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Hello all, new here so if this is in the wrong spot just let me know and I'll be happy to move it. Several years ago I purchased a relatively large estate from a Colt collector. One of the revolvers in the collection was a Police Positive Special in 38 special in pretty rough shape. I rebuild, rechamber, rebarell, etc. old firearms often, and refuse to modify or change in any way historically significant or collectible firearms, instead opting to work on sporterized or non collectible arms. I firmly believe however that this revolver, in the condition it's in(almost no bluing remaining, grips cracked, out of time, ejector rod head missing, mid production run according to colt,...) would be a prime candidate for a rework. As I already have firearms in 38 special and 357 magnum, I do not have a need for this revolver as is, and am seriously considering converting this into a "kit gun" with a 4 inch barrel and in 32 caliber. I understand that the Police Positive Special was chambered in 32-20, but am having a bear of a time finding a cylinder in that caliber, and am hesitant to reload for it because of the thin necks of the casings. I understand that the Police Positive(shorter cylinder) was chambered for the 32 S&W. I can find no information conclusively if the Police Positive Special(longer cylinder) was ever chambered in 32 S&W, or if the cylinders were heat treated. My plan, at the moment, is to find a 32 S&W cylinder of the correct length, ream it to 32 H&R mag, and fit it to the revolver. It is my understanding that revolvers have successfully been reamed to 32 H&R mag in the past as long as the cylinder was tempered correctly. I know this will be costly, but it's a project I am interested in, will be supplying most all of the labor myself, and am willing to pay for.

The questions I have for you all, is firstly and most importantly, is this safe? The next is, is this doable? Lastly, is there an alternative caliber you would recommend, or should I just stick with 32-20 and hope to find a cylinder? Thank you all in advance, and sorry this is such a long post!
 

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For parts, Gun Parts has .32-20 stripped cylinders.

https://www.gunpartscorp.com/products/945910

They also have a post-war .32 New police barrel...

https://www.gunpartscorp.com/products/171220B

Jack First has a new post-war .32 New Police barrel.

https://jack-first-gun-parts.myshopify.com/collections/colt-d-frame-revolvers/products/colt-d-barrel-police-positive-32-new-police-32-s-w-long-4-new-154-56053

I'm just not sure about reworking an old pre-war cylinder to a hot cartridge they were never made for.
Since I'm not sure if this would be safe, you'd need to find someone more knowledgeable about this then me. I didn't do caliber conversion work.

With that said, your biggest problem is going to be finding a usable ejector in .32.
The problem is, first an ejector was fitted to the cylinder at the factory, then the assembly was fitted to a frame by machining the rear of the ejector to set head space.
Then everything else was based off that.
The other factors affected by the cylinder-ejector assembly are....

Cylinder end shake.
Barrel-cylinder gap.
Barrel-chamber alignment on all 6 chambers.
Timing on all 6 chambers.

Since all available ejectors are used, they were previously fitted to a different frame and may be too short to fit your frame. There's no practical way to "stretch" an ejector so if you can find one it's pure luck whether you can use it or not.
About all I can suggest is watching ebay and the gun auction sites and hope a .32 PPS ejector shows up and will fit.

About the only way to "stretch" an ejector is to find a Master micro-welding expert and have him weld a bead of steel onto the rear of the ejector, then machine that to set head space.
That would require extensive work to clean the weld up before machining, and you have to really know what you're doing with a small file.

Since I don't know how much you know about the mechanics of the older Colt action, I recommend you buy the Jerry Kuhnhausen Shop Manual Volume One on the Colt DA revolvers.
This was written as a training aid for new pistolsmiths and show all Colt work to Colt factory standards.
This goes into deep detail on such work as fitting new cylinders and ejectors.
This book can save you a lot of trouble and grief.

https://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools-supplies/books-amp-videos/books/handgun-gunsmithing-books/colt-double-action-revolvers-shop-manual-volume-i-prod25720.aspx
 

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I don't think that I would try 327 mag in that gun. .32-20 high velocity will shake it loose or make it let go. Stick with .38 special and have a nice gun.
 

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Thank you both so much for the information, I'm sorry it took so long to respond, work has been pretty crazy lately. I had purchased Jerry Kuhnhausen's book several years ago and had read it through several times, but never realized until now the issue of how important the ejector is, and how everything was fit off of it. I have to say that I feel feel slightly embarrassed, I could have sworn that I checked Numrich for parts, but obviously I did not. Thank you for the heads up. I Will heed your advice as you both make very valid points. I guess it's off to the drawing board again to figure out what to do with this revolver. Maybe keep it 38 Special as DJC had recommended, but fit a 4 inch barrel and a wonder sight onto it for a nice woods bumming gun.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you all again for the knowledgeable responses! The more I read of these forums, the more I am being drawn to many of the colt revolvers!
 

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Thank you all again for the knowledgeable responses! The more I read of these forums, the more I am being drawn to many of the colt revolvers!
That of course means you're done for. Colt's are like crack cocaine.

It would be a lot simpler and cheaper to go with a .38 caliber since the PP .38 parts are more commonly found.
You could come up with any number of configurations to make something unique.
 

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I'm in the process of obtaining a Colt Police Positive target model .32 Police caliber revolver. It is the first model, not the PP Special which has a larger frame and longer cylinder. Doing research I read an article about a Smith & Wesson that had been converted from .38 Special to .32 S&W Long (same cartridge as the Colt .32 Police) by swapping a cylinder and barrel. The author had the work done by a gunsmith after he had obtained the parts. The comments about fitting Colt parts lead me to believe that Colts are much more "hand built" so parts swaps are not easy. If I were you I would consult with a gunsmith, if you can find one. I wanted to replace the latch pin on an Army Special .32-20. I was advised to get the Kuhnhausen manual, which I did. There was one paragraph about latch pins and no technique for removal and replacement. I watched a Youtube video of the teardown and re-assembly of a Colt 1917 DA and imitated it to replace the latch pin. But, I was not filing, tuning, or adjusting anything, only installing a different part. Good luck in your quest.
 

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Great post and especially the answers. Been a S&W shooter for decades, but just now getting into Colts. Thank you all for the information.
 
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