I have a couple of DS third issues and am considering adding an SF-VI. How does this differ from the DS (aside from being stainless steel)? Are they an improvement over the DS, a step sideways, or a step backward in terms of quality and shootability?
DHart, there are some really good posts on this forum in regards to the SF-VI (small frame 6 shot). I really don't know much about them except that they are similar to the DSII which has a different lock work than the original DS that you have. I have heard that the DSII doesn't have the fit, finish and feel of the old DS. You have two of the last series of great DS made.
Dhart, there will be some that will say the SFVI is nothing more than a SS Detective Special. And at 1st glance this would appear to be true. But that is not entirely true. There are actually many subtle differences.
In the early 90's (93 if I recall) the Detective Special was reintroduced for a couple of years. This last version is known as the 4th issue. It had, like its predecessor of the 80's, a firing pin on the hammer. However the 90's DS came with black rubber compact Pachmeyer stocks with a medallion. In 1994 the DS was discontinued again.
But Colt was quick to introduce another 2" 6 shot snubby. In 1995 they brought to market the short-lived SFVI. It looked much like a DS but only in stainless. However under closer examination the difference became apparent. First the new snub was no longer considered a D-frame. It's frame was called SF. Apparently meaning "Small Frame."
One of the most noticeable differences is the firing pin. The SFVI had a firing pin in frame as opposed the the DS on hammer. Most obvious difference was the stainless finish.
Under close examination the differences in the front sight ramp becomes apparent. The DS of the 90's gradually ramps up beginning at the point where the frame and barrel meet. The SFVI has a short (about 1/2 way) ramp sight.
One of the complaints of the SFVI was the sharp edge on the crown of the barrel and underlug. The 90's DS was gently tapered backward, eliminating the sharp edge and providing for (perhaps) better ascetics. Also of significant note but often missed is the counter bored barrel on the SFVI, a trait which is absent in the predecessor.
Some will tell you that the SFVI was intended as a transitional gun for the Detective Special II's and the Magnum Carry. And that my well be true. However, I was told by a Marketing Rep of Colts that the buying public resented the SFVI if for on other reason was the loss of the beloved Detective Special name. After all, who in there right mind wants their DS called a SFVI. A valid point when most of the Colt buyers hadn't the slightest clue what SFVI stood for. Remember name and brand recognition is paramount in sales.
So the SFVI died after only 1 year in production. The Colts big wigs introduced the DSII and brought back the name of the Detective Special.
I have (as I've written before) a SF-VI with a bobbed hammer. I agree with just about everything WS-23 said except I had read the the "SF" stood for "stainless finish". The crown of the barrel, underlug, and also edges of the triggerguard are quite sharp, but just like not stubbing your toe on the same short step, you unconsciously avoid drawing blood (and you almost could) on these areas. The gun has an excellent single action letoff and a light, very smooth double action. Both are better than my pre-war D.S. Accuracy is not, but it's close. It sits patiently on top of the pie safe next to the front door. I like it a lot. -Asa
Just jumped in because I do have a SF-VI and a Magnum Carry and find them interesting. The SF-VI was reviewed in the June 1996 edition of Handguns magazine. According to the review, they were made in 2 and 4 inch models in matte, bright and black stainless. The two-inch models had two versions with bobbed hammers, one with matte finish and one called the Colt Special Lady in bright. Besides the external differences there are some internal too. Again, according to the review, it uses the transfer bar system of the King Cobra/Anaconda and a similar cylinder stop design but retains the two-stage hand and leaf spring of the original DS. This supposedly reduced cost, but also provided a stronger mechanism and the very smooth and light double-action trigger. And yes, it's Small Frame - (Roman numeral) VI (shot). Sorry for the long post and hope there was some new info.
[This message has been edited by A1A (edited 03-15-2005).]