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Old 06-07-2015, 11:20 PM
Jcordell Jcordell is offline
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Default Several years later I finally got my British Contract Colt OP

Well it took several years longer than I was expecting, but I finally got the British Contract Colt Official Police (mfd. 1941) in 38/200 or 38 S&W with a 5" barrel. The finish isn't commercial grade, but I had the internals checked out by an old-time gunsmith and he advised that it's very clean and in excellent shape. Now all I have to do is get some ammo for it. I paid $400.00 for those who are interested. Colt made a little over 49,000 Official Police in 38/200 for England in 1940-1941. In contrast S&W made over 500,000 Military & Police models in the same caliber for England from 1940-1945. I would imagine this is a big reason why the British Contract OP isn't as common.






Last edited by Jcordell; 12-12-2016 at 06:30 AM.
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Old 06-08-2015, 12:02 AM
Jcordell Jcordell is offline
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For fun. My newest OP next to my M&P w/5"bl (mfd 1947), OP in 38 Spl w/4"bl (mfd. 1935) and my pre war Heavy Duty (mfd. 1937).Yes I know the target grips on the Heavy Duty aren't period correct, but I like them.
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Old 06-09-2015, 05:55 PM
Nyles Nyles is offline
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Awesome wheelguns! I've always been jealous of your Heavy Duty, and now your British OP. Mine is pretty severely messed with. How's finding .38 S&W in the States these days? It's getting rough up here.

Last edited by Jcordell; 06-09-2015 at 07:41 PM.
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Old 06-09-2015, 07:41 PM
Jcordell Jcordell is offline
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Awesome wheelguns! I've always been jealous of your Heavy Duty, and now your British OP. Mine is pretty severely messed with. How's finding .38 S&W in the States these days? It's getting rough up here.

That British OP was dumb luck. As you know I'm a police officer. Several years ago our Street Crimes Unit stopped a guy on Federal probation. That OP was in his car and criminals on probation and parole can't have guns. Weird. Anyway I got to look at it the very next day and I knew I had to have it. However the case was Federal and the Feds typically destroy guns after a case is adjudicated. I was sad. However for reasons that I wasn't made privy too time the Colt stayed with us. However it then sat in the evidence vault over at the county courthouse for several years. Finally early this year county cleaned out the vault and sent all the items no longer needed back to their various governmental organizations that they came from. About once a year my department sells firearms that are no longer needed for cases (and have no owners) to a gun dealer who in turn will sell pieces to officers. It's all legal by the way and a good source of income for my department. Plus the guns are sold by Federally licensed dealers instead of a police department. I tried to find the original owner. I had the ATF do a handsearch through records and I even called Colt and told them what I was doing. Colt told me it was shipped to the British Purchasing Commission in New York City in July 1941. There is no record of it after that. No importer stamp on it. The British OP's are very hard to find down here. 38 S&W is around, but it isn't real common. I'm going to order snapcaps for it (directly from the company since I'll never find 38 S&W snapcaps in the local stores) and I'll probably order a box or two through one of my local gunshops - or maybe Cabelas in Boise.

Last edited by Jcordell; 10-12-2017 at 11:23 PM.
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Old 06-09-2015, 09:18 PM
Nyles Nyles is offline
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Good (and lucky!) story on that one. A little too common-sense a practice for up here. Cabelas up here dropped .38 S&W up here (foolishly since there are so many surplus S&Ws up here) and I took home the last case, but I have a lot of guns in that caliber...

I read once that the Brit OPs were mainly sent to the 8th Army in North Africa but don't know how true it is.
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Old 06-09-2015, 09:45 PM
Jcordell Jcordell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nyles View Post
Good (and lucky!) story on that one. A little too common-sense a practice for up here. Cabelas up here dropped .38 S&W up here (foolishly since there are so many surplus S&Ws up here) and I took home the last case, but I have a lot of guns in that caliber...

I read once that the Brit OPs were mainly sent to the 8th Army in North Africa but don't know how true it is.
There is so much in the way of myth and rumors about where the Colt OP's went. I've heard that many of the Woowich stamped OP's (which mine is. Proof mark of a w inside of a crown on the left hand side of the frame) of which there are approximately 18,000 went to the India-Burma Theater and were issued to the RAF. I've also found info that says the bulk of the Woolwich OP's were issued to police officers around the (British controlled portion) globe. Others state that the OP's went whereever they needed handguns during the war. I can tell you that my example has no real holster wear on it - unlike my commercial OP in 38 Special. I could see it having just sat in an arms-room for most of it's time on active duty. Oh and the legend also goes that the bulk of the Smith & Wesson M&P's in 38/200 went to the Army.

I do know that in the classic auto-biography The Hundred Days Of Lt. MacHorton by Ian MacHorton he specifically writes that he was issued a Colt revolver in 38/200 and a Thompson sub-machine gun. MacHorten was with the Chindits under Ord Wingate in Burma so that might back up the India-Burma info, but WWII was a big war and people and weapons were everywhere so who really knows.

Last edited by Jcordell; 06-09-2015 at 09:50 PM.
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Old 06-10-2015, 01:41 AM
Nyles Nyles is offline
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There is certainly lots of photographic evidence for the S&W being widely issued in the army, and particularly in the armies of the dominions. We actually contracted directly with S&W for them and never adopted the Enfield at all, and while the Aussies made their own Enfields I've seen a heck of a lot more Aussie (and Kiwi) marked S&Ws. I wonder how popular the OPs would have been if they'd kept them in production? I always thought it odd that Britain never used the Colt Commando, it certainly seems like the Colt could have supplied two large military contracts at once if they were evening making Commandos to begin with.
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Old 06-10-2015, 04:04 AM
Jcordell Jcordell is offline
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The more I read about Smith & Wesson and Colt the more I realize that Smith was just a better run company. The people running Colt never seemed to make the best decisions. That might of been the reason that Smith got the corner on revolvers during WWII. I'm firm believer that tens of thousands of men in the American military got their first exposure to revolvers during the war and that revolver was the S&W Victory model. There were other reasons behind Smith overtaking Colt in sales in the years following WWII of course, but I think a big one was the Victory model. Similar to how Americans took a liking to the bolt action rifle after WWI. Colt made a good revolver and the company's steel was supposedly a higher grade, but the management wasn't.
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Old 06-10-2015, 05:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jcordell View Post
The more I read about Smith & Wesson and Colt the more I realize that Smith was just a better run company. The people running Colt never seemed to make the best decisions. That might of been the reason that Smith got the corner on revolvers during WWII. I'm firm believer that tens of thousands of men in the American military got their first exposure to revolvers during the war and that revolver was the S&W Victory model. There were other reasons behind Smith overtaking Colt in sales in the years following WWII of course, but I think a big one was the Victory model. Similar to how Americans took a liking to the bolt action rifle after WWI. Colt made a good revolver and the company's steel was supposedly a higher grade, but the management wasn't.
If you really think about it, almost everything Colt has done for the past hundred years (and especially the past 50 or so) basically shows they are deathly afraid of making money for whatever reason
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Old 06-10-2015, 07:02 PM
Nyles Nyles is offline
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The more I read about Smith & Wesson and Colt the more I realize that Smith was just a better run company. The people running Colt never seemed to make the best decisions. That might of been the reason that Smith got the corner on revolvers during WWII. I'm firm believer that tens of thousands of men in the American military got their first exposure to revolvers during the war and that revolver was the S&W Victory model. There were other reasons behind Smith overtaking Colt in sales in the years following WWII of course, but I think a big one was the Victory model. Similar to how Americans took a liking to the bolt action rifle after WWI. Colt made a good revolver and the company's steel was supposedly a higher grade, but the management wasn't.
I read an article, I think by Paul Scarlata, awhile back saying basically the same thing - guys bought what they knew. The other part of it was supposed to be the shift to double-action focused training for police, since Smiths have a consistent pull and Colts stack. That said, I just love the feel of an old Colt - I have a lot of handguns but the only one that never gets left behind on a range trip is my Police Positive Special.
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