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Having been a longtime student of Colt Firearms, most especially the Official Police, I came to the conclusion that this "gangster-getter" for law enforcement from the 1930's and service revolver, par excellence, for cops east to west and north to south in this country came close to being a "custom-made" six-gun. As the Colt Forum Members and most readers are already aware of the Official Police and its colorful history. For those who don't or unsure, the Official Police (OP) was a fixed sight, six-shot .38 Special Service Revolver that came in three barrel lengths of 4",5" and 6-inches, with a small number of 2" snubbies for plain clothes cop duty. A nickel or blue finish was offered and there was just two basic generations of OP Models; the pre-war and post-war models. From 1928 until 1968 the OP had quite a run until "labor-costs" drove this renowned six-shooter off the assembly lines of Colt. It is for this reason that I reason the OP to have been close to a "custom" revolver as you can get without actually being there. The reasons I will list are very familiar to the prestigious Python-owners of this forum. Because there was, maybe, a hairs difference in the manufacture and production of both of these Colts. The Python frame (I-frame) was derived from the OP-Frame along with the trigger-action. Listed below are my reasons for near-custom gun:

1-THE TRIGGER-ACTION OF THE OP WAS HAND-HONED AND HAND-FITTED BY THE VERY BEST IN FIREARMS CRAFTSMANSHIP. THIS ALONE, WOULD QUALIFY A REVOLVER TODAY FOR CUSTOM DESIGNATION!

2-THE TIME PERIOD REQUIRED FOR BUILDING AND PUTTING THE OP TOGETHER WAS LONGER THAN THE COMPETITION WAS TAKING WITH THEIR PRODUCT. TWO M&P's FOR EACH OP FINISHED. WHAT THIS MEANS IS THAT A LOT OF VERY SKILLED "HANDS-ON" WORK WAS DEMANDED IN THE OP's CONSTRUCTION. ALL MOVING PARTS CAREFULLY POLISHED FOR SMOOTH OPERATION. THIS TOOK ADDITIONAL TIME AS THE OP WAS NO HURRY UP, PUT TOGETHER SIXGUN!

The above craftsmanship is not visible any longer in firearms manufacture "except" when ordering a very high dollar "custom" firearm with the above type trigger-action, hand-honed and hand-titted. This was just the norm for OP manufacture. It is one of the reasons too that I refer to the OP as a very fine precision shooting instrument. Gosh, when you think about "what" went into the manufacture of an ordinary fixed sight medium frame .38 revolver, it boggles the mind! When I think of how revolvers are made today, it makes me want to weep for the missing craftsmanship that was standard in the Official Police. I have one of the late model Taurus Revolvers, the Model 82, a fixed sight, 4-inch heavy barrel .38 Special that comes standard with a Target Hammer and Target Trigger. In researching the manufacture of the Model 82 the difference between the 82 and the OP is staggering, to say the least! The 82 is a good basic sixgun and I have no complaints other than the absolute missing of any hands-on craftsmanship. The kind that made the OP a standout for many decades! The kind that made a trigger-action smooth as glass out of the factory. The stacking-issue, that is mentioned from time to time, is not noticed by a Colt-man, like myself. The Python has the same type trigger, a present from the Official Police! True Python shooters are not taken back by the stacking at the end of the trigger-pull. I single-action and double-action fire the Taurus Model 82, a 2013 made firearm, and its not bad. It is called a "factory-custom" trigger by Taurus. It does not begin to compare with my 1959 OP's hand honed and hand-fitted trigger! No, not even! This is why I call the OP a close-as you-can-get "custom" revolver right off the factory line! Thank you my friends and sorry for the length of my post. Please forgive me!
David
 

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Good point on the handfitting of the OP (and any of the V-spring/rebound lever Colts). I would agree that in today's world they would certainly be considered "custom"! ( I am not familiar with how the S&W M&P's were made-I thought there was some hand work involved there as well-But I don't have any M&P's to compare.)
I have a couple OP's and I really like them. They are a no frills "custom",strong,and accurate revolver.
 

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All the classic 20th century Colt pistols, double and single actions, were hand assembled and timed. The early DA models, the New Service, through the Army Special, Officers Models, even the Police Positives. Up until the last few revolvers models they made starting in the 1960s. Same with S&W, same with Merwin and Hulbert, all of them were labor intensive. Bill Ruger invented designs that were easy to assemble without a lot of individual craftsmanship required on each piece. That's why they cost about half price. And are still in the revolver business, where Colt isn't unfortunately.
 

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I own a 1937 OP. I originally bought it, knowing nothing of the model, because it was a cheap Colt. As in, 300.00 and some change for in very nice shape. What I appreciate is that I "discovered" some things that are known to other OP owners. I figured out that it is basically a Python (I have one of those, too.) What exquisite timing! I noticed the incredible machining that went into it. The flat surfaces on the frame are FLAT! As in a geometric plane flat. I started comparing all my guns one day in a bright, penetrating sunlight. That kind of light really shows up defects in blued finishes. The winner out of all my guns? Yup.
 

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most modern made DA guns have nothing but tight clunky actions. NOTHING like ordinary Colt or even S&W firearms prior to 15 years ago
 

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I have only owned Colt double action revolvers for a little under 10 years now.

I will never forget the first time I picked up my first Colt (it was an OP) and I said to myself "holy ****, this is the smoothest action I have ever felt".

Bought it on the spot and bought quite a few old Colts since then.

I might get flamed for this but even the newer actions, like the Trooper MKIII in .357 magnum, when I put in the reduced power springs, are extremely smooth to me. I don't know why those are so smooth but they are.

I remembered dfariswheel and other veteran members talking about the newer actions so I was a bit reluctant to purchase the MK III's but I took the plunge on a couple of good deals over the internet and was VERY surprised at how smooth their actions are when the reduced power springs were installed.

Not that the veteran members were downplaying the newer actions much but I just didn't know how they would feel.

Like I said, I really don't know why they are so smooth but they are.
 

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Excellent post Dabney! I have a late 1926 Army Special and it is a wonderful revolver! And the action is as smooth and slick as my Pythons!
 
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