Colt 38 Detective Special - Age Question


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CTGunner
December 22, 2012, 05:02 PM
I just acquired a Colt 38 Detective Special. I'm pretty excited about it. The trigger feels great, though I haven't fired it yet. A few questions?

1. Can you guys help me pin point an approximate date of manufacture? The SN is 4287XX. The shop that sold it to me looked it up in their book and told me 1970. When I look online I'm coming up with 1934.

2. If this was made in 1934 should I have any concerns with shooting it extensively and/or not shooting some types of ammo through it?

3. Is the gun 'safe to carry'. I can't tell if there is a firing pin block etc....Should I have any concerns.

4. What would an approximate value on this be?

Thanks revolver guys!

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Guillermo
December 22, 2012, 05:15 PM
1934

http://proofhouse.com/colt/index.html

beautiful gun

perhaps the finest snubby ever made

and the 1st Generations were the best of the best

great gun

bikemutt
December 22, 2012, 05:23 PM
perhaps the finest snubby ever made

Until the S&W model 19 came along :D

rcmodel
December 22, 2012, 05:24 PM
3. Is the gun 'safe to carry'. I can't tell if there is a firing pin block etc....Should I have any concerns.No, it has a hammer block safety.

Look inside the frame with the hammer cocked and you can see it..

rc

CTGunner
December 22, 2012, 05:39 PM
Thanks guys. The kid who looked it up in the book didn't seem like he had much experience.

Any idea of a ball park price for something like this. I paid 400 out the door but feel like it was probably more than I should have because of the extreme demand for all guns in my state right now.

I asked someone about refinishing it and he said not to do it and to keep it original.

rcmodel
December 22, 2012, 05:44 PM
You didn't get hurt at $400.

A little nicer one might bring $600+ now days.

+1 on not refinishing it.

rc

CTGunner
December 22, 2012, 05:48 PM
Thanks RC. Appreciate your quick responses. Now I'm off to find a holster :D

bikemutt
December 22, 2012, 06:51 PM
A DS found at a gun store around here for $400 would mean the shopkeep lost his mind. $500 minimum IMO. I know of a very, very nice nickel one at a LGS asking $1100 firm.

CTGunner
December 22, 2012, 06:57 PM
A DS found at a gun store around here for $400 would mean the shopkeep lost his mind. $500 minimum IMO. I know of a very, very nice nickel one at a LGS asking $1100 firm.

That's pretty funny. The shop I bought it from told me it was a police trade in from a local department, I don't know. Maybe there are just more Colts floating around in central CT because of the proximity to the Colt plant. Again, not sure.

KC&97TA
December 22, 2012, 07:15 PM
I paid $440, mine has less blue.

GunsAmerica seems to keep them selling in the $400-$800 range dependent on condition.

I carry it almost daily, IWB... no issues, ever.

Finest 6 shooter snub ever made, IMHO.

Very Iconic pistol; Bonnie Parker had one taped to her leg when she was mowed down by the feds, Naked Gun Movie, ect, ect.

CTGunner
December 22, 2012, 07:31 PM
I would really like to carry it though it's a bit weird to think about holstering something that is 79 years old!

I showed my father and he said 'old school'.

I just read this:

Bonnie’s Colt .38 Detective Special, retrieved by Hamer from her inner thigh where she kept it taped with white medical tape, sold for $264,000. They were both purchased by the same person, a Texas collector who wishes to remain anonymous.

bikemutt
December 22, 2012, 07:47 PM
They were both purchased by the same person, a Texas collector who wishes to remain anonymous.

Shhh, it was Guillermo, he tries to keep it quiet :)

highpower
December 22, 2012, 08:14 PM
I bought this 1977 DS a couple of months ago for $500 OTD. I feel that I got a fair deal. I would have paid what you did for yours in a heartbeat.

http://highpower.smugmug.com/Firearms/Colt-Detective-Special/i-MMH9JKr/0/XL/IMG_1700-XL.jpg

CTGunner
December 22, 2012, 08:28 PM
Do you guys have any idea where I can get an IWB holster for one of these. I'm looking online but not seeing much in the way of in stock. I would buy a custom holster for it but I'm not sure who makes them. Advise?

bikemutt
December 22, 2012, 08:31 PM
One place to check for holsters: http://www.ccwsupply.biz/RGLColtDetectiveSpcl.htm

DPris
December 22, 2012, 08:52 PM
I wouldn't fire it extensively, parts & service are all but gone.
Denis

cochise
December 22, 2012, 09:19 PM
http://www.lobogunleather.com/1_home

http://bellcharteroakholsters.com/index.htm

I heard good things about these two makers. I had good luck buying used Bianchi holsters for my Colt Detective & Diamondback on E Bay.

DPris
December 22, 2012, 09:35 PM
Bianchi & Galco do great quality stuff.
Denis

Old Fuff
December 22, 2012, 10:19 PM
Try a PM to one of our members, robbt. He has an extensive supply of older-but new holsters for Colt Detective Special's of every description.

Guillermo
December 22, 2012, 10:21 PM
Shhh, it was Guillermo, he tries to keep it quiet

I am trying to hide it from Old Fuff and his bench grinder. He would Fitz it if it was not in an "undisclosed location" ala Dick Cheney.

ColtPythonElite
December 22, 2012, 10:25 PM
I carry my snubs in an American Pride Leathers pancake. They are able 30 bucks.

CTGunner
December 22, 2012, 10:43 PM
Per dpris' post do you agree that I should keep firing of this revolver to a minimum? I do have access to a good smith...

ColtPythonElite
December 22, 2012, 10:55 PM
It's a 400 buck gun. Shoot it all you want....Let's be honest. Very few want to put high round counts thru a snub anyway.

Jon Coppenbarger
December 22, 2012, 11:07 PM
one of my favorite revolvers. I have one made in the 50's I picked up about 4 years ago and was my main carry gun for a few years. A friend about a year ago told me they had one just like mine at the local pawn shop so I checked it out. It turned out to be a cobra from the 50's also , It followed me home and came with a bianchi #58HL holster which is a belt holster.

Again you have a nice revolver!

CTGunner
December 22, 2012, 11:15 PM
Thanks Jon. Sounds like a nice setup you have.

DPris
December 22, 2012, 11:23 PM
CT,
A "good" smith doesn't necessarily mean one who can competently work on the old Colt V-Spring actions, even if he could find parts.
They are a world of their own.

I will emphasize that many gunsmiths today may say they can work on those old Colts, but few really can & it's far from unheard of to get one back from a gunsmith in worse shape than it went in.

The action was designed in a time when it simply was not expected to be fired regularly like many people do today.
You can shoot it all you want, just be aware you'll wear it out quicker & you may not be able to get it repaired correctly.
Denis

CTGunner
December 22, 2012, 11:51 PM
Thank Depris I hear what you are saying. I will be careful about who touches it. At least for now it seems to be in fine working order so I'll just keep it as is.

DPris
December 23, 2012, 12:28 AM
Good luck with it, nice gun.
Denis

TrakHack
December 23, 2012, 10:32 AM
Ooh, you've even got the T grips on it. I ordered some a couple of years ago but haven't installed them yet.

Nice gun!

Bikewer
December 23, 2012, 12:42 PM
First handgun I ever bought was a cheap, German-made .22 SAA copy with a cast-zinc construction with steel liners in the cylinders and barrel.

Second was a Detective Special much like the one pictured; would have been about 1965 when I was a young lad in the army in Germany. We could only get the swaged-lead RN 158 grain loads over there, but they shot quite well through the little thing.
I traded it for something after i got out of the army, but for the life of me I can't recall what....

royal barnes
December 23, 2012, 01:08 PM
Nice purchase at a great price! I would refrain from significant amounts of +p ammo. There isn't much difference between non +p and +p but a good standard velocity 158 grain HP from Hornady or Buffalo Bore will do whatever you need in the way of defense. Practice with 148 grain wadcutters or something similar. The D frame Colts were regulated to shoot 158 grain to POA from the factory. I occasionally carry a 1950 Colt DS but usually carry either a 1965 Cobra or a 1969 Agent because of the weight difference. The Tyler T grip on your gun is a good addition to factory stocks as it gives you a little better hold and keeps the trigger guard from slamming back into your middle knuckle. I believe Bell Charter Oak and D.M. Bullard, among others, make excellent OWB and IWB holsters for your revolver. They both believe that the D frames are not dead.

Devonai
December 23, 2012, 01:24 PM
I don't see a problem with its age. I sometimes carry my S&W M1917 Brazilian Contract (74 years old) or my S&W M1905 4th Change (90 years old). I also have no worries shooting standard pressure ammo through them.

CTGunner
December 23, 2012, 01:43 PM
Debonai ... Are you by any chance a member of the Hartford gun club? I ask because I see you are located close by?

Devonai
December 23, 2012, 01:53 PM
I prefer to do all of my serious shooting up in New Hampshire. There's a town sandpit that's free to use as long as everybody picks up their trash. It's residents only, but my friend from Glastonbury owns a house in town, so as long as he's with me we're good to go. So I've never felt the need to join a local club. However, I can hear the club's range from my place, and I sometimes get jealous. :)

CTGunner
December 23, 2012, 01:56 PM
Ha. I was thinking about joining...a little christmas gift to myself.

Devonai
December 23, 2012, 02:15 PM
Yeah, I have considered it. I've become spoiled by that town sandpit, though. We're the only ones there 99% of the time and we can shoot safely in a 90 degree arc. It's a lot more fun than a controlled range. We adhere to the basic safety rules, of course, but calling the range hot or cold is obviously much easier.

CTGunner
December 24, 2012, 03:45 PM
Well I just had an opportunity to shoot the Colt Detective Special. At 25 feet I was able to keep 85% of my shots com on a man sized target, though some shots were a little left. This is by FAR the most accurate snub I have ever shot. By comparison my 442 wasn't even in the same league. Not bad for a 79! Year old gun. :D

Old Fuff
December 24, 2012, 04:00 PM
Not bad for a 79! Year old gun.

Well no not really, back then they weren't worried about cost saving and cutting corners. :cool:

CTGunner
December 24, 2012, 04:30 PM
Maybe so. Perhaps people also cared for, and maintaind their tools, better.

Old Fuff
December 24, 2012, 05:35 PM
Maybe so. Perhaps people also cared for, and maintaind their tools, better.

Some yes and some no, but economic conditions allowed the companies to employ craftsmen and additional work in fitting and finishing - and that's what you'll find in your new/old Colt. It's reflected in your shooting.

At 25 feet I was able to keep 85% of my shots com on a man sized target, though some shots were a little left. This is by FAR the most accurate snub I have ever shot.

Which comes as no surprise to me. :cool:

Guillermo
December 24, 2012, 05:47 PM
my 442 wasn't even in the same league

No j-frame is in the same league.

In fact, the J-frame is not qualified to carry the D-Frame's speedloader.

CTGunner
December 24, 2012, 08:23 PM
Sure and I thought it was all just nostalgic hype. :) next ill have to find a 1911 to keep the DS company.

I ran 158 grain swc's through it. Is that the best load for this gun?

rcmodel
December 24, 2012, 08:26 PM
Thats what it was sighted in for by the factory.

Thats all there was back then.

rc

bikemutt
December 24, 2012, 09:24 PM
No j-frame is in the same league.

Not wanting to be disagreeable here but I've owned and shot several Detective Specials and none of them hold a candle to my 640-1 Pro Series J-frame in terms of shootability and accuracy.

If I had to choose one over the other I'd take the one shot handicap of the 640-1 every time. YMMV or course.

Guillermo
December 24, 2012, 11:49 PM
Bikemutt

The geometry of the J Frame is not conducive to a great trigger pull.

I have an old flat latch that just came back from Clark Custom. For a J-Frame it is very good. But it is no K or D frame.

Admittedly the detective specials of the 70s had much heavier triggers than the earlier models.

Ky Larry
December 25, 2012, 12:13 AM
About 15 years ago I had a very nice Colt D.S. Then I got married and somehow, my wife has a very nice D.S. I'm still trying to figure out how that happened.:scrutiny: Oh well, enjoy it while you can.

HiCap1
December 25, 2012, 12:28 AM
Six weeks ago I bought a brand new in the box never fired 1998 Colt DS II for $800 with all the tags and never looked back. It's now been shot about 200 times and goes outside with me in a Safariland paddle holster. Happy to go out and happy to be shot so much so that it puts a lot in the bulleye much to my delight and surprise. Semis rock but revolvers rule.

HiCap

Lucky Derby
December 25, 2012, 07:48 AM
"I would really like to carry it though it's a bit weird to think about holstering something that is 79 years old!"

While I don't do it every day, I frequently holster up a S&W revolver that is 91 years old.

CTGunner
December 25, 2012, 12:09 PM
Question, in the 30s I'm assuming most of these went to cops, true? If so did most police of that era carry a knife and if so what would have been common? The DS doesn't pair well with my delica 4.

rcmodel
December 25, 2012, 12:28 PM
I imagine most cops did carry a pocket knife.
Every male carried a pocket knife in 1930!

Probably an old Case or Schrade three-blade stockman or something like that.

Tactical folders, one-hand openers like your Delica, and pocket clips were not invented until about 1980.

rc

CTGunner
December 25, 2012, 12:38 PM
Thanks RC you guys have all the info. Another question - did Colt ever recess their cylinders or was that exclusive to the Smith's. Was there an advantage to recessed cylinders on a .38?

rcmodel
December 25, 2012, 12:48 PM
No, only S&W had recessed cylinders, and never on the .38 Special guns.

It was exclusive to the .357, .41 & .44 Magnum calibers, and .22 RF.

Colt didn't do it except in .22 RF.

There is no practical advantage to it except in .22 RF, as the recess helps support the rim and redirects gas if a rim lets go.

If you blow a rim on a centerfire caliber, you got bigger problems and bigger parts flying then just some gas.

rc

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