Colt D Frame snubs


February 12, 2011, 09:10 PM
Guillermo's post and that discussion about older Colts got me to thinking.

I know that there were various "series" of these D frames within each model.

Can someone direct me to a site(s), or, better yet, a published reference book that discusses these variations in detail and which establishes a definitive and accepted standard for what "series" is what.

I am thinking of something similar to what Jim Supica has done for the S&W's or what Bob Rayburn has done for the Colt Woodsman or what the late Bill Gorforth has done for the Iver Johnson.

If you enjoyed reading about "Colt D Frame snubs" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
February 12, 2011, 10:27 PM
I collect Colt snubbies.

Unfortunately, the is no "definitive and accepted" standard as to what is meant by the different "issues" or "generations". These terms have come to mean so many different things to so many different people that they are basically useless. Additionally, Colt did not use the designation "D frame" until later in production.

If someone were to tell me "I have a second generation" or "I have a first generation" I would inevitably have to ask them to describe the gun because I don' know this person's definition of the terms. For this reason, Colt collectors tend to avoid the "issue" and "generation" thing and instead refer to the guns by their age and characteristics.

With that in mind, the snubbie Colts will fall under these basic model descriptions with a large number of variations within each model:
-pre war square butt
-pre war round butt
-post war long butt
-post war short butt

One also has to remember that Colt did not make abrupt changes from one model to another. It is not uncommon to see "transition" guns which have characteristics from different models.

With that said, heres a pic where I tried to include one of every issue... I mean generation... I mean....

February 13, 2011, 10:58 AM
BayouBoy is certainly right that the changes between the 1st and second series of Detective Specials were ANYTHING but abrupt. And many variations occurred.

Basically the Colt Police Positive Special had a barrel cut down and thus, eventually, became known as the Detective Special.

It is generally accepted that their were 3 series.

The 1st and 2nd had the "pencil barrel".

One difference is that ejector rod was a cool little knurled thing in gen-1 and it became a checkered knob with a groove in the second.

The early ones had the grooved cylinder release and the next ones were smooth.

The biggest difference were that the grip of the 1st series were square or round, depending if they used old Police Positive Special frames or newer the second generation they were all round.

Of course the 3rd generation had the full underlug enclosing the ejection rod.

Please note that as BayouBoy says, there were MANY variations...although by the time the 3rd generation came around it had pretty much settled down. In my opinion it was not as interesting at the end.

February 13, 2011, 11:02 AM
I believe the "issue" or "series" language was started by Fjestad in the Blue Book of Gun Values except for the Woodsman's. I would suggest you pick up a copy. The 32nd or 2011 Edition will be published in April.

I don't know where the "generation" terminology started, but it has certainly been incorportated into the gun world.

Yes to transitional models mentioned above. Seems to be somthing that only Colt collectors pay much attention to as they are looking for odd factory variations for their collections.

The standard Colt reference book is "The Book of Colt Firearms" by Sutherland and Wilson. Later editions after Sutherland's death listed only R.L. Wilson's name as the author.

February 13, 2011, 11:05 AM

That is an impressive pile of D-Frames.

How do you keep them from rusting down there in the swamp?

Next time you are in Lafayette pop into Charlie G's and have a cup of smoked duck andouille gumbo and let me know if it is still tasty.

February 13, 2011, 11:09 AM
Damn...I forgot the main identifying difference between 1st and 2nd generation. The front sight. :banghead:

It was a 1/2 moon Gen-1
it was tapered on the back Gen-2

February 13, 2011, 11:58 AM
generally speaking, these are examples of the 3 generations of Detective Specials

generation one

generation two

generation three

February 13, 2011, 12:31 PM
Keeping in mind that there is a "short butt" version (appears around 1966) of what you're calling generation two.

February 13, 2011, 12:53 PM
Lots of good info there.

February 13, 2011, 03:02 PM
I have a question for you DS experts: how does the recoil compare to a J frame, aluminum or steel? I find the 642 to be a bit of a hand pounder, would a change to a Detective Special be less of a smack?

February 13, 2011, 03:55 PM
Slightly bigger gun, very well balanced and highly accurate. Try one and see. Depends too on what ammo you're using I expect.

February 13, 2011, 03:59 PM
I have a question for you DS experts: how does the recoil compare to a J frame, aluminum or steel? I find the 642 to be a bit of a hand pounder, would a change to a Detective Special be less of a smack?

The Detective Special, being a Short Barrel Police Positive in form, is about the same size as an S & W 'J-frame', only, it holds six Rounds instead of five.

I would not expect any less Hand-Pounding from a DS than I would from a .38 Special J-Frame S & W., when both are still fitted with their original Stocks.

February 13, 2011, 04:13 PM
Detective Special is heavier than a 642 as it's steel vs. aluminum. The Cobra or Agent is more comparable.

I find the reach to the trigger on the Colt's to be a bit longer, and therefore more comfy. With either a 642 or Cobra, well shaped grips that fit your hand well can make all the difference in the world.

Personally, I find I shoot the Colts a little better myself, just because the ergonomics are better for me. Not quite as good ergonomics as a K frame S&W or Python, but about as good as it gets for a compact pocket revolver IMO.

February 13, 2011, 04:25 PM
My detective special has a healthy kick. It isn't bad, but it also isn't something I shoot for fun :P It's accurate also, as long as I don't flinch :/
I actually like it better with 158 grain bullets, which is counter intuitive to me, so I didn't figure it out at first.

February 13, 2011, 05:43 PM
LKB, I too was amazed at the difference in going from 130gr. to 158gr. lswc. I thought, like you, that a lighter bullet would kick less. I found a bigger bullet at less velocity is much more comfortable. I tried +P once, gave half the box away, never again!! Shooting 158's in my M10 snub is truly enjoyable, like a 9mm, and even my Airweight is almost fun. I use 158's in the M10 for home protection. The reduced recoil makes the gun much easier to handle. My Airweight has Hydra-Shoks in it now. The next range trip I'm going to shoot them up and replace them with 158's or 148 wad cutters.

February 13, 2011, 06:05 PM
Wonder of they have any 158 gr Hollow-Points..?

It is a very comfortable load. Maybe just use HP for ccw ? - don't know how the speed would be for SD and danger of shot passing through a body.

Anyone know about either question?

February 13, 2011, 06:07 PM
The DS has noticeably less recoil than a steel J frame.

A steel J frame has less than a Cobra (the alloy frame Colt)

The alloy J frame is a handful.

Of course recoil is a personal thing.

I can get back on target noticeably quicker with a D Frame Colt over a J frame.
While I can "feel" a difference between a Cobra and a J frame (steel frame) my shooting is equal according to the timer.


February 14, 2011, 04:06 PM
Thanks to original photographer

February 14, 2011, 06:05 PM
I have a question for you DS experts: how does the recoil compare to a J frame, aluminum or steel? ~ 38snapcaps

I've got both and as far as recoil, I would make a couple of points.

1. How recoil is felt will vary from person to person.
2. The type or style of grips will also affect it.

I like the low profile factory grips because for me they conceal easier. With my Model 60, if I am not careful the cylinder release will cut my thumb in recoil. Got some sharp edges. The Colt gives me a little more to hold on to. All mine are steel, the lighter guns are favored by some for carry, but their recoil is a little harder.

Either are good choices.

February 14, 2011, 07:50 PM
the comparison that Doc made is perfect but note that the factory grips extended below the bottom, extending the height by about a 1/2 inch.

February 14, 2011, 09:18 PM
I clean and lube an Agent for an old chap about every second month. It is a pleasure just to handle this revolver, and he is a nice old gentleman.

Thaddeus Jones
February 15, 2011, 09:30 AM
The Colt Cobra is the reason I've never needed a J-frame.

I can get a faster follow up, and I have an extra round on tap. A great revolver the Colt Cobra. Mine is an early long grip frame version. Last revolver I would part with. TJ

February 15, 2011, 09:59 AM
I too have a Cobra.

Perhaps the perfect carry gun. Mine is from the 50's, great trigger but has been around the block more than a couple of times. The blue is totally gone in many places.

I do not have to worry about "messing it up" and as I only gave 225 for it, out the door. While I would hate to lose it, it would not be like losing one of the Diamondback Snubs. :what:

The recoil makes me slightly less accurate than with the DB when shooting fast.

I have owned J-Frames and perhaps will again. But like Thaddeus, Colt is taking care of my carry needs quite nicely.

February 15, 2011, 02:41 PM
The Cobra is my favorite hot weather carry gun. I'll never understand how it is that a Cobra that is bigger than a Smith Airweight and holds one more round, weighs a half an ounce less. Sanforized? :)

February 15, 2011, 09:14 PM
I have three Cobras. So far I haven't been able to justify a fourth, but I suspect it will only be a matter of time.

February 15, 2011, 10:09 PM
Wonder of they have any 158 gr Hollow-Points..?

It is a very comfortable load. Maybe just use HP for ccw ? - don't know how the speed would be for SD and danger of shot passing through a body.

Anyone know about either question?

They aren't too common, but "FBI load" .38's are a 158 grain lead semi wadcutter hollowpoint, and are said to be a good self defense round.
edited to add:I believe you can find them in non +p, just did some googling and found several +p versions.

February 16, 2011, 12:04 AM
I believe you can find them in non +p

For self-defense I cannot imagine wanting to. While most of us practice with mild rounds I would guess that most of us use some more median rounds too, which "+P" is.

February 16, 2011, 07:22 AM
Do you shoot it out of older d frames?

February 16, 2011, 07:42 AM
Usually I practice with low pressure cartridges but since I carry medium pressure cartridges (+P) for self-defense I make sure to shoot some so as to stay sharp.

February 17, 2011, 08:21 AM
Seeing that pile of Colt snubs makes me wish that someone would bring the Colt double-action revolvers back into production. It's probably a great way to turn a large fortune into a small one, but there are several companies that do right well making knock-offs of other Colts.

February 17, 2011, 09:04 AM
It's probably a great way to turn a large fortune into a small one

Yes...because if they did come back a Python it would be like the Mustang II version of the Cobra.

It would be like buying a MIM, Internal Lock S&W :barf:

February 17, 2011, 11:07 AM
Nothing wrong with MIM parts in the proper application (they are equal or superior to forged components) and I could care less about the lock; I'm buying a gun, not a political statement.

Besides, there's no reason a Python every bit as good as the classics couldn't be made (and sold) today. When you look at the price of a Les Baer 1911, there's plenty of room for the cost of a hand-honed and assembled Python action using machined parts.

While the "Mistake II" might not have been the high watermark of Ford engineering, by any objective performance measure, recent Shelbys are better cars than the original - including the Shelby GT500KR. No reason a modern Python couldn't be the same.

February 17, 2011, 12:15 PM
The problem with the car analogy is that in the 70's all cars sucked. The Kia of today is a better car than the finest Detroit produced. I should have used a better example to illustrate my point.

MIM parts are just fine in the proper application. Unfortunately the way that gun manufactures use them, they are not superior in any way with the exception of hardness. (which one could argue that makes them virtually impossible to polish and is therefore inferior...but I digress)

Note MIM material could be better for gun parts in that they COULD put a harder material over a more flexible material. This would make it a multi step process and therefore eliminate the cost savings.

As to a new Python having a lock, they certainly are not idiotic enough to design anything like S&W did. Since that is the case, you are correct that it would not matter one way or another.

In the end I hope that they never bring it back. It would be a horrible disappointment.

February 17, 2011, 12:21 PM
I really don't see a reason to bring back Colt DA's. There are plenty of them out there on the market. If Colt brought started producing the same guns as the "yesterday" models with the same quality, they wouldn't have a cheap price tag...They'd likely cost what all the NIB and LNIB guns are bringing now. There's thousands of them out there for sale right now. I enjoy the hunt of finding nice ones to throw in my pile.

February 17, 2011, 12:32 PM
That sure is a nice stack of D frames

Trying not to be jealous

February 17, 2011, 12:48 PM
Thank you, Guillermo....To illustrate my earlier point about there being plenty of them available, outta that group, three had never been fired when I bought them and 2 of those came in the original box. I paid no more for each one than a new Smith costs...The one on the bottom is actually a MK III. It was NIB...I took it out and shot it the next day.:D

If you enjoyed reading about "Colt D Frame snubs" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!