I bought a 4" .38 Offical Police at a show about 5 years ago for $200 that I thought was pre-war, about 95% with a very little holster wear and one spot on the blue that I'm not sure what caused it.
Tight and sweet, not fired much, but I thought it was pre-war and a steal at the time, but found out Colt "filled in" the serial numbers they skipped during the war when they built only Commandos, and after the war went BACK so some numbers are pre-Commando...
Mine was made in 1948.
The ONLY real problem I have is rarely but OCCASIONALLY I have a primer not go off even though hit, but will fire the next time around. It seems to be ammo specific, so some modern primers may be harder than they were back then, or maybe I need a new mainspring some day.
The MAIN problem I have with it is I intended it to be "trade bait" someday, but my wife has kind of taken over ownership,
calls it HER gun, and is under her side of the bed, and while she lets me shoot it occasionally
I get the third degree from her when I am done (Is it CLEANED? Is it LOADED again? Is it back in the pouch under my side of the bed????)
(Which HURTS when I saw an almost identical maybe just a little better shape OP in a case in a shop yesterday for $649!!!
She has only had a round not go off once for her and I have her trained....JUST KEEP PULLING THE TRIGGER.
Actually, I have always liked Smiths, and actually shot revolvers better than autos, but prefer autos so most of my pistols are autos....and except for my Ruger .22-45, my wife always had problems working slides for some reason, no problem shooting but even my Makarovs she couldn't pull it back all the way, I think more technique than strength...
The first time she loaded and shot the Colt, it was hers! Which is why a revolver btw MAY be best for most women...pretty much idiot or "female that is a not gun nut like their husband and only shoot occasionally"
proof at least in the controls...
You can't beat Colt revolvers, mainly because most of them had a LOT of "hand-fitting" at the factory, so are smooth right from the box. Everybody did it that way back in the day, and when skilled labor was cheap, it worked.
The problem was when S&W brought out the Model 10, they also invested in new machines with closer tolerances, which meant less hand fitting, in the late 40s and early 50s, while Colt continued to use the older worn out ones and kept up the fitting right up to the 1960s...
S&W took away the police market simply on price....Colt had much more cost into their revolvers than Smith, and they were comparable.
But the Official Police is the same frame they built the Python on, in fact uses the same speedloaders. (I have two, that work well for it) It is STRONG. In fact, years before the .357 mag was invented, there was a lot of experimentation with hot .38-55 revolver loads at Colt, and they used the OP for the tests. If they stayed with it the .38-55 "Magnum" might have been the big choice for police and not the .357.....and maybe kept Colt viable in that market longer...
There is NO reason to get into a Colt vs Smith debate....like Ford vs Chevy...they are BOTH quality revolvers...I like them BOTH.
It's just that from about 1960 on Colts just got too RARE and thus even MORE expensive because they didn't sell as many as Smith, becuase they were more EXPENSIVE....a vicious circle.
And why so few Smiths work on them any more....
A NEW revolver, go with Smith. An OLD revolver, it's caveat emptor for each, but a good old Colt or Smith will work as well as the other.
But like RJay says it WILL be easier to get the Smith fixed. Parts are available, but not as easily, for the Colts, at least for now.
The more I think about it I think maybe I should order my mainspring now and put it away.