's good may be my junk.

Where is it being sold? Colt's sell for high dollars in some areas, less in others.

Does it have an original box?

Has it been tampered with internally?

Does the buyer and/or the seller KNOW it's been tampered with.

Did the seller pay a premium full-list price, and think he'll get his money back?

And last but MOST important, how bad do you want it, and are you willing to pay the money being asked?

The problem is, barring one of those widows selling a new Colt for $30.00, the price can run from $250.00 to $500.00 for one in true excellent shape.
It all depends on the above. Sorry, I can't be more specific.

My best advice is to hit the local book store and take a look at "The Blue Book of Gun Values".
This lists a good "typical" value of guns in their various conditions.
This info is based on average prices brought nation-wide.
The values will be higher or lower, depending on where you live, but will be a good "ball park" price.

[This message has been edited by dfariswheel (edited 11-14-2003).]

535 Posts
What can anyone ad to dfarris' history? I think I'm gonna' sign up under seventeen phoney names and write in questions about every kind of Colt ever made, collect his answers, write a book and retire! Good stuff, ain't it?! My .02 cents worth - I ran across the Trooper Mark III's on the police range when I was a young cop. I had a very old Official Police but I practiced alot. A friend had a new Trooper Mark III. Another guy had a Diamondback and another had what, at the time, I thought was the ugliest gun I'd ever seen - an Officer's Model Match. (That's a .38 revolver - not the new .45 auto version with the same name.) The guy with the Trooper won, easily. I got a weak second, Diamondback qualified but won no praises and the poor bastard with the OMM only qualified because the range officer would throw a few rounds into his target whenever he thought no one would notice. (With a then-new model Detective Special.) The original Trooper is a close cousin to the Official Police and Python. (See dafrriswheel's reply to an earlier question of mine about my Colt .357 non-Python.) The Mk III is the new design. For a time, the Pennsylvania State Police carried them. I've always found them to be quite acceptable guns but not in the same league with the Python for accuracy or appearance. However, I think they are actually a stronger design. Rather like, say, the difference between a really nice Pontiac and a BMW. Prices vary like crazy. In Kansas America, where the coyotes love the hoot owls, they go for about $400 - $500 in nice shape. I've always admired the trigger and hammer shape, thinking they were a nice balance between, "target and service," as on the Python and Official Police. I think the Trooper's kind of caught between the rock and hard place ... it's not up to the Python in mystique, not nearly as smooth as most S&W's for quick 2X work but stronger than either! A neighboring department to us was issued Colt Lawman Mk III's. They all liked them very much. My department issued ancient Official Police's and a few new S&W model 10's with the, then new, heavy barel. (I traded another guy my new S&W for his ancient Colt, of course!)

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Looks like your Trooper is a second year production model, 1970. Should be a really nice one.

The Trooper Mark II will NOT lock up like your Python...Totally different actions.
Heavy DA trigger is also normal.

A brief history of the Trooper Mark III line.

In 1969 Colt finally admitted that they could no longer compete with their old model revolvers.
The old guns like the Trooper, Official Police, Python and Officer's Model Match, simply required too much hand fitting.
Even the "budget" Official Police required a significant amount of highly skilled hand fitting simply to work.

The big cost in gun making is labor charges.
ANY hand work costs money, and the kind of people capable of fitting an old style Colt revolver don't work cheap.
The amount of fitting required ran the cost up above what the market was willing to pay, so something had to change.

So, in '69 Colt discontinued all the mid-frame revolvers except the Python, and introduced a totally new design.

The new series was based on a new "J" frame, and named the Mark III line.
The "J" frame was, as usual for Colt, an industry "first" in many ways.

The new gun was the world's first revolver designed to be "machine fitted" and would require very little expensive hand fitting.

The new series was the first revolver to make use of "sintered steel". This is a process similar to the current "MIM" molded steel process.
In this process, powdered steel mixed with a binder is injected into a mold, and heated until the steel melts and fills the mold.
When the part is removed, you have a nearly finished part.
The sintered parts are given a thin case hardened coating.

The "J" guns were the first revolver in which worn parts could not be re-fitted. Worn parts would simply be replaced with new parts.
The case hardened coating is very thin, and any attempt at stoning or even heavy polishing will break through the coating, ruining the part.

The "J" series were the first modern revolver to use the transfer bar safety/ignition system. This was so effective, every revolver designed since uses Colt's design virtually unchanged.

The first in the series was the Trooper Mark III, followed by a range of revolvers using the same action.
The other guns in this series were:

The Lawman, a fixed sight .357 with a non-shrouded 4" barrel. It was also available in a 2" round butt version, in which the later versions had a shrouded Detective Special-type barrel.

The Metropolitan Police, basically a Lawman but in .38 Special only, and 4" only.

The Official Police Mark III, basically the Metro Police, only with the "skinny" Official Police-type barrel, in 4" 5" and 6".

The Officer's Model Match Mark III, basically a Trooper Mark III in .38 Special, and sold as a target model. Only 500 were made.

Customer complaints about the DA trigger of the "J" guns led Colt to redesign the gun, and the new gun was the "V" frame.
This series was limited to the Trooper Mark V, the Lawman V, and a "budget" flat black version known as The Peacekeeper.

To improve the trigger action, Colt altered the gun to Colt's first "short action", redesigned the mainspring assembly, and altered the frame's butt to a round butt design.
Other, cosmetic changes, included a vented barrel.

Later, Colt again changed the revolver to a new "AA" frame. This gun was known as The King Cobra. This was nothing more than the "V" frame made in stainless steel, and fitted with a heavy shrouded barrel. Later the KC was also available in blue.

The "J" frame is a deceptively simple design, with large, sturdy parts.
Master gunsmith Jerry Kuhnhausen believed the Colt "J", "V", and "AA" frame guns are the strongest mid-frame revolvers ever built, due to Colt's forged frames and cylinders, and Colt's superior heat treating.

About the only "weakness" in this series, is the possibility of a firing pin with too hard a heat treat. If dry fired, there's a possibility a hard firing pin could break, in which case the gun MUST be sent back to Colt for a replacement.
This breakage is not that common, but possible.
Factory-only replacement is due to the fact that replacement requires special factory jigs and support fixtures to remove and re-install the pin, without damaging the frame.

So, to prevent any possible problem, the gun should be dry fired with snap caps in place.

The Trooper Mark III, was available in bright blue, bright nickel, satin electroless nickel, also know for a time as "ColtGuard".

Calibers were .357/.38, 22LR, and 22 Magnum.

Barrel lengths were 4" 6", and later 8".

Early grips were square butt checkered walnut.
Later grips had an odd rounded design with a large round shape to the front of the grip.

Later in production, "hardwood" grips appeared, which were supposed to be used only on the Lawman/Metro guns, but which were also put on the Trooper. These grips have an odd light "orange" color with no figure.

To correct the stiff DA trigger pull, Brownell's sell a lighter spring kit. This includes a lighter mainspring, and a reduced power trigger return spring. Since reduced springs can produce ignition problems, test fire carefully to verify reliability.

The older Colt guns, like the Python, use an action renowned for accuracy. This is due to the design that forces the cylinder into a tightly locked, perfect alignment with the bore, at the instant of firing. This design depends on a action in perfect adjustment to work.

The "J" series uses a system similar to all other revolver designs, in which the cylinder is allowed a slight amount of freedom to rotate at firing. This allows the cylinder to align itself with the bore.
While not as accurate as the Python, the Trooper III is almost always a very accurate revolver, due in part to the quality and rifling twist of Colt's barrels.

The best source of mechanical info on the Trooper Mark series, including how to disassemble for spring replacement, is Jerry Kuhnhausen's book, "The Colt Double Action Revolvers, A Shop Manual: Vol Two".
This should be a part of every Colt Mark series owner's gear.

By the standards of 1969 the Trooper Mark III was a "budget" gun, but by todays standard it would be considered a top of the line deluxe model.

153 Posts
Thank you dfariswheel,

I've only been a Colt collector for 3 months and know little to nothing about them other then owning 3 guns with the Colt name.

You must have spent a lot of time with Colts because that was a lot of good info.


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I'm retired, and finally more or less moved, and I got the time.

Everyone knows old F**ts LOVE to blab, so ask away.
I don't guarantee to be 100% accurate, since I'm not an expert.

16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
DFARISWHEEL and RCWAMBOLD, thank you for your time and expertise! I'm printing your posts for future reference!

RC - "seventeen phoney names" LOL! Great idea!

I bought the TrooperIII from my dad for $200 plus helping him turn his garage into a country store. It belonged to his ex wife's dad, and I dont know anything beyond that. I'm almost certain it's never been tampered with. I know my dad has had it for probably 20 years and MAYBE put 20 rounds through it. Probably less. The blueing is very very good - I'm guessing from what I've read about grading it's above 95%. And I'm very picky. No holster rub. Hammer shows about 50% "rainbow" discoloration(is that from heat treating?) Trigger looks like new, as does the trigger guard. Front sight has a tiny 1/32" nick on top. The grips (original) have only a slight amount of wear. Colt emblems are shiny and show no wear. The bore looks as new. Crown is excellent. Rifling is crisp. Cylinder is the same. Went to clean it last night and ended up only running a patch through. She's CLEAN! No box, and I'm in North Carolina for geographical reference.

Since I got this (and the aforementioned Python) from my Dad, I won't be selling it - just wanted a rough idea of its value for trivia and insurance purposes. Based on both of your opinions I think I did ok.

Thanks again for all your help!! Happy COLTing!
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