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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I just picked up this pair of "transition" Detective Specials that both date from 1948 (according to their serial numbers). Note the combination of both "Pre-War" and "Post-War" features. Both guns are complete with serial number matching boxes (Pre-War style) and test targets. These "transition" guns are relatively difficult to find, and I was VERY lucky to find them in such fine condition.

First a bit of history from Gary Peer's Book "The Colt Double Action Snub Nose (Pocket) Revolver:

The military contracts for the Commando had shown Colt that there was a cost savings associated with plastic grips, un-checkered cylinder release and replacing the checkering on the trigger and hammer spurs with groves. These changes all found there way to the post war Detective Special. Some of these changes began in 1947 but were not fully implemented until late 1950. Colt had an inventory of pre-war parts that would be used until exhausted. The period between 1947 and 1949 would see handguns produced with various parts, these guns are referred to as “transition” guns.

In 1947 Colt changed to the “D” frame. This change, which involved the redesign of the mainspring, began at serial number 490780, however, the old style mainspring from the C frame would continue through 501817. Beginning with a new serial number sequence at 510000, the D frame was cut for the new style mainspring. Immediately Colt again changed the D frame to eliminate the crane plug and retaining screw on the right side of the frame in favor of a single detent screw. This change also required a new serial number sequence, this time beginning at serial number 525001.


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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
The "early" 1948 gun, serial number 494580:

Very Early "D" Frame with Old Style Mainspring.
Pre-War Barrel with Post-War Semi-Ramp Front Site.
Someone had highlighted the barrel lettering with a copper grease pencil. I tried my best to remove it but you might still see traces in the pics.

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
The "late" 1948 gun, serial number 510549:

Early "D" Frame with New Style Mainspring.
Post-War Barrel with Post-War Semi-Ramp Front Site.

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Notable "Transition" Features:

The Post-War Colt Detective Special (along with other Colt firearms) saw a name change in 1947 from Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company to Colt’s Manufacturing Company.

Caliber markings on the left side of the barrel were redesigned. Pre-War models had a large “38” followed by “DETECTIVE SPECIAL”. Post-War models have “DETECTIVE SPEC.” with the caliber underneath in small letters “.38 SPECIAL CTG.”

From 1947 through late 1948 the right side of the barrel was roll stamped “COLT’S MFG. CO./HARTFORD, CONN, U.S.A.”. In late 1948 the “CONN.” was changed to “CT.”

“Dual Tone” finish appeared from 1947 through mid 1954.

The Post-War Detective Special also saw the introduction of the “semi-ramp” front sight which replaced the “half-moon” style sight of Pre-War Detective Specials.

Checkered Hammers and Triggers continued from the Pre-War model until 1949/1950 when the change was made to the grooved style.

Several different style ejector rod caps were used from 1947 to 1952. 2-Piece Pre-War style (1927-late 1948), 1-piece solid (1949), 2-piece long grooved (1949-1952), and 2-piece short grooved (1952-on).

Cylinder release was checkered on Pre-War models and was eliminated on Post-War models.

1947 saw the introduction of the plastic “Coltwood” grips. Early examples had a double sided stock screw and glossy, mottled plastic that looked similar to natural wood. Around 1951 the “Coltwood” appearance changed to a mono-tone dark matte brown. Checkered Walnut returned in 1954.









 

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What a fantastic find. You must search far and wide for the spectacular Colts you find. Thank you for the history lesson and the photos
 

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1949 DS (2).jpg

My birth year DS sn 513804. Well taken care of and the action is outstanding. No issues. I'm just sharing for comparison purposes. I cleaned and found no excessive wear so I'm assuming mostly carried, seldom fired. I was concerned about the stocks shrinking if I took them off and replaced after cleaning - they held their shape. Bought from a Forum member who knew I was looking for that particular year. She's no beauty queen but reliable. Looking at the parts, a carry piece for most of her storied life. I really don't want to take the stocks off again so right now, unless an issue comes about, please excuse me for not taking pics when she was apart. She'll be 68 or is this year. As will I.

J.
 
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