Monday, April 27, 2020

Featured Gun: The Colt 357

The story of the Colt 357 revolver has to start with the cartridge itself.

The .357 Magnum was the end result of an evolution that began during the early days of revolvers.

Samuel Colt's first revolver, the Patterson, was chambered (among others) in .36 caliber. While Colt didn't invent the size he did make it a standard years later when he introduced the Colt 1851 Navy Revolver also in .36 caliber.
The diameter of the bores back then were measured differently, while it was called a .36 caliber, it was actually closer to a .38 caliber.

Later when conversion cylinders were developed (allowing the use of metallic cartridges in cap and ball revolvers) the cartridge had a healed bullet in order to fit the bore of the barrel. The healed part of the bullet was the same diameter as the case, like on a .22 Long Rifle cartridge.
This cartridge was named the ".38", first in a rimfire, then in ".38 Short Colt". 
Later guns and cartridges used a bullet that fit inside the brass case and bore diameters that measured closer to .36 caliber: .357".
This is how the .38 Special got its name, despite the bullet measuring .357" in diameter.

The .38 Special was developed due to the poor performance of the .38 Long Colt. The .38 Special has a 1/8" longer case to allow for more powder and to prevent its use in .38 LC chambered guns.

from left to right: .38 Short Colt with heeled bullet, .38 Long Colt, .38 Special and .357 Magnum.

The 38 Special had been very popular during the turn of the century and until the invention of armor was the preferred choice of law enforcement world wide.
In 1919 The Volstead Act changed that perception. By outlawing alcohol and creating a massive black market for illegal booze, the stage was set for shootouts between law enforcement and the gangsters.
The gangsters learned that they could reinforce their cars against the .38 special bullets being fired by law enforcement, ensuring their escape.
A more powerful cartridge would be needed. The .357 Magnum was developed to solve the problem. The developers simply lengthened the .38 Special by a little less than 1/2 inch. This was done for a few reasons. One was to prevent the cartridge from being chambered in guns not intended for the Magnum round. The other reasons were to make space for more powder and or heavier bullets.
The new cartridge was introduced in 1935 by Colt's rival Smith and Wesson along with Winchester.

For some reason Colt did not immediately build a revolver to fire the new Magnum round, although they did chamber some (less than 1000) Colt Single Action Army revolvers in .357 Magnum prior to the War. 

In appears that the folks at Colt were taking a "wait and see" approach.

After WWII it was clear that Colt would need to create a revolver in .357 to compete with Smith & Wesson. Work began in the early 50's, Colt engineers beefed up the Official Police/Army Special and added adjustable sights.
The Army Special and it's brother the Official Police, were introduced in 1908. They were built on a mid sized frame, in between the large New Service and the diminutive Police Positive. 
This was a great decision, the engineers must have suspected the smaller framed guns would not survive a lifetime of full house .357 loads. S&W and Ruger would eventually follow this lead with their 357 Magnum revolvers in the L frame and the GP100 respectively.

Colt Official Police revolver

In 1953 they introduced the gun with no name. The barrel had the simple roll stamp "COLT .357". Boxes and advertisements listed the model as the "THREE-FIFTY-SEVEN"

The Three-Fifty-Seven was not inexpensive, it had a retail price of $89.50, about $867 in todays dollars.

One could say that this new revolver was the Father of the Colt Python, with the Army Special being the Grand Daddy.
Another item introduced with this model was the iconic target hammer that carried over to the Python:

photos courtesy of Custom Shop

Colt also introduced a lower priced version to target law enforcement contracts, named the "Trooper", it would become very popular, long outliving the .357 model.

Colt Trooper with optional nickel finish

In 1955 Colt introduced the Python and the 357 model was discontinued in 1961 after approximately 15,000 units being produced.


Action: Double Action Revolver
Capacity: Six rounds
Chambering: .38 Special and .357 Magnum
Weight: 36 ounces (4" bbl)
Barrel lengths: 4" & 6"
Finish: Blued Carbon Steel 

More pictures, this one is serial number 34


Colt Fever
Guns Magazine
Western Powders

As per usual, this post was inspired by a gun that I once owned. I owned the revolver below for a short time, another one of those I wish I had not let get away.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Smith & Wesson model 27 Project Part 3

If you missed parts one and two, click on the links below

Part 1
Part 2 

he parts have been blued, here they are after a soak in oil

Assembly begins

Back together, a quick function check, then install the grip panels and get some "after" pictures in natural light

I put some grips from a newer model 629 that I had on the shelf for the pictures, they aren't the right vintage and do not fit perfectly, but I didn't want to take the after pics with those ugly abused grips that came with it.

The rear sight was a little beat up, I did what I could to save it, doesn't look too bad, and the owner can replace it if he finds the correct replacement 

The pitting around the S&W logo is 99% gone

No more graffiti on the frame

The obligatory before and after pictures

On to the next project

Friday, April 17, 2020

Theme Guns XI

We'll start this weekend off with some theme guns.....and some Texas themed guns....

I wonder if the owner of this gun works for M&M/Mars or just REALLY likes Snickers?

A tribute to the United States Coast Guard....Semper Paratus (Always Ready)

A couple more Joker themed glocks

Some Sports themed guns, this first one is from Bullseye Cerakote in Goose Creek, SC

Some more work from Pancho and the gang at Shark Coast Tactical in Sarasota, FL

And another LV Glock....

Some more Tiffany Blue guns...

Five Guns (now Rykan Industries) did the work on this Glock

Foxfire Finishes is responsible for this one

A very similar treatment was performed by Hammer Forge Gunworks.

This last one is from Wrenco Arms in Idaho

Star Wars themed guns continue to be popular

Another unique themed Glock from BattleTech Armory.

Another DeWALT tool gun

This one is from Colorado Gun Cleaners.

A couple WWII Bomber inspired guns

Old Man Armory in New Hampshire put the Stars and Bars on this S&W

Another creation from Foxfire Finishes

I don't even know what to say about this last your questions to Republic Firearms in Ohio

If any of the above uncredited photos belong to you and would like them taken down or credited, please contact me immediately