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Discussion Starter #1
I have owned this .38 Detective Special, inherited 35 years ago from my wife's grandfather's estate. He was a Baltimore City Policeman and died in 1965 in his late 70's. Last night I found by chance the original box for it in a valise full of ammo which came with the gun. Serial #792XX. Any idea of date of mfg.? His cleaning rod is in one picture. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0603/reddogge/Handguns/Coltdetectivespecial.jpg http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0603/reddogge/Handguns/Coltdetectivespecial3.jpg
Well, pics. don't show up. Clue me in and I can repost.


[This message has been edited by reddogge (edited 03-01-2005).]

[This message has been edited by reddogge (edited 03-01-2005).]
 

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Reddogge;Welcome to the Forum. You have posted pictures of a VERY rare Colt! It is a "pre Detective Special"(notice the 4 on the Police Positive Special Box;4" was the shortest standard production barrel). The factory added the Special label. The serial number confuses me as does the narrow(front to back of the wooden grips).The serial number puts it in the 1913 production year,and that narrow grip is correct for that time,but not the wooden grips(stocks). What does the barrel say??? Are the stocks numbered to the gun,with serial number on the flat under the barrel after cylinder is opened.

This is definately a .38 Special,with the long cylinder. I had a 3" Police Positive from 1926,special order for a police officer,with these narrow stocks. Around 1926,the grip frame became wider from front to back for better control under recoil(they do kick!),as did the stocks. Detective Specials were "officially" introduced as a separate model circa 1927,with the 2" barrel,and square butt stocks until 1933.I have a 1932 vintage square butt Det. Special. that looks just like yours in the photo,except the wider stocks. Please let us know about serial number,numbers on back side of grips,after removal(be careful;don't pry em') and what the barrel marking say. This is one beautiful,rare package,and the box helps identify it,plus being a treasured family heirloom. Bud
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the kind words. I thought that the serial # dated to 1913 but the gun catalogues have dates starting in 1926. The grips on this one aren't wood but Franzite grips. I don't know if they are original or he switched them. The box says wood but the grips are plastic Franzite. I carried this little revolver a little and recently it resided in my sock drawer. When I stumbled onto the box last night I quickly moved it into the box and into the safe since it's a real collectible now.

Left side of barrel says .38 DETECTIVE SPECIAL and right side says COLTS MFG. CO. HARTFORD CT U.S.A.

I wish I had the .32 S&W New Police service revolver he had. All I have is a couple hundred rounds of .32 S&W NP ammo.

Thanks for the nice information. Any idea as to value?

[This message has been edited by reddogge (edited 03-01-2005).]
 

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Franzite started making replacements in the 50's I think. If you are ever searching for wood replacements,make sure you send a tracing of the grip frame to any prospective seller. The entire "D" frame Colt,as these smallest of the Colt frames are called,is a very "confusing area" for grip/frame shapes. Glad it is "safe and sound" and glad to be of help. Bud
 

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It looks to me like your barrel has been replaced. From the photo, it appears to be a ramp front sight, not a half moon. Also, to the best of my knowledge, the pre-detective specials say only "38 SPECIAL" on the barrel (no Colt's, no patent dates). I have one mfg. in 1927.

A PPS mfg. in 1913 MAY have the stylized "C" around the pony on the sideplate (can't tell from photo).

Is there a serial number written in pencil on the bottom of the box matching the gun?

HTH, B.W.
 

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Yeah,Bushwacker,I noticed the "ramp" sight too,and thats why I asked about the barrel markings and serial#. Once passed on what a dealer said was a reblued 2" Official Police,with no markings on the barrel and 1930's serial # on frame,plus a gunsmith rounded butt and stocks. Later found out,its what I thought,a Post W.W.2 Commando 2" barrel installed,all marks removed. Seemed that a uniformed cop was promoted to plain clothes,and had his 6" O.P. that he'd carried for 15 years,"altered" to better fit his new P.C. assignment! Bud
 

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If I get the time, I'll post a photo of the catalog with the pre-DS barrel, and my well-worn example. We'll have to hear what reddogge says about his.
 

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Here is the '27-'28 catalog which showed the DS for the first time. The DS rollmark hadn't been used yet.


And a shot of a PPS with 2" spout (pre-DS).

[This message has been edited by Bushwhacker (edited 03-02-2005).]
 

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Discussion Starter #14
It seems all of the clues point to a rebarrel at a later date, although it appears it was done flawlessly. It is a ramp front sight. The box has a different serial number on it but it has "Balt" then the serial number and "Sgt. Hesse" all handwritten in the same hand on the back in pencil. His name wasn't Hesse. It looks like it was done at the PD. The box was used to house a longer barreled gun at one time as he had cut a flap out of the sides of the box for the barrel to protrude. Perhaps to hold the .32 service revolver which used all of the .32 S&W NP ammo.

It's fun trying to piece a gun's history together though and thanks for all the help.
 

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reddogge's PPS is clearly rebarreled with a Post-War DS barrel, and was probably factory-refinished at the same time. A duty gun would not look that good.

Bushwacker, it appears you have one of the "Pre-Dective Special" two-inch Police Positive Special revolvers. Do you have a factory letter for it?

I have one, and the letter mentions a special work order number (12032/100) that implies there were 100 guns made that way. I have recently corresponded with another owner and our serials were very close. If you would care to, please post part of your serial. Mine is 3400XX. The funny thing is, the serial range is 1928, but my gun was shipped Decemnber 29, 1926 to Russell Sporting Goods (no city available) as a single gun shipment.

Someone told me once that when Colt was planning a prototype run, it would take a future serial number range that would not be reached for a while and use it for the run. Illogical to me, but who knows?
 

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Judge Colt:

No, I haven't lettered it. I bought it from a friend who had upgraded the one in his collection. Mine is #3385XX, which would fall in 1927. If you would like, I could get the serial of his also.

You've piqued my curiosity now, this might be a good one to letter. It could be part of the same work order.

BTW, I have an old book entitled "Judge Colt" by William Raine...sound familiar?
 

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BW, thank you for the information. You are basing your estimated year of produciton on the charts, but I do not think they apply to these guns for the reason I gave. Mine would be 1928 by the charts, but it was shipped in late 1926, and your serial is earlier than mine! I cannot explain why, if there were only 100 of them, that the serials would be in such a wide range. However, since the PPS was the highest production Colt revolver, perhaps so many were being made that pulling a frame off the line on a regular basis to use with the special short barrels would account for the wide serial number range of the guns (yours and mine at least). Perhaps there are a lot more, but I doubt it or more would be seen. Still, I have seen enough of them to think that there have to be more than only 100. A mystery to be sure.

I would urge you to get a letter. If you do, please let me know what it says.

In regard to the "Judge Colt" issue, yes, I plead guilty to not being original with my user name. There is a comic book series by that name as well. Being a judge who collects Colts, it seemed like a natural, so I adopted it.



[This message has been edited by JudgeColt (edited 03-05-2005).]
 

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I love these DS's. I own two, and I think they're the perfect CCW gun for a woman my size and build.

I bet red-dogge's PPS was factory-restored in the 1950s. I base this on a personal experience. I own a 1957 DS that is right now in Hartford being restored. Red-dogge's gun looks IDENTICAL to mine, with the exception that mine has wood grips. Mine even has the long grip-frame, which I'd heard was discontinued in the late 1940s. I have often wondered if mine might not be a PPS that got rebarreled at some point.

My current personal protection friend is a brand-new DS, from the late 1994 or early 1995 production, one of the last third generation DS's made and first sold in December 1995. Whoever bought it put it in his closet and didn't fire it much, if at all. I got it with original box, paper box, all tags, and manual, and even the plastic baggie the gun came in from the factory inside the blue plastic box! It has the Pachmayr-licensed/Colt-made version of the "Compac" rubber grips and is nearly perfect save for one scratch next to the cylinder lever. Awesome gun to carry. It fits in my shoulder rig or in my purse easily and carries light. My '57 fires great-I bet this one does too, tho I haven't been to the range with it yet (just got it this week).

I wish Colt still made them. It mystifies me that S&W owns the women's self-defense market with the Ladysmith, when the Colt is so much smoother than any J-frame Smith I've fired.

Anyway, I digress. These guns are marvelous. They are so the original Police Positive Special, only cut down a little for concealment. It's amazing when I compare my third generation late DS with my 1957 model with the full on PPS-style frame. The third gen looks like a custom job, like a S&W "Lew Horton" or something that Colt took off the line and cut down the frame and barrel from a regular PPS. Didn't they make the original DS's just by putting on a smaller barrel? I just think that's neat, that they went so long without any real changes and were great throughout. What a shame they're out of production.

Miao, Cat

[This message has been edited by Cat (edited 03-07-2005).]
 

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Cat,
Could you please bottle some of this female enthusiasm for Colt's so I can slip a little in my wife's beverage?
 
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