Model: Army Special
Serial Number: 354474
Year of Manufacture: 1913
Caliber: .38 Special
Action Type: Single Action/Double Action with Swing Out Cylinder
Markings: The left side of the barrel is marked “COLT”, “ARMY / SPECIAL” and “38”. The left side of the frame is marked with the “Rampant Colt” logo. The top of the barrel is marked “COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. CO. HARTFORD, CT. U.S.A. / PAT’D. AUG. 5, 1884 JUNE 5, 1900 JULY 4, 1905”. The crane cut is marked “354474” and “F”. The crane is also marked “354474”. The front left of the trigger guard is marked with a “VP” in a triangle, and the rear with a “3”.
Barrel Length: 6”
Sights / Optics: The revolver is mounted with a square groove in the top strap for a rear sight. The front sight is a wide half round fixed blade on the barrel.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are oversize, and appear to be made of bone. They are in 3 pieces – left and right side grips plus a spacer about 3/8” thick used to fill in the area below the bottom of the grip. Please see our pictures. The grips are polished smooth by handling and slightly yellowed with age. The grips show light compression marks on both sides, with an area of light scratches above the grip screw on the right grip. The right grip also shows a crack across the bottom of the grip and up the side for about an inch. The grips rate in about Fine overall condition.
Type of Finish: Blue
Finish Originality: The finish appears original, but the barrel was probably replaced. There is a noticeable gap between the rear shoulder of the barrel and the front of the frame, and yet there is scarcely any gap between the back of the barrel and the cylinder. (If the barrel were screwed all the way in, the cylinder would never close).
Bore Condition: The bore is mostly bright with grey near the muzzle. The rifling shows slight wear. There are a few spots of very, very light erosion near the muzzle.
Overall Condition: This revolver retains about 40% of its metal finish. There is surface loss on both sides of the barrel at the muzzle with thinning, light scratches and numerous compression marks along its length. The front half of the barrel is also starting to develop a brown patina. The front sight has been painted black at one time, and most of the black has worn off, leaving surface loss on both sides and corrosion on the right. The barrel also shows an area of pitting on the top right which appears to be from a vise. The crane and both sides of the frame in front of the cylinder show numerous compression marks. The lower front edges of the frame show wear marks. Both sides of the frame and the top strap show thinning, compression marks and pinprick surface erosion. The backstrap shows surface loss with handling marks and an area of heavy scratches (sandpaper or grind stone) near the bottom. The trigger guard shows surface loss. The cylinder shows surface loss on its front edge, thinning, pinprick surface erosion and a light drag line. The grip screw and the trigger screw are slightly disfigured. The markings are clear. Overall, this revolver rates in about Very Good condition.
Mechanics: The cylinder lockup on this revolver is SOLID on all 6 chambers. The action functions correctly most of the time. In double action, every once in awhile the trigger sticks in the rearward position and must be pushed forward to release. In single action, the trigger functions normally, but sometimes the cylinder becomes very difficult to rotate. We tried oiling the revolver to no avail. We did not fire this revolver.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This pistol is equipped with a grip adapter marked “ Fray-Mershon Inc. / L.A. Calif.” and “Sure-Grip”. It appears to be black plastic, or perhaps hard rubber, and shows light handling marks on each side. It is in overall Excellent condition. Included with the revolver is a period ranger style cartridge belt about 2 ½” wide and holster. In its current position, the belt would fit waists from 37-42”. The strap is tied to the revolver with a leather thong, and there are additional holes in the belt to allow the holster to be lengthened by 1 3/8” or shortened by 2 ¾”. There are 44 cartridge loops in the belt, which is made of thin leather with stamping around the borders. The belt and strap are supple with all stitching intact. The brass buckle and steel tongue are both corroded and the strap is torn on either side of the buckle. The belt has a medium brown finish that is mostly faded with surface loss. The holster is an Audley Safety Holster (http://www.vintagegunleather.com/company-marks/audley_history.html) made circa 1915 and marked with their logo on the base of the belt loop. It has a unique spring loaded steel latch that holds the inside edge of the trigger guard to prevent the gun from falling out (or being pulled out by the wrong person). The holster has a reddish brown finish and has an enclosed muzzle. All of the stitching is intact, and the holster shows surface loss and surface cracks on the front edge and the top edge of the belt loop. The outside surface also shows surface loss, as does the area above the latch. Overall, the holster and belt are in Very Good condition.
Our Assessment: The Colt Army Special was introduced with the Army in mind, and quickly came to be noted for its accuracy, winning the National Revolver Match in 1911 and establishing a new range record at Camp Perry the same year. Unfortunately, Colt was never able to interest the Army in a medium framed revolver, and changed its name to the “Official Police” in 1928 after they found that the New York Police Department, among others, were willing to adopt the revolver. Although this revolver has seen some use, it still has a very shootable bore and a better lock-up than most new revolvers out of the box. It should continue to provide great service for another 100, and will make a good choice for home protection, or as a plinker, if it doesn’t find its way into someone’s Colt collection. This pistol with its period Audley holster is a very nice find that shouldn’t get past the observant collector when this comes to auction.
CA Legal or CA Private Party Transferable: This C&R eligible revolver CAN be transferred as a dealer sale in California and CAN be sold as a Private Party Transfer (PPT) at our Simi Valley shop. All cartridge firing handguns (even C&R's and antiques) sold to a California resident must be DROS'd. This does not apply to out of state residents.
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