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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone ever seen a US Ordnance marked Colt Detective Special? This one has the square butt, dates to 1940 and has the flaming ordance bomb on the top of the left side of the frame. It has also been parkerized (probably a long time ago). Standard wood grips with Colt Medallion. I know the army purchased some of these in limited numbers in WWII before the 2''Commando's came out. Any info. helpful.
 

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Is the gun marked as a Detective Special? I find it difficult to believe this is a DS in a square butt configuration from 1940. The DS square butt was discontinued years before 1940. Any pictures? I look forward to your reply.
 

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Addicted,
Thanks for the reply. It is marked "38 Detective Special" and is in the 468,000 serial range (which is in the Police Positive serial range) dating this to 1940-1941 according to Wilson. Serial numbers on crane match the frame. Sorry no pictures yet, but it does have the sqaured grip. Could this be a replacement barrel on a regular Police Positive? It looks pretty straight to me, but I've been wrong in the past.
 

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Pate's book on U.S. Handguns of World War Two,lists the Detective Special as being fairly common issue,especially with the Army CID personel,up to very recent times. They do have these markings,but those shipped after 3/43 usually just have a prick punch mark. About 5,200 sold to Govt. in WW II.

Best news is that the one pictured on pg, 170 of Pates' book,#473033,has a SQUARE butt!,a 1940 made frame,but shipped in '44.But of course the contemporary P.P.Specials were mostly made with square butts. There is even a photo of Patton wearing one,which would P.O. the S&W Reg. Mag set and the SAA crew(but I've read that George liked his Remington M-51 as his undercover carry piece the best!)

These guns were shipped-blued-but I would suspect that they were latter parkerized during rebuilds,as they lasted a "long time"(plus there were post war purchases,as I tried to snag one in 'Nam in 66' for a BUG, which IIRC,was parkerized,with round butt and "Coltwood stocks",but had to settle on a well used Chiefs Special in a private sale.)

Hope this helps,and these guns are in great demand by military collectors,as sadly,most of these guns were destroyed/exported to friendly nations, by our Govt.,who doesn't trust its citizens with surplus weapons anymore!

Bud
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Bud,
Thanks for the information, as I was unaware of how few went to the US Gov. I paid dearly for my 2'' Commando, and this one I found for a fraction of the price. I passed on another DS about three years ago that was blued and had a crudely marked "U S" on the backstrap and have been looking for another ever since. I have no idea how much these things go for, but it sounds like I probably did OK considering the number produced. Thanks!
Larry
 

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Thanks LW, You frequently reference the "Pates' book". I've never seen the book but maybe I should give it a try. Are revolvers mostly reference in this book? Mostly Colts?
 

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Addicted; The book's title is "U.S. Handguns of World War II;the secondary pistols and revolvers".By Charles W. Pate,Mowbray Publishers,P.O. Box 460,Lincoln R.I. 1998,ISBN 0-917218-75-2. I bought mine through ISDA Books in Piqua,Ohio(I think they have a website) and cost,I think was around $40.00. IIRC,it is in hard cover only.About 370 pps.,100's of b/w photos.Amazon may have used ones cheaper?

As evidenced by the title,the "standard U.S. handgun",the M-1911,.45 Auto is NOT covered much. 1917 revolvers,all the small purchases made by the Govt. in the 1920-1940 of Colts and Smiths, period are covered. The Colt Commandos,O.Police,D.S. etc. ARE covered,S&W Victories,.22 "target autos",the Colt .25,.32 and .380 autos,and even the H&R and I.J. guns are also discussed. Great info on holsters,accessories,etc.-and even the arsenal rebuilds.

Speaking of the rebuilds,besides some W.W.II Commandos,having their 4" bbls. replaced after the war,with NEW 2" bbls.,with the ramped front sight vs. the original "1/2 Moon",a source of confusion,I suspect that this may well have been done to some D.S.that remained in Govt. service with the military police and intellegence types.

Sadly,future generations will not be able to obtain some of the handguns the Govt. bought in limited numbers from the 1950's onwards,as they are usually destroyed. The days of the Govt. trusting its citizens to buy weaponry is gone;has been for a while. The days of 1917 revolvers,and even .45 Target autos, being sold to NRA members in the 1930's is only a memory of a more carefree era. Rarely,a later military handgun,like the rare M-56 S&W's, will be "snuck out",before they hit the smelter.

Sorry for the "rant"!

Bud
 
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