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After about five years of looking for a decent 1903 Hammerless that I could afford, I found this 1938 example at my local range Swap-Meet during our annual election of Officers (Gateway Rifle and Pistol Club, Jacksonville, FL).













Mechanically, it is flawless and the action is very tight. I don't think it has been fired very much at all. Most of the blueing is still there, but there is just too much moderate-to-deep pitting to suit me. Looks like it was stored for a long time in a holster.

I want to eventually hand this down to one of my grandkids and so I have decided to get it refinished.

I would prefer to send it back to Colt but they are currently not accepting any new work.

My question to the Forum is this - should I wait for Colt to start accepting new work or send it somewhere else? If somewhere else - where? (BTW, I have heard both good and bad regarding Ford's, so I'd like some opinions there also.)

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and opinions.
 

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Colt has not done that type of finish in 70 years. Depends on whether you want the original type finish, or just get the pits out and reblued. The blueing at Turnbulls would be 200, and that doesn't include the metal prep which will be higher than the blueing.
 

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The gun looks very presentable and should be left alone. A shiny black finish and soft lines will look horrible by comparison. If the gun does not suit you, sell it, add what you would have spent on a refinish (a Turnbull restoration would probably run at least $2000) and buy a better one.
 

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I wouldn't refinish that gun. Gently clean the rust off with Croil Oil and a Big 45 Metal cleaner pad and you will be surprised how good it turns out. It is only original once.

If you are dead set on having it refinished I wouldn't send it to Ford's. As JohnnyP noted above, Turnbull would be able to give it a period correct finish.
 

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I agree with all of the above. Clean it up and use the money you would have spent to restore it on a bunch of .32 ammo. you are gonna fall in love with it when you shoot it. I hope I look as good as it does when I am 75 !
 

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Those things retain a helluva lot more character if they are left the way they are.
Don't disregard the actual life of a working gun as an element of what that little gun really is.
If you want a 'nicer' one, go find one.
That thing is just fine the way it is.
 

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Yup...as everyone says in the above posts...

"Leave it Alone", do not re-finish it.

'Competent' Refinishing would ruin what honest value it has, and would cost as much or more than buying another one which would be in the condition you want.

Incompetent re-finishing would cost less and achieve a truly ghastly, horrible result, which would be worth burying out in the Yard, and would be no good for 'Handing Down'.

So, take the thousand or fifteen hundred or two thousand bucks, it would take for this one to be competently 're-done', and just buy a nicer one with that money, so as to have the 'nicer' one to 'hand down' to your Kids.
 

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I myself would be entirely happy with the Colt .32 shown!

It is an honest, lovely old Colt Auto, and is charming.

Yes, it has a few little 'blems', and, so what? So do most all of us by now!

Lol...
 

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Youve gotten the best advice and its unanimous.

Im particular about my finishes, and i would never have this refinished. It wears its scars of age, but for its age, its in darn darn good shape.

Holster it, shoot it, clean it up, but dont wreck it by refinishing it.

Its a beauty, just the way it is.
 

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Concur, just use this one as your shooter. If you want a really nice one, buy another. If you can only afford one, patience is a good virtue you have. You said you looked for 5 years for one you could afford. Since 5 years ago these were about $300, and can still be had for that occasionally, I'm guessing you waited until you could get one for about $150. Very hard to do, unless it has problems, like this one. To get the pits filled and it restored professionally, it will cost at least $800. To get it just refinished by a hack, maybe $200. You'd have more in it than an excellent condition one costs.

I would just start frequenting gun shops and be ready to buy when a nicer one is available. Try to sell yours for a couple hundred, and add the other couple hundred you wanted to spend on a refurbish. With that $400 you should be able to upgrade (and may really only have 350 in it if you can sell this one for a little more than you paid).
 
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