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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've been looking for one of these since 2012 and was lucky enough to score one this week. It was part of a limited run of 100 units shipped to Jay's Sales Company (Des Moines, Iowa) in July of 1971 under Colt Factory Order #12219. The original factory finish is listed on the Archive letter as "Sandblasted Nickel". Note the standard nickel finished hammer, trigger, and ejector rod head as described in the letter. All examples I've seen so far (4) have the serial number prefix "B33". Here are the only two previous threads I could locate on the model:
https://www.coltforum.com/forums/colt-revolvers/48404-detective-special.html
https://www.coltforum.com/forums/want-sell/102283-fs-consecutive-set-detective-specials-rare-only-100-made-factory-letters-blast-nickel.html
The first thread stumped quite a few forum members (including myself) as to whether or not the finish was factory or aftermarket. As the case with many of these unusual finishes, sometimes the only way to tell is with a Archive Letter from Colt. I'm quite happy to have found this one and the grips are serial numbered to the gun. It "only" took me 9 years...
IMG_6390.jpg IMG_6391.jpg
 

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That is real close to just after when S&W came out with the model 60, the first stainless gun. I wonder if that was a kind of stop gap competition from Colt until they could come up with a stainless gun. The finish looks just like the model 60. What and when was Colts first stainless? I bought the first model 60 I could find back then.
 

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Awesome find Russ. I also lucked into one a little over three years ago. It had a Colt Archive Letter with it but my letter has no mention of the Nickel Hammer, Trigger, and Ejector Rod Head which it obviously does have. I’ve seen letters on what few others I’ve seen noting those features. Just goes to show you that Colt Letters can vary from letter to letter regarding some details on the same type piece. Anyway, that’s a super find.

9D9A962E-FA26-4108-BD8B-5601289363BA.jpg 94AC3B7A-F6BE-4BD0-AA62-E01541F8C353.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #9
VERY cool seeing other examples from this limited run. My letter is on order and we'll see if the nickel hammer, trigger, and ejector rod head is mentioned on mine. I originally wondered if the serial numbers were sequential, but this does not appear to be the case. Many appear to be clustered around B33080 but mine numbers several hundred higher...
 
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"What and when was Colts first stainless?"

Colt's first stainless steel firearm was a black powder 1860 Army?? made in the 1970's ??
I don't know much about it, so I don't know for sure if Colt actually made it or had it made for them.

Colt's first modern type stainless gun was the Colt Python of 1982-83.

The S&W Model 60 didn't have a frosted finish. It had the satin polished finish they went on to use on all stainless standard production guns.
A bit of trivia..... The first Model 60's were made of a tool grade stainless steel because the use of stainless in firearms was very new and it wasn't sure how it would work out.
These tool steel models just ATE S&W's tooling and as soon as they could they went to a more standard type of stainless.
Jeff Cooper speculated that these early Model 60's could probably have been used with full charge .357 Magnum ammo due to the strength of the tool quality stainless used..
 

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The Smith & Wesson Model 60 came out in 1965. That puts it six years from 99's Detective Special. Had Colt felt pressured to offer a corrosion-resistant snub to compete with the stainless Model 60, it would have made more than 100 and would have made the finish a cataloged option. Colt was VERY late (nearly twenty years!) to the stainless party.

The first few hundred Models 60 were not satin polished; they were bright polished. I wonder about the "tool grade stainless steel" claim. There is no mention in the "Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson" (4th)" of any such thing, nor does Roy Jinks, Smith & Wesson Historian, mention it in his "History of Smith & Wesson." (c. 1977) I wonder if there was confusion with the fact that the first few hundred Models 60 have stainless tool steel triggers and hammers?
 

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Congrats on that find.

I wish I had the knowledge as some of you here who know exactly what you’re looking at. I would’ve never known about this one if it wasn’t spoken about here.

I like the way this DS looks.
 

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A note about Jay's Sales in Des Moines. The business was operated by Russ and Calie Lavine out of the basement of thier home. Russ was a Des Moines city councilman at one time and Calie ran the shop. When ever I stopped in there was always other law enforcement officers stopping in.
At the time I worked as a deputy in Marion County, southeast of Des Moines. I bought several guns from them ,S&W Model 66 and the last gun in 1976 a Colt AR 15 for $206 !
Nice people to work with
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Congrats on that find.

I wish I had the knowledge as some of you here who know exactly what you’re looking at. I would’ve never known about this one if it wasn’t spoken about here.
That's how I've learned much of what I now know, just hang out here on the forum and take it all in. Just when you think you know it all, is when you'll discover how much you still have to learn...
 

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Russ. Nice addition to your fine collection. I hope the show goes on in October as I am looking forward to seeing your display as I know it will be special.

Cam.
 

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What a unique and cool looking Colt Detective Special. I wonder if the sandblasted nickel is the forerunner of electroless nickel? They look awfully close.
 

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Russ, Congratulations on finding that rare DS. You must have the MOST comprehensive and desirable DS collection in the USA. Keep on searching my friend. By the way, Did you or anyone on the forum get a lettered 3" pre war DS. I remember something about that a while back.
 

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I remember that Dirty Harry had a lettered pair of these back in the day. I bought them and after looking in person decided to return them as they weren't quite in the condition I was wanting but I do remember having them in my hands for a few days. Nice score!
 
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