This is a scarce, fine condition and very desirable Colt New Service Revolver in .45 Colt caliber that was manufactured in 1918 and shipped to Canada for issue to the Royal North-West Mounted Police, the predecessor to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The Colt New Service Revolver was first introduced in 1898 as stronger and larger Colt Model 1892 Revolver. This revolver was Colt’s first design with swing-out, hand ejector cylinder capable of firing large calibers such as .44-40, .44 Russian, .44 Special, .45 Colt and .455 Webley. The New Service would be produced in many other calibers including .38 Special, .357 Magnum, 38-40 such as this revolver, 38-44 and 38 S&W Special.
Total production of Colt New Service Revolvers of all types and calibers is about 356,000, and they were manufactured from 1898 until 1944. In 1918, when this particular revolver was manufactured, Colt only made 24,500 New Service Revolvers in both the New Service and Shooter Master types.
The Cylinder retains 98%+ of the original polished blue finish. All six chambers are very clean. The Star Extractor is remarkably clean, and the extractor spring is still very strong. The extractor works perfectly. Lock-up of the cylinder remains tight.
The 5 ½” Barrel is marked "NEW SERVICE 45 COLT" on the left side, still crisply stamped. The top of the barrel has the Colt Patent and address information that was stamped from 1909 to 1926, “COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. CO. HARTFORD, CT. U.S.A. / PAT’D AUG.5,1884. JUNE 5, 1900. JULY 4, 1905.” The bottom of the barrel has a “1” inspection stamp. The Barrel retains about 95% plus of the original blued finish with very minor wear along the left and right side and around the muzzle. The bore is in fine condition with a mirror finish and strong rifling throughout.
The Frame has a very clear and sharp Rampant Colt on the left side. The lower left side of the frame has Colt verified proof “VP” in a triangle stamp. On the left side, just below the side plate, is the original “3” Colt assembler’s stamp. The serial number is stamped inside the frame with “149768” above a serif “F” inspection stamp. The matching serial number “149768” is stamped on the crane. The Frame retains 95%+ of the original high-quality Colt blue finish with light wear and scratches in certain areas. The Cylinder Latch retains 95% of the original blue finish. The interior portions of the frame in the cylinder recess still retain the majority of the original blued finish.
The Hammer remains correctly in the white on the sides and there is still considerable original fire blue finish on the top and bottom edges of the outer surface of the hammer. The thumb checkering is still very strong with minimal wear. The Main Spring remains in the white in fine condition and is still very strong. The sides and face of the Trigger still retain considerable original fire blue finish throughout.
The Butt is correctly unmarked, and it has the original lanyard loop present. The loop still rotates freely. The original light brown Colt hard rubber grips are present. The “COLT” logo on each is still sharp on both panels. The bottom edge of the right panel has a few minor dings. The grip panels are very secure when installed. The front and back grip straps both exhibit a plum patina with traces of the original blued finish remaining. The backstrap has the serif “RNWMP 1508” stamp. The “8” was initially stamped first and stamped parallel with the backstrap but was correctly overstamped with the “8” running perpendicular to the backstrap.
This Colt New Service still locks up tight in battery. The cylinder release is smooth, and the cylinder rotates smoothly in single action and double action mode. The trigger release is still crisp in single action mode.
The North-West Mounted Police was a Canadian armed police force established in 1873, with the passing of the Mounted Police Act, to maintain law and order in the then-new Canadian North-West Territories after the 1870 transfer of Rupert’s Land the North-West Territory to Canada from the Hudson’s Bay Company. The North-West Mounted Police was also formed in response to the Red River Rebellion as well as general lawlessness in the territory. The NWMP combined military, police, and judicial functions similar to the organization and function of the Royal Irish Constabulary in Northern Ireland.
Shortly after its formation, the NWMP was deployed to the area of the present Alberta border. Their movement to Alberta, a journey of nearly 900 miles, became known as the “March West” and was an arduous journey of endurance for the NWMP. Over the next few years, the NWMP established a network of forts, posts, and patrol. The living conditions of the NWMP on the prairie mirrors those of American Army units on the plains during the same period and were characterized by spartan living conditions.
In 1896, the Canadian government had planned to pass policing responsibilities on to the provinces and, as a result, disband the NWMP, but the discovery of gold in the Klondike led the government to redeploy the NWMP to protect Canada’s sovereignty over the region and to manage the huge influx of prospectors.
Volunteers from the NWMP were sent to fight in the Second Boer War and, in recognition of their service, were retitled the Royal Northwest Mounted Police in 1904. With large numbers of Royal Northwest Mounted Police volunteering for service during WWI, the Canadian government again considered disbanding the unit. After the Russian Revolution, however, and the threat of Bolshevik conspiracies in Canada, the government tasked the Royal Northwest Mounted Police to investigate Bolshevik threats. After the violence caused by the Winnipeg General Strike, the government amalgamated the Royal Northwest Mounted Police and the Dominion Police to form the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1920. Interestingly, the Royal Northwest Mounted Police used their revolvers when they opened fire on rioters during the strike in Winnipeg, which ultimately led to the collapse of the strike.
The following information comes from an article by avid Royal Canadian Mounted Police historian Garry James in 2016. Initially, the constables were issued with Snider breechloading carbines and Mark I Adams revolvers, which were conversions of older percussion revolvers. The officers and men in the unit were not impressed with these handguns and, in a report, the NWMP's Commissioner, Colonel G.A. French noted, "The [Adams revolvers] received by us had been packed in a very careless manner, and the long journey by steamer and rail shook many of the screws loose. The chambers of some would not always revolve without applying both hands.” In response, updated Mark III Adams revolvers were approved, but few arrived in the constable’s hands.
The Mounties would later receive Mark II Enfield revolvers chambered in .476 caliber, and their single-shot Sniders would be replaced with much more practical Model 1876 Winchester repeating carbines chambered in .45-75. The Mark II Enfield, while a fun handgun, was prone to problems when field carried, and the Mounties quickly asked for a better sidearm.
Finally, after testing several American and British revolvers, it was decided that Colt's rugged New Service Revolver, chambered in the British .455 service round, would be the ticket.
An initial issue of 700 North West Mounted Police New Services and a supply of .455 ammunition were received in late 1904 from Lewis Brothers & Company in Montreal. The guns were marked "NWMP" on their backstraps, along with a special issue number. Designations would change over the gun's half-century service life. Some were simply marked "NWMP" on the backstraps without an issue number, and when the unit became the Royal North West Mounted Police in 1904, subsequent arms were stamped "RNWMP." The Colt New Service Revolvers ordered towards the end of WWI were chambered in standard .45 Long Colt caliber. After 1920 "RCMP" (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) became standard as the marking. The Colt New Service was such a robust and reliable sidearm that it remained in service with the RWMP and, later, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police until 1954.
This is a fine condition Colt New Service Double Action Revolver in .45 Long Colt that performed service with the Royal North-West Mounted Police and, probably, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, shortly after the end of WWI.