Model: Army Special
Serial Number: 336997
Year of Manufacture: Jan. 1913 (Colt Letter)
Caliber: .38 Long Colt
Action Type: Single Action/Double Action with Swing Out Cylinder
Markings: The left side of the barrel is marked “COLT”, “ARMY / SPECIAL” and “38”. The top of the barrel is marked “COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. CO. HARTFORD, CT. U.S.A. / PAT’D. AUG. 5.1884 JUNE 5.1900 JULY 4 1905”. The crane cut is marked “336997” and “X”. The crane is also marked “336997”. The front left of the trigger guard is marked with a “VP” in a triangle, and the rear with a “3”, and there is a Rampant Colt logo marked on the left side of the frame. The right rear of the trigger guard is marked with an upside down ampersand. The left side of the grip frame is marked “H”, “R” and “4”.
Barrel Length: 6”
Sights / Optics: The revolver is mounted with a “U” groove in the top strap for a rear sight. The front sight is a wide half round fixed blade on the barrel.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are checkered black hard rubber with “COLT” in an oval at the top of each grip and with a smooth script “C” around the grip screw escutcheons. The smooth borders of the grips show multiple light handling marks with two deep compression marks in the bottom of the right grip and a small chip out of the inside bottom edge of the left grip. The checkering shows light wear with streaks of moderate wear long the lower front edges of the grips. The grips rate in about Very Good overall condition.
Type of Finish: The revolver is blued. The trigger has a fire blue finish and the sides of the hammer are “In The White”. The barrel, cylinder and frame are scroll engraved with a punched dot background on the sides of the frame. We estimate the engraving as Level A.
Finish Originality: The finish and the engraving are original.
Bore Condition: The bore is bright with sharp rifling. There is no erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This revolver retains about 78% of its current metal finish. There is thinning in the front half of the barrel, on the cylinder and ejector rod, and the edges of the frame, with surface loss on the front strap and backstrap. There are tiny spots of surface frosting sprinkled over the top of the barrel and the sides of the hammer, with light handling marks scattered over the backstrap, cylinder and the right side of the frame. The cylinder also shows a drag line. The hammer knurling shows light wear while the ejector rod and cylinder latch knurling are sharp. The grip screw is distressed and the front sideplate screw shows light marks from a screwdriver. The markings are clear. Overall, this revolver rates in about Very Good condition.
Mechanics: The cylinder lockup on this revolver is SOLID. The double action trigger pull is smooth, and the single action crisp. The action functions correctly. We did not fire this revolver.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This revolver comes with a letter from Colt stating it left the factory in January 1913 with a blued finish and factory engraved. The revolver was shipped to the Norvell Shapleigh Hardware Company of St. Louis, Missouri as part of a lot of 29 identical guns. Other records indicate that between 1911 and 1913 there were between eight and ten similar shipments.
Our Assessment: The Colt Army Special was introduced with the Army in mind, and quickly came to be noted for its accuracy, winning the National Revolver Match in 1911 and establishing a new range record at Camp Perry the same year. Unfortunately, Colt was never able to interest the Army in a medium framed revolver, and changed its name to the “Official Police” in 1928 after they found that the New York Police Department, among others, were willing to adopt the revolver. This Army Special revolver was factory engraved over about 25% of its finish with scroll engraving which has a punch dot background on the sides of the frame. It is blued with a 6” barrel. The revolver is in about Very Good condition with 78% of its original finish remaining. There are tiny spots of surface frosting sprinkled over the top of the barrel, and light handling marks scattered over the backstrap, cylinder and the right side of the frame. There is thinning in the barrel, cylinder, ejector rod and the edges of the frame, with surface loss on the front strap and backstrap. The cylinder has a drag line. The grips are checkered black hard rubber that show multiple light handling marks in the smooth borders and light to moderate wear in the checkering. There are two deep compression marks in the bottom of the right grip and a tiny chip out of the bottom inside edge of the left grip. The bore is bright with sharp rifling and no erosion. This pistol has a better cylinder lock-up than most new revolvers out of the box and with care should continue to provide great service for another 100 years. This will make a good choice for informal target shooting and can also be used for home protection. However, with its nice finish and factory engraving, we don’ think the collectors are going to let this one get away.