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Discussion Starter #1
I was wondering if you could dig out your Troopers and check the serial numbers relative to Wilson's serial number ranges. Wilson lists two series of serial numbers for the Trooper, 357 Model, and (sounds funny)the Trooper between 1953 and 1969 and then the Trooper, Mark III versions, Op's, OMM's, and Lawman after '69. Then you throw in some Officer's Model match's revolvers into the mix.... sort of a mess.

I have three Troopers.... all 22's and all date 1968 which I find odd. They were purchased at random, but all date the same year. So, have any of you gotten letters on your troopers and compared the production dates with Wilson and so forth?? It is possible that it was luck of the draw, but it seems odd on a fairly low production revolver that all of mine turn out to be the same production year?? Seeking your thoughts and observations? Thanks
 

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22 rimfire; I have a .22 Trooper,"old model" #715xx,but I doubt if it was made in 1968. There is a photo of an engraved Trooper .22 that was made in 1955 in the 69,000 serial number range,and these are supposed to be 1968 numbers. My 5" Nickled Florida Highway Patrol Trooper is in the correct 51,000 range for its 1966 production.

I cannot find the .22 listed as being offered anywhere near that late(1968) in the Trooper old model;1963 is the last listing I can find. It couldve been a parts clean up of left over .22 Old Style Trooper parts,before the switch over to the MkIII in 1969 at Rock Hill,but I doubt it.

My guess is that the correct year falls under the Officers Model Match serial number range,putting it around 1956-57,for my .22 Trooper.

Really confusing,but that picture and caption of the 1955 Trooper,with 1968 Numbers,just adds to it! Bud
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Mine are "old models" also. Have a couple Mark III's too, but they aren't important or particularily generic to my question. I have thought about getting a letter or two, but letters are expensive and the Troopers really aren't all that valuable now. In the future, I expect them to "take off" in the collector market. I also thought about calling Colt on these as well, which I believe I will soon. Maybe they use Wilson's books too?
 

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22: My .22 Trooper is serialed 685XX. The Wilson book dates that at 1954 or so. I don't think Wilson's book is particularly reliable, but that is all I have to go on as I refuse to fork over $100 for a letter from Colt. I agree that Troopers are somewhat undervalued at present, but I sure don't know why as I find them to be well made, well finished, and everything else seems to be going up!

Charlie Flick

 

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Discussion Starter #5
Charlie, Which Wilson book are you using to date you Trooper? I haven't looked at the 1971 (original bible) in a while and usually use the American Legend book for most dating purposes since it is cheap and the other is considerably more valuable (ie I treat it with kit gloves). Anyway, my Troopers are #724xx, #689xx, and #795xx.

Nice photo. By the way, are you originally from PA? If you are, email me please.
 

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Wilson's numbers are very accurate, since they are the official Colt factory numbers.

The factory considers the book "Colt: An American Legend" to be the "official history" of the Colt firearms production.

As such, Wilson was allowed to copy the original factory serial number files.

I saw several late production Colt .22 Troopers, and they were cataloged up to at least the mid-1960s, and I seem to remember a catalog page from 1968 still listing the .22 version.

My first year production is number 691XX.

Colt's numbers from that time were VERY confusing, and the .22 Trooper numbers were actually mixed with the Officer's Model Match.

In fact, the .38 and .22 Troopers were really nothing but an Officer's Model Match with a different barrel.

I can't remember WHERE, but I once read that Colt only made 2200 or so .22 Troopers.

I strongly suspect that the reason so many have late serial numbers is a move to clean up the remaining frames before the old type revolvers were all discontinued in 1969.

There also seemed to be an unusual number of Officer's Model Match revolvers made in the late 60's just before they were discontinued.

[This message has been edited by dfariswheel (edited 04-06-2005).]
 

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22 Rimfire: The R.L. Wilson reference I used to get the 1954 date is "Colt's Dates of Manufacture". In my library I also have and use Wilson's "Colt: An American Legend", "The Rampant Colt", and "The Book of Colt Firearms". Wilson is, of course, recognized as one of the leading authorities on Colts and has done much to advance the understanding of Colts. However, I also believe there is good reason to not treat all of his serial number charts as gospel.

A few quick examples. Bob Rayburn is perhaps the world's leading expert on the Woodsman Models, has reviewed the factory records, and has written extensively on the subject. He dates the first series Woodsman in 1924 as starting the year at serial 38700. Wilson says 1924 starts at 37900, a difference of 800 numbers. Rayburn says 1940 starts at 137600. Wilson says 135000, a difference of 2600 numbers. All the years in between also have significant differences.

Charlie Pate, another well known author and researcher who had access to the factory records, identifies some specific Colts in his US Handguns of WWII book. Pate reports Official Police 721054 as shipped to Springfield Armory on 11/14/42. Wilson puts OPs in that range at 1944, with 1945 starting at 722000. Detective Special 473033 is dated by Pate as shipped in 1944. Wilson says that serial should be a 1940 gun.

Are these huge differences? No, of course not. Nonetheless, serial numbers and dates are of critical importance to collectors. The few quick examples I have given show some considerable discrepancies between Wilson's serial charts and those of other respected researchers/authors. That is why I said that, personally, I don't find his books are particularly reliable on serials.

Some of this may be explained by ambiguities in very old factory ledgers, some by more recent research than Wilson's, some by differences between dates of manufacture and dates of shipment, and some by the simple fact that it is just not possible to neatly and accurately describe serial data in a chart as well as we collectors would like it to be.

As collectors it is fun to ponder these things.

Regards,
Charlie Flick
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you guys. I used the Officers Model serial range and my three date out as 1956, 1954, and 1960. These dates make a lot more sense to me as being about right. I hesitate to deviate from what I thought was the correct interpretation of the serial ranges, just because I didn't think they were correct. But, I do know that the 22 version was re-introduced prior to production stopping in 1969. I just have to dig out that information as best I can. I am going to dig out all of my catalogs and other refererences and assemble a table which summarizes the catalog information (just for giggles). I realize that the catalogs are just one piece of the puzzle and are not ultimate reference. I should have done it a long time ago; but 10 years ago, I didn't have the catalog collection that I do now. The catalogs are a lot of fun. But, I am still missing a few of them between 1900 and 1920.

4-10-05 Correction: I checked through all my available Colt catalogs and literature and discovered that the Trooper 22 was discontinued around 1962. Last catalog that it was listed was 1961. It was not re-introduced (or cataloged) as I indicated above in the late 1960's. Hence, the production range was Late 1953 (Nov. '53 Handbook) through 1961 (1961 catalog) at least relative to the catalogs. Not listed in 1962 catalog. Serven had the production range correct for the 22 Trooper even though he didn't state it was for the 22 version specifically.

[This message has been edited by 22-rimfire (edited 04-10-2005).]
 

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The Wilson serial number charts contain many errors. Most likely, some are not so much errors as typical Colt practices that do not fit the norm.

One error that always bugged me is the year for introduction of the Agent. Wilson shows it as introduced in 1962, when in fact it was introduced in 1956. I have an Agent that letters in 1956 as proof of the error.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
JudgeColt: I was going through some references and in particular, Serven, 1991 (Reprint of the 1954 book, Colt Firearms 1836-1960), he lists the Agent as being introduced in 1955. Checked the June 1955 catalog brochure and it lists the Agent as being available. Anyway, thought you might be interested.
 

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22-rimfire: I was relying on my faulty memory to try to remember the introduciton date of the Agent, and I cannot remember what I had for breakfast! I was off a year. 1955 it is. I think my Agent is a first year, but did not look at the letter either. It is 1955 or 1956 (I think!).
 
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