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#3239618 - 08/19/09 Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special"  
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hedgehog Offline
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I've got a handgun my grandfther had. It's a Colt 38 "Army Special", the barrel has been ruined, but the action is an old craftmenship thing of beauty. I've considered having it rebarreled, but when it comes to handguns I'm at a complete loss. I did get a barrel from Gun Parts, but it doesn't fit. I hate having this thing sitting in my junk parts pile. Can someone direct me to a gun smith that rebarrels handguns like this?

300 BP

#3239870 - 08/19/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: hedgehog]  
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The_Real_Hawkeye Offline
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Send it to Cylinder & Slide.

Nice model gun, by the way. I have one in 98% condition. Beautiful piece. Here's mine.

[Linked Image]

Attached Files
Colt Army Special.JPG (11709 downloads)

"Once we squeeze all we can out of the United States, it can dry up and blow away." - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 2002
#3240021 - 08/19/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: The_Real_Hawkeye]  
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hedgehog Offline
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Exactly what I have. My father said the 38 army special wasn't a 38 special. My grandfather shot 38 specials in it until the forcing cone cracked, dad always blamed the 38 special loads for ruining the barrel. Dad knew his guns, but I have wondered if he got this one right.

#3240668 - 08/19/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: hedgehog]  
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The_Real_Hawkeye Offline
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They were indeed chambered for the .38 Special.


"Once we squeeze all we can out of the United States, it can dry up and blow away." - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 2002
#3241196 - 08/19/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: The_Real_Hawkeye]  
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Bristoe Offline
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They made 'em in .41 also.

[Linked Image]

Alpha

#3241208 - 08/19/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: Bristoe]  
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Bristoe Offline
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Here's a source for Colt parts. The Official Police is a later model of the Army Special and parts will interchange.

http://www.coltparts.com/parts1.html

Cylinder and slide can do the work for you.

http://www.cylinder-slide.com/


#3241863 - 08/20/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: Bristoe]  
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The_Real_Hawkeye Offline
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Originally Posted by Bristoe
They made 'em in .41 also.

[Linked Image]
Even cooler.


"Once we squeeze all we can out of the United States, it can dry up and blow away." - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 2002
#3242123 - 08/20/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: The_Real_Hawkeye]  
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hedgehog Offline
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This has been very helpful, thanks.

#3242204 - 08/20/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: hedgehog]  
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Mike Armstrong Offline
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Hedgehog, is your gun marked "Army Special" on the original barrel? If it isn't, you may have an older model chambered for the .38 Long Colt, a shorter "ancestor" of the .38 Special, which might account for the newer barrel not fitting, and other problems. (There is even an outside chance--way outside--that the gun was an Army Special chambered for the .38 S&W, which has different case AND bore dimensions from the .38 Long Colt and the .38 S&W Special--confused yet?). First thing you need to do is have a Colt guy take a look at the original barrel and the frame serial number to determine what model of Colt you want the work done on. Some of the older guns, marked "New Army" can date from black powder days, and shouldn't be rebarreled to .38 Spl., IMO.

If you really do have an Army Special, the re-barrel job ought to be do-able by any competent pistol smith; it's easier than fitting a new cylinder, for example.

I wonder what loads your grandpa was shooting to crack the barrel? Factory .38 Spls. shouldn't have done that, even the .38-44 and Super Police. (Maybe he got a bullet from a light load or squib stuck in the forcing cone and shot another round on top of it?).

#3242725 - 08/20/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: Mike Armstrong]  
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hedgehog Offline
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The barrel said "Colt 38 Army Special" on it. It probably means nothing, but 38 specials drop in the chambers the way you'd expect them to in a standard 38.

Nobody really knows how the forcing cone got damaged. The cylinder is nice and tight and it never was a spitter, so the timing didn't seem off. My grandfather didn't reload so it wasn't a reloading problem. The forcing cone is split out at the bottom of the barrel with a chunk missing. He noticed it when he was cleaning it before putting it away. Much to my Dads dismay he kept on shooting it off and on for a couple years before dad comvinced him to stop it.

The replacement barrel I got from "Gun Parts" is a bare bones parkarized barrel. I made up some oak blocks and turned the old barrel out of the frame. it came out without any real resistance, but the replacement barrel certainly doesn't turn back in either easily or far enough. I suspect there might be some thread damage, nothing much, but it needs to be chased out with a tap.

Bravo

#3242867 - 08/20/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: hedgehog]  
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The_Real_Hawkeye Offline
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Originally Posted by hedgehog
The barrel said "Colt 38 Army Special" on it. It probably means nothing, but 38 specials drop in the chambers the way you'd expect them to in a standard 38.

Nobody really knows how the forcing cone got damaged. The cylinder is nice and tight and it never was a spitter, so the timing didn't seem off. My grandfather didn't reload so it wasn't a reloading problem. The forcing cone is split out at the bottom of the barrel with a chunk missing. He noticed it when he was cleaning it before putting it away. Much to my Dads dismay he kept on shooting it off and on for a couple years before dad comvinced him to stop it.

The replacement barrel I got from "Gun Parts" is a bare bones parkarized barrel. I made up some oak blocks and turned the old barrel out of the frame. it came out without any real resistance, but the replacement barrel certainly doesn't turn back in either easily or far enough. I suspect there might be some thread damage, nothing much, but it needs to be chased out with a tap.
I would be surprised if the barrel fit without being adjusted by a gun smith. Also, the .38 Army Special was a very strong gun. When they changed the name to Official Police, nothing but the name was changed. The Official Police used the same exact manufacturing methods and materials, and was well known for being able to use the hottest .38 Special ammo.


"Once we squeeze all we can out of the United States, it can dry up and blow away." - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 2002
#3242960 - 08/20/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: The_Real_Hawkeye]  
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hedgehog Offline
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I didn't expect the barrel to time up correctly, but it should screw on without being overly tight. I think the exposed threads on the barrel might have been rolled over a bit, probably bumped or something similar, running a die over the threads should clean them right up without problems. I've heard that the old Colt barrels used what was essentially a pipe thread, so a tapered thread probably shouldn't screw on without a bit of alteration to the threads. A darned good old time gun smith I knew would take revolvers that shot right or left and smack'em with a rubber or leather hammer to bring them on target. He said there was a lot of slop in those old barrel threads.

I'm glad to hear that this is a very strong action, it makes it worth repairing, Since the gun is getting a barrel job I'll probably have it blued so the parts match. Bluing won't hurt this old gun, she's far from a collectors item and it's been reblued once already.

#3242983 - 08/20/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: hedgehog]  
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T LEE Offline
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Colt used a "CRUSH FIT" thread system in the early days, the barrel can be very hard to thread home. Once locked down to the frame with the sight at the proper position the forcing cone almost always needs to be dressed down for proper barrel / cylinder gap. BTW, the threads on the barrel are slightly softer than the frame and are the ones that "crush".


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Old cat turd!

"Some men just need killing." ~ Clay Allison.

I am too old to fight but I can still pull a trigger. ~ Me


#3242996 - 08/20/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: T LEE]  
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hedgehog Offline
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Ya learn something new everyday. It makes sence. Do you know when Colt stopped using this method?

#3244795 - 08/21/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: hedgehog]  
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Mike Armstrong Offline
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If the parkerizing on your replacement barrel is original, you probably have a spare barrel for a Colt "Commando," the WWII "war finish" version of the OP. Sounds like it should fit, and that you know how to fit it. Let us know how your "revived" Army Special shoots!

#3246235 - 08/21/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: hedgehog]  
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T LEE Offline
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Originally Posted by hedgehog
Ya learn something new everyday. It makes sence. Do you know when Colt stopped using this method?


Not until the late 70's, just before they quit making small revolvers for the civilian market.


George Orwell was a Prophet, not a novelist. Read 1984 and then look around you!

Old cat turd!

"Some men just need killing." ~ Clay Allison.

I am too old to fight but I can still pull a trigger. ~ Me


#3251836 - 08/24/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: T LEE]  
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hedgehog Offline
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Mike - I only fiddled around with it a bit, I need a pro do it right. There aren't many pistol smiths around here. After asking around here, where I live, nobody seems to geve a darn about these old handguns, one even said that I should ship off to Gun Parts as a parts gun. The barrel might have a cracked and chipped forcing cone, but the rest of the revolver is in great shape, It seems like it's worth returning to service to me.

Last edited by hedgehog; 08/25/09.
#3253563 - 08/25/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: hedgehog]  
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My Great Grandfather's Army Special was chambered for .38 Colt. Black Hills loads them now, but the last time we shot Poppy's pistol, my Grandfather and I shot .38 spl, wadcutters out of it.


"The number one problem with America is, a whole lot of people need shot, and nobody is shooting them."
-Master Chief Hershel Davis

#3254402 - 08/25/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: The_Real_Hawkeye]  
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Originally Posted by The_Real_Hawkeye
Originally Posted by Bristoe
They made 'em in .41 also.

[Linked Image]
Even cooler.



ubercooler....another of your finds from the blind pawnbrokers of Kentucky?


Proudly representing oil companies, defense contractors, and firearms manufacturers since 1980. Because merchants of death need lawyers, too.
#3255500 - 08/25/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: Steve_NO]  
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Bristoe Offline
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Nah,...just saw it sitting in the case at Bud's gunshop.

#3258384 - 08/27/09 Re: Pistol smith needed, Colt 38 "Army Special" [Re: Bristoe]  
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Everytime I go to Bud's I come out with more iron and less money. Some pretty good folks in there.


"The number one problem with America is, a whole lot of people need shot, and nobody is shooting them."
-Master Chief Hershel Davis


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