I have a detective special circa 1988?, wich came from Colt Hard chromed.It has factory bobbed hammer and a low light front sight. It is listed in the current Blue book. This was probably a custom shop offering and was done by a contractor of Colt as dferiswheel mentioned . They may have offered some HC Pythons as well at that time.
Some people have the mistaken belief that chrome is bright looking,,like a car bumper...I spent some time in a plateing shop so here is the scoop on how it done.Part is polished to a mirror finish,because any defect is magnified.Then it is copper plated or sometimes just flash copper plated.Why some CHROME looks different.Part is then bright nickel plated,underline BRIGHT,as there are different types.Then part is taken out of the tank,rinsed off and put into the chrome tank for a flash.If it isn't flashed with chrome it will tarness in a short time.Kinda like a 5 cent coin use to do when they didn't add other metals in them.All the time in the plateing tanks shouldn't be but around 30 minutes to an hour.It's been so long and I didn't do a whole lot.I might be off on the time of plateing.The prep of the item,either a car part or a gun is what is so time consumeing and expensive.
That's what triple plated is.Copper,Bright Nickel,and chrome.But all you see is bright nickel,,,,schools out now.
Chevis is correct. BUT , the bottom line is with practice and a good eye, you can tell the difference.
Basically chrome is 'white' and 'nickel' is a tint of 'yellow'. Put them side by side and it is obvious. Hard chrome is 'matted' (duller?) Same for 'chromium' or 'Metalifes' and /or 'Armalloys'. Matted , flat , can be 'polished' to brighten them up, such as Ron Mahovsky does and calls it 'Metallife SS'. Electroless is MORE yellow and matted,almost 'gold' tint,but matted.Can be 'grayish' like the newer guns or'gold' Satin-nickel like the Combat Commanders 70 series. Again, put them side by side and you'll "see" it.......................
The hard part is to find that many "nice" original Colts, all in the "same" location. Most people get to see one here or there and try to "remember".
So with out a "letter" stating the finish, you'd really never know.The original box/carton should or would have the "finish" listed. I do NOT remember ever seeing a 'chrome' (factory job) Python, have seen tons of 'Nickel' or stainless or "bright (high gloss) stainless (can look like chrome!) Yes, I have seen some Pythons 'chromed' aftermarket, and the 'finish' is obvious, as the polish,pits, markings all show up and just does NOT look like a GOOD Colt factory job. The 'prep' is the secret and most plating shops are NOT set up to buff and polish 'firearms', bumpers and bike parts yes, not guns. /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif
Heck I think that's better.There are some chrome guns out there,but they wont shine like your nickel guns will.The durability of a chrome gun is pretty tough.One thing you got to know on plated guns,,is if you could make a cup out of nickel,or chrome,and fill it full of water,over a period of time it will leak out.Just something to think about.