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Old February 13, 2010, 07:55 PM   #1
Join Date: January 16, 2010
Posts: 19
Calling all COLT 357 Experts

Well I finally secured the Colt .357, what I thought to be one of the first Troopers. Now I am not convinced. The 4" barrel says Colt .357, not Trooper.

Under description for the .357 however it does not list an adjustable reaer site as an option, as the Trooper does. Under .357 it says the later guns are marked Trooper. Both started manufacture in 1953. The >357 stoped in 1961 and the Trooper stoped in 1969. Another interesting thing is that there is no serial number on the butt of the handle frame. Only two number appear to be assembly stamped numbers on cylinder table areas which are 5065 with letters P J and M and 5165 on inside of cylinder fold out. M stamped on bottom of 4" barrel.

As always any help is appreciated. I loved seing all your pictures of the magnificent .357's when I was thinking about getting this one.

Thanks and Take Care
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Old February 13, 2010, 08:04 PM   #2
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You are correct, you do NOT have a Trooper, you have what was simply known as the Model 357. This was indeed the model to have prior to the Python.
Your gun has the target hammer and target full checkered stocks which are very desirable and bring some serious money just on their own.

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Old February 13, 2010, 08:18 PM   #3
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You have a Colt 357.
That was both the caliber and the name of the model.

In 1954 Colt introduced two new guns, the Trooper and the 357.
Both models looked pretty much alike.

The Trooper was originally available in .38 Special and .22LR.
It was built on the standard Colt "E" frame in which the firing pin was mounted on the hammer.
It had adjustable sights standard, a 4" or 6" barrel in .38 and a 4"-only in .22.
Options were target hammer and/or grips, and blue or nickel.

The 357 was Colt's first "I" frame in which the firing pin was mounted in the frame.
The 357 was available only in .357 Magnum, with 4" or 6" barrel, and options of "service" hammer and grips or Target hammer and/or grips. Some very late guns were nickel plated.

The Trooper was intended to be Colt's "budget" holster revolver, and the 357 was intended to be the premium revolver.
Things got confusing in 1955 when Colt introduced the Super-premium Python.
People wanting a cheaper gun and law enforcement bought the Trooper, and people wanting the finest bought the semi-custom Python.

This left the 357 as odd man out, so in 1961 Colt discontinued the 357 after about 15,000 were produced.
What Colt actually did, was change the Trooper .38 over to the firing pin in the frame "I" frame, and started offering it in both .38 Special and .357 Magnum.
The Trooper .22 was still the hammer mounted firing pin "E" frame.

The 357 was the gun the Python was based on, with the Python having the distinctive lugged and vented barrel, a super-polish blue job and a more polished and tuned action, otherwise being the 357.
The 357 was a premium gun with a better fit and finish, and its considered to be a sleeper today, since many people think its just Trooper.

Yours has the early First Type fully checkered Colt Target grips which bring $250 or more on the auction sites, and the target hammer.
The 357 was a first in the gun business and caused quite a stir.
It was the world's first medium framed .357 Magnum revolver. Up until then all .357's were the Colt large frame New Service, and S&W's large "N" frame.
It was the first Colt or S&W center fire revolver with a frame mounted firing pin, and it introduced Colt's famed Target grips and Target hammer.

The 357 is an extremely strong, high quality gun. The 357 is sometimes called a "pre-Python" or a "poor man's Python, since they are basically the same action.

I'm not sure what you mean by "cylinder table" but the serial number is stamped on the frame just under the barrel where the cylinder crane seats, and on the crane itself opposite of the frame number.
In either case you have a first year production gun.
1954 started at serial number 1. 1955 started at 7600.

Last edited by Dfariswheel; February 13, 2010 at 08:25 PM.
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Old February 13, 2010, 08:40 PM   #4
Join Date: January 16, 2010
Posts: 19
Thanks for the great info!!! So I have a Model 357 made in 1954 in the first year of production with target grips and hammer. It appears this was quite a find and I didn't even know it.
I really need to update my Bluebook. The old 1981 publication leaves a lot to be desired.
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Old February 19, 2010, 07:37 PM   #5
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I'm always on the lookout to add one of these to my collection.

Well done!
"Ice to See You" -McBain
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Old February 19, 2010, 08:27 PM   #6
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I really need to update my Bluebook. The old 1981 publication leaves a lot to be desired.
I also have the 1991 Blue Book. Believe me, a lot has changed. There were so many variations that had no mention in the book back then. It was a good time to be buying revolvers.

The Colt 357 Magnum was their premium 357 mag revolver at its introduction. The Python later over showered it and it was dropped from production in 1961 and the Trooper continued production until it was replaced by the Trooper Mark III in 1969.

Last edited by 22-rimfire; February 19, 2010 at 09:00 PM.
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