First Colt...couple of questions.


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TennJed
January 24, 2013, 09:50 PM
I picked up my first colt today in a trade. It was sort of a whim trade, which is unusual for me. Honestly I am happy with the trade regardless of money. I traded a CZ Rami that was in great condition I just never shot it much. Never quite warmed up to it. I always wanted a colt revolver, but I am more familiar with their Single Action.

First thing I want to ask is how do I tell if the grips are real mother of pearl? When I saw the picture of the gun I assumed they were fake, but after meeting the guy (he wasn't sure) they don't look "plastic" to me. They have a rainbow like sheen when held just right.

Second question is, how good of a gun is this? It is a detective special in 38 sp. I am familiar with the name, but do not really know much about them. Gunbroker shows the values running from $400 to $1200 on detective specials, so i really don't know where to begin. It is in what I would consider good shape. one big scratch on the front of the trigger guard that runs onto the right side. Another small mark under the barrel. The rest of it seems to be good. The nickel is in good shape everywhere else. Most importantly the lockup is tight and the bore is good.

So what do I have and how did I do? Here are some crappy cellphone pics. I paid $540 for the CZ new a couple of years ago. I am not really sure what they bring used. ETA the serial # is 41xxxx

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Black Knight
January 24, 2013, 10:05 PM
Not that there are not people here who know the Colt Detective Special but a better place might be the Colt Forum. They specialize in Colt firearms. There are several generations of the Detective Special. I have heard that you should not use 38 Special +P in it much, but should stay with the standard pressure loads.

TennJed
January 24, 2013, 10:10 PM
Not that there are not people here who know the Colt Detective Special but a better place might be the Colt Forum. They specialize in Colt firearms. There are several generations of the Detective Special. I have heard that you should not use 38 Special +P in it much, but should stay with the standard pressure loads.
thanks, I did post over there too. Just that I do not get on that forum much. THR and TFL are where I spend most my time

Black Knight
January 24, 2013, 10:55 PM
From the photos yours is a first or second generation Detective Special. While I don't know for sure, those grips appear to be mother of pearl. They have the sheen and iridesence of mother of pearl. It is a very nice gun.

ColtPythonElite
January 25, 2013, 02:24 AM
Take a grip off, heat a pin with a lighter, and press it against the grip. If the hot pin sinks in the grip, you have plastic.

Congrats on owning one of the finest snubs ever made.

bannockburn
January 25, 2013, 06:01 AM
TennJed

Nice looking Detective Special there! And all the more nicer if that's the original nickel plating and those are actually factory Mother of Pearl grips. I can't tell from your pics but they appear to have that iridescent quality about them. From the serial number it was made in 1932 or 1933.

PRM
January 25, 2013, 07:59 AM
The D frame Colt is a classic. One of the best DA snub revolvers ever made. I have been carrying them since the mid 1970s. Colts are addictive.

Far as +P ammo, a few rounds on occasion won't hurt them. Some will argue that the new +P is in the range of the old standard ammo. I personally don't use them in mine, simply because the guns are not made any more. And I don't feel the need to shoot the hotter rounds.

The Proof House can provided information on the age of your gun.

http://proofhouse.com/

Airbrush Artist
January 25, 2013, 09:31 AM
Dependent on the handle You would get More ,That Colt would Be $400- $700, I have a 1973 Colt Detective Special That has had less than 150 rounds Fired I been offer $700 for it..Contact Colt Do The Homework on the Firearm,They will give You the Info You need if You provide the Serial number and send You a new manual free...I would say whatever the condition would determine if its a Keeper..Whatever You decide a 38 Special is one of the Best CCW Revolers that has every been made like PRM stated and a Joy to own and Shoot I work Concert Security Transporting Performers and feel fully comfortable with it as my CCW Firearm, I do load with hallow Point rounds when I'm working. ,Its pretty much a Consensus by a Lot of Gun owners,I started with Mine and It remains my Firearm of Choice, 1,000's of Former Police Officers from back in the day cannot be wrong.. ,They have a Serious learning Curve but "whatever" you learn or start out with, Practice is the key word..Everyday if possible till you know it .Then practice some more.I carry My Colt 38 Detective Sp. every day with full assurance I have what I need ...One things for sure do get discouraged and Sell it... shoot standard 38 rounds till you get the Lowdown on the Firearm heres mine http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Jan-2013/19634-580545_10200130636289964_374118962_n.jpg

CraigC
January 25, 2013, 09:49 AM
Sweet little pimp pistol you have there! Doesn't look like factory nickel as it appears to have been refinished. Hard to tell from the pics but it looks like it might be real mother of pearl. Which are gonna be worth at least $200 if not $300. Very cool sixgun!

Guillermo
January 25, 2013, 09:50 AM
it is a 1st generation

the 1/2 moon sight is how you tell.

pics are not great but I would guess it has been plated and those look like plastic grips.

As CPE says, the DS is arguably the best snub ever made.

If it is in good shape you can shoot all the "+P" you want. Current "+P" is the same pressure as the regular ammo when your gun was made.

BTW, that old timey looking front sight is easier to see in low light conditions and the tallness allows you to "lob in" some rounds at distance. That is something the more modern looking 3rd gen can't do.

Of course now that you have the shiny chrome gun with pearl grips you have to acquire (if you haven't already) a mid 70's Eldorado and a purple, felt swashbuckler hat. :neener:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_DSqrMwuLID4/S6uSStJ9M2I/AAAAAAAABAA/NDVd35oZV2A/s1600/Magnum+Force+Pimpmobile.jpg

CraigC
January 25, 2013, 10:29 AM
Of course now that you have the shiny chrome gun with pearl grips you have to acquire (if you haven't already) a mid 70's Eldorado and a purple, felt swashbuckler hat.
Yeah! :D

TennJed
January 25, 2013, 10:31 AM
Thanks guys. I did confirm they are real MOP grips. I will try to post better pics tonight to see if y'all can help me confirm the finish

Guillermo
January 25, 2013, 10:42 AM
look at the "prancing horse" on the left side

Is it smooth or are the grooves sharp?

If it looks like it was sanded (smooth) it is not a factory plate job

TennJed
January 25, 2013, 10:50 AM
look at the "prancing horse" on the left side

Is it smooth or are the grooves sharp?

If it looks like it was sanded (smooth) it is not a factory plate job

Good suggestion. I will try that when I get off work tonight. Thanks.

Not only is this my first Colt, it is my first nickel. I usually polish my stainless guns with Mother's Mag. Is that a no-no with nickel? I no ammonia based cleaners are

CraigC
January 25, 2013, 10:58 AM
The screw holes on the right side are a wee bit dished out, which makes me think it's a refinish.

Guillermo
January 25, 2013, 11:00 AM
I think Craig is probably right (as is his habit) but the pictures are not exactly hi-def

CraigC
January 25, 2013, 11:10 AM
If he sends it to me, I'll take some good pics of it. Maybe post a few targets as well. ;)

Old Fuff
January 25, 2013, 11:32 AM
The stocks are mother-of-pearl, and not plastic. More important, they are genuine Colt stocks and not something made by an after-market company.

The fact the the stocks are Colt's make it more likely that the revolver was nickeled in the first place. It may take an expensive factory letter to confirm (if true) that the gun was nickeled and the stocks originally came on it from the factory. But if this is so the value would increase by at least 50% on the collector market.

It is a 1st. Issue, 2nd type. Serial number indicates it was made in 1933.

I wouldn't shoot it until the background is known. It could easily be worth twice what you paid for it.

Guillermo
January 25, 2013, 11:49 AM
Old Fuff's glasses must be at the exact right frequency to ascertain that which he professes from the foggy photos.

I just hope that TennJed doesn't get the gun near Old Fuff. It will lose the trigger guard

CraigC
January 25, 2013, 12:01 PM
I agree on the grips but still think the finish is not original, though it may have originally been plated. Better pics would tell the tale. This particular gun comes from a time when Colt polishers were masters of their craft so if it's been refinished, it should be rather obvious.

Old Fuff
January 25, 2013, 12:16 PM
I just hope that TennJed doesn't get the gun near Old Fuff. It will lose the trigger guard

Do you have any idea what an original peral-handled/nickel plated Fitz Special would be worth? :what: :evil:

Pictures aside, the only way to confirm what the revolver's configuration was when it left the factory would be an historical letter from Colt. They are expensive, and this gun would be a gamble; but if the letter confirmed that this Detective Special is in its original condition the increase in value would pay for the letter many times over. Almost any collector that bought it would be willing to pay extra to get the letter and not have to duplicate it.

CraigC
January 25, 2013, 12:28 PM
I would definitely only gamble on the letter if it appears to be the original finish. If it's obviously a refinish (which should be obvious), I wouldn't bother because at that point, it doesn't matter what the finish was originally.

Old Fuff
January 25, 2013, 12:36 PM
Will I suppose this is something the gun owner will have to decide. I stand by my evaluation.

Guillermo
January 25, 2013, 12:40 PM
Do you have any idea what an original peral-handled/nickel plated Fitz Special would be worth?

u were looking to chop a Holland and Holland 12 gauge

u and your bench grinder have no limits

TennJed
January 25, 2013, 12:43 PM
I think I am just going to order a Duracoat shake a bake kit from Brownells and do a home restoration in coyote olive drab dark earth brown

Seriously I will get some better pics up. How much do those letters cost

TennJed
January 25, 2013, 12:47 PM
Double post

CraigC
January 25, 2013, 12:54 PM
I stand by my evaluation.
I agree but I don't believe it's wearing its original finish.

Guillermo
January 25, 2013, 01:03 PM
my guess is that Craig is right on this one. The screw do look a little wallowed out.

But I will get some popcorn and keep watching this thread.

(gotta love a mystery)

CraigC
January 25, 2013, 01:32 PM
Which reminds me that I'd really like to have one for concealed carry. :)

Guillermo
January 25, 2013, 02:02 PM
My old Cobra, while not attractive, sure is a good shooter.

http://i600.photobucket.com/albums/tt82/BillLoeb/Cobrawithnewfurniture-1.jpg

Pudge
January 25, 2013, 02:21 PM
I picked up a Cobra earlier this month. My first Colt. It is newer with the lugged barrel, and shorter grip frame. Blued with factory stocks. But for $250 I figured I could do worse.

CraigC
January 25, 2013, 02:40 PM
My old Cobra, while not attractive, sure is a good shooter.
Did you color that thing with a Sharpie??? :p

Guillermo
January 25, 2013, 03:30 PM
Did you color that thing with a Sharpie???

The alloy just faded to purple.

I call her "Margaret Thatcher" because she is not an attractive old girl, but she is worthy of respect.

"Mags" is a good old girl.

;)

CraigC
January 25, 2013, 03:38 PM
You crack me up.

Jim K
January 25, 2013, 03:40 PM
The easiest way to tell MOP is to look at the back of the grip. If it is perfectly flat or has strengthening bars molded in, it is plastic. If it has a hollow that also looks like MOP, it is.

I am with Craig on this one. The area around the crane lock and crane lock screw seems to be dished. The pics are so poor, I can't be sure if the plating is nickel or chrome. If it is the latter, of course, it is after-market; Colt never chrome plated those guns.

Jim

Guillermo
January 25, 2013, 04:05 PM
You crack me up

I crack me up too!!!

(usually it is just me laughing at my jokes :()

CraigC
January 25, 2013, 04:23 PM
My bet is on nickel, judging by the color. It has that soft bronze hue of nickel, rather than the bluing white hue of chrome. But I could be wrong, it's happened before.

Guillermo
January 25, 2013, 04:26 PM
:what:

how are you guys gleaning so much from these pics?

I can barely tell it is a DS?

The pics are out of focus.

CraigC
January 25, 2013, 04:42 PM
I'm using.....The Force. http://photos.imageevent.com/newfrontier45/miscellaneous/Drawex.gif

TennJed
January 25, 2013, 05:07 PM
:what:

how are you guys gleaning so much from these pics?

I can barely tell it is a DS?

The pics are out of focus.

Gosh you guys are hard on a man with no camera skills. Blame it on apple and the overrated iPhone. :) I will get more pics up when I get a chance. It is without a doubt nickel. It has a bronze, goldish hue to it in person. Also the grips are real MOP. I took them off and you can tell from the back they are not plastic. They have a rainbow sheen to them and they also pasted the teeth test.

So, what kind of value would this have with real factory MOP grips and a factory finish vs real MOP and a refinished gun?

mmitch
January 25, 2013, 07:54 PM
Jed,

Condition being everything, from what I can see, until we get some definitive images, I reckon you're okay at $450.00 in the gun. I might buy it as a shooter at that price.

Mike

Guillermo
January 25, 2013, 09:54 PM
Hey Ted,

Not meaning to put you down...but Annie Leibovitz doesn't need to look over her shoulder :neener:

TennJed
January 25, 2013, 11:18 PM
Hey Ted,

Not meaning to put you down...but Annie Leibovitz doesn't need to look over her shoulder :neener:

I do weddings cheap. Just pm if your interested

TennJed
January 26, 2013, 12:37 AM
Ok maybe this pics will turn out better. Any help in determining if the finish is original would be apprciated. The frist two are the best representation of the color hue. It has a bronze like sheen to it. The 3rd pic shows the big bad spot in the finish

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8212/8415147555_b16aef18e1_z.jpg

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8080/8415146585_8779ccc1b4_z.jpg

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8043/8415145931_6ccf7b6061.jpg

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8222/8415111465_1df9912e49.jpg

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8327/8415107825_2231a6ec34.jpg

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8468/8415106617_988eacb35e.jpg

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8366/8416188718_1b59880b45.jpg

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8212/8415103845_4b10dde1e3.jpg

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8220/8415150991_355c78bcb1.jpg

Travismcgee
January 26, 2013, 12:44 AM
that looks like a factory horse to me.

bannockburn
January 26, 2013, 06:05 AM
I can't tell for sure but that Pony does look pretty sharp to my old eyes. I would say go with a factory letter. If I remember correctly the price of the letter sometimes varies depending on how far back (in your case 1933), they have to go to search their records. Love those MOP grips!

CraigC
January 26, 2013, 08:53 AM
If it is a refinish, it is a very good one. Either way, it looks really good and I think you made the right decision. Definitely real mother of pearl and I like them. :)

Did Colt plate the hammer and trigger on factory plated guns?

savit260
January 26, 2013, 11:40 AM
that looks like a factory horse to me.

I'll second that.

Jaymo
January 26, 2013, 02:29 PM
Looks very similar to the factory (or at least installed before my grandfather got it in the late 20s/early 30s) MOP grips on my mom's Police Positive Special .32-20.

If you have any doubt as to whether the grips are MOP or fake, just rub them across the front of you teeth.
Plastic is slick/smooth.
MOP and pearl will feel a little rough and have some drag.

Nice Colt, BTW.

Old Fuff
January 26, 2013, 02:41 PM
Did Colt plate the hammer and trigger on factory plated guns?

On hand ejector revolvers made during this era, yes.

The finish shows expected wear & tear for a gun this old, but I see nothing obvious that would indicate a refinish - particularly a recent one. The stocks are correct, even to the point of the pony facing backwards - which it should.

I continue to stand by my original assessment and advise.

TennJed
January 26, 2013, 02:51 PM
Old Fluff, would you have a ballpark estimate of the value if the finish is original?

Old Fuff
January 26, 2013, 03:30 PM
This is a hard call. In 1933 the Great Depression was on, and all handgun sales were slow. Extra cost nickel-plated/prarl handled variants were especially slow. We don't know the total number of Detective Special's made between 1933 and 1941 because they were serial numbered in the same series as Colt's very popular Police Positive Special.

1st Issue Detective Specials (meaning pre-war production) in nice shape with the more common blue finish seem to be priced at the better auctions at around $600-$800. Nickeled ones about $100 to $200 more. Gunuine Colt pearl stocks in perfect shape from that era can fetch $300 to $500 and sometimes more.

If the stocks and finish are original to the revolver and documented as such by a factory letter, you can break the $1,000 level - especially if it was special ordered by an individual the value would increase - substantually if they were famous. Because of the various circumstances I have pointed out there is a fair chance of a special order, although some distributors and dealers did order them for stock.

You roll the dice...... :D

Old Fuff
January 26, 2013, 03:51 PM
Unintended double-post

CraigC
January 26, 2013, 04:28 PM
I continue to stand by my original assessment and advise.
After looking at the new pics, I'm inclined to agree. I no longer see what appeared to be dished out screw holes. I would probably want to get the factory letter. For curiosity's sake, if nothing else.

TennJed
January 26, 2013, 05:12 PM
Thanks guys, this is what I love about this place. I always learn a lot, and I feel even better about my "first Colt" now.

So, the question now is, what should i get for me next Colt ;)

Old Fuff
January 26, 2013, 07:35 PM
Put it this way. I hope you do as well as you seem to have done with the 1st. one. :cool:

SwampWolf
January 27, 2013, 04:04 PM
Since the consensus seems to be that the grips in question are, in fact, genuine mother-of-pearl, my suggestion is to take them off and replace them with something more durable before using the revolver much. The grips are beautiful, hard to find and valuable but are notorious for their fragility (even taking them on and off repeatedly has reportedly caused damage to occur). Better safe than sorry.

CraigC
January 27, 2013, 04:14 PM
A lottery ticket 'may' be in order. ;)

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