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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Since getting little opportunity to closely examine Colt manufactured prior to WW2, I would like to quiz this forum's experts. Specifically, newer Colts seem to have their roll marking done after the surface finishing, resulting in prominent raised metal around the individual letters/numbers. The older Colts that I have examined look to me that the surface polishing was done after roll marking, resulting in markings with no raised metal around them. Is this the way the were manufactured or have these guns been refinished?
 

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When the roll mark is applied it causes the metal to raise around the die (the displaced metal has to go somewhere). Previously Colt polished this off before final finishing, but on the newer Colts the raised metal is not removed before the final finish is applied. A cost saving step for sure, but when compared to the earlier Colts it looks unfinished.
 

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Guns made prior to the mid to later 60's also had shallower roll stamps so there was less to polish off.
Due to the deeper roll stamps on newer guns, polishing the raised ridges around the markings would require extensive polishing to get off.
 

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The roll die can be adjusted to apply the marking to any depth they want it. If Colt is using an excuse of the stamping being too deep to polish it off, that doesn't hold water.

Even if they can't adjust the roll die not to stamp as deep, one pass over a surfacing machine would remove the excess metal. They only have to go back to the original surface.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So CJS57, I see raised metal on the slide marking, but not on the serial number, has the frame been refinished or is there that much variation in roll mark depth and factory finishing?
 

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Well for that 1902 to be a refinished gun, someone would have to have a set of Colt roll dies, then refinish the gun, then forget to remark it until after the refinish. That is hardly likely. But no matter, I will just post more examples that show Colt left certain areas unpolished on certain guns during pre WWII production. Here is another on a prewar Bankers.

Revolver
 

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Yes, Turnbull has Some roll dies, But Not all of them, Not even most of them! Turnbull having some roll dies does Not change the Fact that Colt did Not polish all stampings before blueing on Many Prewar Colts. The barrel address on revolvers and Woodsman's are yet another good example. For folks that actually have these guns, if you look at your own guns, you will see. Here is the next example, a LNIB prewar woodsman with original sales receipt. I really don't think it was done by Turnbull considering that Bob Rayburn offered to purchase it!

Firearm Gun Trigger Gun accessory Airsoft gun
Material property
Material property Revolver Pipe Steel Metal
Material property Font Metal
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
OK I'm beginning to see that the amount of raised metal or lack thereof around roll markings is not a good indication of post-factory refinishing. Some guns I've seen have nice blue, but the roll marked surface is very flat, no raised metal, so I thought the gun had received a light sanding of the surface then a re-blue. Maybe not!!
Boy I wish telling a refinished gun from a pristine original were easier!
Thanks to you all for the insight and education.
 

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Whatever Turnbull has and doesn't have doesn't change the fact that the polishing nor the lettering on the '02 Military shown looks anything like Colt craftsmanship. The polish lines on a pistol of that vintage would be parallel and straight; not going in all directions. That pistol proves nothing.

 

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OK I'm beginning to see that the amount of raised metal or lack thereof around roll markings is not a good indication of post-factory refinishing. Some guns I've seen have nice blue, but the roll marked surface is very flat, no raised metal, so I thought the gun had received a light sanding of the surface then a re-blue. Maybe not!!
Boy I wish telling a refinished gun from a pristine original were easier!
Thanks to you all for the insight and education.
The best thing you can take to a gun show is a small flashlight. No matter how nice the blue looks on an old firearm, shining a light on it will show some brown patina under the blue, especially where it would be handled. If you don't see any patina, be especially suspicious.

The old MINI-MAGLITE put out more of a yellow light and is better than the newer high powered mini lights that are more white or blue.
 

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My experience is the same as JohnnyP's. A strong light will show this. I use a one cell Surefire. The brown-plum is not so much under the blue as beside it - almost laced in with it. I have, and have seen, several antiques that look about 80% blue under ambient light at arms length but show about 30% blue and 50% plump close under a strong light.
 

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I have several Colts from 1902 to 1920s with high original finish, some with the 'splash', most without. I have also several early Colt autos 1902 & 1905 that I have restored to their mirror polish & sent to Turnbulls to have markings replaced & blue. On a couple of them I had them leave the splash on rather than take it off before bluing. It seems pretty obvious that back in the day, the 'splash removal' step was omitted at Colt on some pieces, maybe dependent on the individual workman.
 

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I have quite a few pre war revolvers. And from what I see on mine you dont really see a lot of metal displacement on the barrels but I have examples of where you can see it on the VP stamps and Pony.
 

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Here is a Police Positive from about 1912 with original blue showing Colt's practice of sometimes not polishing (or not completely polishing) flair and feathering. The barrel roll markings and rampant Colt certainly appear to be stamped on top of the finished blue. Notice the raised edges of the W.R.F. marking and the "cellulite" or displaced metal ripples around the rampant Colt. It also seems that Colt in the prewar days, had a much more controlled method of applying roll marking, so that the finished product looked pretty good as stamped.

Gun Firearm Revolver Trigger Starting pistol
Metal
Rim Metal
Revolver Fashion accessory Metal Dagger
Metal Drawing Illustration Horse Fashion accessory
 
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