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Discussion Starter #1
Watching an auction for one of the WWII Colt Commandos with a post WWII 2" barrel raised several questions. Pate in his book US HANDGUNS OF WORLD WAR II states that several thousand four inch revolvers were re-barreled after the war with the post war two inch barrel. So does anyone know:
1.) Who did the re-barreling, was it Colt or Government armory?
2.) Where did these thousands of revolvers come from, were they unissued, Military shipped or defense plant turn ins?
3. Where did they go? Who was issued them post war?
4. Does anyone have a letter on one? Does it mention the rework or just the the original buyer. Who was it shipped to?

Thanks
 

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Very good questions...I really don't know the answers. It would seem logical that government arsenals would be more than capable of doing the work with barrels purchased from Colt. The flaw there is that arsenal reworked firearms were stamped with the mark of the arsenal doing the work. I haven't seen any Commandos like that. If the military wanted more snubby Commandos it would seem more efficient to send the several thousand revolvers back to Colt rather than sending barrels to various arsenals for re-barreling...but you also can't accuse the government of doing things efficiently.

I do know that a small federal security guard agency that was upgraded to a police agency was issued Commando revolvers in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The General Services Administration would probably be the issuing authority at that time...just my guess on that knowing the federal system.

Archives letters only show where the revolvers were initially shipped to...no records of reworks were maintained. I have four 4" Commandos and lettered all of them. All only state where they were initially sent.
 

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One would indeed need to see one lettered. Since the post-war barrels are factory-original, it is likely the work was done at the factory. I have seen letters for other models which did note that a specific gun was returned to the factory and then shipped out again to another recipient.

I would guess it depends on whether this was a Colt initiative (they got the guns back and “upgraded” them for sale to new customers) or whether it was done at the owner‘s (presumably some agency‘s) request. In the latter case it would likely be treated as a repair and not be reflected separately in shipping records.

Maybe a question for Paul.
 

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I would think that official data on that rebarreling would be hard to find. If anyone would know, it would be Kwill.
 

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On a side note, in a footnote to chap. 8 Charles Pate also says that “Many WW II period Official Police revolvers were rebuilt and rebarreled with 2” Commando marked barrels after the war”.

Unfortunately there is no sourcing for that information; in a best case it comes from Pate’s research at Colt, which would indicate factory work. It would be nice to know what he considers “many”. By my observation Commandos with post-war 2” barrels are less common that wartime 2-inchers, and at least in person I’ve ever encountered an OP with Commando 2” barrel.
 

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I would think if it was a government arsenal rebuilding and re-barreling Commandos there would be arsenal markings on them. That leads me to believe they were sent to Colt for the work.

The post-war re-barreled Commandos certainly have less value than wartime snubbies. The only real collector value in them is by a collector who simply wants an example of every version of the revolver...which these are a legitimate variation. The only others who think they have value more than the average Commando are those that don't know the difference between the two short barrels...believing them to be the real deal...those that know the facts of them and are misrepresenting them intentionally and those who make no bones about them being postwar re-barrels and are promoting them as a rare variation worth more.

It reminds me of PT Barnum.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
Pate states several thousand for the post war 2 inch barrel and there were 3450 of the WWII 2 in barrel ones. But I do see more of the WWII 2 in barrels then of the post war. I have seen an official police with a 4 inch commando barrel but assumed it was a Frankenstein. I don't recall ever seeing a two inch commando barrel on an official police but probably would have dismissed it as a Frankenstein also. Would be a interesting variation to find but not sure how you could confirm its authenticity and the lack of known history would be a detriment for me.
 

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3/21/1949 RG156, E1049, Box A699, File 474.6/2779: The COO wrote RIA noting RIA had approximately 5,000 serviceable Colt revolvers and directed them to overhaul 10,000 others and cannibalize up to 1,000 revolvers, if necessary, for parts needed to overhaul the others. They were to get both serviceable and unserviceable revolvers from other stations to do the work.
 

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Numrich still has original 4" Commando-marked barrels, and at least one guy on e-bay has sold "new in the wrapper" 2" Commando barrels, although the picture was in the wrapper, so shape of sight and authenticty were unconfirmable. But factory spare barrels were apparently available, plus of course cannibalized ones; 2-inchers weren't always hot collectibles.

So taking these for real for the moment, in the absence of any confirmed arsenal or re-work marks it would indeed be impossible to confirm any OP or Commando with a post-war installed 2" Commando barrel as the "real thing", meaning Colt- or RIA-done. Any competent gunsmith could do that including the ejector rod.

It would be interesting to know whether any "Official Police Commandos" were reblued or parkerized. Here is the only decent photo I've found of a post-war 2" Commando; obviously its barrel change involved no refinish.


702008
 
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