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Revolvers Sixguns & Sagebrush

Colt New Service

by Bart Skelton   |  March 26th, 2012 11

New Service S&S

I’ve long been a fan of the Colt New Service revolver for a number of reasons. Not only were they finely made firearms, as most Colt’s always have been, they have a classic, old time look and feel that’s hard to beat. The New Service was a heavy framed revolver built for the big bore cartridges of its day, including the .45 Colt, .476 Eley, .44-40 and .38 Special, among others. This big-boned handgun was used by law enforcement and military personnel to great extent in the first half of the 20th Century, and rightly so. It not only was built for heavy, hard hitting calibers, it was made to last.


Over 150,000 Colt New Service revolvers were purchased by the U.S. Military for use in World War I. These wartime revolvers were all chambered in .45 ACP. The revolver was well- liked by the men who carried them.


In the years between the Great Wars, officials of the United States Border Patrol became fond of the New Service – one of them was the famous lawman, military veteran and outdoor writer, Charles Askins. El Paso, Texas has traditionally been a pretty rough place, and Askins found himself a number of scrapes while working there as a Border Patrol Agent. He had many run-ins with smugglers, many of whom were heavily armed. During his Border Patrol days, Askins favored the New Service chambered in .44-40. While I might have preferred the same gun chambered in .45 Long Colt, Askins put the .44 to good use, dispatching a number of hard-cases with the gun.


Askins’ preference for the big Colt in .44-40 has always prompted me to want one. Not long ago I was attending the Tucson gun show and ran across a real beauty – a four inch New Service in .44-40. The gun was in excellent condition, with about 90% of the original blue. Of course, I wasn’t leaving there without it.

Using Black Hills 200 grain RNFP ammunition, my New Service is one of the most fun and accurate revolvers I’ve got. I sure believe the New Service is worthy of re-introduction by Colt – how about you?

  • Rojogrande

    I have an old non-collectable one that I re-worked to .45LC from the original Canadian .455, and put Pachmayr Python grips on it. Love packing it in the woods!

    With modern steel and coil springs, surely this stout old design would hold up to .44Mag or even higher pressures?

  • Dirty Devan

    Well I was told that U.S Police used these before 38 & long before they used semi automatic pistols. If Dirty Harry the late 60's like 1967 & still be Clint Eastwood he'll use this gun & the follow his 44 Magnum. He would had done more then 5 Dirty Harry movies.

  • Antonio

    She's a real beauty. What a contrast against all of today's plastic guns.

  • mike

    colt revolvers are unmached.

  • Mike O

    In 1972 I was a young officer with the Detroit Police Department. I was issued a S&W model 10 38 spl. 5" Nichol plated . It shoot great with over 3000 round in the academy. There were other officers issued the Colts same basic configuration. within four years the Department reissued all of the Colts with S&W model 10. The Colts would not hold up. I have owned a colt Python, Nichol plated that was the worst finish I have had to date. Colt had a HQ problem for years with a cheep on there shoulders for years, and that is one of reasons they are the underdog.

  • Tucsonjj

    Just picked up a 6" S&W 10-5 and is it a sweetie… action as smooth as glass, probably 85% blue… $200 with an old style Bianchi, I am a happy guy! Love those classy older wheel guns, they still out-shoot most anything around, round for round.

  • Jean Pouliot

    I have both, a Colt in .38 Special and a S&W model 10-6 in .38 Special, they both shoot great but I can tell the difference is when I fire, just like a Buick vs an Oldsmobile!

  • jay

    i have an old .38 police colt, can someone tell me approximate value in fair to good shape with the original holster

  • Cap Munday

    I have a New Service 44-40 that was owned by my grandfather. He owned a Chevrolet dealership in central California back in the 1915 era and used this 7 1/2" six-shooter to protect his deliveries and gold coins he got in return for the new Chevys he delivered. Turns out he shot at coyotes and may have killed a few, and it's still a beauty pistol. The serial number makes it a 1910 build. I want to fire it again before I sell it and may keep it for a while just because it fits my hand so well. The first time, as a 10 year old, my shot knocked me on my ass!

    • RealBACONATOR2

      umm, my fourteen year old son shot my .44-40 New Service for the first time and he did fine… So, might want to consider some changes in your stance, or something!

  • Don Krahn

    A nice pistol. I ran into one of these in the .38 special back in 1947 when I was the dish washer and fire wood chopper for an Elk hunter commercial camp in Idaho’s Selway country, where it was handling heavy loads for meat hunting deer.

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