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Discussion Starter #1
Who does quality refinishing (Colt Detective Special)?

i have a DS, 2nd issue (1961). I posted a short video in the DS threadwhch actually came out better than my photo attempts. I have no paperwork or history on the gun other than from who I bought it from, and that was not much (little old lady, etc, which I took with a grain of salt)

i offered it in trade for another “really, really want” item and it was rejected because potential trading partner said it was refinished. Rather than argue, I walked away.

I don’t know what to look for. Blue is perfect with no edge wear, markings/engravings are sharp and deep, there are no crushed diamonds on the wood grips. I have not taken off the grips for fear of putting even a tiny scratch on the screw.

If it was reblued, I would guess that the cost somewhere in the 58 years of its life probably would have exceeded the original value.

So the questions to the forum are:
Did Colt do refinishing?
is there a specialist who could have done this, or is it well within the expertise of any/ most gunsmiths?
Any other clues?
 

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Colt no longer does any work, including bluing on their older models made prior to the current new stainless guns.

There are VERY few places that can be trusted to do a Colt quality re-blue job.
These are top professionals who can do a factory level blue job without over polishing the gun and removing stamps or rounding off edges and leaving ripples in the flats.

In no particular order.......

Glenrock is famous for top of the line bluing and are used by many custom gunsmiths who want the finest bluing on custom guns.
http://www.gunbluing.com/

The Custom Shop IS NOT THE COLT CUSTOM SHOP. Colt once listed them as a possible source of Colt repairs and refinishing.
The pictures on the site look good, but reports are the prices are very high.
https://www.customshopinc.com/

Ford's has a long time reputation for being able to do a Colt level "wet look" Colt Royal Blue as used on the Python so a Detective Special should be no problem.
They did have a problem a few years ago but apparently have correct it.
http://www.fordsguns.com/

Precision appears to have an excellent reputation.
https://precisionbluing.com/

I recommend talking to these people and picking one.
Be sure you discuss that you want a COLT factory level polish job. There's a big difference between a typical gun maker's factory blue, and a COLT factory blue.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you.

The gist of my post was whether it is reasonable for my DS to have been reblued rather than original. With so few experts, I’m going to go with my original thought that reblue is unlikely and enjoy what I have without regret.

https://imgur.com/a/mP8NGb3
 

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Pictures are a bit too dark to tell if refinished or not. If re-fied doesn't look too bad.
I have a refinished nickel Colt Trooper .38 which I can shoot all I want to. As long as I don't blow it up I can get my money back out of it.
 

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As ken mentioned, the photos are too dark to tell anything about the details. In the video some of the screw holes appear dished, and polish on sides of hammer look too bright. Better photos might tell a different story. Use a medium color background outside in bright shade.
 

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Picture are not as clear but if the detail is there and if you feel lucky and want to "roll the dice", Letter it. In 1955 Colt offered a major finish upgrade, they called it Royal Blue, your pictures certainly look like it could have been finished that way. From what I can determine, only a handful of guns were finished in royal blue (actually just higher polishing). If your letter comes back and the finish is shown as "python blue", you have your answer an a rare variant.
 

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A good photo of the Colt Verified Proof and final inspectors mark would be helpful, but too dark to see.
 

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In answer - back in the day, 'any' shop could (and did) reblue pretty much anything that walked through the door - not all refinish work was factory, and only recently have shops become more careful in metal prep.

Yours presents as refinished in the photos - clearer ones might help.
 

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Sorry, it was late when I posed last night so I didn't read the original post closely.

It's very possible for an expert to re-blue a Colt of that era and have it look very good, but these people were real experts who had the proper polishing equipment, not a few small soft buffs on a motor.
A lot of bluing was done by small local gunsmiths who "Fired up the tanks once a month" and blued guns.
These are usually botch jobs because the gunsmith didn't do enough metal polishing to develop and maintain the skills, and they usually never had the correct polishing equipment to allow precision polishing.

Some ways to detect a reblued gun are.....

Stamps are thinned or even partially removed.
Areas to closely inspect are the Colt Pony on the side plate. Note that often the factory stamp was thinly stamped on one side, usually the rear. However, the stamp was not washed out and "blurry" looking.
Colt stamped barrel stamps less deeply than later years but they were clear, sharp, and not buffed out or thin.
Look for the Colt Verified Proof stamp on the left-front of the trigger guard web. This is a tiny "VP" in a triangle. It was stamped after bluing so it would originally show bare steel, and may have lightly rusted down in the stamp. If it's faded or not there it's probably a reblued gun because the stamp was easy to buff off.

Look for signs of over-polishing.
This will show up as edges and corners that should be sharp and well defined being rounded off or polished unevenly. Instead of a straight sharp line it may be sharp in some spots and rounded in others.
Look for waves or ripples in flat surfaces like the sides of the frame.
Look for irregular polishing around the front sight.
On longer barrels look for waves or ripples down the barrel.
Look for dished out screw holes, especially around the cylinder retention cap screw on the right side of the frame.
Look for rounded edges around the side plate and frame junction. Colt polished the side plate while it was bolted to the frame to insure no rounded edges.
As above, a hammer with the sides blued has been reblued. Colt polished the sides bright.
A badly polished Colt often has a "bar of soap" look due to improper polishing equipment rounding everything off.

Look for a blue job that has a polish too shiny or not shiny enough.
With experience you'll be able to detect a Colt that just looks "off" somehow.

In the 50's and up to the late 60's Colt's blue had a more blue color.
Starting in 1969 Colt changed their bluing chemicals and after that the guns had a more gloss black color.

Look for off colors, especially in sunlight.
A reddish color is a sure sign of a reblue. This was because the bluing chemicals were not properly controlled and is a classic sign of a refinished gun done by an inexperienced or careless person.
Note that occasionally you may see a Colt with a slight purple color. This is usually attributed to the bluing chemicals getting worn out and weren't noticeable at the factory. With age you might see a little purple tint.
On later Colt's of the late 70's to the 90's you often see cylinder latches that are purple. These latches were probably made by a contractor and the metal used caused the slight purple color.
Look for parts of the gun that have different levels of polish or different colors. Colt's polish and color almost always matched overall.

Look for pits, dents, or scratches UNDER the blue.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks to all. A wealth of information which benefits me greatly, and, I suspect, a great many others.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
If the V is susceptible to being removed in a reblue, it doesn’t seem to be the case here.
 

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That's not the Colt Verified proof stamp.

That's the stamp of the final inspector, which in this case just happens to be a "V".
The inspection stamp was usually deeper struck, since it was just a simple letter, not the more complicated Verified Proof.

The Colt Verified Proof stamp is on the FRONT of the trigger guard web.
It's a tiny "VP" in an upside down triangle.
If you'd moved you camera forward slightly you'd have caught the Verified Proof.

The letter directly under the serial number on the frame in your first picture is the stamp of the person who assembled your revolver.
The second letter stamp is rarely seen on Colt's. The exact meaning is unknown, possibly a second inspection for some reason.
 

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Kjack I am in the same boat as you, my Trooper MKIII 357 is in need of a reblueing, thank you dfairiswheel for the information about Colt not doing any reblueing, that was my next stop after my local gunsmith in Norfolk.
 

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This is a great thread. I'm interested in getting my DS reblued. It's pretty rough line it is but I'm just not sure it's worth the money.
 

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That's always the question with a refinish....Is it cheaper to refinish or just buy a better condition gun?
You can get a revolver refinished by a top company cheaper then buying a better quality gun, but you then have a gun worth much less then before putting the money in it.

This is only a concern if you ever plan on selling it.
I had a few personal guns refinished and never regretted the cost.
Most of those were blued guns sent out for hard chrome plating, but I did have a Colt Trooper "I" frame .38 Special reblued by Colt years ago, and that was because there was no internet and finding guns was difficult unless you traveled long distance to a big gun show.
 
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