I kind of blundered into New Service, and by extension Colt revolver, collecting somewhat by accident many years ago. In the late 70’s or early 80’s a fellow student in the night HVAC class at the local Vo-Tec school indicated he had a “.44” revolver he would sell. I asked if it was a .44 Special or Magnum and of course he said “Magnum” so I asked to see it. He was a very hard fellow to deal with but after some time a meet was arranged at his domicile, or at least that of the woman he was currently laid up with, and I got to look at the Colt New Service .44 Special he had. It was nickeled but losing its finish and somebody had cut off the barrel (and front sight). I rescued it from him for $75 and traded two boxes of .38 Special ammo straight across for his two boxes of .44 Special.
Sometime later, maybe months but probably years, I was attending a gun show in Jacksonville FL and happened upon the table of an older gent with lots of parts neatly stored and categorized. I asked him if he happened to have a New Service .44 barrel and dang if he didn’t have one! Another $75 and a NOS factory 4” blued .44 Special barrel was mine. I packed up the gun and barrel and sent them off to Jim Stroh who did a great job on the rebarrel, polish and blue (I understand he sent this part out) but I lost my Rampant pony in the polish. It sure is pretty but I have not fired it since in came back, way back then.
The next New Service that came to me was a 1917 bought at another Jacksonville FL gun show around the early to mid-1980’s. An oooolllldddd fellow had it on his table alongside another New Service .45 Colt that had a smooth bore and choke device affixed to the end of the barrel for shotshell shooting. I looked briefly at the .45 shotty and then asked how much for the unmolested 1917. He launched into a story about when he got the gun and how much he had shot it, etc., etc. I interrupted to ask price again but he continued with his story. Finally, only after he completed the story on his history with the gun did he tell me the price. It was fair for the time so we made trade. Later I sold it cheap to a VERY good friend who had to have it. It came home to me when near the end of his bout with terminal cancer he sold some guns to help with expenses.
I think the next one was a 4” blued .38-40 bought off a newspaper ad in the mid to late 80’s. My brothers thought I was crazy as it had NO finish left. Of all my guns this is the one I wish the most that it could talk, I would love to know where-all it had been. I have since added a Peacemaker in .38-40 and a couple of Marlin lever guns in the caliber but that is off the topic. Interesting though, the Model “P” is the newest one of the bunch!
Then came a brace of .45 Colts. A friend opened a pawn shop and got in with a small local police department to liquidate their confiscated guns. Frist he got a nice 7 ½” nickeled NS that he let me have for song (I did a little dance later when I got it home). Next he got a 7 ½” blued gun except some [email protected]
#% had cut off the front sight in an unfinished attempt to do something different. He knew he had me and I had gotten the “friend” price on the first one so he charged me $50 more for the botched blued gun which I was glad to pay even though I have not gotten it fixed yet. This may have been in the early 90’s.
Up next I think was my .455 Eley NWMP New Service. No mystery to this one, bought it a few years back off GB when everybody else was asleep. The seller sent me an e-mail “you got a deal on this one”. The NWMP markings are clear and the gun is OK except somebody in a misguided attempt at sight regulation had a go at the front sight with a pair of pliers leaving behind some nasty marks.
And finally is my .44-40 bought a couple of years back from the gun show table of a high-volume dealer I had traded with several times before. It is OK for a shooter but has broken grips and is a reblue. I paid more for it than any of the others and care for it the least. I do have more $$$$ in the .44 Special with all the work though, but then I like it a lot better too!
That is it for now. I have made a run at a few others locally and on GB but have not managed to buy any of them. I would like to have a .38 Special or maybe a .357 but prices are exceeding my very limited budget these days. As you can tell from my descriptions none of my New Services are mueseum quality, far from it but I am very glad to be the temporary steward of them all.