Colt Forum banner

21 - 40 of 63 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
I've never done either, so my opinion is certainly not definite (I do waistband carry/pocket), but as for shoulder holster, these fit perfectly. And while I've never seen one on the ankle, I know others have had success with it.

If you don't already have one though, if you fancy revolvers, I'd definitely encourage you to get one. Detective Specials (along with the lightweight variants Cobra and Agent) are great EDC guns that have been a top choice for the last 93 years, and for good reason. There are other good choices out there you might prefer, but I can guarantee it won't disappoint you.
I think I am already set on getting one! I want to add an old school revolver to rotate with my semi-auto for edc. I heard that Detective Specials (even the early ones) were very well built and hold up well over time. From doing some research I really want to find a 2nd series from the post-WWII era (40's-50's). Do you know how much the second series Det. Specials go for nowadays (38 special version)?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
602 Posts
I carry my mid 60's Cobra frequently. When I'm forced to visit Baltimore, a Glock 19 is a better choice given the nature of the area. :cool:

View attachment 711225
That’s so ironic since I live and work in downtown balto. ( police shooting in front of my office yesterday). I am sitting in the car waiting for my wife, carrying a late 50s sw mod 36. Cross draw so i can access it. Sometimes a Cobra upside down shoulder holster With the colt cobra. But almost always the carry is a G 43, recently in exotic pancake holster and belt by hill country leather.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
398 Posts
I think I am already set on getting one! I want to add an old school revolver to rotate with my semi-auto for edc. I heard that Detective Specials (even the early ones) were very well built and hold up well over time. From doing some research I really want to find a 2nd series from the post-WWII era (40's-50's). Do you know how much the second series Det. Specials go for nowadays (38 special version)?
EDIT: Sorry, this turned out pretty long, but I hope it's informative for you!

Haha, glad to hear so! And the old school style is a great choice. That's what sold me on getting one. I love the classic 40's-50's era revolver feel, so that's what I went for. Also as you heard, Detective Specials are indeed incredibly well built and hold up well over time with nothing more than basic maintenance. Even the early ones work wonderfully today if they were treated well.

Across the lifespan of Detective production, they really didn't change the core design very much. It did exactly what it was supposed to do when they first built it, and it continues to do so today. One from 1934 will just as easily compete with one from 1985. Only difference is ones own preference in style and a couple cosmetic features/slight improvements.

Prices on guns in general have spiked a bit lately, but I say the cheapest you'd expect to see a Detective Special for is around $400-500 on the low end, which includes the second series 40s-50s era ones. And that would be for a worn, used shooter. Also, just about every Detective Special is .38 Special, so don't worry about accidentally buying one that isn't.

One note for you to consider, from about 1947-1955, Colt used a type of grips called "Coltwood" on their Detectives which was a reddish-brown plastic. Also during that same time period, the blue finish is slightly different as it is considered 'dual tone', which is just a fancy way of saying they didn't polish the cylinder flutes, so it stands out on the gun. If you want walnut stocks and normal fully polished bluing, I'd stick to the later half of the 1950s, however there are a few from 1947-1948 that have mixed pre-war features and will sport normal finish/wood grips. Colt didn't make any Detectives until after the war was over, so you won't find any from '45-46.

My best advice for you is to go to Gunbroker.com and create an account and use the advanced search function to look up Completed Sales. If you set to sort by highest bid first, you can sift through real prices people paid for various conditions of Detectives. Take note of the ones similar to what you'd like, and it'll give you a good idea of how much it'd be. If you do buy one online from an auction, I'd have a qualified gunsmith check it out after you get it just to make sure all is well. Once it's set, you'll be good to go for years to come.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,617 Posts
I carry my mid 60's Cobra frequently. When I'm forced to visit Baltimore, a Glock 19 is a better choice given the nature of the area. :cool:

View attachment 711225
In Baltimore being armed isn't enough...you really need a SWAT Team surrounding you as an escort anywhere you go.
 
  • Like
Reactions: VaqueroAZ

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
EDIT: Sorry, this turned out pretty long, but I hope it's informative for you!

Haha, glad to hear so! And the old school style is a great choice. That's what sold me on getting one. I love the classic 40's-50's era revolver feel, so that's what I went for. Also as you heard, Detective Specials are indeed incredibly well built and hold up well over time with nothing more than basic maintenance. Even the early ones work wonderfully today if they were treated well.

Across the lifespan of Detective production, they really didn't change the core design very much. It did exactly what it was supposed to do when they first built it, and it continues to do so today. One from 1934 will just as easily compete with one from 1985. Only difference is ones own preference in style and a couple cosmetic features/slight improvements.

Prices on guns in general have spiked a bit lately, but I say the cheapest you'd expect to see a Detective Special for is around $400-500 on the low end, which includes the second series 40s-50s era ones. And that would be for a worn, used shooter. Also, just about every Detective Special is .38 Special, so don't worry about accidentally buying one that isn't.

One note for you to consider, from about 1947-1955, Colt used a type of grips called "Coltwood" on their Detectives which was a reddish-brown plastic. Also during that same time period, the blue finish is slightly different as it is considered 'dual tone', which is just a fancy way of saying they didn't polish the cylinder flutes, so it stands out on the gun. If you want walnut stocks and normal fully polished bluing, I'd stick to the later half of the 1950s, however there are a few from 1947-1948 that have mixed pre-war features and will sport normal finish/wood grips. Colt didn't make any Detectives until after the war was over, so you won't find any from '45-46.

My best advice for you is to go to Gunbroker.com and create an account and use the advanced search function to look up Completed Sales. If you set to sort by highest bid first, you can sift through real prices people paid for various conditions of Detectives. Take note of the ones similar to what you'd like, and it'll give you a good idea of how much it'd be. If you do buy one online from an auction, I'd have a qualified gunsmith check it out after you get it just to make sure all is well. Once it's set, you'll be good to go for years to come.
Thank you this awesome overview - I really appreciate it!

I have been scouring Gunbroker and have seen the Detective Specials sell for ~450-800 on average for good shape. It does seem like the older versions of the Series Two and Series One go for more. Also, for due diligence, what do I need to look out for that I should avoid (such as refinishing, fake grips, bad cylinders, etc.)? I usually try to buy guns I can handle but due to the current situation I would prefer to avoid gunshows for now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
398 Posts
Thank you this awesome overview - I really appreciate it!

I have been scouring Gunbroker and have seen the Detective Specials sell for ~450-800 on average for good shape. It does seem like the older versions of the Series Two and Series One go for more. Also, for due diligence, what do I need to look out for that I should avoid (such as refinishing, fake grips, bad cylinders, etc.)? I usually try to buy guns I can handle but due to the current situation I would prefer to avoid gunshows for now.
You're welcome! I'm hardly an expert, but for the past 1.5-2 years I've been learning about the Detective Special, have bought a couple, and made my own mistakes, so I at least know enough to share.

The listings you've found on Gunbroker sound about right. $400~ is the minimum and closer to $800 is a pretty nice one that's not a boxed 99% collectors piece. First issues definitely are the most desirable. You'd be hard pressed to find one to sell below $600, even in worn condition. Early second issues are also desirable, so tend to go for more too. Pretty much older = valuable.

Doing your due diligence is a great decision as well. I've made some bad buys because I thought I knew what I was doing but there were certain details I didn't know that changed the value quite drastically. That shouldn't be quite a big deal for what you want, but knowing about coltwood (plastic) grips and the dual tone finish is an example of something people might not be aware about but makes a big difference. Also, it makes it really easy to spot a refinished gun if it's from 1947-1955 and doesn't have the unpolished cylinder flutes or the correct grips.

Regarding things to avoid, I think you have the main idea down. You aren't buying it as a collectors piece, so don't worry about perfection, but it is nice to still get an all original, functioning gun. I think your best bet is to do some reading about the Second Issue Detective Special on ColtFever and The Wikipedia and familiarize yourself with all of the features it has. Always check the serial number on the Colt Website but don't rely only on the serial number. When browsing listings with pictures, run through the different features you would expect it to have to make sure they all check and are period correct. Cylinder rod length, type of grips, type of finish, style of trigger (grooved/smooth/or checkered), the way the firing pin is mounted, whether the hammer is checkered or grooved, barrel markings, etc. Knowing all of that will save you some heartache from accidentally buying something that you thought was the right era but later find out the parts don't add up.

Then of course, you want to avoid refinished guns and wrong/fake grips, unless you don't mind those things. You can usually spot a refinish as they over buff and remove some of the depth of various markings or the edges of the gun look rounded. The wood grips almost are always what they should be, but in your case it'll be the silver post war medallion on checkered walnut on the long d-frame (pre-1966), with the backside being one mounting pin hole. Of course avoid bad cylinders and barrels. I think the biggest thing is to just simply avoid guns that show rust speckling or pitting. A worn finish is not a bad thing. It's cosmetically not appealing, but it doesn't hurt your gun. What hurts a gun is when it's developed rust that's eating away at the metal. Once the metal is gone, you can't replace it.

It is nice to be able to handle a gun in person when you can, but avoiding gun shows and the like is understandable. Online is a great way to buy one instead, but since you can't see it in person, I would make sure they have lots of pictures and actually tried to write a description. Message the seller if you need any additional info. One thing to know ahead of time is there is a reason some guys joke that the website is called "gunbroken.com". Many of the guns are sold as clean and locking up tight but not having been test-fired. More than likely that's true, but for any old revolver, it needs to be tuned up as it ages, so it might need a new mainspring, have cylinder-shake removed, or be re-timed up when you buy it. Not a big deal, but like I said, have a qualified Colt gunsmith look it over first. If you're worried, stick to auctions that have an inspection/return policy, so you can look it over to make sure it's exactly as it should be. Sold AS IS usually means the seller doesn't want to deal with it anymore, so it's better to be weary although that's not necessarily a red flag.

Last but not least, once you find one you like and are thinking about, always feel free to post about it on here! Plenty of knowledgeable folk will be able to help you figure out anything you're unsure about before you commit to the purchase. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Hey yall, I am in the market to get a Colt Detective Special and wanted to get yall's feedback on some of the ones I am following on Gunbroker. Most of these seem correct to me but let me know if anything looks off.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
You're welcome! I'm hardly an expert, but for the past 1.5-2 years I've been learning about the Detective Special, have bought a couple, and made my own mistakes, so I at least know enough to share.

The listings you've found on Gunbroker sound about right. $400~ is the minimum and closer to $800 is a pretty nice one that's not a boxed 99% collectors piece. First issues definitely are the most desirable. You'd be hard pressed to find one to sell below $600, even in worn condition. Early second issues are also desirable, so tend to go for more too. Pretty much older = valuable.

Doing your due diligence is a great decision as well. I've made some bad buys because I thought I knew what I was doing but there were certain details I didn't know that changed the value quite drastically. That shouldn't be quite a big deal for what you want, but knowing about coltwood (plastic) grips and the dual tone finish is an example of something people might not be aware about but makes a big difference. Also, it makes it really easy to spot a refinished gun if it's from 1947-1955 and doesn't have the unpolished cylinder flutes or the correct grips.

Regarding things to avoid, I think you have the main idea down. You aren't buying it as a collectors piece, so don't worry about perfection, but it is nice to still get an all original, functioning gun. I think your best bet is to do some reading about the Second Issue Detective Special on ColtFever and The Wikipedia and familiarize yourself with all of the features it has. Always check the serial number on the Colt Website but don't rely only on the serial number. When browsing listings with pictures, run through the different features you would expect it to have to make sure they all check and are period correct. Cylinder rod length, type of grips, type of finish, style of trigger (grooved/smooth/or checkered), the way the firing pin is mounted, whether the hammer is checkered or grooved, barrel markings, etc. Knowing all of that will save you some heartache from accidentally buying something that you thought was the right era but later find out the parts don't add up.

Then of course, you want to avoid refinished guns and wrong/fake grips, unless you don't mind those things. You can usually spot a refinish as they over buff and remove some of the depth of various markings or the edges of the gun look rounded. The wood grips almost are always what they should be, but in your case it'll be the silver post war medallion on checkered walnut on the long d-frame (pre-1966), with the backside being one mounting pin hole. Of course avoid bad cylinders and barrels. I think the biggest thing is to just simply avoid guns that show rust speckling or pitting. A worn finish is not a bad thing. It's cosmetically not appealing, but it doesn't hurt your gun. What hurts a gun is when it's developed rust that's eating away at the metal. Once the metal is gone, you can't replace it.

It is nice to be able to handle a gun in person when you can, but avoiding gun shows and the like is understandable. Online is a great way to buy one instead, but since you can't see it in person, I would make sure they have lots of pictures and actually tried to write a description. Message the seller if you need any additional info. One thing to know ahead of time is there is a reason some guys joke that the website is called "gunbroken.com". Many of the guns are sold as clean and locking up tight but not having been test-fired. More than likely that's true, but for any old revolver, it needs to be tuned up as it ages, so it might need a new mainspring, have cylinder-shake removed, or be re-timed up when you buy it. Not a big deal, but like I said, have a qualified Colt gunsmith look it over first. If you're worried, stick to auctions that have an inspection/return policy, so you can look it over to make sure it's exactly as it should be. Sold AS IS usually means the seller doesn't want to deal with it anymore, so it's better to be weary although that's not necessarily a red flag.

Last but not least, once you find one you like and are thinking about, always feel free to post about it on here! Plenty of knowledgeable folk will be able to help you figure out anything you're unsure about before you commit to the purchase. :)
That is good advice as far as things to look for when buying from any source. However, it has been my experience, not on this forum however, that if you seek advice/opinions on a particular gun, there have been folks who found the gun and now one had more competition. Not illegal or even unethical but it is something to be aware of. If your object of desire is a nice but common affair, there will probably not issue but if you were to find that 'grail' for a steal. well as they say, caveat emptor!

Semper Fi

paul
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
398 Posts
That is good advice as far as things to look for when buying from any source. However, it has been my experience, not on this forum however, that if you seek advice/opinions on a particular gun, there have been folks who found the gun and now one had more competition. Not illegal or even unethical but it is something to be aware of. If your object of desire is a nice but common affair, there will probably not issue but if you were to find that 'grail' for a steal. well as they say, caveat emptor!

Semper Fi

paul
Thanks for the stamp of approval, dbluefish. And I 100% agree. If you're just asking in general or the gun in question is nice albeit common, then there's no real threat to posting on the public forum. But if you found something uncommon/special that you're particularly passionate about, it's good to be careful to not generate unwanted competition to the auction or sale. As such, my advice would be to direct message a knowledgeable/respected member and ask your question. When you ask privately, a lot of folk here appreciate etiquette and won't bring attention to your auction or bid against you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
That is good advice as far as things to look for when buying from any source. However, it has been my experience, not on this forum however, that if you seek advice/opinions on a particular gun, there have been folks who found the gun and now one had more competition. Not illegal or even unethical but it is something to be aware of. If your object of desire is a nice but common affair, there will probably not issue but if you were to find that 'grail' for a steal. well as they say, caveat emptor!

Semper Fi

paul
Good point. However I have found this forum and its members extremely laid back, and if the knowledgeable folks here think its a gun worth going over, may the best bidder win in my honest opinion! :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,907 Posts
For carrying, I think the 3rd series with the shrouded barrel are the best bet. They can handle limited shooting with +P ammo and the extra weight helps tame recoil. For collecting, I like the first series the best. The checkered (or "checked" as Colt's used to say) trigger, hammer and cylinder release along with the half moon front sight really define their era.
Colt Detective Special.jpg
Colt Detective Special With Ammo 1939.JPG
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
398 Posts
For carrying, I think the 3rd series with the shrouded barrel are the best bet. They can handle limited shooting with +P ammo and the extra weight helps tame recoil. For collecting, I like the first series the best. The checkered (or "checked" as Colt's used to say) trigger, hammer and cylinder release along with the half moon front sight really define their era.
View attachment 711321 View attachment 711322
Beautiful guns! Especially the 1939 first issue. I love it. Those have always been my favourite, and I agree that all of the various features just really define the era. Second issues are very similar, but those pre-war ones just stand out.

Also, I think you have a typo in your first image. The third issue Detective you have states in the picture that it's from 1992, but I think it's meant to say 1982.
 
21 - 40 of 63 Posts
Top