View Full Version : Help IDing an old Italian Colt Clone
December 9, 2010, 11:31 AM
My dad informed me the other day that he had found an old revolver in his father in law's filing cabinet. He said that my stepbrother didn't want it, and figured his jackass brother-in-law would probably just sell it. So, he asked my step mom if I could have it, and she said yes.
My dad doesn't know much about guns short of the .22 revolver and .25 saturday night special that he owns. I had no idea what I was getting. I opened the case to find what I believe is an Italian made Baby Dragoon. I'm not sure if it's .31 or .36 cal, but it has a brass frame, is five shots, and has what looks to be a stagecoach hold up scene etched on the cylinder.
I don't know much about Italian import marks but it is makes on the butt of the grip "DART ITALY".
It looks to be in pretty good shape. Just a little wear around the hammer and nipples (certainly wouldn't trust the "pins" to keep this one safe). The steel shows some mild pitting and a little bit of surface rust. The brass is obviously tarnished. Who knows how long this gun had been sitting in its case in that filing cabinet.
Here's a pic off my phone with a swiss army knife for scale.
Would any of you gurus be kind enough to give me a little info on this lil' bugger? Any idea what it's worth. I dunno if I should shoot it, sell it, or use it as a paper weight. If it's worth much, I'm giving it back to my dad. A dead man's gun whom I didn't know doesn't seem right for me to keep if it is indeed some sort of heirloom.
...or is it just the typical Italian replica made during the spaghetti western craze?;)
Thanks in advance, guys.
December 9, 2010, 12:01 PM
It's a replica of the 1849 Colt pocket or Baby Dragoon, should be 31cal. For the maker; look for "MARCO" on the frame, that would be Armi San Marco, maybe Pieta, I don't know their logo. If it cocks and the cylinders line up with the barrel and it's clean in the bore; I'd fire it, 10 to 12gr 3f b/p or equal in b/p sub and 32 ball. I've got a steel frame one that's very accurate and fun to shoot.
December 9, 2010, 12:14 PM
thanks for the info:)
The only marking short of DART I can find are AC and PN:confused: I'm guessing PN might be Pietta?
Also, would a .357 cleaning brush fit into a .31 cal barrel? Just to see what it was, I fished my nylon .357 brush down the barrel without much issue. Are we still thinking it's .31?
December 9, 2010, 12:26 PM
AC is the code of the italian proof houses for 1977, i. e. the little shooter was made 1977.
PN is the black powder proof stamp of Gardone.
December 9, 2010, 12:32 PM
I am really learning a lot:D
December 9, 2010, 07:15 PM
I was going by the size comparison and the cylinder markings, but it could be a Pocket Police, Colt replica and then it would be a 36. Usually they are slightly larger than the 31's. Run a caliper across the cylinder opening, or if no caliper, use a tape measure and see if you can get a measure of the diameter of the cylinder bore.
December 9, 2010, 07:50 PM
I opened the case to find what I believe is an Italian made Baby Dragoon. I'm not sure if it's .31 or .36 cal, but it has a brass frame, is five shots, and has what looks to be a stagecoach hold up scene etched on the cylinder.
.31 cal, 5 shot, stagecoach scene on cylinder, 4 inch barrel, square back triggerguard. Definitely a Baby Dragoon. As to maker. Probably one of the many small replica makers (COM, DOM, PR, MOFRA, GB) that churned out pistols for US importers during the 60s and 70s.
December 9, 2010, 09:48 PM
Does the roll engraving tell you anything?
You see this on pistols but not everyone did it and not every used the same pattern.
Where is bprevolver when you need him?
December 9, 2010, 11:08 PM
This was on another post a year or so ago:
"Dart is the trademark of the Italian company named "River Estrina" of Brescia, Italy. The company was a registered Italian gunmaker in 1971."
December 10, 2010, 12:06 AM
Thanks for the DART reminder Pohill. I knew I had read about it somewhere; but couldnt find a reference.
Colt did five different roll engravings on revolvers. The Paterson had a band depicting either a Centaur with two pistols killing two horsemen, or a stagecoach holdup scene. Baby Dragoons had an Indian fight scene, and '49 Pocket models had the stagecoach holduop scene. Walkers and Dragoons had a scene of Mounted Dragoons fighting Indians on horseback, and the '51 Navies, '61 Navies, and '60 Armies had the Ormsby Naval Battlee Scene.
Technically, with the Stagecoach holdup scene on this revolver, it makes it a brass framed repro of the '49 Pocket model with square back trigger guard instead of the Baby Dragoon; but to most people, the names are interchangeable, and the replica makers mixed and matched distinguishing parts so the proper names don't apply anyhow.
December 10, 2010, 06:26 AM
....I was talking about the engraving that was applied to the frames and in some cases other parts of replicas. I saw a photo of an ASM with a roll engraved frame the other day. At a gun show I handled a roll engraved example that came from another manufacturer (can't remember which)
I am not a fan of this feature. I think it is an attempt to pretty up a revolver that falls flat on it's face. I don't mean to offend "Fiv3"s revolver. The value in this particular specimen emerges from its history not from its features.
December 10, 2010, 07:45 AM
I don't think any frames were ever roll engraved on repro revolvers. I do believe that they were etched by acid or laser to simulate real engraving.
December 10, 2010, 07:53 AM
Yes...Possible. Laser etching became commercially viable in about 1960 and of course acid etching goes back further than that. But the effect is the same.
I want to emphasize, this is my opinion only. Others may profoundly disagree and some who own pistols with engraving applied with such techniques and of such quality as I am speaking may be offended. I am a pretty easy going guy....But I find this faux engraving to have the effect of cheapening the appearance of the revolver accept in cases in which it is a determined attempt to faithfully reproduce what was on the original version of the revolver such as the cylinder scenes.
I want to also add that I would in no way cast aspersions on Fiv3's revolver. The value of that revolver has little to do with its features or condition. That revolver is a very important part of Fiv3's family history and as such it is all but priceless.
I guess I am going to have to shift over to decaf. :)
December 10, 2010, 11:49 AM
Understand. IMNSHO, some of the current non-hand cut engraving looks good and enhances the appearance of the gun; while some of it - and even some of the hand cut variety, doesn't. It's all a matter of taste. :cool:
December 10, 2010, 12:19 PM
I'll buy that.
December 10, 2010, 02:02 PM
Thanks again guys:)
I'm THINKING it might be a .31. I had some .32 S&W long ammo laying around that matches up better to the bore than something in the .35+ range. It certainly doesn't look like a .357 bullet would fit in there, so I'm guessing it's .31.
Doc, no worries about not liking the engraving. Honestly, i think they are hokey as well. While I much prefer the look of unfluted cylinders, I really dislike all the "decoration" on these models. I will say the little scroll work and hashes on the brass from and barrel do add a little something to the gun, but a bunch of pioneers being gunned down?:confused:
...or was this marketing on the gun. "If only these poor souls would have been at least armed with a pocket Colt!":D
I do want to thank you all again. It looks like I'll be shooting this one once I get some ammo in. While I would have never bought one this small, I have to say that I haven't put this thing down since I unzipped the case yesterday. It walks and talks like a champ even with all the wear on it. The frame and steel cleaned up pretty nice, too. The nipples appear to be flattened. This could be from a lot of use, or too much full on dry firing. At any rate, my #11s fit just fine, but I do get a bit of typical "colt binding" unless i give the gun a good robust shake vertically between shots.
I might have to get an 1860 next to compliment this lil bugger. Heck, my birthday is coming up in a couple months. Maybe I can sweet talk the wife into letting me plunk down the scratch for a Walker:D
December 10, 2010, 02:11 PM
No thinking about it. It IS a .31 cal. A pocket model in .36 cal. has a rebated cylinder (larger in the front than the rear) like a 1860 Army model.
I don't know if it is the lighting or something, but in the picture of this gun, it looks like the barrel is pointed upward. This could be caused by a too short arbor and a wedge inserted too far. What is the barrel to cylinder gap?
December 10, 2010, 03:05 PM
They are fun guns to shoot. I use O buckshot - it fits perfectly and it's relatively cheap.
December 10, 2010, 03:08 PM
I think its an optical illusion. I was standing over the gun and taking the pic on my counter. It looks pretty straight to me. The barrel mates perfectly into the frame, no wallowing of the brass and the pin and wedge seems to line up just fine.
I'm really curious to see how this thing shoots:D
December 10, 2010, 08:30 PM
The wedge is in way too far.
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