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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I picked this up over the weekend as a parts gun in 38 Special. Here's what I know...the frame is 1 Gen black powder 1880, it is not original finish and has been buffed to the point of no markings left on the side, still retains SN. The hammer is not Colt. The trigger guard is also questionable whether it is colt or not. The Barrel, Cylinder, backstrap I believe are Colt.
It all functions correctly.
My big question is can I shoot modern 38 special through it?

Thanks
 

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You'll probably be okay with standard .38 Special loads. The barrel and cylinder will not be the weak spot(s). As Jim Martin pointed out to me, the problem area (if there is one) would be the frame where the barrel screws into it. Jim says they can crack there. He has seen it more than once. So, no guarantees - you decide on your own what you want to do.
Alan Harton told me once that .38 Special should not be a problem. I certainly would NOT convert it to a larger caliber, though, for use smokless powder.
 

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Without knowing the full history of the gun and access to magnaflux equipment, you won't know if there are hairline cracks in the frame. Most likely, there isn't a problem, but the same could be said for any used firearm. if you watch videos on Youtube of some of the stupid stuff people do, you have to wonder.
 

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I'm nearly in same predicament. I have a first generation black powder frame that has been converted to 38 Special also. The frame has been polished until patent dates are gone, edges rounded, etc. But has something going for it - the hammer firing pin and bushing were also updated to smaller diameter. The numbers match and appear to be mostly Colt.

As I typically shoot black powder anyway, not too worried.

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38 Special Wadcutters are pretty mild loads. It is not like you are going to destroy a historic gun if it cracks. I too would wager it has been fired a good bit. I have no idea what you paid for it but a Uberti would be perfect fine to shoot all day and look the same. A correct Colt would have some value as a gun. This is a collection of parts that has no serious value other then the sum of it's parts and falls into a questionable state of usefulness.
 

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38 Special Wadcutters are pretty mild loads. It is not like you are going to destroy a historic gun if it cracks. I too would wager it has been fired a good bit. I have no idea what you paid for it but a Uberti would be perfect fine to shoot all day and look the same. A correct Colt would have some value as a gun. This is a collection of parts that has no serious value other then the sum of it's parts and falls into a questionable state of usefulness.
I totally agree.
 

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Without knowing whether or not it was possibly in a fire... I'd just proceed on with caution, were it mine.

I'd likely start with some mid-power or less wadcutters and do a poor-man's magna flux after.

You'll find reference throughout the Internet-of-things for this using items like brake-cleaner to seek out cracks and imperfections on a home work-bench level.
 

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I see no real evidence on the metal surface that has been buffed at all. Edges are sharp screw holes are intact. You can’t remove all the roll marks off that frame and not show some significant deprivation. I can’t help thinking if it’s not a lunchbox gun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I see no real evidence on the metal surface that has been buffed at all. Edges are sharp screw holes are intact. You can’t remove all the roll marks off that frame and not show some significant deprivation. I can’t help thinking if it’s not a lunchbox gun.
Did Colt ever produce one with no marks on the side of the frame or could they have worn off? I have even held it up to the light at different angles looking for even faint pat dates or the colt stamp and do not see anything?
 

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Did Colt ever produce one with no marks on the side of the frame or could they have worn off? I have even held it up to the light at different angles looking for even faint pat dates or the colt stamp and do not see anything?
While I am loathe to EVER use "never" or "always" in relation to firearms, this would be one of my greatest surprises; to hear of a Colt's SAA without the ubiquitous patent-dates.

Still, extreme custom orders happen however, I should think that one would forego the barrel marking as well - were that the case.

In tracking this a bit more, it might do well to show some "internal" frame shots as to machining.

Also, confirming that screw threads are NOT metric would be a step.
 

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Did Colt ever produce one with no marks on the side of the frame or could they have worn off? I have even held it up to the light at different angles looking for even faint pat dates or the colt stamp and do not see anything?
A few have been documented as never having been marked with patent dates and/or the Colt Logo on the frame. At least one is in the Graham, Kopec & Moore book. In fact, if you want to see such a 1st generation, go to Rock Island Auction Co.'s website, go to past auction #1040, go to Lot #2309.
Some folks are quick to call them "lunch box guns". But, if they were that, they wouldn't letter. So, some are probably just factory goofs.
 

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I picked this up over the weekend as a parts gun in 38 Special. Here's what I know...the frame is 1 Gen black powder 1880, it is not original finish and has been buffed to the point of no markings left on the side, still retains SN. The hammer is not Colt. The trigger guard is also questionable whether it is colt or not. The Barrel, Cylinder, backstrap I believe are Colt.
It all functions correctly.
My big question is can I shoot modern 38 special through it?

Thanks
Stay away from "hot Loads.. Wad Cutters would be a Pleasurable experience
 
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