Colt DA 38 What is DOB and worth?

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by Doc Steve, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. Doc Steve

    Doc Steve New Member

    Aug 8, 2012
    I am new to this forum and am an avid SW revolver collector. I found this in my safe and cannot remember where I got it. It has Colt DA 38 on the barrel. The only other markings are on butt which I assume is SN.. it is 214693. The other marking is a 307 both on tang which releases cylinder and on yoke under cylinder .Could someone tell me the date of birth of this revolver and its approximate worth? It is in very good shape. Probably 95% bluing and very tight and timed up.

    Attached Files:

  2. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    It is the Colt New Army & Navy Revolver. That gun was made in 1903. At that time, Colt was selling two commercial "versions", the Army model and the Navy model, differing only in minor markings and the grips. That one is the Army model. Civilian guns were made in both .38 and .41 calibers.

    That same gun was also actually made for the military in .38 caliber in several different models and was the standard Army and Navy service pistol from 1892 to 1909. Those guns are marked differently, and the Army model has wood grips. The .38 revolver was the gun that notoriously failed to stop guerrillas in the Philippines, resulting in the decision to return to a .45 caliber in 1909.

    The caliber was originally .38 Long Colt, a cartridge with the same diameter as .38 Special, but shorter. After serial number 200,000, the chambers were lengthened to accept .38 Special, but the barrel marking was not changed. Even if that cylinder will accept .38 Special, firing anything other than the standard .38 Special round nose lead bullet could be hazardous. No +P or +P+ should ever be fired in those old timers. They will also accept .357 Magnum which is definitely in the NO-NO category!

    As to value, I would make a WAG of around $400. The gun appears to have been refinished at some point and possibly sandblasted prior to reblung, giving a matte appearance. (It originally had a deep blue-black color over a highly polished finish.)

    Last edited: Aug 9, 2012

  3. Doc Steve

    Doc Steve New Member

    Aug 8, 2012
  4. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    I received a PM and would like to answer it here because some others might be confused. The question was, "You said it was a Army Model but later said the Armys had wood grips. This one has plastic type grips. Therefore, have these been replaced or do you think it is actually a navy model?"

    You have to thank Colt for the confusion. They made that gun on contract for the Army, and made basically the same gun on contract for the Navy. The Army contract guns have butt markings with the words "U.S. Army Model 18xx or 190x" and the serial number, and have wood grips. The guns made on contract for the Navy have different markings but the butt is marked "U.S.N." with an anchor, and have hard rubber grips.

    So much for the contract guns, made for the military.

    But Colt simultaneously was making the same guns for the commercial market. Apparently to cater to those who wanted a gun just like the ones made for the military, Colt advertised the commercial models as "the Army model" and "the Navy model." All had hard rubber grips and of course they did not have the "U.S. ARMY" or "U.S.N." markings or the military inspectors' stamps. But the grips differ and that was the only difference between them.

    So let me try again on the grips. The U.S. ARMY Model had wood grips. The "Army model" had hard rubber grips with a rampant Colt.

    The U.S.N. model had hard rubber grips with the name "COLT" in an oval. The "Navy model" had the same type of grips.

    All clear, now? I think I need a drink.

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2012
  5. Doc Steve

    Doc Steve New Member

    Aug 8, 2012
    Jim K,
    You have cleared that up and I greatly appreciate it. Thanks so much and enjoy the drink.
    Doc Steve
  6. wonderwhippet

    wonderwhippet Active Member

    Jan 10, 2003
    Definitely agree it was refinished. IMO most factory markings have been buffed out.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2012
  7. Clark

    Clark New Member

    10 years ago I was buying any cheap Colt DA at gun shows.
    Ones like the OP's pic were cheap if loose, and expensive if tight.
    My brother and I would car pool to the Puyallup gun shows and compete with each other over what deals we could get. We got a lot of Colt DAs.

    The later ~1907 Colt design fixed the shoot loose problem that still plagues my Smiths.

    All Colt handguns have gone up in price more than most other guns over the last 10 years.
    Very few cheap deals on them now.
  8. peacemaker41

    peacemaker41 New Member

    Jan 28, 2013
    I have a Colt DA. 38 serial# 144143. I would like to know DOB. This gun is not in very good shape at all. I only want to know the history behind it.
    Thank you very much
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