I usually refrain from responding to questions of this nature because there are so many who have more Colts and shoot them much more than I do. Disclaimer - I don't own a Diamondback. I do own a few Det Specs, several of which I have not shot yet. Here's a perspective. For target shooting, most would probably recommend a Diamondback for the adjustable sights, ribbed barrel weight and wide hammer. But, if you're going to target shoot, most would probably not recommend a two-incher. So, if it's a self defense gun, you would probably not want snaggy sights or hammer, but service hammer and ramped front and rear groove like the DS. Both are D frames so the mechanisms appear to be the same (dfariswheel may comment). At least Numrich uses the Diamondback schematic for all D frames - I haven't matched all the part numbers. Then there's the pricing. You'll generally pay considerably more for a DB, especially in 2 in. There will probably be comments that a DB IS a better shooter and they CAN be carried and it is more "collectible" but those are my thoughts FWIW. /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
I have a 4" diamondback and a 2" detective special. Both are made in the early 70's. Both feel the same to me in both double action and single action. I do not believe there is a significant difference between the two guns.
Detective Specials and Diamondbacks share the same action. The major differences is the adjustable sights on the Diamondback and the number of each model made. My Price Guide to Gun Collecting by R.L. Wilson states that about 50,000 Diamondbacks were made, and that over 350,000 Dectective Specials were made. Wilson also states that over 240,000 Cobras and Agents were made on the lightweight version of the same frame. If you want a cheap shooter look for a Detective Special or a Police Postive Special, but if you want a revolver with adjustable sights buy a Diamondback however be prepared to spend at least double because the prices for Diamondbacks are going through the roof.
I have a 2&1/2" Diamondback, I bought for my wife. I did a little work on it. Because of the smaller size of the internals, it cannot be made quite as nice as a Python, but it can be made really nice. It is a damned good shooter. I never thought a snub could be this accurate. It is MY carry gun now.
Got the wife an automatic.
I can't add much to this thread, but I did want to mention that more than 50,000 Diamondbacks were made. [4-inch production has to exceed 50,000 between the 38spl and 22LR versions alone.] Production was more than 100,000 units if you go by the serial numbers ranges. I don't have this reference, but there must be a typo if you are transposing it correctly.
My understanding is that during the period Diamondbacks were made, Detective Specials should be of approximately the same action quality since they were both D-frames. Some of the older guns may have better tuned actions since there was more hand fitting done prior to 1950.
Thanks 22-rimfire I wondered if that could be correct about the Diamondbacks. In the gun price guide that Wilson did in 2000 he stated production numbers for most of the later Colt revolvers including the Diamondback which Wilson stated that there were more then 50,000 made. In my previous post I left off the word more.
The Diamondback would be the obvious choice if you're looking for a plinker and informal target shooter. On the other hand, if the primary function is to be a carry gun, the lighter weight Detective Special may be a better choice, and occasional plinking would hone your shooting skills with the gun you carry for self defense. Neither one is real heavyweight, but a 4 in. Diamondback would add about a half pound of steel to pack around over the weight of a 2 in. Detective Special.