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Discussion Starter #1
Picked up this 98% nickel 4" barrel Colt 357 yesterday. Serial #22,7XX, made in 1960. I am tickled pink with its condition.

It probably has been fired, but I forgive them for that, as we may shoot it ourselves.

Here are some pics.







 

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Very pretty. I picked one up last week at a gun show here in texas with the box. It was a Lawman Mk III though, but the nickel is perfect except that some one turned the cylinder.

Mark
 

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Yep,,it's been fired.The rings on the cylinder give it away.It sure looks good for a 1960 vintage nickel gun.Hope you know how to take care of it.Lots of hassel in shooting nickel guns.They take twice as long to clean for me,,,but anything worth haveing is worth the extra effort.
 

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Robba, I find the stocks interesting. I also have a nickeled M357 and I've been told that the stocks on my gun are not original. I've seen 3 M357's in nickel and all of them have the same stocks as we do on our guns.

Standard for the M357 is a full checkered stock. Can anyone explain why Colt went with a different stock on the nickel guns?
 

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Robba - Beautiful pistol. I am very jealous.

I don't think they went to a different stock just for the .357. I think it was the overall change to the target stocks including the Python around 1960:

Quote from dfariswheel:

"By the time of your 1960 model (.357), the fully checkered grips had been replaced by the Second type Target grips with the "thumb rest" on the left grip, and the checkering ending in a semi-circle under the medallions."

Addicted: What mfg year is your nickel .357? Maybe the .357 nickel was only offered during the last two years of production which would explain why they all have the semi-circle checkering.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
First of all thanks for the kind words. It is a pretty gun, and we are fortunate to have found it in the condition it's in.

We have a fairly modest gun buy budget, and when you buy off an auction with a cashiers check, you accept a certain element of risk. This revolver was exactly as presented by the buyer, and they are his pics. I am surprised it was not seen by more people, and bid up higher.

The stocks are definitely original. We are trying to come up with how many nickel 357's were made. I know Addicted has one. The nickel's seem to be different than the blue, and almost their own model. Does anyone have any idea as to how many were made?

My son seems to think these were a production overrun at the end of a police order? What do you think?
 

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[ QUOTE ]
The nickel's seem to be different than the blue, and almost their own model.

[/ QUOTE ]

I am interested in what you mean more specifically by this.
 

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I believe Robba means to say "they may be a special run within the M357 model".
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I was referring to the different stocks. They are the same on Addicted's gun and mine.

What I am trying to do is pin down who, and why they made a nickel version, and how many might have been made. I also know stocks are changed, switched, etc. But I did take these off, and they fit the frame perfectly.

I really think the nickel version had something to do with a police revolver order at Colt.

I do not want to go through the pain of a Colt letter if I don't have to, and its not life or death pinning this down, but curiousity has its price.

Also Colt is famous for their letters telling you next to nothing.
 

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The information on Colt letters is so limited that I doubt that spending the money for one will lend any help. The best is to research by talking to people. I'll sometimes get on the phone with a seller and spend a hour talking to him. This is much more valuable information than a Colt letter.

My research is leaning towards that our stocks are original for Nickeled M357's but not original for a blued M357. I doubt that you'll ever find out exactly how many nickels were produced. Anyone can guess but it's just that, as guess. A guess could be produced by how many blued guns you see vs. nickeled guns. If I were to guess right now I'd say that 10% of total production was nickel.
 

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I am traveling now, but, without checking my catalog file, I believe target stocks and hammer were optional on the "357," just like they were for the Trooper. As I also recall, nickel was NOT a cataloged finish, at least at first.

Now, to blow Addicted's theory, which I would not support anyway, my nickel "357" (circa 1957 as I recall) has service stocks, not target. I cannot remember what the letter said on the stock other than "wood," but I believe the letter mentioned a factory work order, which I always understood was related to the special "police" order for all the nickel guns made, and the overrun sold commercially. Towards the end of production, nickel may have been cataloged, but I am not sure from memory.

I strongly disagree that information learned from a seller has much value in most cases. So many people are misinformed and are convinced they are right that the chances of getting good information are very small. A factory letter is the only reliable source for correctness, and, even then, as is the case with the "M" suffix issue on Marshals, can be in error.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks Judge. I think someone said, and it might have been you, that the nickel 357's were a special police run, with the extras sold off to the public. Sure would like to know who ordered the original run, and how many were ordered.

This certainly makes sense, if it was a non-cataloged item. I have been hoping a person reading the forum might know where they came from.

This is conjecture, but yours may have been an issued one, as it is earlier than ours, and this one an extra that they put target stocks on to sell to the public.

I love a mystery, and will keep looking for an answer.
 

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[ QUOTE ]
I am traveling now, but, without checking my catalog file, I believe target stocks and hammer were optional on the "357," just like they were for the Trooper. As I also recall, nickel was NOT a cataloged finish, at least at first.

[/ QUOTE ]

I found this in a email between Judge and myself from 04/2003. We're talking about the Nickeled M357 that I'm about to purchase back then. The following is from the Judge.

"The neat thing about this revolver is that it is nickel, and it has target stocks and target hammer. The "357" was cataloged only in blue. However, I know for a fact that there was a special run of 4-inch guns in nickel because I have one and it lettered. Mine has service stocks and standard hammer, which is much more common because the target stocks and hammer were extra-cost options. I also have a blue 6-inch. It is a fairly late one so I believe the style of stocks are correct for this revolver, as is the "humped" rear sight body, neither of which are mentioned in Sutherland."

My gun serials as 276xx. Robba, what's the s/n of your gun?
 

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[ QUOTE ]
Now, to blow Addicted's theory, which I would not support anyway, my nickel "357" (circa 1957 as I recall) has service stocks, not target. I cannot remember what the letter said on the stock other than "wood," but I believe the letter mentioned a factory work order, which I always understood was related to the special "police" order for all the nickel guns made, and the overrun sold commercially. Towards the end of production, nickel may have been cataloged, but I am not sure from memory.

[/ QUOTE ]

Judge, A "factory work order" could on a Colt letter could mean a whole variety of things. Are you assuming "special ""police"" order for all the nickel guns" or do you have more substantial evidence?

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I strongly disagree that information learned from a seller has much value in most cases. So many people are misinformed and are convinced they are right that the chances of getting good information are very small. A factory letter is the only reliable source for correctness, and, even then, as is the case with the "M" suffix issue on Marshals, can be in error.

[/ QUOTE ]

M's included or not included in Marshal serials is exactly what I'm talking about. By now, we both agree that M's did not exist because you or have never seen a Marshal with it. Recently a seller advertised a Marshal with a M in the suffix. When I questioned him he took another look and admitted that the gun does not have a M.

We also agree that there are many errors in the books including the BOCFA's and the BB. It's too bad the Colt letter doesn't give more information as the Smith letter. The Colt letter only opens the mind to assumptions. By talking to people one can begin to develop a consensus just as we're beginning to on Nickeled M357's. Another example is my Courier .32NP with a steel cylinder. It's the first one I've seen with a steel cylinder. Is it correct? I don't know but I doubt a factory letter would lend any insight. People can be misinformed or informed one can quickly judge his or her percentage of knowlege. If I could find someone else with a steel cylindered .32NP I'd be asking more questions.

I watched a friend of mine build a Model A Vickey to perfection and 99.98% original. He did so by using no aftermaket parts. There's no books to tell him what was or was not correct. His communicating to people was the only way to achieve such a project. He spent more time researching then actually spent building the car. Many times he thought he had a subject figured out and months later discovered that his prior information was incorrect. It's too bad his knowledge will never be shared.....unless he's contacted by word of mouth. He's now out of the Model A "community" and the car is gone.

Research, that's what I'm talking about.
 

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Robba, interesting that the nickled "357" has a blued rear sight assembly. My Florida Highway Patrol Nickled Trooper made in 1966,has nickled front and rear sights-which are NOT "great" in bright sunlight! Wonder what was "standard" sight finish on nickeled Colts with adj. sights???

Based on the date of your gun,the stocks sure look correct to me,and I just bought a .38 "Old Model" Trooper(firing pin on target hammer),from this era,with the same stocks, that were original.

Wonder if Colt was doing a "parts" clean up in 1960-61,and made a few nickled ."357"s,as it was the last year or so('61).

Checked some old Colt NOS parts lists from a couple of gun parts from about 15 years ago. They had a few 5" bbls.,from the FHP contract,in nickle,some Python nickled bbls, but NO nickled "357" bbls.

Your gun is in way too nice shape to have been issued to/carried daily by an LEO,so I won't ask you about any possible "markings".

I will check with someone I know who ONLY collects "agency" marked Colts(and S&W and Rugers) and see if he can recall any agency ordering nickled "357" models?

Bud
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Bud I think you hit the nail on the head that these were perhaps an afterthought of the law enforcement order, and were put together with spare parts, which may explain the blued rear sight.

I took the stocks off, and on the left, inside bottem of the grip frame is stamped INS in caps very clearly. There is nothing marked on the outside bottem of the grip frame.

We search very carefully in the auctions, and I am still amazed other folks didn't jump on this at the end, and bid it up. Believe me it is in good hands, and we do not resell our Colt guns just for a quick profit.

Is there any chance the INS could mean the federal agency?
 

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As far as the "INS",thats what I thought about a thread on a D.S.today,and I didn't read that the mark was inside the grip frame,not on the butt,and dfariswheel promptly took me to task. So I checked about 10 of my post war Colts,in the time frame that he said MOST all Colts had this inspectors mark,and the only one that had it was my Florida Highway Patrol,the nickled 5" Troopers that are quite rare.

Just curious as to adjustable sight finish on Nickled Colts,as I own few nickled guns. Talked with a retired Florida Highway Patrolman here on the Forum,a while back,and he said that the nickled sights did cause reflections in the bright sunlight. So,when I shoot mine,I use black magic marker on both sights,and it easily comes off with rubbing alcohol.

Anyway,read the thread on the D.S. today,and you will see where I went "wrong" on the "INS". Even dug my old manual from Air Force days on the D.S. to see if any of those fuzzy photos,would show an INS mark.

Some police agencies liked nickled guns for the better protection in humid climates(?)-but an ex-Detroit LEO told me that the intimidation factor in the night time was "great"!

You will probably never know how many nickled "357s" were made,but hopefully someone will recall an "agency" using them.

Bud
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I suppose my next question is. Why haven't more nickel Colt 357's turned up?

If a sizable order was made for a LEO, then where did the used revolvers go after they were put out to pasture? Offtimes officers were allowed to purchase some of them for nostalgic reasons, and they would be in worn condition.

Unless someone can come up with a story on this, I am beginning to believe that there are just a few of the nickel ones around. This is not a vison of rarity towards my own guns value, but a feeling that there are not hundreds out there.

I have a great respect for the contributors on this forum. A good many of you have forgotten more about guns, and Colts in particular than ever hope to learn.

Looks like we will have to watch this one for awhile.
 

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Robba, I've been looking for a couple of years at M357 models in nickel and blued finishes. I see about 10% come through the market place as Nickel. I believe there are more out there than one thinks. If they're as rare as you believe they'd be bringing over $1000. Are the M357's undiscovered? I think not. I'm seeing blued examples now asking $650+. Why can one pick up a nickel for less money??? Who knows what sums up a buyers menatallity.

I received a spam recently to buy "nickeled M357's". It's the sleeper revolver of today your guaranteed to 10x your money in 5 years. /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Well Addicted, I'll keep my eyes out for any other nickel M357's as they appear, and if there are as many, and if they are as reasonable as you say they will be, I'll buy all I can get.

By the way if they are not rare, and scarce, why to you have one?
 
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