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Old May 21, 2022, 08:36 AM   #1
Z Factor
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1941 Colt Official Police. 38spl

I recently acquired a Colt Official Police revolver in .38 spl, born I 1941. The beautiful blue finish is about 90-95 %, no holster wear to speak of, not even any chamber scratches from use. It appears not to have been fired outside the factory. It has a 4 digit number engraved on the bottom of the square butt signifying a badge number perhaps? There is no box or papers. I've seen these on line at various values, from $400 all the way up to $800-$1000. My query is whether to consider it a collector piece or just high quality shootable history? It locks factory tight with a near pristine bore. It's a really cool chunk of American 20th century firearm manufacturing at its height but I don't want to shoot it if it would ruin the value somehow. Also if I did decide to throw some shots downrange, would +p ammodamage it in someway? My research tells me that these were made to handle the hot for the period 38/44 S&W round. So many questions for the gun I dreamt of as a little LEO wannabe. I await your wisdom/opinions, gents. I include some pics if I can figure out how to do that on this forum.
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Old May 21, 2022, 10:26 AM   #2
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Old May 21, 2022, 02:11 PM   #3
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I'd shoot it. You don't know for sure it's "unfired outside the factory", you don't have the box or papers, and frankly, even if you did, it's not like you're going to put your kid through college with it either way. I'd keep it clean, keep it waxed, and don't carry it in a holster.

As for P+, it will handle it, but what's the sense of shooting high priced ammo to punch a hole in a piece of paper or a tin can?
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Old May 21, 2022, 03:03 PM   #4
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My advice on any of the old Colts is to leave them be. Parts are hard to come by, and people who know how to work on the older Colts are even harder to come by. You could shoot it for years with no problems, or it could have a major issue on your first outing.
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Old May 21, 2022, 06:55 PM   #5
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Not having the box and papers of an old collectible firearm (especially one in good, or very good condition doesn't make it less collectable.

It just means the gun will bring a bit less $ than one with all the original extras.

"unfired" (outside of factory proof testing) is something almost impossible to prove. Unworn on the other hand is visually obvious.

So, if you don't damage the finish, or wear/damage the gun mechanism, shooting it won't affect the value, and someone who claims is does is just trying to get you to sell it cheaper.

It's a used gun. not much used, but still used. No box, or papers, no historical papers (from the police dept), some property/badge/ rack or inventory number marked on it, its not factory new pristine in the box.

its a good, solid revolver, used but not abused, and its a collectable thing, because of its age and condition, but is not a collector's "holy grail" or anything close.

I'd say, shoot it, if you want to, and if you don't damage it, it will retain all the value it currently has.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old May 22, 2022, 07:24 PM   #6
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I have the predecessor to the Official Police, the Army Special. Mine was made in 1919 and is a true joy to shoot.
To be vintage it's gotta be older than me!
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Old May 23, 2022, 06:18 AM   #7
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I have a Colt Army Special .41 Long Colt lettered from 1914. Beautiful royal blue. Also have an Official Police .38 Special from 1937. Great shape, but it's obviously been used and carried. Now I am a "collector" only in the sense that I've gathered some guns that interest me. And my rule is I shoot everything I own. That said, I don't shoot that 41 much. Rather I found a little newer one (1920) that had been run hard and put away wet. But still mechanically sound, so I mostly shoot that one. The OP, I shoot her. And if a friend wanted to try that 1914 beauty, we'd take her out.

It is completely your decision. You're not spray painting the Mona Lisa if you choose to shoot it, and Colts of that era are not fragile. Unless you abuse it, I don't think you'll hurt the value much. But older classic model 38's are easy to come by. Retire your beauty and find one with some mileage on it to shoot, if that pleases you.
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Old May 23, 2022, 08:00 AM   #8
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As usual

I'm with 44amp, were the Colt LNIB, that's different.
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Old May 28, 2022, 06:21 PM   #9
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I own several Colt OPs as well as an Officer's Model Target (basically an OP with a heavy barrel and adjustable sights). I take them to the range occasionally, but in deference to their years (the youngest one dates from 1955) I shoot plain old 38 Special loads. Yes they can handle hotter loads, but as others have pointed out parts are hard to find in 2022 and gunsmiths ,who are truly qualified to work on the older Colt DA design, are few and far between anymore. If I just have to shoot nuclear loads I have a couple Ruger GP100s and S&W 686 for scratching that itch.
Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who didn't. Ben Franklin
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Old May 28, 2022, 10:01 PM   #10
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Bill Laughridge at Cylinder & Slide trained two employees on the older Colt pre-Trooper action.
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Old May 29, 2022, 07:41 AM   #11
Mike Irwin
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I have a circa 1969 Official police, a 1935 Police Positive, and circa late 1920s Police Positive Special in .32-20.

I'd love to shoot them more, but the options are just too thin for parts and people who know how to do it.
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Old May 29, 2022, 11:35 AM   #12
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I also have a few old revolvers. I shoot them regularly with mild loads. I take care them myself. It isn't hard if you are into that sort of things. Parts could be difficult. Many times I had to stretch metal to make worn out parts work, and even had to carve out a few parts with hand tools.

I used to have a colt new army in .41 long Colt. A customer gifted it to me when I was a gunsmithing student. It was in sorry, non-shooting condition. It took a lot of work to make it shoot again. I returned it back to him. I still miss that old gun.


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Old May 29, 2022, 07:38 PM   #13
Mike Irwin
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For my three Colts I have similar vintage S&W revolvers...

A mid 1920s Regulation Police in .32 Long (as is the Colt), an early 1930s .32-20 Hand Ejector, and multiple .38 Specials, including an early 1920s Hand Ejector.

I shoot those with mild loads, but I don't worry nearly as much about shooting them because I know how (for the most part) to fix them and there are lots of parts available.
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Old June 5, 2022, 11:48 PM   #14
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Most colts of the vintage described by the OP are collectible. However, if you are 55 or older, getting collector grade colts to sit in your safe doesn't make a lot of sense to me. You won't live long enough for big returns or an affect on your retirement. And don't give them to your grandchildren because they don't care. Leave them money and they can get things they are interested in or use it to improve their lives. I'll give this much: I gave one grandson a Henry Golden Boy because he likes to plink. I gave his brother a Remington 700 BDL .30.06 with Weaver V16 because he is a deer hunter and may go after elk some day. These are top notch items and they seem to like them. But, my .300 Savage Model 99, fine sporterized Krag .30-40, and Savage Super Sporter .250-3000, to name a few, are going elsewhere and I hope I get to shoot 'em a little more before then.

Returning to the OP and Colts, seems to me you want to see how they shoot at targets and cans, and maybe do a little reloading. You won't want a pristine example for this, if you have good function. Just shoot it and shoot the crap out of it. I have a few and I shoot them as often as I can. And don't worry about them breaking. Most .38 Specials are not going to break. I figure if one of mine breaks, it breaks ("If she dies, she dies!"). I am old and I am never going to get it fixed. I dare say you won't either. After all, it is just an old colt. I will say "I sure had some fun with that," Then throw it in a junk box. I will instruct the funeral home to put such pieces in my casket. Where I am going there should be some good gunsmiths and an ample supply of spare parts.

Don't be too hard on me - could be some tongue in cheek here but most of it is the way I think.
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