New Life for an Old Colt

The Colt Targetsman is a classic handgun based on the Woodsman. Here is how I restored a vintage Targetsman.

by Ken Finley

Sometimes a customer brings in a project that takes you down memory lane. Such was the case when a customer brought me what he said was a Colt Woodsman. I picked it up and felt eight years old again. That was about my age when I followed Dad “up on the hill”. We lived in rural West Virginia and our house was set on a bench just above Spring Run and Route 50 in Ritchie County. A quarter mile up the hill was a clearing where our TV antenna managed to pick two stations out of the ether, unless something was wrong with the ladder line that ran down the hill to our house. When that occurred, Dad hung his US Army issue flap holster and knife on his belt and set out. I was just getting old enough to follow him. About half way up, he stopped to let me rest at a small bench with a clearing. There was a tree about twenty yards away, and Dad opened the holster and pulled out his Colt Woodsman. He knelt behind me, showed me how to hold the pistol, aim, and squeeze the trigger. I don’t know if I hit the tree or not – I just knew something special had happened.

Dad, however, would never have allowed his Colt to get into the condition of my customer’s pistol. The barrel and frame were pitted, the Rampant Colt Pony logo was almost obliterated by corrosion, and it seemed every part was subject to whatever moisture had attacked this pistol. When I removed the stocks, even inside the magazine well showed ill effects. The customer wanted it painted to cover the corrosion, but initial inspection suggested that a complete tear down was the only way to rescue this patient and prevent recurring problems.

The restoration task broke down into four distinct areas: disassemble the pistol and examine every part for corrosion; clean and treat all parts according to the level of corrosion extant, if any; refinish the parts requiring such according to the customer’s desires; and reassemble and function test.


As always, begin by…

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