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I bought this one today and was quite puzzled by the serial number and Model 1901 marking. The gun has matching numbers including the last 4 of the serial number on several parts. Pages 176 to 180 in the Best book for New Model Army and Navy Pistols it explains that guns refinished by Colt had the markings ground off and replaced with the Model 1901 mark indicating it had a lanyard loop installed. The cutoff for the pre 1899 guns is 115000 or thereabouts.

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As you seem to have figured out, that gun was originally (likely) a model 1892 that was refurbished and had the lock updated. Once done it was remarked on the butt as a "Model 1901". All of this series of guns had consecutively running serials so assuming that Colt kept the correct serial number, then it should be a pre 1898 made revolver. That would make it an antique. Nice looking Colt!
 

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A Colt historical letter would certainly help. If the situation ever arose about the date try explaining it's history to an ATF agent.
I agree. From my reading of the laws pertaining to “age” with both C&R and antiques, if the gun was modified then the calendar starts over.
 

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I agree. From my reading of the laws pertaining to “age” with both C&R and antiques, if the gun was modified then the calendar starts over.
I have never heard that before. As to antiques I have always understood it to mean if the receiver was manufactured prior to 1898. A C&R gun that is modified past a certain point is no longer C&R eligible due to it no longer have collector interest and it's value is based on being a shooter. Some surplus dealers only went so far in modifying a gun to be sold as a C&R to avoid this rule.
 

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Keep in mind that this "modification" was not done just to make a change. Virtually all of the 1889 and 1892 Colt DA revolvers were sent back to Colt (and a couple of other places) to have the action updated. The military DAs, even with the update are just as collectible as before the change. Basically, the change made the gun inoperable until the cylinder was completely closed. Essentially a safety update. Lots more info about this topic in Bob Best's book. I can't imagine any question of the gun not being an antique coming up.
 

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In practical terms of enforcement, it’s an irrelevant question. No ATF office is going to take an interest in this esoteric distinction unless the gun is used to assassinate someone important or such.

The very practical issue that I see is that, based on my experience, there won’t be a lot of potential buyers, as well as transfer dealers and shippers, the kind of people you need in any transaction except in-state face-to-face, whom you’ll be able to convince that a gun stamped Model 1901 is an antique made before 1899. A Colt letter may or may not help.
 

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Nice looking Colt, if it is (was) an 1892, the flat notch cut on the top of the frame, behind the hammer is about 19/64" in length. From what I understand all the later ones have a longer notch.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
This gun was made in 1895 and has the longer notch / slot found on the model 1894. From my limited research the 1892s all had short notches or slots.
 

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If you decide to shoot it, remember that it probably has the .375" bore so it will be most accurate with the heeled bullets. One easy way to tell is if the cylinder is bored straight thru it is the .375 bore. If there is a small "lip" at the front of the chamber then it will most likely have the .357" bore and you can use cast 38/357 bullets. Happy shooting!
 

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In practical terms of enforcement, it’s an irrelevant question. No ATF office is going to take an interest in this esoteric distinction unless the gun is used to assassinate someone important or such.
While I certainly respect law enforcement, there is no way I could believe a blanket statement like that. Too many 'gung ho' types, in any profession. I too would letter it and keep it with the gun. The date of manufacture should remove all doubt. As an aside...remember the 'Colt 2000"? It came out a few years before 2000 so the model name isnt really an issue.
 

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The OP is actually somewhat lucky to have one of those that were upgraded at Colt and restamped with the entire serial number, which allows dating the gun accurately.

Many of the Model 1901 upgrades were done at government arsenals and the entire serial was ground off and thus lost, since apparently nobody bothered to keep records of them. After installation of the swivel the butt was restamped with the last four digits of the serial which also functioned as the assembly number and could be taken off the crane cut or other parts.

So there are lots of Models 1901 out there which would technically be antiques but there is no way to prove it as the one or two missing frontal digits are lost forever.

There are also lots of less knowledgable owners who think they have a “really early” specimen with low serial.
 

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I know a guy who, some years ago, purchased a 1903 Springfield solely because it has a three digit serial number...but the gun was so worn the number could not be made out so the seller (or someone before him) took dies and stamped in the serial number on the receiver where the original number would be. While I'm not saying the rifle isn't a genuine three-digit serial number '03...just having three digits stamped in the worn receiver doesn't prove it so.

I dropped hints to the guy about that but he was convinced he has a rare rifle...little more than an assembly of parts to me on a relic receiver.
 

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The OP is actually somewhat lucky to have one of those that were upgraded at Colt and restamped with the entire serial number, which allows dating the gun accurately.

Many of the Model 1901 upgrades were done at government arsenals and the entire serial was ground off and thus lost, since apparently nobody bothered to keep records of them. After installation of the swivel the butt was restamped with the last four digits of the serial which also functioned as the assembly number and could be taken off the crane cut or other parts.

So there are lots of Models 1901 out there which would technically be antiques but there is no way to prove it as the one or two missing frontal digits are lost forever.

There are also lots of less knowledgable owners who think they have a “really early” specimen with low serial.
I believe this to be the case with my DA 38. It looked like it had been de-milled and the heel cleaned when the lanyard hole was installed. I have no idea what to do with it now since it no longer has its original serial number thus making it contraband. Have debated filling the barrel with lead and making it a display piece but...
 

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I suspect that the re-stamped guns have merrily been changing hands for decades with the four-digit number being used on the 4473 and being run through NCIC if applicable. That will work just fine. Of course there could theoretically be up to 16 restamped Models 1901 with the same four-digit serial (production of the REAL Model 1901 in 1901 started around 166xxx), but as long as none of them is reported stolen, all will be well.

Whether an officially US Army arsenal restamped gun is technically contraband has been debated among collectors with nothing better to do occasionally; I don’t think ATF has ruled on that.
 

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I suspect that the re-stamped guns have merrily been changing hands for decades with the four-digit number being used on the 4473 and being run through NCIC if applicable. That will work just fine. Of course there could theoretically be up to 16 restamped Models 1901 with the same four-digit serial (production of the REAL Model 1901 in 1901 started around 166xxx), but as long as none of them is reported stolen, all will be well.

Whether an officially US Army arsenal restamped gun is technically contraband has been debated among collectors with nothing better to do occasionally; I don’t think ATF has ruled on that.
I hope so. I got it along with the 1903, both belonged to my great grandpa, then grandpa, then mom, and now me. Would be kinda cool to actually fire them for lineage purposes and pass them down to my kids next, maybe teach them how to shoot with them. All I REALLY know about the DA38 is the barrel is stamped with 1895 trademarks, there is no colt logo above the grip, instead appears it had RAC intentionally removed. RAC is still found on the inner surface of the cylinder, and matching assembly numbers on crane, release, and inside the plate. The year mark in front of the grip also appears to have been deliberately removed.
 

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The year mark in front of the grip also appears to have been deliberately removed.
You mean on the left side on the frame? To my knowledge those didn’t happen until 1902; I have an original 1901 shipped in Oct. 1901 that does not have a year there, and I’ve never seen an older year.
 

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SN combinations

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Of course there could theoretically be up to 16 restamped Models 1901 with the same four-digit serial (production of the REAL Model 1901 in 1901 started around 166xxx)

Could you please give the range for the 16 possible combinations for the 4 digit SN on the model 1901?

The pic shown is of a gun with no numbers on the butt, but the same 4 digit number on all of the parts and RAC on the frame, barrel, cylinder, and both grips. Latest patent on the barrel is 3/5/95. Does this look like a REAL 1901? Thanks
 

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Could you please give the range for the 16 possible combinations for the 4 digit SN on the model 1901?

The pic shown is of a gun with no numbers on the butt, but the same 4 digit number on all of the parts and RAC on the frame, barrel, cylinder, and both grips. Latest patent on the barrel is 3/5/95. Does this look like a REAL 1901? Thanks
This is a rough calculation, and due to the intermixture of civilian and Navy models may vary in actuality.

But the basic calculation is simple. You have the assembly number 7527 as the last four digits. You also have the ‘95 barrel patent date, meaning the earliest candidate can be from the Second Contract of the Army Model 1894, starting at serial 63,000.

So your gun could be a modified/upgraded gun between 67527, 77527 ... to 157527, or an actual Model 1901 with numbers 167527, 177527, 187527, or 197257, after which the slightly different Model 1903 started.

There may be minor technical changes over the years that allow you to narrow this down further. I’m not that much into screws and springs, you’d have to find someone more experienced in those details.
 
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