Colt .38 Special Kit

Discussion in 'Collector's Corner' started by 22ConversionUnut, Nov 1, 2018.

  1. 22ConversionUnut

    22ConversionUnut Well-Known Member

    Oct 25, 2018
    Lot's of shooters and collectors alike are unaware that Colt produced a gunsmith 1911 "Kit" pistol in both .38 Special and .45 ACP. Here is a brief summary of the history of the Colt .38 Special Kit pistols.

    Colt Model O2554 -Colt .38 Special Kit
    In the early 60's, Colt was receiving requests from several noted gunsmiths and also the Army Marksmanship Unit to provide them with unassembled pistols that they could use to build match guns from. As interest in the "Kit's" grew, Colt teamed with Gil Hebard (Gil Hebard Guns, Knoxville, Illinois) to be the main distributor of the Kit pistols. The Colt .38 Special Kit was introduced in late 1963 as the first non completed pistol ever shipped by Colt. The Colt .38 Special Kit was shipped complete but the slide, barrel, bushing needed to be hand fitted and the slide was without any sights. All frame parts were installed but required massaging by the gunsmith builder. A standard Colt GCNM .38 Special Mid Range magazine was included. The Colt .38 Special Kit frames were not stamped by any Colt factory inspectors or assembler and also did not have the usual Colt VP (Verified Proof) stamp on the left side of the trigger guard. Unique to the Colt .38 Special Kit pistols is the serial# that has a 00 (double 0) serial# prefix and a -"H" serial# suffix. It is speculated that the "H" serial# suffix is for "Hebard". The Colt .38 Special Kit pistols were serial#d 00100-H to 00703-H with a total production of only 603 units. The first 150-ish pistols were sold through Gil Hebard Guns. Only about 40 ended up in Military Gunsmith's hands and a little over half of the 603 units produced were sold after 1965 until production of the Kit's ceased in 1972. Their demise is reported to be Colt's perceived liability issues with selling uncompleted and unproofed pistols.

    The Kit pistols were shipped as shown (photo courtesy of Cary Chin)
    All components shipped in a cardboard "faux" woodgrain box that is serial#d to pistol on the outside bottom flat of the box.
    -Complete serial#d frame with 30 row checkered walnut stocks with attached complete slide (without sights) that only slides on the frame rails part way.
    -Wrapped in brown wax paper a slide stop and recoil spring plug
    -Wrapped in brown wax paper a barrel and separate bushing. The barrel has 1 locking lug and the barrel hood is marked: Colt .38 SPEC. KIT (KIT is centered under .38)
    -Wrapped in brown wax paper a Colt GCNM .38 Special Mid Range magazine
    -Wrapped in brown wax paper a guide rod with attached recoil spring.

    I personally became aware of these Kit pistols only a few years ago. There is very little information in print on the Kit's and quite a bit of the little information obtained on-line is incomplete and or incorrect. I was fortunate enough to locate my pictured pistol on a local firearms forum in 2013. I had never heard of them and this was the first one I had seen. Mine, serial# 00451-H is original as built by Gunsmith and Bullseye legend J.E. (Jim) Clark Sr. of Clark Custom Guns. My pistol was built by Mr Clark in August of 1966 and sold as his "Model 61-S". The installed sights are a half Bomar rib rear and front undercut patridge. The pistol runs as smooth as silk with very little recoil and the empty cases fall next to your right foot. A hand built piece of bullseye history built by one of the Masters of his craft.
    (My apologies for the poor quality pic's and the glare)

    IMG_0696.JPG IMG_0692.JPG

    Here's a page from the 1962 Gil Hebard Guns catalog detailing Clark Custom Guns, custom offerings. The Model 61-S is detailed at the bottom of the page.

    Gil Hebard.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
  2. xerts1191

    xerts1191 Well-Known Member

    Aug 12, 2017

  3. 41 Charlie

    41 Charlie Get off my lawn...

    Feb 4, 2014
    Some great history, there! Thanks for sharing!!
    22ConversionUnut likes this.
  4. Transguy

    Transguy New Member

    Mar 4, 2019
    I recently inherited from my Dad a Clark model 61-e 38 special kit made in 1968 It has an extended front sight and adjustable rear sight
    41 Charlie likes this.
  5. TheCollector

    TheCollector Well-Known Member

    Aug 25, 2018
    Great post!
    The knowledge & information shared here is one of the reasons I return often.
  6. 41 Charlie

    41 Charlie Get off my lawn...

    Feb 4, 2014
    The only thing better for your first post, would be pictures! Welcome aboard!!

    (Transguy?) :eek:
    rogramirez5150 likes this.
  7. Transguy

    Transguy New Member

    Mar 4, 2019
    20181227_003637.jpg 20181227_003637.jpg
    Sorry was unable to post the pic before but here it is
    41 Charlie likes this.
  8. Transguy

    Transguy New Member

    Mar 4, 2019
    I also got a High Standard 22 target pistol from 1969 or 70 and a S&W model 439 from 1985 or 86

    Attached Files:

  9. Jim w.

    Jim w. Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2016
    That High Standard is a jewel, but treasure its good magazines.
  10. Transguy

    Transguy New Member

    Mar 4, 2019
    Yes that is true I only got one with it I bought one from from triple K and haven't got it to work
  11. Jim w.

    Jim w. Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2016
    My similar Citation Military has two factory magazines that feed fine. I have a gun show magazine that looks like a Triple K that does not; and I made it worse by tinkering with it. I wanted to shoot Steel Challenge with the gun, it has an optical sight base for a Burris scope and an old Tasco red dot, so I paid the price for three from the rump organization dba Interarms. They are fair to good. $59 if they had them in stock, which they do not.
  12. Transguy

    Transguy New Member

    Mar 4, 2019
    bladeandbarrel likes this.
  13. bladeandbarrel

    bladeandbarrel ISO The Very Best 1911's Supporting Addict

    Apr 6, 2019
    Thanks for posting that!
  14. Oldgunner

    Oldgunner Well-Known Member

    Mar 30, 2018
    I purchased my very first handgun from Gil Hebard Guns in 1964 - an S&W Model 15. GH was offering a 20% discount for active duty military at the time. What a deal! Note the prices on those Clark .38 Special AMU pistols.
    41 Charlie likes this.

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