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I'm new to the world of Colt DA revolvers, so I have some questions, specifically regarding D frames. First, can they take +p loads in the .38 Special models? Second, how do they compare in size, trigger reach in particular, compared to S&W K frame and the Ruger sp101? For example, the Ruger sp101's trigger reach is 2.470 inches, as apposed to 2.800 inches in the K frame, the latter of which is too far a reach for my very small hands. To put it another way, if I can reach the trigger on an sp101, can I do the same on a Colt D frame?
Also, How much more difficult is is the pull back cylinder release is compared to other types of revolvers. And since the Colts are out of production, what options do I have if I need repairs done? How much availability are their in parts and accessories? And lastly, how much do good, not mint, condition D frames sell for? Thanks for you're time.
 

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Welcome to the Forum! Your questions are a little "broad" and some are subjective, but I will try to provide some information I hope you find helpful.

Most .38 Special revolvers will "take" +P loads. How many is the question. Moderate use is probably acceptable in newer Colt .38 Special D-frames.

I do not know about the trigger reach, but I would speculate it is less than a K-frame Smith & Wesson. (Interesting fact: the cylinder diameter on a Colt D-frame is the same as a Smith K-frame, so they take the same speed loaders!)

If you have normal manual dexterity, you should be able to pull a cylinder release about as easily as pushing one. The reported "advantage" of the Colt "pull" system is that a thumb placed on the latch while shooting will not tend to unlatch it from recoil.

If you wear out a D-frame Colt, perhaps you should just retire the gun, or yourself! Until that happens, parts are readily available since most parts are interchangeable over the decades on all small-frame Colts.

"Accessories" such as stocks, holsters and speed loaders are readily available.

As to how much a "D-frame" costs, it depends on the D-frame. The small-frame Colt that is now known as the D-frame was introduced just after the turn of the last century. This is all of the small-frame Colt models that come to mind, in roughly chronological order: New Police, New Police Target, Police Positive, Police Positive Target (Models G and C), Police Positive Special, Pequano, Detective Special, Bankers Special, Cobra, Aircrewman, Courier, Agent, Diamondback, Commando Special, Viper, Police Positive Special Mark V, SF-VI, DSII and Magnum Carry.

The Aircrewman is the most valuable of the models listed above and can sell for many thousands. The Police Positive Special is the highest-production Colt revolver and can sometimes be found for a few hundred. Diamondbacks are "hot" and some models sell for several thousand dollars. The rest fall in between.

Hope this helps.​
 

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In order, as I can:

The DS made before the 1972 heavy, shrouded barrel models were not factory rated for the +P. However, many people did, and do practice with standard .38 ammo, and load up with +P for carry.
The heavy, shrouded barrel steel frame "D" models were factory rated for "up to" 3000 rounds of +P ammo, the aluminum framed models for up to 1500 rounds.
After shooting the limit, the guns were to be sent in to Colt for inspection and possible repairs or frame replacement.
Since Colt no longer has frames, you're best to practice with .38 Special and limit the use of +P.
Do some occasional practice with +P to maintain the feel.

The Colt "D" frame is slightly smaller than the S&W "K" frame, but has a cylinder almost exactly the same size. They're so close you can use the same speed loaders.
I'm not sure exactly what the trigger reach is between the Colt, S&W "K", and the Ruger, but the Ruger seems to be about the same general size as the "D" frame, although the frame seems to be a little beefier.
As far as I can remember the SP-101 and Colt have a very close trigger reach, with the Colt "possibly" just a little closer.

The Colt cylinder release is nothing more than something you get used to. Once you've used it a while it becomes perfectly natural, and in fact, many people find it easier to operate then the S&W and often, much easier than the Ruger.
One advantage of the Colt release is that you can't accidentally press the release and open the cylinder.
Many people find the Colt release easier to operate for fast reloads, because you can just hook your thumb over the release and pull it to open, where with the S&W and Ruger most people have to shift their grip to operate the release.
All this is personal preference and getting use to whatever you have.

Colt repairs and the supply of parts is getting to be a little difficult.
Colt still repairs them and will for some time.
Cylinder & Slide Shop, and Frank Glenn are experts, if you can wait for several years Grant Cunningham is excellent.
Some "replica" parts are being manufactured by companies like Jack First Gun Parts, and I expect more to be made as otherwise good Colt's need ordinary maintenance in the future.
However, the gun IS out of production and has been since the last run that were assembled from left over parts in 1995.
Getting repairs may get harder, although as with parts, there ill be people who will meet the market need.

The stories about the "delicate" Colt's is WAY over done. With good maintenance and by not abusing the gun there's no reason a Colt won't last a lifetime.
Obviously you're going to have a much easer time of it with a gun like the SP-101 that's still in production and probably will be for a long time.

Accessories like grips and holsters are still readily available. Some of the big mass market holster makers may not offer much anymore, but most offer at least something, and other makers still offer a good selection of many types.

I just don't even try to keep up on the current market value of guns, especially Colt's due to the fast changing prices.
 

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Thanks guys :) So with +p being dangerous, what defense loads do you guys suggest for a 4 or 6 barrel D frame?
The Speer Gold Dot short barrel standard pressure loads have been shown to be a good defense load.

Also, can D frames take the loads that meet the power requirements for USPA and IDPA?
The minimum power factor for USPSA Minor and IDPA is 125. A standard load of 158 grain bullet and 800 fps velocity is 126. I generally reload 158 gr/850 fps for 134 PF to have a margin of variability to avoid disqualification.

Buck
 

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Thanks guys :) So with +p being dangerous, what defense loads do you guys suggest for a 4 or 6 barrel D frame?
+P in a "D" frame is not "dangerous". The gun is not going to blow up.
Hotter ammo will simply increase wear of the gun and it may need maintenance sooner than shooting standard .38 Special ammo.
Again, a lot of people do most of their practicing with standard load .38 Special, and shoot enough +P ammo to maintain the feel.
Carry with +P since if you actually need it, wear on the gun will be the least of your problems.

Most any premium .38 Special defense ammo will work fine. The 125 grain jacketed hollow point seems to be popular, but the "D" frames were sighted in at the factory for 158 grain ammo. If you have a fixed sight model it may not shoot to the center with lighter bullets.
Premium American made defense ammo in any caliber is all about as good as technology will allow. Ammo that rates at the top in one test will be bettered by another load in a different test.
Best advice is to simply pick some quality defense ammo and try it.
If it's RELIABLE and reasonably accurate in your gun that's all you can ask for. Searching for "THE Best" ammo is futile. There IS no "best".
 

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Wow! A very intense & detailed study on the Colt "D" frames. I'm a new guy to Colt revolvers, too. I bought a chopped barrel PPS last year with which I am extremely pleased. It sure pays to log in every day and learn something new. Thanx, everyone, and a special welcome to circa81 who started this very educational thread!
 
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The later stainless steel Colt "SF" frame models were good to go with +P ammo.
These were the Colt SF-VI, the DS-II, and the Magnum Carry which was chambered in .357 Magnum.

These were made starting in 1995 and were discontinued in 2000, with each model being made only a couple of years, so they're hard to find.
These were Colt's replacement for the old "D" frame, and were made of solid stainless steel. They look like a Detective Special, but had a transfer bar safety-ignition action that was more or less a downsized King Cobra.

The Colt Magnum Carry.
Firearm Gun Revolver Trigger Starting pistol
 

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From pictures I've scene, the I/E frame looks to have an identical trigger reach to the D frame. Is that right or wrong?
Wrong.
The "D" frame is a small frame, the "E&"I are medium frames. There's also the heavy medium frame Lawman made in the Mark III and Mark V version.
The medium frame Colt's have a longer reach to the trigger then the "D" frame.

The 2 inch Lawman came in the Mark III version, with the early models having an exposed ejector rod. Later Mark III Lawman and all 2 inch Lawman Mark V revolvers came with a shrouded heavy barrel that gives the guns the look of a extra large Detective Special.
However all medium frames have much more reach to the trigger.

Early Colt Lawman 2 inch, 357 with exposed ejector rod.
Gun Firearm Revolver Trigger Starting pistol


Lawman Mark III, 357, 2 inch shrouded ejector rod:

Firearm Gun Revolver Trigger Starting pistol


Lawman Mark V, 2 inch, .357 Magnum
Firearm Gun Revolver Trigger Product
 

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