Colt .38 Official Police

Discussion in 'Centerfire Pistols & Revolvers' started by polishshooter, May 9, 2008.

  1. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    I bought a decent 1948 Official Police at the last show, and my wife has "confiscated" it:p It is now known around the house as "HER Gun," rests loaded under her side of the bed, and in the past month and half she has shot more rounds through it than ANY of the other handguns I have ever owned...:D

    About all I get to "play with it" anymore is when she asks me to CLEAN it for her when we are done!:p:D


    But I have a few questions...I know the frame is the same one they used to make the early Troopers and the Python, so will aftermarket grips and speedloaders made for either of those work on it?


    And about every couple or three cylinders DA I (we?) get a failure to fire on one round, which then fires the next time around. It seems to do it more with Magtech and Remington rounds, than it does with WW, and I always forget to check WHICH chamber it is to see if it's the same one, but I don't think it is.

    Is it the mainspring needing replacement? And how hard is it to change, I don't like messing with wheel guns since I've only owned a few, and they are more complex than autos but I could handle replacing the spring.

    But again, nobody I've found lists one for the OP, or they are out of stock, would a Python or Trooper spring work? They are available all over the place.
    Last edited: May 9, 2008
  2. Oneida Steve

    Oneida Steve Active Member

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    I have an Official Police .38 from 1941 and stocks/grips made for the Python fit just fine.

    Old guns sometimes have trouble with "hard" primers. I wouldn't change the mainspring yet. Try a different brand of ammo.
  3. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Thanks, Steve.

    How do you like yours? Mine (hers?) is a sweet, smooth, tight, accurate shooting weapon, I'm impressed, I was always a S&W fan for the few revolvers I've owned, but this Colt is a keeper. And guys say the Colt DA trigger is not as smooth as a S&W, but I see no difference, and my wife has no trouble keeping them all in about 4" with fairly rapid DA at 10 yds. They'll go into 2 inches for me rapid fire, and I'm still learning it, and neither of us shoot it SA either.

    Especially for my wife, she never cared to learn what all the levers, buttons, etc were on any of my autos, and has trouble both in the strength needed and technique pulling back slides, but she opens closes loads and unloads this one like a pro, wants a speedloader next, and says the recoil is just a LITTLE stiff, even with target loads, which is why I may try to put Pachmayrs on it for her. The stock plastic grips fit her fine, but may give her trouble when we move up to +Ps .

    I also think when i get to reloading for it, the Federal primers just might work OK...
    Last edited: May 10, 2008
  4. Oneida Steve

    Oneida Steve Active Member

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    My 5" Official Police is a joy to shoot. It is heavier than the K-frame S&Ws so recoil isn't an issue with the proper grips. I like Pachmayr's Gripper grips but Hogue makes a good one too.

    I find the OP iron sights superior to the S&W service revolvers. My gun was made back when Colt did a lot of hand-finishing on their guns, so the DA pull is great. I own more S&W revolvers than I do Colts but the Official Police is my favorite service .38 revolver.

    I also like the Colt Officers Model Match target revolvers from the same era.
  5. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    Polish....I'd think twice about using +P's in your 1948 Colt OP. It wasn't made for them.

    The standard .38 Spl. load in 1948 was a 158 gr. LRN at about 800 +/- fps. and considerably lower pressures than the current crop of +P's.

    Occasional use of +P's might be OK, but certainly a steady diet of 'em won't do the old girl (the gun, not your wife.....:D) any good.
  6. Nope, the old Colt and S&W revolvers were very well-built firearms, but the metallurgy of the day was simply not up to modern standards by any means, especially those built in the 1940s and earlier. Why risk bulging the cylinder on a fine old revolver like that when you can buy very good hollow-point ammo today that is loaded to standard pressure? The Federal Hydra-Shok 110 grainer, for example, is a good choice, and the recoil is much reduced over any 158 grain bullet loading. In my .38s I do carry +Ps (usually Speer 135 grain Gold Dots) in those that are rated for the pressure levels, but in my little Mod 36 that isn't, I feel more comfortable with a standard pressure loading. Just my $.02 worth.
  7. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    I appreciate the concern, X and PS, BUT...(you know me well by now, I'm good at the "buts";) :):) (Or is that "Butts?" as in -head?" :))

    For one thing, in the research I've done so far, there was a nice little controversy started between Colt and S&W between the relative strengths of their "service" revolvers in the 30s and 40s, the Official Police and the M&P (later the Model 10) when the Colt was the revolver of choice for Police and issue to the FBI, and Colt made the rather well documented and pretty undeniable claim or warranty, that their Official Police could handle the pressures generated by the .38-55 cartridge. The .38-55 cartridge, which was pretty obscure at the time, was loaded to pressures that EXCEEDED current .357 Magnum loads. One of the points of controversy was that the S&W locked up in TWO places, not one like the Colt, and Colt countered with the fact that if you rotated the cylinder the RIGHT way you only NEEDED one point of lock up! ;):)

    Yeah, I know, Colt lost out virtually all the police contracts in the late 50s and 60s to S&W, but that had a lot to do with the costs because like Steve said, Colt refused to go away from all the hand fitting and polishing like S&W did, and sweetheart special deals S&W made "on the side," not necessarily the quality. This is a QUALITY weapon, with a LARGE frame...

    Now, that, coupled with the fact that the revolver BECAME the Trooper .357, and then the Python, in the 50s and 60s, with little change but the length of the cylinder, makes me think +Ps would be OK.

    This has also been "confirmed," if you can use the term, by anecdotal evidence of a couple of "Old Timer" Official Police Owners and shooters I have personally talked to since I (We? I always seem to forget that...:p) became owners of one.

    Now I do not intend to feed a "Steady Diet" of +Ps through it, but I do intend to fire some through it to see if they shoot to point of aim, then have my wife shoot them to see where they print and to see if she can handle it, then keep it loaded with them under "her side of the bed" in case she needs it when I'm away. The "Steady Diet" it will see to keep her proficient will be the target 130 gr FMJ stuff or 158gr RNL we have been shooting, or my SWC lead reloads which will be pretty standard when I get around to reloading the hundreds or so cases we have accumulated since I bought it "for her.";)

    Plus if you saw my other post about "kicking tires," I just MAY become the proud owner of a Model 19 when I get my bonus check, so if she can't handle, or I don't feel they are appropriate, I can then use them in the .357...

    And Steve, your 5" is a LOT more collectible and rare than my 4" standard model, what do you think? What do you shoot through it?

    Mine was completely stock except for a later added front sight that was a nice installation, but WAY too high. I filed it down to replicate the ramped half moon some of them came with and now it's dead on at 10 yds. And I agree, those fixed sights give about the best sight picture QUICKLY you could ask for on a "Service gun...."
    Last edited: May 11, 2008
  8. Oneida Steve

    Oneida Steve Active Member

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    PS, I shoot my usual outdoor load through my Official Police: a 158 gr. SWC lead bullet at 850 fps. This load is mild enough for my K-frames and the OP just laughs at it.

    That said, one look at the size of the OP's cylinder tells me that it would handle any +P load available today. That cylinder is a good-sized chunk of metal. My Diamondback looks puny next to the OP.

    I would shoot +Ps in my Official Police without a second thought.
  9. Little Rooster

    Little Rooster New Member

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    I would have to agree even some newer guns i have tend to work better with different primers.
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