Colt Forum banner
1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What if you didn't need a fancy letter signed by a Colt official. Is it possible to research Colt Serial numbers on line or are we stuck paying hundreds of dollars for research on a $50 dollar gun.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,310 Posts
Not many Colts are valued at $50 these days. But to answer your question, the serial number reference listing in the book, Colt An American Legend is considered by Colt as the authoratative reference until 1985. I'm at work, so am doing this from memory. You can call Colt customer service to get a date of manufacture on any gun, but that is the only information they will provide for free. Most of us use the above book as our primary reference for dating colts by serial numbers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,216 Posts
Sir, If you're looking for documented evidence there is only one way your going to get it and that's through a Colt letter.

What research information are you looking for? You can learn a lot from this forum and GB's forums. Try that first before you plunk down your money. You may be satisfied in the results.

I'm not a believer in the Colt letter UNLESS it's rare (say a variation that is less than 100), one-of-a-kind or a prototype. The item MUST letter before the purchase. I cannot take the risk of purchasing a fake.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I figured that guys. I have a date of manufacture little handbook. What I was getting at is I did pay about $50.00 for my Colt New Police a few years ago at a Va Gun Show. The seller was a ammo dealer who just wanted to get rid of a few old revolvers. I was aware that the New Police was not a shooter and would never be because there was a split in the barrel at the forcing cone. It is not noticible unless you open the cylinder and I considered re-barreling it and still am. What I wanted to know is what Police Dept the Colt was shipped to and that way I might be able to trace it's story. What do you think about re-barreling. The action works fine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,216 Posts
Just because the model is "new police" does not mean that the gun was sent from the factor to a police department. The barrels blow out for one reason. The end of the barrel was pluged upon firing the gun. Only a idiot that knows nothing about firearms (not a police officer) would have done something like this.

It's doubtful that your gun has any history but who knows. A Colt letter has limited information and would most likely be a waste of money.

Just my .02

You need to ask your re-barrel question on the "colt-smithing" forum.

Addict
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I apologize for mixing up the forums. I guess I neglected to add that my New Police has a stamped 4 digit number on the butt which almost certainly indicates a non-civilian inventory..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
We all know that Colt Firearms Co. today isn't the legend it once was. This is illustrated by the chapter 11 in 1992. The Colt records are a priceless record of the legacy of the United States and I hope efforts are made to copy the record system and make it avalible to the general public. Don't you agree?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,483 Posts
Addicted,if you read whitehall's post carefully,you will see that the barrel is NOT blown out,as by a plugged barrel,but has a split forcing cone,which can be caused by a number of factors(cylinder/cone out of align,excessive size bullet etc.

Whitehall; your best bet is going to be to find a "Police Positive".32 bbl. on one of the on line auctions. Just a guess,but most N.Polices had 4" bbls. the most common length on P.P's also. Other option,is to find a really skilled gunsmith to remove bbl. and weld up the crack and recut the cone,and reinstall. Since you won't be firing "magnum level" loads,IF done correctly,this should work-but it can be "pricey",probably as much as a used bbl. and installing it!

One vital thing?? Have you determined WHAT .32 cartridge your transition New Police fires?? It most likely is the .32 S&W Long-called by Colt, ".32 New Police". The earliest New Polices,took the ".32 Long Colt",both inside and outside lubricated. .32 S&W Longs are TOO "fat" to fit in one of these cylinders.Probably,by 1907,ALL .32's were for the .32 S&W Long(.32 Colt New Police)-but never say never. My "guess" is that the "wrong ammo" got in your gun,like .32 auto(which will fit) and the jacketed bullet,comboned with a little "out of time",could have cracked the cone.

I agree about the numbers on the butt NOT being proof of P.Dept use,but could well be a plant guard' /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gifs gun,or some other agency,or company-but should have initials.

Have you checked on the backside of the stocks to see if the serial number is scratched into one of them;this was a standard Colt practice for decades.

BTW,before I got rid of most of my smaller framed Colts,I had a .32 Colt N. Police Target in the .32 S&W long. A very nice little gun,but just too muzzle light for me,as was a fixed sighted N.Police in the old .32 Long Colt. Fixed sights were hard to see,but with good cast hollow based bullets,it was surprisingly accurate with very mild handloads.

Good Luck, Bud
 

·
*** ColtForum MVP ***
Joined
·
15,823 Posts
The three best sources of production dates are:
The book "Colt: An American Legend" by R.L. Wilson. Which, as above, has data up to 1985.
Wilson also publishes a "gun show booklet" with data to 1978.

The Colt factory will give you a production date over the phone, but NO other info.

The only online source I know of is:
http://proofhouse.com/colt/

Which also stops with 1978.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,216 Posts
[ QUOTE ]
Addicted,if you read whitehall's post carefully,you will see that the barrel is NOT blown out,as by a plugged barrel,but has a split forcing cone,which can be caused by a number of factors(cylinder/cone out of align,excessive size bullet etc.

[/ QUOTE ]

Ooops, That's what happens when I read/type and drink at the same time. /forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks Bud. There is indeed a number scratched into the insides both grips and it's hard to see unless the light is right. It matches the number on the frame and crane. I don't want to beat a dead horse about the number on the grip. Of itself it proves nothing but since it is a 4 digit number begining with 4 it suggests an inventory in the 4 thousands. It would have to be a very large organization or perhaps the government. The numbers are large and deeply stamped. It could be that the first number was the year and that would limit the inventory to the hundreds instead of the thousands. The only way to find out is with a investment (a couple hundred dollars?) to get a colt letter which I am not prepared to do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,483 Posts
Youre welcome,Whitehall. Here is another problem with paying for a factory letter. What if your gun was sold to a wholesaler,jobber,or even a large retailer-and they in turn sold it to some firm or organization,who die marked the gun after purchase??? Seen it many times-so all your factory letter is going to say is the name of the dealer it was shipped from the factory to!!!

Being a history instructor,I like to know ALL the facts;probably would love to know much about the personality/lifestyles of some of the previous owners of my guns-but a factory letter is not going to tell you this.And there are too many "not recorded" on sights,finishes and stocks on some letters I've seen.

Before I get flamed for being a "tightwad",let me say,that if I contemplated selling any of rarest Colts,and a potential buyer insisted upon "a letter",I would probably do it. I also see it for validating the authenticity of rare barrel lengths,or subtle model changes that could be altered by someone to greatly raise the value,by spending a relatively small amount on parts and their own labor. Couple of "examples":
1) The circa 1954 Marshall. By finding an Official Police,in the correct serial# range,and buying a 4" or even more "expensive",2" Marshall marked bbl. then rounding the grip frame(touch up blue) and adding Marshall RB stocks,one could say sell the gun for $700+,with say $250 in the O.P. and less than $100 in parts.BTW;forget about the "M" suffix" marking,as I've never seen this on a Marshall!
2)This one, I suspect,IS "happening"! There is a big premium for original 3" Pythons,I think they were called "Combat Python"? I guess Colt had to go to 3" from 2" or 2.5" to comply with some competition rules. Gun Parts Co. sold a slew of "left over" 3" already blued bbls.-cheaply! Finding a Python in the # range these were made,and a bbl. change can equal a nice profit,plus selling the original bbl.

So here are 2 examples were a letter would be "prudent" to have in buying these higer priced pieces.

Hope nobody gets any ideas out there!

Bud
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I know that police and government agencies used to purchase their weapons directly from colt. The chance of a government agency or even a large security or civilian outfit purchacing a colt revolver from a dealer is pretty slim although anything can happen in a hundred years. All I am saying is that it would be nice if colt made their records available to the public without charging an arm (no pun intended) and a leg. If the history of a particular arm was interesting enough i would consider a factory letter but right now it is like buying a pig in a poke.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,386 Posts
Hi Whitehall,
I've read this thread with interest... Speaking from my personal experience on numbers found on guns...your four digit number on the grips could mean almost anything... I'm retired from a police agency with 31 years of service. I always carried a "second gun". My department allowed you to carry a personal weapon as well as your duty gun. I stamped my ID number into the metal under the cylinder on the left side of my personal gun very neatly with metal stamps. Our department had 400 officers, but my ID number was in the Two thousand (2xxx) range. During my tour of duty, we changed ID numbers three different times, I went from a three digit number to a four digit number and then to a higher four digit number as the command staff decided to make these changes for various reasons... Also, I supervised the supply and logistics section for awhile, our department changed weapons on several occasions, the guns were purchased from local distributors on a bid system ... none were direct factory purchases, so none would letter to our department. Just my opinion... Bob Best
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,722 Posts
whitehall, the Colt records are not owned by the current Colt company. They are owned by a separate company. They have so much commercial value that it is unlikely that they will ever become "public property," unless someone buys them and donates them to the "public."

For what it is worth, if you call Colt and ask for a production date before 1979, it will come from the Wilson charts.

I disagree with Addicted about when to buy a letter. There are few Colts made in numbers under 100, and many made in far greater numbers that deserve or require a letter, especially if the gun has non-standard finish or stocks, etc..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,216 Posts
[ QUOTE ]
I disagree with Addicted about when to buy a letter. There are few Colts made in numbers under 100, and many made in far greater numbers that deserve or require a letter, especially if the gun has non-standard finish or stocks, etc..

[/ QUOTE ]

JC, We're talking the same language. If it's a run of the mill gun I would not waste money getting it lettered. What I would letter is unusual variations that "may" have been very limited (say under a hundred). Everyone has their own opinion of quantity of "very limited". I used a random number.

Please read my post on my Shooting Master. This is a great example of when to spend money for a factory letter. I believe any Colt with unusual features should be lettered. The letter may leave me overjoyed or disappointed but at least the uncertainty has been removed.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top