Colt Official Police

Colt Official Police

This is a discussion on Colt Official Police within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; My Grandpa gave me his old Colt revolver yesterday for my birthday. I don't have it with me otherwise I'd just post pictures or run ...

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Thread: Colt Official Police

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array gdm320's Avatar
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    Cool Colt Official Police

    My Grandpa gave me his old Colt revolver yesterday for my birthday. I don't have it with me otherwise I'd just post pictures or run the Serial (I'll have it next weekend). From my research I'm thinking it's the Colt Official Police.

    Once I get it and can check the Serial Number is there a way I can tell from that how old it is? Is it considered collectible at all? I'm not interested in selling it at all since its a family item now, just wondering a little more about it. I read some stuff online about it but I always learn more from users here.

    Thanks!
    "Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death." -- General Omar Bradley

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    The original and the best Official Police was produced between 1927 and 1969. A very few medium sized Colt double action revolvers were produced into the early 1970s wearing the Official Police moniker but were made to a different design. The design was the same for the entire production of the classic 1927-1969 original. Only minor items like front sight shapes, grips (Colt parlance-stocks) styles, two styles of crane lock screws, some minor surface finish changes to method of bluing, and differences in the roll markings vary through the years. Actually the Official Police was only a renamed Colt Army Special, a revolver that Colt catalogs featured from 1908 to 1927 and which was known as the ".41 frame" size. The Army Special and the Official Police were assembled concurrently for a couple of years in the 1920s. The serial number range, the rear sight notch, and the fact that one revolver is roll marked Army Special and one is roll marked Official Police is the only way to tell them apart for the design is the same. So, the Official Police and allied revolvers could be said to have served for some 61 years. They are still serving today in many American homes and even in a few holsters as evidenced by a few folks over on Colt forum.

    As a side note: the famous Official Police went to war in the form of the Colt Commando which was nothing more than a war-finish version of the Official Police revolver made under contract for the U. S. Government. from 1942 to 1945.

    Also the Colt Marshal, which was a limited run of Official Police revolvers with a round butt configuration, was produced in the 1950s.

    Official Police revolvers could be had in blue or nickel finish. The overwhelming majority were chambered for the .38 Special but they could be had in .22 Long Rifle, .32-20 Winchester, .38/200 (a British contract), and .41 Long Colt (very scarce). Barrel lengths were 2, 4, 5, and 6 inches.

    I'm enthused about Official Police revolvers. They are sturdy revolvers that are easy to shoot well. They are just a bit larger than a Smith & Wesson K-Frame gun but are still considered a medium-framed revolver. A Smith & Wesson L-Frame is close in size and holsters made for L-Frames with fit the Official Police perfectly. Internals are a part for part match of the vaunted Colt Python and a well used and well oiled Official Police can duplicate a Python's legendary smoothness. The hammer-mounted firing pin of the Official Police versus the frame-mounted firing pin of the Python represents the only significant difference.

    I have a couple of Army Specials from 1915 and 1925, a Commando from 1944, and an Official Police from 1953. All are slick and smooth and don't really give up a thing to the Python I also have.

    Some may howl but I've fired +P factory .38 Special ammunition through my Colts, both the 1915 Army Special and the Official Police as well as the wartime Commando, with no obvious problems. They soak up recoil extremely well. I'm not of a habit of firing quantities of +P in them but they will handle it. As far back as the 1930s Colt stated that the .38-44 loading which was the high performance .38 Special ammunition of the era was appropriate for the Official Police in their factory literature. .38-44 was a heavier loading than any modern +P offerings except possibly Buffalo Bore +P. If pressed into duty for home defense or even concealed carry use, I'd be happy to use these Colt revolvers with my favorite +P 158 grain loads.

    The Official Police revolver filled the holsters of America's lawmen for many years. Mine is an ex-NYPD gun. When I was very young a friendly Fort Worth PD patrolman, who worked downtown traffic outside the Texas & Pacific Depot where my Grandmother was employed for the Railway Express Agency, had a holstered Official Police at his hip. It was the issue revolver for the Fort Worth Police department into the early 1960s.

    Gobs of Official Police revolvers were made and though they are marginalized these days by the "plastique-fantastique" handguns so popular, they are still commonly encountered and represent good value. Range time with one is a particularly pleasant experience. An Official Police owner should put his prize back to work.

    Please post some photos of your Official Police when you can. It would be great to see it. I have a Colt reference book that can give an indication of year of production if the first 3 digits of the serial number are provided. Same information is available online: Serial Number Data

    A thread I posted about the predecessor to the Official Police. A New Old Colt In the Stable
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society "Get heeled! No really"

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    Senior Member Array gdm320's Avatar
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    That is exactly why I always post here! Awesome information BMC... I really appreciate you taking the time to share it all.

    I'll certainly post pictures as soon as I get my hands on it, should be able to get it this weekend. I'll throw up the first few of the Serial Number as well because I'd love to get a more accurate model and date on it. From what my Grandpa could remember he got it back in '68, so I assume it's one of the originals if his memory is accurate.

    Anyway, of course I'm not even 110% positive it is the Official Police, just looks like it could be. However, now that I got a good look at the Colt Police Positive could be it as well... the shape of the front sight has me thinking. Well when I get my hands on it we'll have a look at the Serial to figure it out.
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    Excellent post, bmcgilvray!

    He can also call Colt, they'll tell him DOM. 1-800-962-2658
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    VIP Member Array Old School's Avatar
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    Definately post photos when you can. The first police handgun I was issued back in 1968 was a Colt Offical Police 4".

    http://www.shootingtimes.com/handgun.../coltp_083106/
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    Thumbs up Official Police


    One of my favorite revolvers.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Array gdm320's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pistola View Post

    One of my favorite revolvers.
    Yea that front sight looks like it. Looks like a probable OP. I can't wait to get pictures up!
    "Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death." -- General Omar Bradley

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    Senior Member Array gdm320's Avatar
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    Wanted to update the Official Police fans that had posted here...

    I had a closer look at the gun and it turns out it isn't the Official Police - it's a Colt Cobra. Basically, the mistake I made was the assumption that the Cobra was only made as a snub nose. I called Colt and checked the serial number. They confirmed it is a 1967 Colt Cobra 4" in .38.

    So, sorry to anyone I got excited about an Official Police. That said, anyone have anything interesting about the 4" Cobra they'd like to share?

    Thanks!
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    Well, I'm still excited. A Colt Cobra is not as common as the Official Police. I don't know all that much about Cobras but know that the Cobras with 4-inch barrels are somewhat uncommon as are Cobras chambered for .22 Long Rifle. You have a prize there! The Cobra features the same internal action as the Official Police mentioned above only rendered on a smaller scale. It's frame size is the same as the Police Positive Special. The famous Detective Special is a derivative of the Police Positive Special. Both of these models are steel-framed however the Cobras frame is crafted from aluminum alloy to save weight. Internal parts are the same for all these models which are termed D-Frames by the factory. Here's a nice older thread showing Cobras and all sorts of other D-Frame Colts from over on Colt Forum.
    The Colt D Frame Showroom.... D-FRAME PICTURES

    In the early 1950s Colt got in a big way of introducing aluminum alloy to several of it's popular models, both revolvers and center fire automatics to take advantage of the lighter weight. Aluminum fabrication technology had made great strides during World War II. The Cobra came out in about 1951. All the lightweight Colts became popular and were sort of a precursor of things to come regarding lightweight concealed carry arms. Smith & Wesson also introduced some lightweight revolvers in the early 1950s but I believe that Colt was the first.

    The Colt Agent was a renamed Cobra featuring a short grip frame. It was suppose to be a less expensive version of the same alloy D-Frame. There was also a Colt Courier which was much like the Agent. I can't say why so many very similar revolvers were offered on the same basic frame design. Later all these lines blurred and all were discontinued by about 1981. It's a shame too because if Colt could have held on a few more years the concealed carry craze would have made them a pile of money with their excellently designed small revolvers.

    The Cobra is still good medicine for self defense purposes. I probably wouldn't shoot +P .38 Special ammunition through one if I had it even though the revolver is said to be ok with a very limited diet of +P. I'd be perfectly fine with standard velocity .38 Special ammunition that featured 158 grain semi-wadcutter bullets.

    Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald with a Colt Cobra.
    gdm320 and msgt/ret like this.
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    Senior Member Array gdm320's Avatar
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    Cool info there bmcg, glad you're still excited about it! I'll have pictures up as soon as possible so we can all enjoy.
    "Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death." -- General Omar Bradley

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    Senior Member Array gdm320's Avatar
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    I just keep screwing things up in this thread. I had meant to type 3", but typed 4" several times. Sorry for continuing to confuse everyone...

    However, I finally got the gun from my folks! I took a quick picture with my BlackBerry as a teaser, I'll get more up once I get it cleaned and use my actual camera. Enjoy.

    ccman, msgt/ret, pistola and 2 others like this.
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    All I can say is any Colt is a fine handgun. And the older the better.
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    VIP Member Array claude clay's Avatar
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    so, pretty much you have it as a gun.....ok, dats a start.

    its a 1st issue 1950 to 1973
    square butt is 4" only
    yours is 3".....seldom is shrinkage a valid answer

    so, what happened to the other inch?

    exc is $500 but thats a 2"
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    Sweeeet!!!

    I'm more a Smith guy... but I do own a few Colts. That one is pretty neat. Thats a 3" bbl, with Colts version of a round butt. It's made on a colt "D" frame which is the same as a detective special. In fact it's pretty much a lightweight detective special. IIRC Colt made some guns in that configuration for several national financial, and security organizations. You may want to look for those markings.

    In the mid to late 70's I worked part time for an alarm company that had a staff of armed response guards/technicians. We were issued a revolver like yours at the beginning of each shift, and turned it at the end for the next guys coming on duty. None of them were in as good shape as yours... even back then.

    Be careful you dont use anything but standard velocity .38spl in it. And please, please dont do the one hand wrist snap to close the cylinder like on TV. That can ruin that model of revolver. Heck... that can mess up any revolver

    A green with envy
    Spuk!

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    gdm320; I'm envious. That would make a grand carry gun. Probably more sensible than anything made by any revolver manufacturer today. This despite the fact that Colt discontinued them years ago. Shame too. Light enough in weight and holds 6 rounds of .38 Special goodness. The 3-inch will conceal as easily as a 2-inch and allow a little more "oomph" from one's favorite loads.

    What's not to like?

    Any Cobra with a barrel longer than the most common 2-inch is more difficult to locate so you have a find in that little revolver.

    The shorter grip frame was standardized in 1966. Note how the wood panels meet beneath the bottom of the grip frame and add extra length. gdm320's new Cobra shows that feature so it was made in 1966 or later.

    The older style Cobra with a full-length grip frame and 2-inch barrel is shown in a photograph in this Forum thread.
    Jack Ruby's Revolver
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society "Get heeled! No really"

    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

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