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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Need some information please. I've found an early gun in the 402,xxx range at a local store that looks fair...but I have two questions. What is the proper barrel marking for a 1931 vintage gun? And the cylinder latch doesn't seem to engage. When you close the cylinder, you can pop it open by pushing on the cylinder. Any comments on this condition? I plan to look at it again tomorrow. At first glance, everything appears "original". It has the square grip frame,checkered walnut grips with Colt medallion, checkered cylinder latch, checkered face on the trigger which is blued,round front sight,bluing is about 85%, etc...
 

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One of my Official Polices was doing this a while back. The gate latch wouldn't engage all the way sometimes when the cylinder was put in place, unless you touched it with your thumb to get it to click into place all the way.

My guess is that it has some wear on the inner part of the gate latch from years of use interfering with it's ability to lock shut all the way.

Send it to PHH to get the latch polished down. That should solve your problem.

Unless anyone else has another idea of what the problem is and the solution

No idea about the proper barrel markings
 

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Can you push the latch forward so as to engage the lug into the back of the cylinder star? If so, something is causing it to fail to go forward under spring pressure. Most likely, it is dried grease, or someone has disassembled it and either left out the spring, or has somehow damaged the spring so as to cause it to bind. Since a gun of that vintage has decades of use to polish it up, no polishing should be required to fix it.

I suspect dried grease. Just take off the side plate and see what is keeping the latch from going forward. It is easy to do. Just remove the screws and strike the butt frame sharply with a screwdriver handle or the like until the side plate pops off. Do not pry it off. You should then be able to see what is keeping the latch from moving correctly. Correct that and reinstall the side plate, being sure the latch piece properly engages the projection on the bolt before pushing the side plate back into place. Tap it back down lightly with the screwdriver handle if necessary.

Spraying solvent into the latch area might be enough to cure the problem without disassembly.

A square butt DS is a desirable gun, so do not let a little issue like this keep you from buying it.

As far as the barrel markings, I am traveling so do not have access to one of my early DS guns, but, as I recall, it should say "Detective Special" with a chambering designation. On top (maybe the other side) of the barral, I think there is a roll stamp with incredibly small lettering identifying the manufacturer name and patent information.
 

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Hi Shel49,
According to the information I have your DS should have:

(Large "38" numbers) .38 Detective
Special

on the left side, and

COLT'S PT. F.A. MFG. CO.
HARTFORD, CT. U.S.A.

on the right side.

Like Judge said, check the star on the back of the cylinder to see if there is dried grease in the hole ...
Hope that helps... Bob Best
 

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Just to add: Right side of barrel will have "Colt's etc." on one line, and "PAT'D AUG 5, 1884. JULY 4, 1905. OCT. 5, 1926." on the second line below that (in very small type).
 

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Hi Bushwacker,

A question... are you sure that that legend you quote is for the Detective Special barrels? The information I have is that that legend is found on the right side of the Police Positive Special's barrel between 1926 and 1949???

The Detective Special was supposed to have been marked as I noted above from the beginning of the DS production until about 1947...

Can you give me your source? Thanks! Bob Best
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks guys, I think the barrel had the markings you said...I need to get back over and buy it!
 

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Hi Bushwacker,
Looks like your source was better than mine! ... I stand corrected and will make the proper notation in my resource material ...I learn something new every day... THANKS! Bob Best
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The latch itself moves freely and spring is in good shape...I not sure what is keeping it from latching all the time. It seems to latch if closed with a little bit extra effort...also, when cocked in single action it is just a tad short of the bolt seating properly. Appear to have a timing issue (didn't notice this until I cleaned and lubed it). I am going to send it out for someone to correct. Who would you guys suggest...Colt, Pittsburg Handgun Headquarters, or Grant Cunningham (seen some good reviews on his work)? Any other suggestions as to competent smiths?
Thanks, Shel.
 

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if the latch recess in the ejector star is clean and burr free i would suspect a bent crane. should be a simple job to straighten given the correct special tools are available. i would contact mr cunningham and give him a shot at it, i`m sure other forum members would like some feedback on his work. i am also sure this would generate some work for him so perhaps he will make you good deal.
 

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Bob-
Sorry I am late to respond, but I have been too busy to check the Forum every day.

My source is my safe /forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif. I have DS's a year either side of this gun with identical rollmarks.
 

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Hi Bushwacker,
Yeah... I finally dug mine out and it had the patent date info too... mine's 397xxx. I used the BOCFA as my source and it appears that it is NOT correct! Thanks for the reply and the info... Like I said "I learn something new every day! :)"
Take care,
Bob Best
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
icdux1, I took your advice and contacted Mr. Cunningham. He corrected several issues including a bent crane and some timing and lockwork issues. The work is first rate and very reasonable. My old DS is as good as new. Grant also commented that the action is very tight for as old as she is (#402,xxx). From the comments he made during our correspondence I have a feeling he enjoyed working on her. Total time elapsed from shipping her out to getting her back was one week. I am very pleased. I highly recommend him.
 
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