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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new to Colt revolvers, so I'm not sure what I found. It's marked "COLT OFFICIAL POLICE .38" on the 6" barrel. The serial number is 306264, and when I did a serial number search on Colt Firearm Serial Number Lookup - Year of Manufacture, I got the following results:

1950 OFFICERS MODEL SPECIAL
1929 POLICE POSITIVE .38
1924 POLICE POSITIVE SPECIAL & DETECTIVE SPECIAL
1922 1908 HAMMERLESS .25
1920 NEW SERVICE & SHOOTING MASTER & 1917
1919 1903 HAMMERLESS .32
1918 MODEL 1911 MILITARY
1909 ARMY SPECIAL & OFFICERS MODEL
1908 SINGLE ACTION ARMY & BISLEY REVOLVERS
1868 1849 POCKET (.36 CALIBER)

Since it chambers .38 Special cartridges, I would guess that it may be a Police Positive Special made in 1924 with an Official Police replacement barrel. I double checked the serial number on a second site, Serial Number Data, and it confirmed that the number wasn't correct for the Official Police model.

The gun is well broken in and the bluing is almost gone, but the cylinder locks up tight when the hammer is released and the bore is perfect with clean and sharp rifling. The rear sight can be adjusted for windage via two tiny screws on either side of it.

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Based on the general appearance of the revolver and the contour of the topstrap, you have an Army Special that has had the barrel replaced at some point in its history with an Official Police barrel. It also looks like it may have had some modification to the rear sight, but does not look like the sight of an Officers Model.

The Army Special "morphed" into the Official Police around 1927 after a few minor changes. The caliber marking dates the barrel to prior to WWII; it should have a 1926 date as the last patent date on top of the barrel.

We can narrow down your listed choices as follow:

1950 OFFICERS MODEL SPECIAL - no, Officers Model Special has adjustable sights
1929 POLICE POSITIVE .38 - no, has smaller frame than shown, cylinder will not chamber .38 Special
1924 POLICE POSITIVE SPECIAL & DETECTIVE SPECIAL - no, has smaller frame/different grip frame shape than shown
1922 1908 HAMMERLESS .25 - no, semi-automatic pistol
1920 NEW SERVICE & SHOOTING MASTER & 1917 - no, has larger frame/different grip frame shape than shown
1919 1903 HAMMERLESS .32 - no, semi-automatic pistol
1918 MODEL 1911 MILITARY - no, semi-automatoc pistol
1909 ARMY SPECIAL & OFFICERS MODEL - right frame size, Army Special has fixed sights; Officers Model are adjustable
1908 SINGLE ACTION ARMY & BISLEY REVOLVERS - no, single action revolvers, not double action as shown
1868 1849 POCKET (.36 CALIBER) - no, percussion single action revolver, not cartridge double action
 

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That pretty much covered it.

You have a Colt Army Special made in 1909.
The Army Special was introduced in 1908 and made until 1927. Since the Army never bought it, in 1927 Colt just changed the name to the Official Police and made it until 1969.

Since most Colt revolver barrels had the same threads you could install most any barrel on most any frame, no matter what the model.
For this reason it's not uncommon to see Colt's with a replacement barrel.
This can cause great confusion because the barrel was the only place where the name of the model was stamped, and in those days all Colt's serial numbers started with #1. This means that you can have a number of Colt handguns all with the same serial number.
Combine the serial number situation with the barrel situation and identifying exactly what you have can be difficult.

Your particular gun has had the rear sight modified by installing a blade in the receiver. This was no doubt done by some previous owner, who also replaced the original hard black rubber grips.
 

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I agree with the above assessments regarding barrel change and probable Army Special. I also think you have someones favorite shooter as they went to the trouble to change a barrel and put the adjustable sight on the frame.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Thank you for the replies. It does have the 1926 patent date on top of the barrel. Whoever did the modification to the rear sight did a good job; it looked factory original to me. The grips appear to be stag horn. May I assume that it can safely handle standard .38 Special loads?

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Thank you for the replies. It does have the 1926 patent date on top of the barrel. Whoever did the modification to the rear sight did a good job; it looked factory original to me. The grips appear to be stag horn. May I assume that it can safely handle standard .38 Special loads?

View attachment 42140 View attachment 42141

Hi ruddy,


You are Good-to-Go with any 'Traditional', Standard Loading .38 Special.

The 'Army Special' was made for use with the .38 Special Cartridge.

However, please stay only with Lead Bullets, no 'Hardball' or 'Jacketed'...and, I would also stay away from +Ps.

Mid Range Wadcutters, of course, would be just dandy.


Indeed, whoever installed the rear Adjustable Sight, did a very nice job!


Grips do look like old Stag, but are not highly textured.
 

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I've always liked the worn or polished stag grips better than the highly textured ones. I guess that's why these caught my eye.

How's it shoot?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I haven't tried it yet. I'll get out to the range this week and will let you how well it shoots.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I finally got out to the range today and tried some MagTech 158 gr. LRN loads. I figured that that was probably pretty close to what was commonly used back in the day. I had disassembled and thoroughly cleaned it first, and what a difference that made. The double action pull is as smooth as any gun I've ever handled.

I couldn't really get on paper at 25 yards, because it was hitting more that a foot and a half high at that range. I tried at 10 yards and got a nice round 1 1/4" inch group about 9 1/5" high. This is as good as I can do with my aging eyes, so I'm quite happy with its performance. The rear sight adjusts for windage and was right on for me as is. I don't know if the original barrel had a taller front sight, but the one on the Official Police barrel is too short.

I'll have to experiment with some faster loads with lighter bullets since they will hit lower. Overall, I'm quite impressed with the quality of these old Colt revolvers. I especially like the way the cylinder locks up and closes the gap when the hammer is released.
 

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I suspect it's the rear sight that's causing the gun to shoot high. when that adjustable rear sight was added it changed the height of the rear sight. the old sight was just a notch and grove low in the top of the frame. I owned many OP's over the years and they never shot high.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Yes, the rear sight is slightly higher, so I did try removing the rear sight blade to see what difference it made. The gun still shot too high using just the groove.

The specs on the box of ammo I used state the the muzzle velocity is less than 800 fps from a 4" vented barrel, so that would contribute to the higher impact.
 
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