Looked at a Colt Officers Model .38 revolver for a few minutes yesterday. Seemed to be in really nice condition. Got to wondering if it had been reblued. There was no Rampant Colt on the frame behind the cylinder, left or right side. Had Colt markings on left side and top of barrel, and on grips. Last patent date on top of barrel was 1926 iirc. Guessing this revolver is from the 1930s.
Went online and checked a dealer site that had five Officers Model .38s for sale with photographs. Four of the revolvers had clear Rampant Colt markings on the left side of the frame behind the cylinder. The fifth revolver, from about 1937, seemed not to have a Rampant Colt mark on left or right side. Hard to tell from the photos.
Questions. Anybody know if every Officers Model .38 should have a Rampant Colt mark on the frame, or if some did not have this? Value, if thinking of buying or trading for the revolver? The dealer had them priced from about $800 to $2200, super high internet retail probably. But Colt revolver prices have skyrocketed, at least for some models.
Colt usually stamped the Rampant Colt on the left side of the frame just below and behind the cylinder release, especially in the pre-war days.
However, Colt on occasion didn't stamp the pony for reasons no one knows. True, most of the unstamped guns were war-time revolvers or models made in the post-war era on budget models.
Without actually seeing the gun it's impossible to say for sure, but my best guess is a re-blue. Due to the intricate and small size of the Pony stamp, they were usually roll stamped rather lightly. Almost any polishing for a re-blue would fade it or remove it entirely.
The best thing to do is look for other signs of a re-blue.
Things to look for:
The wrong color. The 20's and 30's guns were a bright BLUE color produced by heating the parts in steel drums, not a blue-black chemical finish.
Sharp edges rounded off.
Other lettering faded. On pre-war guns the lettering was often shallower, but it was all there.
Signs of pitting, scratching, or dents UNDER the bluing.
Ripples in the flats, or dished out areas around holes or "lumpy" rippled areas on the barrel.
"Off" colors. Even in sunlight the finish should be blue, with no signs or reddish or purple colors even on small parts.
Sides of the hammer blued. Colt always polished the blue off the sides of the hammer to a bare steel finish. Re-blues often left the hammer all blue.
Thank you for the long and interesting response.
I'd never seen an Officers Model .38 before. Thinking back, it seems the finish was a nice old blue-black color, rather than a bright blue.
There was a small mark or ding, I didn't have a magnifying glass handy, on the left side behind and maybe slightly below the cylinder release. Thought it was a ding, maybe it was. Could have been a very small part left of a Rampant Colt mark that was polished off.
The blueing looked very nice, hardly any wear or scratches or flaws. The wood stocks showed plenty of use though. Seems inconsistent.
The markings on the left side and top of the barrel were clear but faint and hard to read. Had to put reading glasses on and move to the brightest light in the area.
Did not notice about the hammer, if it was all blued or not.
Will have to take another look, maybe in bright sunlight and with a magnifying glass. If it has been reblued, then I guess the collector value is gone, and maybe it has a nice old shooter value of $300 or so.
Sounds like a reblue. Could still be a good shooter. But the price would have to be right and I haven't seen too many "right priced" Colts of late. An Officer's Model Match is on my someday list.