In 1995 Colt finally had to discontinue the original "D" frame small revolvers, like the Detective Special, due to the extreme amount of hand fitting required and the resultant high price.
So, in 1995 Colt introduced an entirely new small revolver based on a new "SF" (Small Frame)stainless steel frame.
This was a "D" sized and shaped revolver, only using a modern transfer-bar action, and requiring much less hand fitting, and chambered in .38 Special.
The first in this series was the oddly named Colt SF-VI (Small Frame Six Shot).
The reason for the name was to prevent customer confusion since the older Detective Special was still in the wholesaler's pipeline.
In 1997, as the last of the old Detective Specials were sold, Colt re-named the gun as the "DS-II" (Detective Special Two).
There were several very similar models of this, including a "Special Lady" bright polished model, a 4" barreled model, and a double action-only version with no hammer spur.
Since Colt had increased frame strength in the "SF" frame, it was possible to chamber the gun in .357 Magnum, so in 1999?? Colt introduced a new version called the "Magnum Carry, and chambered in .357.
Unfortunately, within a short time, Colt went through the "great convulsion" in which most Colt revolvers were discontinued in an attempt to save the company from going out of business.
Relatively few Magnum Carry revolvers were made, and prices are soaring as both collectors and shooters are buying them up.
Unfortunately, the latest word from Colt is, it's unlikely Colt will ever bring the Magnum Carry back.
Mechanically, the "SF" frame revolvers are good, strong, revolvers, offering Colt's bonus of a sixth shot, over the competetion's five shot revolvers.
Many people wanting a stainless steel Detective Special were somewhat disappointed with the "SF" guns.
The "SF" lacks the sophistication of the old "D" frame guns, notably with a squared-off, sharp-edged barrel, no rear sight "shadow" cut, and a locking system unlike the old Colt "Bank Vault" lockup.
In it's favor, the "SF" guns are VERY strong revolvers, with the lightest trigger pulls of any Colt ever made.
In fact, the early "SF-VI" marked guns had actions so light, some people had problems with the trigger not reseting.
Colt offered these people a free installation of a stronger trigger return spring.
Some people complained about inaccurate "SF" guns, but this was a quality control problem not a systemic problem. Those people who send their "SF" guns back to the factory report any accuracy problems are fixed, and the guns shoot as accurately as the old "D" framed guns do.
In all, the "SF" guns were a good replacement for the old "D" guns, which were simply no longer able to compete due to labor costs.
As much as we would have liked to have a "D" frame Detective Special in stainless steel, Colt wouldn't have sold too many $600.00 guns in a market running around $300.00.
Anyone having an opportunity to buy a "SF" gun should do so, for future collector's value, if not as a shooter.
I bought the first Magnum Carry I saw in `98 or `99. After a few boxes of ammo, I finally decided that it shot a pattern rather than a group. I put it away, intending to use it as trading material.
Last year, at the urging of members of this forum and others, I contacted Colt and explained the problem. The response was: Send it back and we'll fix it. I shipped it out and 35 days later it was returned. It was like a new gun and now it shoots almost as well as my Smith 649, which is the most accurate snub I've ever owned.
The action was always smooth and I like it better than the 649's. Workmanship and fitting was very good. It came with rubber grips which I replaced with Badger wood grips. I also added a hammer shroud from an old Detectice Special.
Both of them are now safe queens, more or less. I bought a Smith 340SC, the "beast", last year and it is my "always" gun because of its weight.
Other Magnum Carry owners like theirs and I don't know of anybody that had the accuracy problems that I had. To Colt's credit, the repairs were free, although I had to pay shipping costs.
Question on the Badger Grips. On my Magnum Carry I ordered Hogue wood grips for it. They did not fit out of the box and I had to return them to Hogue. From what I could determine they needed more relief behind the trigger guard and in the speedloader cutout as I couldn't readily use HKS or Safariland loader as it was.