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Have a chance to buy a Detective Special. Supposed to be 1st series (no ejector shroud), but serial number is 963374. Couldn't locate year on Proofhouse. Also, trigger has hole through it for trigger shroud. A good thing? Any help with age and if its truly the 1st series. Thanks.
 

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That s/n could be correct if there is a letter in front of it. For example a 1968 DS would have a s/n of D958500-D995000. Do you mean that the hammer has a hole in it for a hammer shroud?
 

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No, your Detective Special is NOT a "1st series." Every time I see a reference to a "series" or an "issue" of the Colt Detective Special, it elevates my blood pressure. That term is not used in the Colt collector community so it did not originate there. The "issue" issue appears to be the fault of the always unreliable "Blue Book."

Here is the reason why "issue" as used by the "Blue Book" is so misleading and should not be used. The Detective Special was introduced in 1927 as a variation of the Police Positive Special. These early guns had a square butt. For the sake of illustration only, I would call these guns "First Issue." In 1933, the butt was changed to what Colt calls "round butt," which would be “Second Issue.” After World War II, the front sight was changed from round to ramped, which I would call “Third Issue.” These early Post-War guns had plastic stocks, which were changed to wood in the mid-1950s. I do not consider the stock material as another “Issue,” but some might. In 1966, the butt frame was shortened, which is “Fourth Issue.” In 1972, the shrouded barrel was introduced, which I count as “Fifth Issue.” In 1984, Colt introduced a "discount" version of the Detective Special with matte finish called the Commando. Some might consider that another “issue” of the Detective Special. I do not because the Detective Special remained in production during that time. The Detective Special and Commando were discontinued for 1987. Colt redesigned the lockwork in 1995 and introduced the SF-IV, which could be called the “Sixth Issue.” It was replaced by the DS-II in 1997, which could be called the “Seventh Issue.” The DS-II was discontinued after 1998. The Magnum Carry was introduced in 1999 and could be called the “Eighth Issue.” The Magnum Carry was discontinued in 1999, along with all other Colt double-action revolvers except the Python, which has now been discontinued as well.

It seems to me the best way to identify a Colt Detective Special is either by year or period of manufacture and/or by features (such as Pre-War Square Butt, Post-1965 -- Pre-1972, abbreviated butt and unshrouded ejector rod, etc.). As I have tried to illustrate, there are a lot more "issues" than the "Blue Book" recognizes. I think it is therefore best to avoid the "issue" issue!

Do you really mean a hole through the TRIGGER for a TRIGGER SHROUD? What is a "trigger shroud?" A hole through the trigger is not a good thing. Do you mean a "trigger shoe," or a "hammer shroud?"
 

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No, your Detective Special is NOT a "1st series." Every time I see a reference to a "series" or an "issue" of the Colt Detective Special, it elevates my blood pressure. That term is not used in the Colt collector community so it did not originate there. The "issue" issue appears to be the fault of the always unreliable "Blue Book."

Here is the reason why "issue" as used by the "Blue Book" is so misleading and should not be used. The Detective Special was introduced in 1927 as a variation of the Police Positive Special. These early guns had a square butt. For the sake of illustration only, I would call these guns "First Issue." In 1933, the butt was changed to what Colt calls "round butt," which would be “Second Issue.” After World War II, the front sight was changed from round to ramped, which I would call “Third Issue.” These early Post-War guns had plastic stocks, which were changed to wood in the mid-1950s. I do not consider the stock material as another “Issue,” but some might. In 1966, the butt frame was shortened, which is “Fourth Issue.” In 1972, the shrouded barrel was introduced, which I count as “Fifth Issue.” In 1984, Colt introduced a "discount" version of the Detective Special with matte finish called the Commando. Some might consider that another “issue” of the Detective Special. I do not because the Detective Special remained in production during that time. The Detective Special and Commando were discontinued for 1987. Colt redesigned the lockwork in 1995 and introduced the SF-IV, which could be called the “Sixth Issue.” It was replaced by the DS-II in 1997, which could be called the “Seventh Issue.” The DS-II was discontinued after 1998. The Magnum Carry was introduced in 1999 and could be called the “Eighth Issue.” The Magnum Carry was discontinued in 1999, along with all other Colt double-action revolvers except the Python, which has now been discontinued as well.

It seems to me the best way to identify a Colt Detective Special is either by year or period of manufacture and/or by features (such as Pre-War Square Butt, Post-1965 -- Pre-1972, abbreviated butt and unshrouded ejector rod, etc.). As I have tried to illustrate, there are a lot more "issues" than the "Blue Book" recognizes. I think it is therefore best to avoid the "issue" issue!
Judge Colt, you must have this handy to copy and paste every time you see "Issue" posted related to a Detective Special.

I keep trying to memorize the details.
 

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Judge Colt, you must have this handy to copy and paste every time you see "Issue" posted related to a Detective Special.
Of course! I am trying to stamp out the awful "issue" terminology introduced by the "Blue Book." While not as bad as the misuse of the term "1911," it is still bad enough. Suppose one wants a square butt Detective Special. Such a Detective Special is a true "First Issue." If one searches that term, one may instead find a 1971 Detective Special. The same problem applies if one wants a true Model of 1911 from the World War I era. A search for "1911" will rarely turn up a Model of 1911. Here at the center of the Colt universe, I think we should be accurate in our use of any nomenclature. It is our duty to lead the rest of the world to the Colt promised land without any misdirection along the way.

The thought of such a heavy burden makes me tired. I think I will go back to bed!

All joking aside, another reason I post the chronology of the Detective Special is to make new collectors aware of the many variations of one of the iconic Colts of all time. To the casual observer, they all look about the same, but the collector value is dependent on the actual vintage.
 

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Of course! I am trying to stamp out the awful "issue" terminology introduced by the "Blue Book." While not as bad as the misuse of the term "1911," it is still bad enough. Suppose one wants a square butt Detective Special. Such a Detective Special is a true "First Issue." If one searches that term, one may instead find a 1971 Detective Special. The same problem applies if one wants a true Model of 1911 from the World War I era. A search for "1911" will rarely turn up a Model of 1911. Here at the center of the Colt universe, I think we should be accurate in our use of any nomenclature. It is our duty to lead the rest of the world to the Colt promised land without any misdirection along the way.

The thought of such a heavy burden makes me tired. I think I will go back to bed!

All joking aside, another reason I post the chronology of the Detective Special is to make new collectors aware of the many variations of one of the iconic Colts of all time. To the casual observer, they all look about the same, but the collector value is dependent on the actual vintage.
I agree with you, even to the point that I enjoy calling Colt "grips" stocks. This was in large part due to your efforts, Gary ;)
Once Colt went to the "rubber grip" era, all bets were off with me calling them stocks, though.
However, I don't loose sleep over it. You must admit that Colt themselves didn't always keep things clear. It's their gun, but calling the civilian Mod O pistol the Goverment Model only insured lots of confusion in the future.

I also get a bit annoyed seeing Gunbroker sellers call a Detective Special "issue" when they have no clue.
The devil is in the details! :D
 

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I guess I might be guilty of something.I refer to my non shrouded 1968 and 1972 Detective Specials as Version 2 because of the non shrouded ejector rod and shortened D frame.Is this a correct term? My 1960 Cobra has the long D frame and I refer to it as a Version 1.I don't want to anger the knowlegeable Colt Gods........LOL......MIke
 

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JudgeColt, thanks for the detailed analysis. Further confusion arises, as far as I can tell, from guns that are early in form (2-screw, round sight, etc.) but serial number (or letter) indicates a later date of issue. Did they sit on a shelf? Were they assembled from spare parts?
 

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CRN, why not just reference the year of each gun? That will generally give an accurate picture of the characteristics of the gun in question. Otherwise, you could say a "Post-1965 with unshrouded barrel and abbreviated butt." Saying "1968" sounds easier to me!
 

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I guess I might be guilty of something.I refer to my non shrouded 1968 and 1972 Detective Specials as Version 2 because of the non shrouded ejector rod and shortened D frame.Is this a correct term? My 1960 Cobra has the long D frame and I refer to it as a Version 1.I don't want to anger the knowlegeable Colt Gods........LOL......MIke

Just call them circa 1968 and 1972 Detective Specials...and, 1960 Cobra.

Then, there will be no confusion.

Otherwise, to me, if someone says thay have a 'second version' or 'Version 2' Detective Special, I get all excited thinking they mean one from when the words 'Detective Special' first appeared on the side of the Barrel of the erstwhile ( and in this context, "1st Version" ) 2 Inch Police Positive Special.

So, everyone, please, just forget 'version', 'issue' and so on, and just say the circa/year and what Model ( ie: Detective Special, Cobra, etc ) and then no one will be confused or disappointed or feel compelled to offer corrections.
 

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Further confusion arises, as far as I can tell, from guns that are early in form (2-screw, round sight, etc.) but serial number (or letter) indicates a later date of issue. Did they sit on a shelf? Were they assembled from spare parts?
I do not understand what you mean. The only time I can remember any major deviation from what was in general use at the time was just after World War II, when Colt built out any frames found. That resulted in later serial numbers with earlier features, and earlier serial numbers with later features. Those are called "Pre-War/Post-War" guns. They were built from about 1946 through 1947 or so.
 
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