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Old May 5, 2014, 02:08 PM   #1
Gator007
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old colt 38 special. pre-PP or DS??

Hey guys, I have inherited an old. Nickel plated 38 special, it looks like a detective special from around 1928. But it's only marked 38 special? The serial number is 339xxx and as close as I can find it comes back as a detective.. yet I can't find one that is not marked on the barrel to compare it to? I saw something a while back about what was called a pre- police positive? I am working on getting a letter from colt because this pistol has a very interesting story behind it, I have no way to verify the story, at least not yet so I will see what colt has to say about that. But I read that it may very well come back from colt as a detective even though it's not marked as such. Any help in identifying this critter?

Last edited by Gator007; May 5, 2014 at 09:40 PM.
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Old May 5, 2014, 03:37 PM   #2
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A photo may help in identifying the gun in question. Unless it says Detective Special on the barrel it likely is not a DS. Most likely a cut down police positive special although I think some 2 inch barrel Police Positives Specials were made but were displaced by the Detective Special which appeared in 1927. Photos?
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Old May 5, 2014, 03:46 PM   #3
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The top of the barrel should have patent dates, centered between the frame and front sight. If the revolver is a Police Positive Special with a sawed off barrel (which is fairly common) this should give you a clue.

Also nickel plating is a great way to cover a solder job if (or when) the front sight was relocated.
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Old May 5, 2014, 08:36 PM   #4
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Thanks, I will look it over and will post some pics. The 38 special is clearly visible on the barrel.
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Old May 5, 2014, 09:15 PM   #5
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Tagged as I have the same gun that either dates to the first 300 DS made or the last of the PP
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Old May 5, 2014, 09:31 PM   #6
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Here are some pics if I can get them to post. New to the page.uploadfromtaptalk1399339823705.jpguploadfromtaptalk1399339854920.jpguploadfromtaptalk1399339878185.jpg
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Old May 5, 2014, 09:33 PM   #7
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Gator,
I sent you a PM this afternoon, did you read it yet?
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Old May 5, 2014, 09:35 PM   #8
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I noticed the letter D followed by the number 1 under the serial number?
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Old May 5, 2014, 09:41 PM   #9
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Just read your message ArchAngel. Thanks
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Old May 5, 2014, 09:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oneounceload View Post
Tagged as I have the same gun that either dates to the first 300 DS made or the last of the PP
Did you look at the pictures I posted?
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Old May 6, 2014, 06:29 AM   #11
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Mine is a blue version of yours and has the same D1 under the serial number
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Old May 6, 2014, 10:20 AM   #12
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Have you gotten a letter on your pistol? And have you heard of what I read as described as a pre-PP run of pistols?
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Old May 6, 2014, 02:17 PM   #13
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Haven't done a letter yet - this was my dad's off-duty weapon which I suspect he either bought from John Jovino gun shop or from a retiring cop when he joined in the 50's. Have not heard of a pre-Police Positive, but am wondering if it is a pre DS?
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Old May 6, 2014, 02:25 PM   #14
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Gator,
Try this site:
http://www.colt.com/CustomerServices...berLookup.aspx
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Old May 6, 2014, 03:44 PM   #15
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I've Done the serial number at the colt sight. It doesn't give you specifics but from what I can tell it's a police positive 2" barrel and is from one of a couple of years they made them without any patent date or anything other than 38 special. I believe around the time frame of 1926 to 1928. Talked to someone on a colt blog and that's what I came up with. I'm going to sell the gun, trying to figure out exactly what it is before I do that. Wondering if a letter would be worth the trouble. I see these pistols selling for a wide range of prices.
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Old May 6, 2014, 07:55 PM   #16
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Is it a must you get the letter from Colt or will they be nice enough to tell you what model revolver you have by the serial number and a picture or two? It seems to me it wouldn't be a big deal to tell you the model...
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Old May 7, 2014, 12:06 AM   #17
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Serial Numbers and Models

Colt made two different revolvers, the Police Positive and Police Positive Special. It’s important to know the difference because they were serial numbered in different series. If you should use an Internet source, or call Colt’s and ask them to look up a number for a Police Positive when you really have a Police Positive Special, the information you get will be misleading and useless.

To further confuse the issue, the Detective Special (especially early pre-war ones) are absolutely identical to a Police Positive Special made during the same time frame, except for a 2” barrel and shortened ejector rod. Police Positive Specials came in cataloged lengths of 4”, 5”, and 6” with a longer ejector rod. Other lengths that were special ordered are all over the map, (including 2 and 2 ½”) and if they are genuine are worth extra money.

Unfortunately, a lot of longer barreled Police Positive Special’s were… well… ah… “converted” to a shorter length with Buba’s hacksaw, and have no special value, or more likely a negative one. Because of the substantial number of “Buba Specials,” that were made, a historical letter is necessary to prove it if you think you have a genuine one.

Detective Specials were serial numbered in the Police Positive Special series, starting in 1927 at approximately serial number 331,000. Note that the frames were not marked with a model name. So at a time when an excess of previously made Police Positive Special revolvers might be in stock, while incoming orders for the new Detective Special were pouring in, Colt could make a quick switch of barrels and ejector rods that would quickly provide a larger supply of in-demand product and clean out some slower moving stock. The only problem with this would be a too-early serial number, and Colt’s didn’t give a hoot about that.

I am well aware that the Detective Special has a cult following and early revolvers in excellent – or better, original condition are highly prized by individuals who are willing to throw big bucks at them, but custom ordered Police Positive Specials with snubby barrels will draw even more, all other things being equal.
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Old May 7, 2014, 01:32 AM   #18
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Thanks old fuff. I'm going to order the letter for this pistol. I just can't take the chance that it might be something special. With my serial number being right in the range. There's still many questions in my mind the lack of a patent date for one, hopefully Colts letter will clear many of these questions up. Now I will research what's best to polish up the nickel plate and the wood grips. Thanks to all for your help and advice on this pistol, I've never had one with this Much mystery behind it.
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Old May 7, 2014, 05:24 AM   #19
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Arch - according to your link, I get the following possibilities:

1950
OFFICERS MODEL SPECIAL
1930
POLICE POSITIVE .38
1930
BANKERS SPECIAL
1928
POLICE POSITIVE SPECIAL & DETECTIVE SPECIAL


My grips are not original and the only indication it is a Colt is thew pony on the LH sideplate, along with their unmistakeable release latch. It is a blue version of the one above
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Old May 7, 2014, 10:56 AM   #20
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I must ask, if these pistols are basically the same. When I order a letter, they ask for model. Am I to describe the pistol to them and tell them it's either a pos, a pp, or a ds??
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Old May 7, 2014, 11:00 AM   #21
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This is exactly the same I believe for my pistol. But I've read on more than one blog, colt built some of these with out of sequence serial numbers. The gun will not match anything built in 1930 or after that I can find.
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Old May 7, 2014, 11:30 AM   #22
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I think that is what I would do plus send them pics showing all sides and the info on the crane.
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Old May 7, 2014, 11:43 AM   #23
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That gun is a Detective Special. But it has had the heck polished out of it and then nickel plated, so its collector value is very much reduced.

FWIW, nickel plating was common for guns that were actually carried concealed by detectives and licensed citizens because otherwise body sweat would soon ruin the gun. Factories sold nickel plated guns for that reason, of course, but many owners had their guns plated, and there were companies which specialized in doing that work.

There were at least two companies that nickel or chrome plated live ammunition so it would stand up to long periods in a leather cartridge belt.

Jim
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Old May 7, 2014, 12:17 PM   #24
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Thanks Jim. No doubt in my mind this is an aftermarket nickel plate job. It's very heavy in places more than others from what I can tell. The pistol is also very dirty in the pics, I've started to clean it slowly and I'm surprised how well it is cleaning up. This pistol fire's great and is extremely tight and smooth for its age. The next pictures I take will look much better. I am learning about nickel plate slowly.
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Old May 7, 2014, 12:29 PM   #25
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If you Google images of your gun, you will see many nickel-plated examples

This is mine, (crappy pic, the bluing is better in person):

[IMG][/IMG]
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