Original Spanish-American War U.S. Colt Model 1896 D.A. 38 Named Presentation Revolver Serial No. 99206 - Made In 1898
Original Item: One of a Kind. The Colt Model 1896 revolver is an important piece of history in the evolution of the modern handgun. This revolver is sometimes called the D.A. 38 for a good reason: they are marked COLT. D.A. 38 on the side of the barrel, as they are a double action revolver chambered for the .38 Long Colt cartridge. There are many similar models of this handgun made by Colt: the Model 1892, 1894, 1895, 1896 and later the Model 1901 and 1903, which represent incremental improvements in the design. The U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army primarily used these models, though there were civilian models as well.
This type of double action revolver represented a significant step in the evolution of the revolver, as it was Colt's first swing out cylinder revolver. It was both double and single action, it utilized the spring-loaded ejector rod, and the later models could fire the new (at the time) smokeless powder cartridges. All of these features appealed to the armed forces. The earlier D.A. 38 guns, such as the 1894, were designed to fire black powder cartridges only.
The New Army & Navy model is unique to Colt in that the cylinder rotates counter-clockwise, and the frame's side plate is on the right side. This unfortunately tended to force the cylinder out of alignment with the frame over time, and this was exacerbated by relatively weak lockwork used to "time", or match individual chambers to the barrel. In later Colt revolvers the cylinder rotation is clockwise and the side plate is on the left side of the frame. Also these Colt's have extremely complex actions that get out of order or break easily.
This is a fantastic one of a kind presentation model, which was not issued to either the Army or the Navy, who both used the revolver. Condition is excellent, and it is marked with the presentation inscription on the right side plate of the revolver, which reads:
Lieut. Wm A Stafford
Lt. Battery B 1st Artillery
by Employes of Hancock & Becker
June 28th 1898
Lt. William A. Stafford of the 1st Light Artillery of the Rhode Island volunteers is a known officer that served during the Spanish-American war era, per the information we received with the revolver. Service records have for the war have proven difficult to access, so we leave this as a fantastic research opportunity.
As this is a commercial model, it features the classic checkered gutta percha composite grips with the COLT pony logo at the top. The serial number marked on the bottom of the grip frame is 99206, indicating production in 1898 per Colt factory records. The frame under the cylinder crane, the cylinder crane itself, and the cylinder release are all marked with assembly number 311. There is no marking on the cylinder, but we see no reason to suspect that it was replaced at any point.
The top of the barrel is still marked with the original manufacture and patent information, correct for the model 1896:
PATENTED AUG.5.1884. NOV.6.88 MAR.5.95
This revolver is stamped with the 1895 patent date, granted for improvements to the revolver. Condition of the revolver is very good to excellent, with masses of the original blued finish still present on the revolver. The trigger and other components even still show some of the lovely blue / purple "niter" bluing over most of the surface. There are no signs of major rust or other damage. The bore is in great shape, with a bright finish and clear lands and grooves. The cylinder swings out to the left correctly, with a functional cartridge extractor. We did not notice any issues cycling the revolver in both single and double action.
A lovely example of a Spanish-American war U.S. presentation revolver, which very well have seen service during the Spanish American War. Ready to research and display!
Year of Manufacture: 1898
Caliber: .38 Long Colt
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 6 inches
Overall Length: 11 1/2 inches
Action: Double / Single
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver
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