Colt New Service

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Colt New Service revolver
Colt Shooting Master.jpg
Colt New Service
Type Revolver
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1898–1946
Used by United States
United Kingdom
Commonwealth of the Philippines
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Wars Spanish–American War
Boxer Rebellion
Second Boer War
World War I
World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War (limited)
Production history
Manufacturer Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Co.
Produced 1898–1946
No. built 356,000+
Cartridge .45 Colt, .455 Webley, .476 Enfield, .45 ACP, .44-40, .44 Special, .44 Russian, .38-40, .38 Special, .357 Magnum
Action double-action revolver
Feed system 6-round cylinder
Sights fixed blade front, notch rear
U.S. Colt .45 M1917 Revolver

The Colt New Service is a double-action revolver made by Colt from 1898 until 1941. It was adopted by the U.S. Armed Forces in .45 Colt caliber as the Model 1909 U.S. Army, Marine Corps Model 1909, Model 1909 U.S. Navy and in .45 ACP as the Model 1917 U.S. Army.[1] The Model 1917 was created to supplement insufficient stocks of M1911 pistols during World War I.[2]


The Colt New Service was the largest revolver ever manufactured by Colt and one of the largest production revolvers of all time until the introduction of the Colt Anaconda chambered in .44 Remington Magnum made its debut in 1990. There are several generational variants including the "Old Model" (which refers to the first 21,000 units made),"Transitional Model" (which incorporated a hammer-block safety), "Improved Model" (325,000 units) and "Late Model" (manufactured from 1928 to 1941). A "Target Model", "Shooting Master" and "Deluxe Target Model" were offered as well.[3]

Colt M1917 revolver[edit]

New Service Revolver, lock

Colt had produced a revolver for the U.S. Army called the M1909, a version of their heavy-frame, .45-caliber, New Service model in .45 M1909, a version of the .45 Long Colt with an enlarged rim to facilitate extraction, to supplement and replace a range of 1890s-era .38 caliber Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers that had demonstrated inadequate stopping power during the Philippine–American War. The Colt M1917 Revolver was a New Service with a cylinder bored to take the .45 ACP cartridge and the half-moon clips to hold the rimless cartridges in position. Later production Colt M1917 revolvers had headspacing machined into the cylinder chambers, just as the Smith & Wesson M1917 revolvers had from the start. Newer Colt production could be fired without the half-moon clips, but the empty cartridge cases had to be ejected with a device such as a cleaning rod or pencil, as the cylinder extractor and ejector would pass over the rims of the rimless cartridges. During its lifetime, the Colt New Service was the most popular revolver made by Colt, surpassing 150,000 units. After World War I, the revolver gained a strong following among civilian shooters.[4]

Fitz Special[edit]

John Henry Fitzgerald was an employee of Colt prior to World War II and was known to carry a pair of New Service "Fitz Specials" in his front pockets. These revolvers had bobbed hammers, 2-inch barrels, and shortened and rounded grip frames, and the front of the trigger guard was removed. Although less than 30 left the factory, it became an after-market conversion for many gunsmiths. Colonels Rex Applegate and Charles Askins were proponents of this model.[4]

Canada and United Kingdom[edit]

In 1899 Canada acquired a number of New Service revolvers (chambered in .45 Colt) for Boer War service, to supplement its existing Model 1878 Colt Double Action revolvers in the same caliber.[5] In 1904/5 the North-West Mounted Police in Canada also adopted the Colt New Service to replace the less-than satisfactory Enfield Mk II revolver in service since 1882.[6]

New Service revolvers, designated as Pistol, Colt, .455-inch 5.5-inch barrel Mk. I, chambered for the .455 Webley cartridge were acquired for issue as "substitute standard" by the British War Department during World War I.[7] British Empire Colt New Service Revolvers were stamped "NEW SERVICE .455 ELEY" on the barrel,[8] to differentiate them from the .45 Colt versions used by the US (and Canada).

The Colt New Service was a popular revolver with British officers and many of them had privately purchased their own Colt New Service revolvers in the years prior to World War I as an alternative to the standard-issue Webley Revolver. British Empire and Canadian forces received 60,000 Colt New Service revolvers during World War I and they continued to see official service with US until the end of World War II.[8]


  1. ^ Murphy (1985) pp. 25-30.
  2. ^ Murphy (1985) p. 31.
  3. ^ Taffin, John (13 November 2006). "Colt's New Service". The Gun Digest Book of the .44. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. pp. 93–96. ISBN 0-89689-416-9. 
  4. ^ a b Taffin, John (2005). "Colt's New Service". American Handgunner. 30 (4): 109. 
  5. ^ Law (1994) pp. 28-30.
  6. ^ Phillips & Klancher (1982) p. 21ff.
  7. ^ Chamberlain & Taylerson (1989) p. 54ff; Maze (2002) p. 85.
  8. ^ a b Maze (2002) p. 84.


  • Chamberlain & Taylerson, W.H.J. & A.W.F. (1989). Revolvers of the British Services, 1854-1954. Bloomfield, ON (Canada) and Alexandria Bay, NY (USA): Museum Restoration Service. ISBN 0-919316-92-1. 
  • Law, Clive M. (1994). Canadian Military Handguns, 1855-1985. Bloomfield, ON (Canada) and Alexandria Bay, NY (USA): Museum Restoration Service. ISBN 0-88855-008-1. 
  • Maze, Robert J. (2002). Howdah to High Power: A Century of Breechloading Service Pistols (1867-1967). Tucson, AZ (USA): Excalibur Publications. ISBN 1-880677-17-2. 
  • Murphy, Bob (1985). Colt New Service Revolvers. Aledo, Illinois (USA): World-Wide Gun Report, Inc. 
  • Phillips & Klancher, Roger F. & Donald J. (1982). Arms & Accoutrements of the Mounted Police, 1873-1973. Bloomfield, ON (Canada) and Alexandria Bay, NY (USA): Museum Restoration Service. ISBN 0-919316-84-0. 
  • Henrotin, Gerard (2009). Colt New Service revolver explained. Belgium: 

External links[edit]