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View Full Version : Colt New Service Army Model Info???


Dr.Rob
November 16, 1999, 01:15 PM
I have a Colt New Service Army Model SN 125xxx. in 45 acpwith a 5.5 inch barrel and fixed bade and notch sights. There are additional serial #'s on the frame, cylinder yoke, and inside left side cover which ALL match. It is marked 1917 Army Model on the butt. It has a nickel plated lanyard loop, trigger and hammer, the grips are smooth black horn. (replacements I'm sure) There are no import stamps and its marked United States Government Property on the underside of the barrel. I'm positive it was re-blued a long time ago as the rampant colt has been "filled in" with blueing (and the horse looks poorly stamped or was badly worn), which is DEEP blue/black instead of charcoal or parkerized finish. There are other tiny nicks/dings that were also cleaned and re-blued on the grip frame. I know its not a pristine gun, but its a NICE shooter (shiny bore and cylinders) and I got it for a STEAL before the SW and Colt brazilian contract guns started showing up. (I paid about $275 for it in 1994.)

My question is... is this a real WW1 gun??

(I know colt and SW produced something like 300,000 45 acp revolvers combined to suppliment the scarce and costly to produce 1911) (that was in 1917). Or is this more likely a ww2 era revolver? My guess is this was a DCM gun sold to an NRA member in the 50's ands reblued at that time . Based on other models of the New Service revolver I've seen its DEFINITELY worth more than I paid for it. I doubt this one is worth "lettering", but its a neat bit of curiousa. I bought it because of an article I saw on the big 45 revolvers in an early 80's shooter's digest, and the fact that Sid Hatfield (sheriff of mingo county in the west virginia mine wars) carried TWO of the beasts. (my family is from That part of the country.) Oh and Sam Spade carried one in his car.

I can take a pic of it if need be for additional info.

Dr.Rob

Harley Nolden
November 16, 1999, 03:36 PM
Dr. Rob:
My records indicate that you revolver was named the Colt New Service Double Action Revolver, and mfg'd in 38 Spl, 357 Mar (intro 1936) 38-40, 44-40, 44 Russian, 44 Special, 45 Auto, 45 (Long Colt) 450 Eley, 455 Eley, 476 Eley and a 6 shot cylinder. Barrel length, 4-5 " and 6' in 38 Spl and 357 Mag. 4.5", 5.5" and 7.5" in other calibers, 9 3/4" overall with 4.5" bbl. Made from 1898 to 1942. NOTE: more than 500,000 of this model in caliber 45 auto (designated Model 1917 Revolver were purchased by the U.S. Gov during WWI. these arms were later sold as surplus to National Rifle Association members through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship. Price was $16.15 + shipping. The supply exhausted in the early 1930's.

Based upon this, my records indicate your Colt is a WWI model with a value of EXC=$750.00 to POOR=$225.00.

HJN

[This message has been edited by Harley Nolden (edited November 16, 1999).]

[This message has been edited by Harley Nolden (edited November 16, 1999).]

Dr.Rob
November 16, 1999, 04:30 PM
Thanks Harley,

I didn't realize they had sold them off that early so my gun has possibly been in civilian hands for over 60 years.

Also... I read that US tank troops in WW2 were issued 45 cal revolvers (instead of 1911's) so I was thinking the gun had remained "in service" through WW2. (I also have read that the OSS issued a 2 inch barrelled "fitz" model of the new service model in 45. wonder what that would be worth) I've also seen a Capra photo of a 101st airborne trooper with a new service colt and butt forward holster (could have been his own gun though) You think its worth getting a factory letter???

But I'll tell you something else... $750 is WAY below what sellers want for a new service model in .357 in excellent condition.. its more like twice that. I know. ;) I've wanted one for a long time.

I've seen parkerized (unturned with british proof marks) 38 special ww2 guns going for $1000 Man is that a BIG gun for a 38 special ;)

Maybe that market $ seems a little high... but that's looking at something you can hold in your hand rather than a "best guess" valuation from something in the gun list. I think New Service revolvers are pretty collectable, and hey they look REALLY neat.

Thanks for the info Harley..


Dr.Rob

James K
November 16, 1999, 11:24 PM
Hi, Dr. Rob,

The commercial New Service as well as the earlier 1909 militaries go for more than the 1917 based primarily on numbers made and quality of finish, workmanship, etc. The military 1917s were originally blued with plain wood grips. There was a civilian version also (only about 1000), and the Shooting Master was made in .45 ACP for the .45 matches.

While many S&W and Colt 1917s were sold off through DCM, there were still quite a few around during WWII and later and a number of pictures of GIs with them. They were issued in lieu of (ILO) the Model 1911A1 pistol and the army issued the manual at least as late as 1957.

As for OSS use, all I can say is that if the OSS used every gun attributed to them, they must have been the most heavily armed bunch of spies in history. I don't necessarily disbelieve the story about the Fitz special, but it sounds more like an individual purchase than an issue item. The Colt Model 1903 at least makes sense, as it is very concealable.

Jim

P.S. for Harley. When the DCM said "supply exhausted" they merely meant that they had sold the guns allotted to them for that year by the Army. They did not necessarily mean that the Army had no more guns of that type.

JEK

Harley Nolden
November 17, 1999, 07:12 AM
Jim:
Your P.S.
Are you sure it was the 45ACP model we are talking about, or was it the long Colt that was presented by DCM?

HJN

[This message has been edited by Harley Nolden (edited November 17, 1999).]

[This message has been edited by Harley Nolden (edited November 17, 1999).]

Harley Nolden
November 17, 1999, 08:40 AM
Dr.Rob:
Yes the price for the .357 is higher, however, this is for Sr# 333XXX to 356XXX, which is listed as the Shooting Master.($1,500.00 Exc) Revolvers over the #340XXX are priced, in the same caliber, are much less. ($800.00 Exc)

hjn

Harley Nolden
November 17, 1999, 08:46 AM
Jim:
If my memory serves, although a gun, rifle or pistol, may be termed obsolete by the military, there are a ceretain number retained, in storage, for futher use if needed at a later date. As was experienced w/the 1903. M1's were in short supply, don't remember the period, and the 03 was drawn from moth balls and issued.

Could the 1917 be in this catagory for the WWII issue?

HJN

Dr.Rob
November 17, 1999, 11:41 AM
Well now with THAT in mind maybe I SHOULD try to get a factory letter to learn some of the provedence of this particular arm. Like i said no telling WHEN it came out of government stores, but I was pretty sure it was one of those produced in 1917, given the serial # range.

The 45 acp fitz special I read about was in an article about a son going through his fathers belongings after his death. The father had been and "operator" in the OSS and there was a box full of memerobilia in the attic the son was looking through.. which included two firearms... a luger and a "massive" 45 caliber snub nosed colt revolver. (sound like a fitz converted new service army to you?). Both were described in the article as "rusty" (a crime to be sure), as was the knife in the collection.

The author was trying to reconcile the gentle caring dad he had grown up with the professional spy he had been while "at work" in the war and after.

I'm not sure if I read it in details or esquire over a year ago...

anyway just food for thought.

Dr.Rob

Harley Nolden
November 17, 1999, 11:46 AM
Dr Bob:
I am quite sure your pistol is what I had previously described. With so many variations and considerations, proved and unproved, I remain convinced.

HJN