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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everybody,

I am planing the purchase of a second revolver.

I am looking for a subnose in 0.38

At the end of my comparisons, I come to either SW36 ( J frame - Chief's special or Colt CD ) with a slight preference for the Colt.

I know I am on the Colt forum but can you deliver me a pragmatic advice and share your experience with a Colt Detective in 2".

The model I am targeting is from 1981.

Thanks and friendly regards from France

Merry X-Mas to you all !
 

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Hi everybody,

I am planing the purchase of a second revolver.

I am looking for a subnose in 0.38

At the end of my comparisons, I come to either SW36 ( J frame - Chief's special or Colt CD ) with a slight preference for the Colt.

I know I am on the Colt forum but can you deliver me a pragmatic advice and share your experience with a Colt Detective in 2".

The model I am targeting is from 1981.

Thanks and friendly regards from France

Merry X-Mas to ou all !
The Colt is a six shot and can fire Plus -P ammo. I have both the 36 and Detective Special, the Colt is better made and is one of the last custom made guns from Colt. The resale value of the Colt is prominent while the Smith and Wesson is not. Just some thoughts based upon my experiences with both of the guns you are looking at.

Al Marin
 

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It depends on your purpose. The Colt has six rounds, while the S&W 36 only has five. But the Model 36 is a lot more widely used and popular, easier concealed, has many more options for aftermarket grips and holsters, and a better DA trigger. The S&W also has a more ergonomical cylinder release. I much prefer a second-generation Colt DS with a Tyler adapter for shooting, but for carrying have had a Model 36 for decades.
 

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The Detective Special is a legendary firearm.
Virtually every detective, plainclothes, and off-duty policeman carried one from 1927 to well into the 1970's.
It was so associated with police that it was almost more a "badge of office" then the badge. Often police would show the Detective Special instead of the badge to identify themselves.
For years it was known as a cops gun, and anyone carrying it was assumed to be a cop.

It was known as being the finest quality and most accurate 2 inch barrel revolver ever made.
It was so good S&W didn't even bother to introduce a competing 2 inch revolver until the Chief's Special Model 36 of 1950.

As a shooter the DS has the often critical sixth shot, and is a stronger gun then the S&W.
A 1981 Detective Special can shoot UP TO 3000 rounds of +P ammo. At that point the gun was to be returned to Colt for inspection and possible frame replacement.
Since this is no longer possible, a smart owner shoots standard .38 Special ammo, and only loads the +P for brief practice and for actual carry.

Here's a link to a late Colt "D" frame revolver owner's manual:

http://stevespages.com/pdf/colt_det...ack,_police_positive,_agent,_cobra,_viper.pdf
 

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It was so good S&W didn't even bother to introduce a competing 2 inch revolver until the Chief's Special Model 36 of 1950.
Taking nothing away from the reputation of the DS, this not completely true. S&W began offering 2-inch M&P revolvers in the mid-to-late 1930s. Estimates range from between 250 to 1,000 having been shipped prior to the cessation of commercial sales for the buildup to WW2 production. Here's my example from late 1936 (with incorrect grips):

 

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I have owned a S&W36 and a S&W638. I have 2 DS's, 2 Cobras, and an Agent. You didn't state the intended use for your new gun- is it for a carry piece???
Size wise, a more valid comparison would be a 36 vs. an Agent for concealability. Comfort wise, it's a matter of the right holster, and there are plenty of options for either. In that regard, I would choose a Cobra over the DS. I personally don't believe the 5 vs. 6 shot is an issue. Although I collect Colts, I have no problem with S&W revolvers (just the company).
For carry, I would choose whichever I shot best, with one caveat:
I know from personal experience that at one time parts for the 36 were impossible to find, either new or used. I have heard parts are now available (I assume from a third party since Smith no longer supports them), but I can't verify that.
 

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I have owned a Smith 36 RB 2" and currently own two Colt Detective Specials 2" and 3". The Colts are a bit bulkier than the Smith but not very much. I like the extra 6th shot. Trigger pull is what you are used to. I like the Smith trigger better. I traded the Smith 36 after owning it for a year or so. My favorite of the bunch is my 3" Detective Special. If you buy a Smith 36, buy an older one.
 

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I also have both and this is my primary edc. Agent w/HS It just feels right.

agent hs.jpg

But this is my other one if I'm in the mood. DAO 3" M36


m36 dao.jpg
 

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I have a 3rd Series DS with the shrouded barrel and also a S&W Model 640 Centennial, which is the double action only stainless J Frame with enclosed hammer. I like them both very much and think the Model 640 is an ideal gun for pocket carry. That being said, the DS is easier to shoot. The J Frames seem to require more practice to feel comfortable and natural with, at least for me.
I sure would hate to have to choose only one, it would be difficult to part with either of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for sharing. I will look deeper to your comments. I do like the one from Walter: "take both". ;-)
 

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I have a Smith in the past, but I have a Detective Special to keep. It is a tack driver up to about 30 feet. I like the way it feels and it shoots better than my Colt Cobra too. Either choice would probably be good, but I prefer the DS.
 

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I always prefer the all steel Detective over the alloy framed Cobras and Agents.

You really have to look the light weight versions over for frame stretch and cracking, especially if in well used condition.

Detectives are much more robust.
 
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In addition to the comments above, expanding your selection preferences from the S&W Model 36 out to the stainless models gives you the extra durability of stainless as well as a corrosion-resistant finish for a CCW handgun.

I personally am not a fan of the J-frame in alloy, but your experience may be different.

20160815_143217.jpg
 
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