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  1. #1
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    Default Colt New Service - which PDs used them?

    I'm trying to find out some of the police agencies (US and foreign) that used the Colt New Service revolver - and in what calibers. If you can help me out please post the info here.

    Many thanks.

    P.S. - I already know about the US Border Patrol, NYSP and the RCMP.
    Last edited by Krag; 10-08-2008 at 02:11 PM.
    "For no one - no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts.
    [Points to sword] But this....this you can trust!"

    Conan the Barbarian, 1982

  2. #2
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    Bob Murphy's booklet on Colt New Service Revolvers has some additional listings I believe which I'll try to post if I remember to check. Also not long ago on gunbroker.com there were couple 30s era nickel plated .38s attributed to the Texas Department of Public Safety and I believe the Houston Police Department.
    Of course, the US Post Office Department had lots of Model 1917s. I know a lot of them were Colts but am not sure if they were all Colts or included Smith and Wessons as well.
    Cuba had a purchase right after World War I. Am not sure if they were for the Army or were used by paramilitary type police as well. They were in .45 Long Colt I believe.

  3. #3
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    Cool info. If you can find anymore I'd appreciate it if you could post it here.

    Many thanks!
    "For no one - no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts.
    [Points to sword] But this....this you can trust!"

    Conan the Barbarian, 1982

  4. #4
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    Murphy's book (a must for Colt New Service fans in my view) lists following police sales:
    Georgia State Police 5-1/2" barrel, nickel plated, .45 Long Colt (LC) (I will use this term to distinguish between .45 ACP)
    New York State Prisons .45 LC
    Auburn Prison: 5-1/2" and 7-1/2" barrels. 45LC
    Sing-Sing (Osinning officially, I believe) and Attica Prisons 5-1/2" .45 ACPs.
    Texas Highway Patrol 4" .38 Special (The .38 US Immigration and Border Patrol model was also a 4" barrel).
    New Hampshire State Police: 6" .357 Magnums
    Massachusetts State Police revolver team used .38 Shooting Master
    Pennsylvania State Police: 6" barrel .38s.
    New York State Conservation Department: 6" barrel .38s
    Tennessee Valley Authority 5" .38s
    Kansas State Highway Patrol 5" .38s.
    San Antonio (TX) police 4" .38s
    Connecticut State Police 5-1/2" .45 LCs.
    The Cuban Colts I referred to before were pre-World War I: 5-1/2" .45 LCs and stamped "Guardia Rural". AFTER WWI there were more 5-1/2" .45s (I ASSUME Long Colt but Murphy doesn't totally specify) sent to Cuba marked Ejercito de Cuba so were presumably Army issue. (I don't know Spanish but pretty sure Ejercito means Army).
    You know, I assume, that the "Mountie" guns were in both .455 AND .45 LC.
    Chuck Karwan in the "Handguns 1989" publication by DBI Books lists following additional police users of New Services:
    Utah Highway Patrol
    Montana Highway Patrol
    Boston Police Dept.
    Richmond Police Dept.
    In that article, Chuck Karwan didn't list calibers of those police sales.
    Many of the referenced sales listed by Murphy were not very large purchases, some being in the order of 10.

    In his 1989 (or probably really 1988) article Chuck Karwan expresses surprise that the New Service would be offered in .38 Special. You probably are aware that the thought was that it would be shot with the .38-44 high velocity load and was a direct competitor to the N-Frame Smith and Wesson revolvers. No doubt many of the target shooters used milder loads, of course.

    In one of your other threads you mention you prefer the N-frame Smith for trigger pull, grip, etc. My interests are WWI era handguns so I have a limited selection of N frame (.455 Triple Lock, .455 Mk II and M1917) and Colt New Service (Old Model .455, Brit military .455, Colt M1909 and Colt M1917.) I am not a shooter particularly but have not seen a great deal of difference in the trigger pulls of these guns, although I PROBABLY should strip them down to get all the congealed oil, etc. from them. (BLush to admit, but I usually drag 'em out to show somebody then squirt more "Break Free" or Rem Gun Oil (but have used WD-40 in the past: that will gum on you!) and then pull 'em back so my observations are purely subjective. I recall reading somewhere by another expert that he felt the glassy double action pre-WWII long action pulls are best exhibited by K frames and NOT the larger N frames. The only thing I'm really sure of is that both Colt and Smith and Wesson double action pulls are MUCH smoother than the double action pull of a Russian Nagant revolver!

  5. #5
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    IIRC the US Border Patrol used them in the 1930s. I recall reading in one of Charlie Askins' books where he says he was tasked with sighting them in, he mentions making a tool to
    bend the front sights on the revolver that needed windage adjustments. He also mentioned buying reloading equipment to produce the amounts of ammunition that he as Chief Instructor deemed necessary for proper training and practice.

  6. #6
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    thanks for the info. And I agree about the Nagant! LOL
    "For no one - no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts.
    [Points to sword] But this....this you can trust!"

    Conan the Barbarian, 1982

  7. #7
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    By the way, also reference a response to one of your other threads on the Colt New Service, there is a War Dept. publication from 1919 or 1920 "Rifles Pistols and Revolvers" or something that did give cost comparison of the Colt M1917 vs Smith and Wesson M1917 (as well as M1911). The Colt 1917 was $14.00 on average, the S&W 1917 was $14.75 on average if I recall and the M1911 was $15.00 on average with last contracts down to $14.50. (I MIGHT have the later Colt 1911 vs S&W 1917 prices reversed so the S&W 1917 was $14.50 and the Colt 1911 later purchases $14.75): don't have the book in front of me.
    So it appears that perhaps in the early days, during WWI, there might have been a cost advantage to the Colt New Service at least in the plain vanilla varieties vs the N frame Smiths. (Am talking commercial type guns: there is no doubt in my mind that the brushed blue Colt 1917 finish doesn't compare at all to the S&W 1917 finish. Don't know if the first 1917 Colts were commercial or not: the 1909s were.)
    Have no clue about what price comparisons between S&W N frame and Colt New Services were by the 1930s but if I recall Pate's book on US WWII handguns, Springfield Armory actually manufactured replacement barrels for the Colt 1917s but didn't consider it economically feasible to make them for the Smith and Wesson with their ejector rod lugs. And that in both cases the "vendors" didn't charge the government a whole lot more money than the government prices or estimates for government fabrication.
    I know Murphy's book indicates the earliest high gloss Colt finish ended with World War I but I think it early New Service finish could indeed compete with the Smith and Wesson finish. But after World War I, maybe not.
    Like I say, in both cases appears that the large frame revolvers didn't sell that well to the civilian market prior to World War II, but I do gather that the sales of the S&W registered .357 Magnums exceeded S&W's expectations so if WWII hadn't intervened maybe that would have changed. (But S&W was still supposedly in financial trouble right before the war. I wonder actually if Smith and Wesson was undercharging for their guns prior to World War II.)

  8. #8
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    Nearly every Sheriff Department or City Police Department I have ever worked for or with used the Colt New Service at one time.

    They were very popular revolvers at one time.

    I have seen many display cases in briefing rooms with a Colt New Service on display next to a black jack or a swagger stick.

    Usually the pistols were 38 caliber, but some were 41, 44, and 45.

    Small purchases like these were based on what the Chief or Sheriff liked.

    (The same way these purchases are made today in small departments.)
    Semper Fi,
    ret_Marine2003

    Located at American Legion post 300, somewhere in Northern Michigan.

  9. #9
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    .44-40 Colt New Service revolvers were issued to the WWI Michigan State Troops that evolved in the 1920's into the Michigan State Police. The MSP went to .32 and .38 revolvers.

  10. #10
    2520wcf Guest

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    ret. Marine, your post is accurate except for the reference to NSs in .41. I know that Colt made a couple of NSs in the experimental Colt .41 Special ctg. but as far as I know never produced NSs for commercial or military sales in any .41 caliber ctg (except .38-40 WCF). The Army Special WAS produced in .41 Long Colt.

    Just my recollection--please correct me if I'm wrong, and let me know a source (I'd like to know for sure).

  11. #11
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    I remember seeing some New Service revolvers offered for sale in one of my old American Rifleman magazines. IIRC these were surplus from the New York State Police and the Canadian Northwest Mounted Police. Both varieties were in .45 Colt. The advertised price was $39.95 in XLNT condition. At the time of the date of the magazine I wouldn't have had the $40.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2520wcf View Post
    ret. Marine, your post is accurate except for the reference to NSs in .41. I know that Colt made a couple of NSs in the experimental Colt .41 Special ctg. but as far as I know never produced NSs for commercial or military sales in any .41 caliber ctg (except .38-40 WCF). The Army Special WAS produced in .41 Long Colt.

    Just my recollection--please correct me if I'm wrong, and let me know a source (I'd like to know for sure).
    I have only seen one like that and it is in Cadillac Michigan in a display case.

    I noticed that it was neither in 45LC nor 38 caliber and when I asked, was informed that it took the 41 Colt cartridge.

    The guy who told me that was the department's Tackleberry, so I suppose you can take that with a grain of salt.

    It is possible that it may have been a personal item or purchase for a former chief.

    I have heard many passionate (but IMHO wrong) stories about officers and deputies shooting their toes off with Glocks and Colt 1911 autos, just as I have heard all of the same emotive rhetoric regarding wheel guns over the years.

    These stories are from people who are in position to make the purchases and purchase recommendations.
    Semper Fi,
    ret_Marine2003

    Located at American Legion post 300, somewhere in Northern Michigan.

  13. #13
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    Well guys, at the proposal of Cuban Army issue of Colt revolver, I bought just yesterday the relevant holster. It's a regular M1909 holster made by Brauer Bros in 1917 and marked "E d C" in place of the big US.
    Being a 1917 production this holster could have been made for the old New Service cause I think US government needed all M1917s produced.

  14. #14
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    For any historian looking for minor details. In case anyone is following and still interested, the Border Patrol issued me and my 10 quates, (new PIs) 38 Special New Services in Aug 1957. Turned them in a few weeks later and traveled to the academy in El Paso after which we were given the Colt Border Patrols in 38 Special. Within 2 years we got 357 Combat Magnums. In about 1960 someone in the station passed around a list of many, many dozens of 38 Colt BPs for Govt sale at $15 or so as I remember. Don't know anyone who bought one or a dozen. Cunyado Arch

  15. #15
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    It's fun to find out that the New Service gun was in service as late as 1957. Happens to be the year I was born.

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