According to the 1933 Colt catalog, "The new Colt Shooting Master is a man's gun ¬ñ produced to meet the exacting requirements of those shooters who are satisfied with nothing less than the ultimate in a target arm. It is a deluxe product of Colt ingenuity and Colt craftsmanship ¬ñ and stands out as the finest and most accurate target Revolver yet produced.
"The heavy frame, full grip and perfect balance of the Shooting Master lend confidence and steadiness to the shooter ¬ñ and the velvet smoothness of its action makes higher scores a certainty. A gun-among-guns, the Shooting Master is destined to blace a trail of records from one end of the country to the other."
The most obvious difference is size. The Shooting Master (below) is the larger New Service frame. The gun above is an Officers Model 32, also built in 1940:
The Shooting Master has a checked frontstrap:
And its backstrap (left) is more deeply checked than the Officers Model:
The trigger appears to be more deeply checked, too:
Also, Colt boasted that the Shooting Master's hand-finished target action was finer-honed than the New Service Target.
They are desirable and pricy because they are great guns and there weren't too many made, especially in calibers other than .38 special.
Mr. Stern, so Santa was good to you after all! Is this the .357 SM that was up on one of the auction sites recently? (I cannot remember just when or where, but I think it was a .357. Or maybe my dim mind is just responding to the power of suggestion.) The .357 is a rare chambering in the SM, and your pictures, and gun, are beautiful as always.
I would comment that I believe the backstrap checkering is hand-checkering on the SM (note the border), whereas I believe the OMT has machine (rolled) checkering (note the absence of a border), which accounts for the difference in appearance and texture.
Mr. Stern is not overstating it when he says not very many were made. Most sources state about 3500 SMs were made over about nine years, with the majority of those being in .38 Special. The .357 chambering was not introduced until 1936, thus being only about a four-year run.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Randy: Very Nice Michael! I must say you have excellent taste in you choice of revolvers. A Shooting Master is on my list. I'd be satisfied with a humble .38 Special myself.
All ya need now is a nice set of Ropers to really set it off!
Thanks, Randy ... and back at ya'! There was a .38 Shooting Master on one of the auction sites a week or so ago. I was waffling about it, but wound up not bidding. I seem to remember that it had wrong stocks, and condition was an issue...
Thanks, as always, for your insight. And your memory is correct. This S.M. was on Gunbroker so, needless to say, I was a little nervous sending away a pile of money for a pig in a poke. When I opened the package and saw it, I finally was able to exhale. As a (possible) bonus, the seller told me that he believes this gun was ordered by Vernon Speer. I am hoping a factory letter will confirm that.
Mr. Stern, I gather you were able to negotiate a price with the seller "off-line." I wondered who was "fishing" for the true reserve (probably stated higher than I suspect the final price was) all alone. Boy, I hate that! It makes you question your analysis of the gun when you are the only one "out there," yet you are glad that you have no competition. It is hard on the heart!
Were you able to get an inspection period? For reasons I do not understand, I see a lot of "all sales final" listings, and those do make me nervious. I recently tried to get a seller with no inspection period to agree to one, using the logic that if the gun was not misrepresented, there should be no problem with offering a return guarantee. (I like AuctionArms for that reason. An inspection period is mandatory.) The seller got all huffy and told me not to bid on his gun!
Still, at this price level, there are few buyers at auction. I am not sure of the reason for that, but I suspect it is because most high-end collectors do not frequent the auction sites, but rather rely on the high-end dealers and gun shows to find such items. Also, at the high end, there is a lot of trading, which seldom can be done on an auction item, although I did it once.
A .357 SM is one of the real prizes in 20th Century Colts. If it went to Vernon Speer, that is all the better! Congratulations!
Man ..that's a dandy for sure. The closest thing to a cherry Shooting Master I've ever had is this set of checkered pearl R/B stocks with the deep dish older style medallions. My grandfather hated the "new" style medallions and always installed the old style in all of his custom stocks. He had 3 mint Shooting Masters but all were in .38 caliber.
Had these for over 30 years and finally parted with them last year ...I've sort of had seller's remorse ever since. Checkered pearl for a Shooting Master, either R/B or S/B is very seldom seen, you'll see carved pearl more often.
Next, you have to find a box for that gun ...$$$$$
Hey Mike: In researching a new-to-me Colt OP (to be the subject of a separate post later) I ran across a reference to the .357 Shooting Master that I thought might be of interest to you. Since your gun was made in 1940 you might like to know that it had several 'brothers' shipped to Britain around the same time. According to Ian Skennerton, there were 12 blued .357 Shooting Masters purchased 5/28/40 which went to Britain for the war effort. He reports that 43 blued .38s went, as well as 60 in .45 for a total of 115. This all is from the book ".380 Enfield No. 2 Revolver" by Skennerton and Stamps, p.104. I would like to have seen the expression on the face of the British Tommy opening up that box! Regards, Charlie
Jeff, those checkered pearl grips are giving me a heart attack ... just to know they exist! Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!
And Judge, yes we did negotiate this gun "off line," and although I paid too much for it -- at least more than anyone else was willing to do! -- I don't regret it. I doubt if I'll be seeing another one for sale soon.
I would NEVER buy a gun without the customary inspection period. The seller, who has a pile of things listed on Gunbroker, many of them interesting and all with a too-high reserve, was very much on the ball with this: shipped overnight the day he received payment. And his one-word rating of condition -- excellent -- turned out to be an understatement. If he posted another gun I "needed" labeled excellent, I would nab it.
By the way, here's the S.M. listing in the 1937 National Target & Supply catalog:
Mike, beautiful pics! One great Christmas present! You have me drooling in my chair! The Shooting Master is even better than my 1920 vintage Officer's Model with it's old style "deep dish" medallion grips.