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2mjohns
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Posted: 11/23/2012 12:11:12 PM
Found a Colt "New Service" revolver for sale, supposedly in good working condition. It's a .45 LC - what should I be looking for when I go shoot it and inspect it and is $500 a decent price? The ad says "it could use a new nickel finish"

I have a picture that doesn't look terrible though.

Thanks
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Posted: 11/23/2012 5:01:20 PM
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DriftPunch
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Posted: 11/23/2012 5:09:21 PM
[Last Edit: 11/23/2012 5:12:05 PM by DriftPunch]
The New Service was made in many calibers, and I think many different barrel lengths.

IMO, as a collectable they are nice, but to be collectable they have to be in VGC+ shape. IMO, S&W revolvers of the same age are better and feel more modern. This being said, the New Service predates the perfected S&W action.

Mine is in .455 Eley (same thing as .455 British Service), and was probably refinished prior to being surplused by the Brits or Canadians. I also have a Webley Mk6 (still in .455) and the New Service is FAR superior.




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DriftPunch
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Posted: 11/26/2012 10:35:10 AM
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Cheesebeast
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Posted: 11/26/2012 11:27:55 AM
I think the GSP used to issue the New Service in .45Colt. Look for unit/property marks on the backstrap and/or frame.

I really enjoy the New Service, but you need to know how the action locks up in order to verify that a particular sample is a good shooter or not.

Collecting New Services is expensive and the best examples are well north of 1k. The most common configuration of New Service is in .45 Colt with a 5.5" barrel.

Nickel finishes could be a factory thing (or perhaps not). You would need a factory letter (available from Colt) to verify the original finish that was on the revolver when it shipped out.

The action of the New Service is a "double hand" type. That means the cylinder can be pretty loose when the hammer is down and that is not indicative of a problem. One thing that should happen as the hammer goes back is the hand essentially "grabs" the back of the cylinder so at the point of hammer fall the cylinder is kept tightly (and I mean tightly) locked up. Think bank vault tight.

You can verify this by first checking to ensure the cylinder indexes properly. Carefully (and slowly) cock the hammer back on each of the six chambers in the cylinder. Verify everything lines up correctly. Make sure the cylinder stop tab (located on the right side of the frame) pops up into the notch in the cylinder for each chamber. Now, keeping your thumb on the hammer (so it doesn't fall) squeeze the trigger. You will feel the hand contact the back of the cylinder which locks things in place. You will probably have trouble wiggling the cylinder at all when the hammer is held back. That is good.

New Services were stout guns but the double hand action was considered fragile by some (it also requires a person who knew what they were doing in manufacture). These guns are difficult to find a good gunsmith to put things back in order if something goes awry. Further, parts can be unavailable on the earlier generation of New Services.

As time passed the New Service saw several product upgrades. The barrel shape changed, the front sight and rear sight notch in the frame changed. A small piece of metal was added to keep the hammer (firing pin) off of the cartridges unless the trigger was deliberately pulled. This was added early (prior to WWI) but there are early examples around. The cylinder latch shape was changed from rectangular to a rounded knob shape. Stocks went from a hard gutta percha type of early "plastic" to walnut.

There are New Service target models out there. They are expensive and relatively rare.

Anyway, the last New Services were made in the early 40s and the post-war guns are made out of parts from earlier manufacture.

Enjoy, and if you get your New Service post some pics!
DriftPunch
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Posted: 11/26/2012 1:38:57 PM

Originally Posted By Cheesebeast:
I think the GSP used to issue the New Service in .45Colt. Look for unit/property marks on the backstrap and/or frame.

I really enjoy the New Service, but you need to know how the action locks up in order to verify that a particular sample is a good shooter or not.

Collecting New Services is expensive and the best examples are well north of 1k. The most common configuration of New Service is in .45 Colt with a 5.5" barrel.

Nickel finishes could be a factory thing (or perhaps not). You would need a factory letter (available from Colt) to verify the original finish that was on the revolver when it shipped out.

The action of the New Service is a "double hand" type. That means the cylinder can be pretty loose when the hammer is down and that is not indicative of a problem. One thing that should happen as the hammer goes back is the hand essentially "grabs" the back of the cylinder so at the point of hammer fall the cylinder is kept tightly (and I mean tightly) locked up. Think bank vault tight.

You can verify this by first checking to ensure the cylinder indexes properly. Carefully (and slowly) cock the hammer back on each of the six chambers in the cylinder. Verify everything lines up correctly. Make sure the cylinder stop tab (located on the right side of the frame) pops up into the notch in the cylinder for each chamber. Now, keeping your thumb on the hammer (so it doesn't fall) squeeze the trigger. You will feel the hand contact the back of the cylinder which locks things in place. You will probably have trouble wiggling the cylinder at all when the hammer is held back. That is good.

New Services were stout guns but the double hand action was considered fragile by some (it also requires a person who knew what they were doing in manufacture). These guns are difficult to find a good gunsmith to put things back in order if something goes awry. Further, parts can be unavailable on the earlier generation of New Services.

As time passed the New Service saw several product upgrades. The barrel shape changed, the front sight and rear sight notch in the frame changed. A small piece of metal was added to keep the hammer (firing pin) off of the cartridges unless the trigger was deliberately pulled. This was added early (prior to WWI) but there are early examples around. The cylinder latch shape was changed from rectangular to a rounded knob shape. Stocks went from a hard gutta percha type of early "plastic" to walnut.

There are New Service target models out there. They are expensive and relatively rare.

Anyway, the last New Services were made in the early 40s and the post-war guns are made out of parts from earlier manufacture.

Enjoy, and if you get your New Service post some pics!

Anything you can tell me about the model pictured above would be appreciated. Information is lacking on them...
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Cheesebeast
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Posted: 11/27/2012 10:06:41 AM
[Last Edit: 11/27/2012 10:10:41 AM by Cheesebeast]
Originally Posted By DriftPunch:


Anything you can tell me about the model pictured above would be appreciated. Information is lacking on them...


Howdy Driftpunch,

Your New Service looks to me to be a classic WWI era .455. They (and of course the .45 ACP version for the US) were the bulk of New Service production and naturally most of them went off to England and Canada for war service. They were meant to supplement the meager supply of Webley revolvers in service. The barrel on yours is 5.5" and has the usual "shark fin" shaped front sight.

It has the correct unbolstered barrel profile (straight barrel- no taper) indicating it was probably made prior to 1918. The gutta percha grips might be original to the gun- remove the grips (CAREFULLY) as they commonly chip on the bottom where they meet the frame. If original the grips would have a crude scratching that matches the serial number of your revolver. The cylinder latch is probably rectangular in profile and not the rounded knob of later New Services.

If your New Service was in the English service it would have proof markings on it to indicate that. The Brits required all firearms coming into Britain to be officially proofed and usually the barrel would be stamped (often crudely) with a proofload marking, the mark of the proofhouse in question, and sometimes a snobby "Not of English Manufacture" stamp added for good measure. You can often find proofmarks on the cylinder indicating each specific chamber passed proof.

Once they marred up the guns this way they may have been crudely refinished. For some reason the Brits loved to paint metal surfaces. I have seen a lot of WWI era revolvers with a nasty black paint finish on them.

As your revolver doesn't appear painted you may have a revolver that was in service with Canada. There are appropriate marks for that as well. Unit marks were commonly added that could be deciphered with a bit of work.

Finally, that model was what the Mounties carried. The RCMP (there was another name for them depending on where in Canada they were situated and the name changed over time) issued two styles of New Services. IIRC the .455 was issued on the Eastern part of Canada, and the New Service in .45 Colt was issued in the West. I think they did this to ease logistical problems with getting ammo.

Far from simpleton Dudley-Do-Rights the Mounties were actually hard core. Their history is full of battles with bad guys, serial killers, and wingnuts who had to be sorted out with a .455 (or .45 Colt) bullet. If you have a RCMP revolver (they were ordered in large batches) you can probably find markings on the revolver someplace indicating this.

The lanyard ring on the New Service was a good addition for the time. The New Service served a lot of State Police agencies from their inception in the US. New York State issued New Service .45 Colts from day one. They also "issued" a matching horse and a snazzy hat. You would probably welcome a lanyard when you were on horseback (or the motorcycle that replaced the horse). The lanyard also was useful if you were on snow shoes and you took a spill. Losing your New Service in a snowbank would not have been a wise career decision.

New Hampshire S.P. issued the New Service in .357. The gun was issued to the Border Patrol in .38 Special. Charles Askins Jr. carried one in WWII and Askins was probably the reason the BP went with the New Service. By the 1950s the guns started to be swapped out for (most commonly) .38 Special K Frames (or .357s).

I can only imagine when they took the .45 Colt from a grizzled State cop and handed him a weenie .38 Special replacement. I am sure there were some choice words said about that!

The .455 lingered in Canada longer than any where else that I recall. Dominion cartridge of Canada had the loading available for a long time due to the large number of guns still in service. I used to see Dominion cartridges at gun shows in the 1980s. You can get fresh .455 from Fiocchi of Italy. I have some for my Webley and it shoots OK. Hornady used to load it as well but I haven't found any of it in stock. Many .455 New Services were converted to take .45 Colt as well, especially when they were imported back into the US.

I love the New Service. I have a .45 Colt made in the early 20s and a New Service Target .44 Special made in 1914. They both shoot wonderfully, but I tend to shoot mild loads in them (cast bullets). I have shot them in .38 Special and .38-40. The .38-40 was what hotrod reloaders liked to play with back in the 20s and 30s.

Enjoy your rig and see if you can find any markings on your revolver. If it served in the war (or with the Mounties) it would likely have some marks on it.

Best to you,
Cheese
DriftPunch
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Posted: 11/27/2012 10:58:15 AM

Originally Posted By Cheesebeast:
Originally Posted By DriftPunch:


Anything you can tell me about the model pictured above would be appreciated. Information is lacking on them...


Howdy Driftpunch,

Your New Service looks to me to be a classic WWI era .455. They (and of course the .45 ACP version for the US) were the bulk of New Service production and naturally most of them went off to England and Canada for war service. They were meant to supplement the meager supply of Webley revolvers in service. The barrel on yours is 5.5" and has the usual "shark fin" shaped front sight.

It has the correct unbolstered barrel profile (straight barrel- no taper) indicating it was probably made prior to 1918. The gutta percha grips might be original to the gun- remove the grips (CAREFULLY) as they commonly chip on the bottom where they meet the frame. If original the grips would have a crude scratching that matches the serial number of your revolver. The cylinder latch is probably rectangular in profile and not the rounded knob of later New Services.

If your New Service was in the English service it would have proof markings on it to indicate that. The Brits required all firearms coming into Britain to be officially proofed and usually the barrel would be stamped (often crudely) with a proofload marking, the mark of the proofhouse in question, and sometimes a snobby "Not of English Manufacture" stamp added for good measure. You can often find proofmarks on the cylinder indicating each specific chamber passed proof.

Once they marred up the guns this way they may have been crudely refinished. For some reason the Brits loved to paint metal surfaces. I have seen a lot of WWI era revolvers with a nasty black paint finish on them.

As your revolver doesn't appear painted you may have a revolver that was in service with Canada. There are appropriate marks for that as well. Unit marks were commonly added that could be deciphered with a bit of work.

Finally, that model was what the Mounties carried. The RCMP (there was another name for them depending on where in Canada they were situated and the name changed over time) issued two styles of New Services. IIRC the .455 was issued on the Eastern part of Canada, and the New Service in .45 Colt was issued in the West. I think they did this to ease logistical problems with getting ammo.

Far from simpleton Dudley-Do-Rights the Mounties were actually hard core. Their history is full of battles with bad guys, serial killers, and wingnuts who had to be sorted out with a .455 (or .45 Colt) bullet. If you have a RCMP revolver (they were ordered in large batches) you can probably find markings on the revolver someplace indicating this.

The lanyard ring on the New Service was a good addition for the time. The New Service served a lot of State Police agencies from their inception in the US. New York State issued New Service .45 Colts from day one. They also "issued" a matching horse and a snazzy hat. You would probably welcome a lanyard when you were on horseback (or the motorcycle that replaced the horse). The lanyard also was useful if you were on snow shoes and you took a spill. Losing your New Service in a snowbank would not have been a wise career decision.

New Hampshire S.P. issued the New Service in .357. The gun was issued to the Border Patrol in .38 Special. Charles Askins Jr. carried one in WWII and Askins was probably the reason the BP went with the New Service. By the 1950s the guns started to be swapped out for (most commonly) .38 Special K Frames (or .357s).

I can only imagine when they took the .45 Colt from a grizzled State cop and handed him a weenie .38 Special replacement. I am sure there were some choice words said about that!

The .455 lingered in Canada longer than any where else that I recall. Dominion cartridge of Canada had the loading available for a long time due to the large number of guns still in service. I used to see Dominion cartridges at gun shows in the 1980s. You can get fresh .455 from Fiocchi of Italy. I have some for my Webley and it shoots OK. Hornady used to load it as well but I haven't found any of it in stock. Many .455 New Services were converted to take .45 Colt as well, especially when they were imported back into the US.

I love the New Service. I have a .45 Colt made in the early 20s and a New Service Target .44 Special made in 1914. They both shoot wonderfully, but I tend to shoot mild loads in them (cast bullets). I have shot them in .38 Special and .38-40. The .38-40 was what hotrod reloaders liked to play with back in the 20s and 30s.

Enjoy your rig and see if you can find any markings on your revolver. If it served in the war (or with the Mounties) it would likely have some marks on it.

Best to you,
Cheese

Wow, thanks for the effort...

I don't remember if the loading gate is squared offhand, but that's easy enough to check later. I do remember that there is a large "C32" stamped into the frame. You can actually see it in the photo low and ahead of the trigger guard, although it's pixelated. Since it was likely refinished, many of the lightly struck marks are barely visible. Even the pony is hard to see. Did Colt date it anywhere ah-la S&W 1917s?

Since these were primarily for export, why did they even mark it with 'Eley"? I could see it in the later Lend-Lease era, but this was decades before. Why not just "Cal .455"?


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Cheesebeast
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Posted: 11/27/2012 11:12:21 AM
[Last Edit: 11/27/2012 11:29:32 AM by Cheesebeast]
Originally Posted By DriftPunch:

Originally Posted By Cheesebeast:
Originally Posted By DriftPunch:


Anything you can tell me about the model pictured above would be appreciated. Information is lacking on them...


Howdy Driftpunch,

Your New Service looks to me to be a classic WWI era .455. They (and of course the .45 ACP version for the US) were the bulk of New Service production and naturally most of them went off to England and Canada for war service. They were meant to supplement the meager supply of Webley revolvers in service. The barrel on yours is 5.5" and has the usual "shark fin" shaped front sight.

It has the correct unbolstered barrel profile (straight barrel- no taper) indicating it was probably made prior to 1918. The gutta percha grips might be original to the gun- remove the grips (CAREFULLY) as they commonly chip on the bottom where they meet the frame. If original the grips would have a crude scratching that matches the serial number of your revolver. The cylinder latch is probably rectangular in profile and not the rounded knob of later New Services.

If your New Service was in the English service it would have proof markings on it to indicate that. The Brits required all firearms coming into Britain to be officially proofed and usually the barrel would be stamped (often crudely) with a proofload marking, the mark of the proofhouse in question, and sometimes a snobby "Not of English Manufacture" stamp added for good measure. You can often find proofmarks on the cylinder indicating each specific chamber passed proof.

Once they marred up the guns this way they may have been crudely refinished. For some reason the Brits loved to paint metal surfaces. I have seen a lot of WWI era revolvers with a nasty black paint finish on them.

As your revolver doesn't appear painted you may have a revolver that was in service with Canada. There are appropriate marks for that as well. Unit marks were commonly added that could be deciphered with a bit of work.

Finally, that model was what the Mounties carried. The RCMP (there was another name for them depending on where in Canada they were situated and the name changed over time) issued two styles of New Services. IIRC the .455 was issued on the Eastern part of Canada, and the New Service in .45 Colt was issued in the West. I think they did this to ease logistical problems with getting ammo.

Far from simpleton Dudley-Do-Rights the Mounties were actually hard core. Their history is full of battles with bad guys, serial killers, and wingnuts who had to be sorted out with a .455 (or .45 Colt) bullet. If you have a RCMP revolver (they were ordered in large batches) you can probably find markings on the revolver someplace indicating this.

The lanyard ring on the New Service was a good addition for the time. The New Service served a lot of State Police agencies from their inception in the US. New York State issued New Service .45 Colts from day one. They also "issued" a matching horse and a snazzy hat. You would probably welcome a lanyard when you were on horseback (or the motorcycle that replaced the horse). The lanyard also was useful if you were on snow shoes and you took a spill. Losing your New Service in a snowbank would not have been a wise career decision.

New Hampshire S.P. issued the New Service in .357. The gun was issued to the Border Patrol in .38 Special. Charles Askins Jr. carried one in WWII and Askins was probably the reason the BP went with the New Service. By the 1950s the guns started to be swapped out for (most commonly) .38 Special K Frames (or .357s).

I can only imagine when they took the .45 Colt from a grizzled State cop and handed him a weenie .38 Special replacement. I am sure there were some choice words said about that!

The .455 lingered in Canada longer than any where else that I recall. Dominion cartridge of Canada had the loading available for a long time due to the large number of guns still in service. I used to see Dominion cartridges at gun shows in the 1980s. You can get fresh .455 from Fiocchi of Italy. I have some for my Webley and it shoots OK. Hornady used to load it as well but I haven't found any of it in stock. Many .455 New Services were converted to take .45 Colt as well, especially when they were imported back into the US.

I love the New Service. I have a .45 Colt made in the early 20s and a New Service Target .44 Special made in 1914. They both shoot wonderfully, but I tend to shoot mild loads in them (cast bullets). I have shot them in .38 Special and .38-40. The .38-40 was what hotrod reloaders liked to play with back in the 20s and 30s.

Enjoy your rig and see if you can find any markings on your revolver. If it served in the war (or with the Mounties) it would likely have some marks on it.

Best to you,
Cheese

Wow, thanks for the effort...

I don't remember if the loading gate is squared offhand, but that's easy enough to check later. I do remember that there is a large "C32" stamped into the frame. You can actually see it in the photo low and ahead of the trigger guard, although it's pixelated. Since it was likely refinished, many of the lightly struck marks are barely visible. Even the pony is hard to see. Did Colt date it anywhere ah-la S&W 1917s?

Since these were primarily for export, why did they even mark it with 'Eley"? I could see it in the later Lend-Lease era, but this was decades before. Why not just "Cal .455"?




I don't recall any marks that would indicate date of manufacture. Best you can do is infer the date of manufacture from serial number or the date it shipped from the factory via a factory letter (can be pricey, I haven't priced a Colt factory letter in a while. I think they are ?200 bucks? now). www.proofhouse.com will have a rough serial number date for you to see what year your rig was made in.

It is murky memory but I think there was a difference between the .455 Webley (and there are a host of different .455 Webley cartridges with the .455 Webley MKII (Edit: wrong by me- Mark V! ETA2: no, wrong again. MKII indicated the 265gr rounded profile...what a mess) probably being the most common) and the .455 Eley. I think the .455 Eley case was longer than the stubby Webley, but of course the .455 Eley would also chamber the shorter .455 Webley loads. I think I am wrong about this too. I will have to see what I can find in my New Service books at home.

The C32 mark could be a good clue.

DriftPunch
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Posted: 11/27/2012 11:00:51 PM

Originally Posted By Cheesebeast:


snip!


You were correct about the squared off cylinder latch. It is also has got to be British because it has the arrow/counterarrow (ownership/release from ownership) marks. I don't think the Canadians did that.

Perhaps it was painted, and the refinish was done in the US to get rid of it. I've always assumed the C32 to be a unit marking. It's in a different font/size as all other markings.

I read where these were delivered in the 1914-16 time frame.
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Posted: 11/27/2012 11:09:04 PM
New Service pistols are very cool. Here is a picture of my grandfather's .38spl.





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Posted: 11/28/2012 10:02:52 AM
Originally Posted By DriftPunch:

Originally Posted By Cheesebeast:


snip!


You were correct about the squared off cylinder latch. It is also has got to be British because it has the arrow/counterarrow (ownership/release from ownership) marks. I don't think the Canadians did that.

Perhaps it was painted, and the refinish was done in the US to get rid of it. I've always assumed the C32 to be a unit marking. It's in a different font/size as all other markings.

I read where these were delivered in the 1914-16 time frame.


That Broad Arrow seals the deal on where that revolver went.

I took a look at Murphy's book to try to get a handle on the ".455 Eley" marking. There was no specific statement about that, but there were some clues.

The New Service was originally offered (1898) in .476 Eley, .450 Eley, and .455 Eley. I checked a reprint copy of a Sears & Roebuck catalog from 1897 to peruse the caliber offerings. Published a year prior to the introduction of the New Service it did not list any of the Eley cartridges. It did offer .44 Webley ammunition.

Colt was always reticent to put a competitors name on their guns. The .44 S&W Russian and Special is a good example. The .44 Russian CTG was a common marking for that chambering. The S&W reference was left out on purpose. When the .44 Special was introduced Colt initially marked them with .44 Russian and S&W Special. That must have stung their pride a good deal.

I mention the reticence of Colt to mark their barrels with a competitors name as I think it has part of the reason for the .455 Eley mark. The cartridges were associated with Webley and in the beginning they would have been seen as a competitor for the foreign trade in particular. Colt has always had a strong presence in the U.K. market going back to Samuel Colt days.

There was a Colt factory in London, for instance. I would guess that initially in 1898 the New Service was marked with the Eley name (a manufacturer of ammunition) to keep from putting any reference to Webley on their weapons. This was continued for the next 20+ years as that was how they "had always done things".

I could not find any reference or example of a specific ".455 Eley" cartridge that would be dimensionally different than the .455 Webley that you and I have. There is an absolute blizzard of different versions and Marks of .455 Webley cartridges though.

Either way enjoy your rig.

I really enjoy the .455 cartridge. I wonder if there is a full wadcutter bullet shape that I could cast (and bore out) to make a copy of the .455 Manstopper rounds? They were wicked looking things.