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Thread: Family Heirloom, Colt Super .38 Automatic

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  1. #1
    Really Senior Member AmEngRifles's Avatar
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    Family Heirloom, Colt Super .38 Automatic

    When my father passed away in 2018, I was left with several family guns. One from my great Grandfather ( a .22 rifle). one from my Grandfather (another .22 rifle) and a pistol of my dad's.

    The pistol is one I shot when we were young and occasionally Dad would bring it on our outings to the range. I had not seen it for quite a few years. Unfortunately in the years between my college days and many years later, it deteriorated just slightly. Mostly because my father moved to a condo on the Intracoastal in Florida and he didn't like air conditioning, so his apartment was always doors wide open. Amazingly, it could have been much much worse, but I remember this thing when I was in High School, and it was perfect. I think he even had the box back then as well. Not any more.

    From what I can tell of the serial number (blurred by photoshop), it came to be made in Late 1957. That sounds about right, as he used to also have an M1icon carbine that was purchased from the PX I believe he told me and he took his discharge from the Army right about that time. I was born 1960, so it precedes me by 2 or 3 years. The serial range is such, that if Colt was producing steadily growing numbers, it would fall into late 57, not early 58. Not sure if that is logical or right, but that is my interpretation until I find out otherwise.

    I don't think it is an especially high value piece now as there is no box, no manual, no tools. I recall he had all that at one time, but Dad was not a "collector", so at some point in one of his moves, be probably tossed them. Ugh.

    I will post a few pics if I can. I may not have put them on the computer?

    Opinions... as a family heirloom, should I shoot it? Can't imagine the little wear a few hundred rounds I might put through it will really bring the value down at all? Is has some small areas of pitting and blue wear on the front strap of the frame. It is in very good overall shape. I am lucky. The sides of the slide have that classic Colt deep blue with mirror shine. It is beautiful except for a few small pits along the ridge, front of the slide and in a number of places on the frame. I think Dad kept it in the leather holster he had, that I now have as part of the inheritance.

    Oh, the holster is an accessory as well. It is the 1911 leather flapped military holster of the day, with metal hanger. He had it stamped with his name and it has his name in Japaneseicon under it as he served in Okinowa. As far as I know, this WAS NOT a service weapon. I think he managed to buy it while still in service? His service weapons were a M3 Grease gun and a Colt .32. He was a cryptographer and he had special clearance and special privileges to go off base when other soldiers could not. I recall him telling there were some "troubles" within Okinowa or the city he was near, so most military men were confined to base during those times. He was very proud of his service time and his MOS.

    I have two kids, so not sure who should end up with it eventually? I have a daughter and a son. My daughter actually goes shooting with me more often, but it seems more like a guys gun. I am even thinking about having it refinished, but if Colt does not take blueing jobs, I am not sure I would trust anyone else to do it. It isn't that bad, but I would like it to last another 62 years for my kids and grandkids.

    Man, it is hard to photograph this thing. It either is too reflective, or looks like **** with no reflection at all!?
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    Last edited by AmEngRifles; 04-14-2019 at 04:14 PM.

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    Contributing Member rcathey's Avatar
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    Refinish it!?!?! That thing is nearly perfect. From what I can see it has just a few spots of rust. Refinishing a gun in such great shape would devalue it far more than the occasional range trip.
    My lord, how much better do you want it to look??

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Looks great, don't alter it. Just check the rust and leave it. Now, as for it being his service weapon, no...but they could be purchased for instance at the Kasern in Germay at the US PX. Same as his carbine I guess, which sounds strange as those were still in service then... That was a while back.

    Yes, those are nice to shoot.
    Regards, Jim

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    Senior Member oldfoneguy's Avatar
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    Leave it alone finish wise, there's nice honest use on it, nothing to be ashamed of unless you want a safe queen. Replace all springs with a fresh set from Wolff, clean and lubricate throughly, put out rounds while smiling. It's a beautiful family heirloom.

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    Really Senior Member Daan Kemp's Avatar
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    Perfect gun, doing anything to it except shooting would make it just another gun and not your father's. I wouldn't worry about the kids, let them decide who wants what; if she shoots actively don't hesitate to encourage her.


  8. #6
    Really Senior Member AmEngRifles's Avatar
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    OK. I can be a bit fussy about rust. All of my guns get greased, oiled and cleaned regularly. As I said, Dad was not a “collector” so he had a somewhat more relaxed approach. You guys make me realize I am just being too fussy about the whole thing.

    Oldfoneguy, thanks for the spring update suggestion. That is a very good idea.

    As for collectibility, I am not worried about that in my life time, because I know I will not sell it, but somewhere down the line, one of the recipients might? I hope they don’t, but you can’t guarantee it...

  9. #7
    Really Senior Member AmEngRifles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by browningautorifleicon View Post
    Looks great, don't alter it. Just check the rust and leave it. Now, as for it being his service weapon, no...but they could be purchased for instance at the Kasern in Germay at the US PX. Same as his carbine I guess, which sounds strange as those were still in service then... That was a while back.

    Yes, those are nice to shoot.
    BAR, he might have purchased the carbine after he left service. It was stolen from his house while I was in college. They missed the pistol because that was kept up under a swivel chair with skirt upholstery. Lol. The things we recall from our youth. I wasn’t supposed to know it was there, but had discovered it YEARS earlier. I would pull it out sometimes to look at it as a kid, but always respected it, never pointed it at my kid brother and would wrap it neatly in the oiled cloth dad had it in.

    I do recall the carbine was still in it’s shipping box, as it was still the days when they would mail a gun directly to the buyer. He may have purchased it in the early 60’s??

  10. #8
    Really Senior Member AmEngRifles's Avatar
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    Here's a few picks of the holster.

    Dad liked to mark all his stuff with his name. I blurred it out with photoshop for privacy. He wrote it again in ball point ink, along with "PB, FLA". Not sure why he felt the need for redundancy? But you can see the Japaneseicon characters under his name in the stamp. He had studied and spoke some Japanese while in service.
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  11. #9
    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Holster looks like a "Cathay" late contract type...started life black instead of russet and dyed black for RVN. I never thought Cathay made a very good product, I've never seen one of this name, very interesting. Looks good.

    I can't say about the carbine's sale date. Don't know how your gov't handles disposal of redundant weapon platforms...
    Regards, Jim

  12. #10
    Really Senior Member AmEngRifles's Avatar
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    Right. I have never really studied the M1icon carbine, as a collector. But at some point in the late 50’s and early 60’s, they must have started to release them. Not saying he bought directly from the CMPicon, but it was shipped directly to him when he purchased. I recall the label being in his name, at his address, not some retail store.

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