Revolver folks I need HELP!!

Revolver folks I need HELP!!

This is a discussion on Revolver folks I need HELP!! within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Hello fellow members. I know very little about revolvers and have a Guy I work with wanting to sell this colt 38/40. He said he ...

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    Senior Member Array Mattmann's Avatar
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    Revolver folks I need HELP!!

    Hello fellow members. I know very little about revolvers and have a Guy I work with wanting to sell this colt 38/40. He said he would take $400 for it and doesn't know anything about it. Work is slow and it was handed down and he doesn't like revolvers so out it goes. He hasn't really tried to sell it much but needs some money. I am having the timing and action checked out this weekend on it but is it worth $400? Does the value on these go up? Plead help. Thanks

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    Base on your pics, and this link,

    Colt Single Action .38-40 - Colt Single Actions - 1st Generation - Colt Revolvers - Colts

    I'd jump if I were you.
    If the pistol has never been refinished I'd say it looks amazing for a 75yr. old+ firearm.
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    WHEC724 likes this.
    I would rather die with good men than hide with cowards
    If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
    Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy."

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    Distinguished Member Array RevolvingMag's Avatar
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    How are you debating this?

    It's a beautiful, old Colt. Get it!! I know I would. There aren't many pieces like that left floating around, and definitely not for as little as $400.
    WHEC724 and Eagleks like this.
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    Senior Member Array Mattmann's Avatar
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    It is a new service. He just confirmed this for me. Ammo is so freaking high for this though! I am torn. I sold a s&w 469 and was going to get a m&p 9mm to add to my 9c and my .45fs but then I said, I need a revolver. So i was going to get a ruger 357magnum, then I saw this?? I am so confused. I have two m&p's and love them and have a s&w 44magnum I like but that's all the revolvers I own. Anyone up for a personal opinion??

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    VIP Member Array BugDude's Avatar
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    My personal opinion (and I'm a revolver head): it is a good old gun, but not practical. I would only buy it as a collectible or resale and then only if I got a great deal on it. I'd offer $300 and then decide how much I'm willing to spend on a gun I won't use and may resale.
    Dadsnugun likes this.
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    VIP Member Array Hiram25's Avatar
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    If you don't take it, let me know!
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    Distinguished Member Array claude clay's Avatar
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    another vote for new service 1898--1944
    VG is $650, good is 550.
    if the internals are not rusted id jump on 400 and buy dies and a lee press....$$200 to reload a piece of history

    BugDude is practical and im behide hirum to take it
    oneshot likes this.
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  10. #10
    VIP Member Array BugDude's Avatar
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    Knowing me, I'd still probably buy it, but given my negotiation skills is start out offering 300. I never pay full price for anything. Not even new guns. I haggle everything.
    oneshot likes this.
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  11. #11
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    Hi Mattman;

    You indeed have turned up an early example of a Colt New Service revolver. The .38-40 chambering is a bit less common than the .45 Colt and .45 ACP cartridges for which so many New Service revolvers were chambered though not uncommon enough to be worth a premium. It's an early (pre-about 1908) revolver as may be seen by the frame differences seen above the trigger and trigger guard. On the early ones the trigger guard is narrower than the frame as may be seen by the step between frame and trigger guard. The unbolstered barrel is another clue pointing to early manufacture. The barrel was later redesigned to be thicker where it screws into the front of the frame.

    The cell phone photos conceal much about true condition with regards to the exterior surfaces. It gives the impression of being a renickel but that is hard to say, based solely on the photographs. The chambers within the cylinders look just like the chambers in the cylinder of my .38-40 Colt Single Action Army. If those hard rubber stocks are original and whole then they would probably bring nearly a fourth of the asking price of the revolver.

    The early New Service revolvers with the narrower trigger guard have some minor internal differences that I haven't observed first hand. It's said that they are a bit more of a chore to put right if out of order than later New Service models due to availability of parts. If the gun checks out to be mechanically sound, is clean and lubricated inside, it likely wouldn't give trouble for a lifetime of shooting use though.

    The New Service is a big ol' revolver and was made for the largest revolver cartridges of the era up to and including the .455 and .476 British service cartridges. They are good, strong revolvers and don't give up a thing to the Python in smoothness, the actions being very similar only rendered on a larger scale. The later New Service revolvers were the first Colt double-action revolvers produced to handle the .357 Magnum when it was first introduced in 1935. While I wouldn't wish to fire any nuclear powered handloads in an early New Service, even in the early ones the .38-40 cartridge may easily be handloaded to build up a head of steam equivalent to anything a .40 S&W cartridge can do, especially in that long 7 1/2-inch barrel. Besides the Single Action Army .38-40, I once also had a 5 1/2-inch Colt New Service .38-40 manufactured the mid 1920s. It was a really good looking non-factory reblued gun with perfect edges, screw holes, and roll markings maintained through it's reblue process and it was first rate mechanically. It had come to me as refinished and I never was as happy with it as I should have been and let it get away. Anyway, with careful handloading the .38-40 can also whip the 10mm pistol as well as the .40 S&W. Won't publish the loadings but old Lyman manuals feature them.

    For shooting factory ammunition only the .38-40 is one expensive proposition. I just couldn't handle the prices. It may be handloaded as cheaply as any other revolver cartridge as long as a supply of cartridge cases is kept on hand and they may be rustled up with a little effort. One neato thing is that the supply of components suitable for the .40 S&W can be used for .38-40 handloads with perfect satisfaction. There are good sources for lead .40 S&W bullets everywhere and these all work great.

    You need to understand that the .38-40 is actually a .40 caliber, the bore generally measuring .401" in diameter. Winchester originated the cartridge as the .38 WCF, originally chambered in their Model 1873 rifle. Colt adapted it to revolver use and, as they say, the rest is history. Why Winchester named it the .38 WCF, later to be termed the .38-40 may never be known. Perhaps because ".40WCF" or ".40-40" might be more likely to be confused with the already popular .44 WCF, later .44-40. More likely they just wanted to market the cartridge as something a bit more different than the .44 offering than it really was. In practical use the .38-40 and the .44-40 are very similar with a slight edge given to the .44-40. It features a 200 grain, .427" diameter bullet to the .38-40's 180 grain, .401" diameter bullet. Both originally made about 1350 fps from rifle-length barrels and trajectories were similar for all practical purposes. Not much difference between the two really. I took a small whitetail buck from 100 yards with a .38-40 factory load fired from a rifle. With perfect shot placement through his heart, he was just as effectively taken as if he'd been hit with a .30-06.

    If the revolver you found has been renickeled as is suspected then $400 is a reasonable price for it, if it is mechanically sound. If it proved to be the original factory nickel then one could add $600 to $1000 to that figure as that would be almost a condition rarity for a gun over 100 years old. Oh yes, it would need to have a decent bore. It doesn't have to be perfect but it shouldn't be so badly pitted that the rifling is badly broken up. Anything manufactured and used prior to 1927 and the advent of non-corrosive priming will likely have an imperfect bore due to the corrosive priming mixtures of the day. The nature of the priming mixtures made it very difficult to maintain a bore without accumulating degrading effects of corrosion, even with the cleaning efforts of the most diligent owner back in the day. Additionally most .38-40 cartridges in the early years of the 20th century were loaded with black powder which also is corrosive if not properly cleaned.

    Don't let a less-than-perfect bore run you off though. My Colt SAA has an imperfect bore and shoots gratifyingly useable groups to 25 yards or so. It's only a bit more difficult to clean after an afternoon of shooting cast lead bullets.

    One more caution. You might want to acquire a cheap pair of grips for use on the revolver when shooting it. The original hard rubber stocks as provided on Colt, Smith & Wesson, and Webley products of the late 19th and early 20th centuries are subject to cracking just through shooting use. Don't ask me how I came to know this. Better to preserve the nice original stocks for display and shoot the revolver with some knock-off replica stocks.

    The New Service is a handful to shoot double-action. I have large hands with long fingers and it's still tough. They are great fun to own and shoot though. I've had two for many years and shoot both with enthusiasm. One is a U.S Army contract Model 1917 in .45 ACP in decent if a little shabby condition. To date, it's had more rounds fired through it than any other Colt revolver I own. It's fired a lot of .45 ACP and .45 Auto Rim handloads both mild and some wild. The other New Service is also an army contract revolver, the Model 1909 in .45 Colt. It's taken out for a "Sunday drive" to the range or for plinking sessions on occasion.

    Here are a couple more Colt New Service revolvers to compare with the nickel one pictured above. The top revolver is the Model 1909 in .45 Colt. Notice the barrel is straight over its entire length. The bottom one is the Model 1917 .45 ACP with the thick bolster at the rear of the barrel. Notice how both of these revolvers have the trigger guard that tapers from the frame not requiring the extra forging and machining steps as the early New Service did. This Model 1909 was likely produced during the year 1910. This Model 1917 was produced in 1918. Both these revolvers feature the 5 1/2-inch barrel length.

    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society "Get heeled! No really"

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    Senior Member Array JohnLeVick's Avatar
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    Can't add any thing to what Bryan said. He's the MAN!!
    oneshot likes this.

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    Funny how perceptions are, John. On modern handguns and especially all things 1911 I regard you as the MAN!

    Ya' politics ain't half bad either.
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society "Get heeled! No really"

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    Senior Member Array Mattmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiram25 View Post
    If you don't take it, let me know!
    I sent you and Claude a pm. I think I'm going to pass on this. I like the autos to much. Thanks for all the help though.
    Quote Originally Posted by claude clay View Post
    another vote for new service 1898--1944
    VG is $650, good is 550.
    if the internals are not rusted id jump on 400 and buy dies and a lee press....$$200 to reload a piece of history

    BugDude is practical and im behide hirum to take it


    Sent from my DROID RAZR

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    Senior Member Array RKflorida's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mattmann View Post
    It is a new service. He just confirmed this for me. Ammo is so freaking high for this though! I am torn. I sold a s&w 469 and was going to get a m&p 9mm to add to my 9c and my .45fs but then I said, I need a revolver. So i was going to get a ruger 357magnum, then I saw this?? I am so confused. I have two m&p's and love them and have a s&w 44magnum I like but that's all the revolvers I own. Anyone up for a personal opinion??

    Sent from my DROID RAZR
    The ammo is not THAT expensive. I just found it for about 76 cents a round. It's not like this will be the kind of gun you fire 500 rounds a weekend through. It is collectable, and you can easily buy enough ammo to shoot it once in a while.

    38-40 : Ammunition To Go

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