GUN OF THE WEEK
by Bob Walsh
The Gun of the Week this time around is the classic police snub-nosed revolver, the Colt Detective Special.
This was one of the very first modern snub-nose pistols, by that I mean having a swing-out cylinder and being chambered for a modern relatively high-power cartridge. The gun was first produced in 1927. It was produced in one variation or another in .38 special, .38 Colt New Police (which is the same cartridge as the .38 S&W) and .32 Colt New Police (which was the same as the S&W .32 long). A very few of the Bankers Special variation were also made in .22 LR.
The gun is what Colt called their D-frame. It is essentially a Colt Police Positive Special somewhat streamlined and chopped. It is slightly smaller than the small frame S&W guns and holds six rounds, where the Smith Chief Special holds only five.
The first series was produced until 1946. The spacing was different between the rear of the trigger guard and the front strap. I own one of these, and shoot it occasionally. I find that the trigger guard slams into my middle finger rather hard, even with light loads. The frame is also slightly narrower than the later weapons.
The second series was produced from 1947 thru 1972. Among other things the ejector rod was somewhat longer and it was also produced in a 3” variation. A hammer shroud was available from the factory. This enabled the weapon to be fired successfully while inside a pocket as the hammer would not catch on the pocket liner (though it would usually set the coat on fire). I have one of these in .32 long and it shoots like a dream.
The third series ran until 1986 and had a full-length ejector rod shroud. Also the butt was shorted slightly. One of these was my EDC gun for a few years. I still have it, still qualify with it and still, on occasion, carry it.
A fourth series ran from 1993 until 1995. After that a newer version chambered for the .357 cartridge and called the SF-VI was produced very briefly.
The Colt Commando Special was offered briefly with a cheaper finish than the D.S. and rubber grips rather than wood.
Colt has just recently started new production of a steel-framed version again, which they are calling the Cobra, presumably for marketing reasons. I have yet to actually see one in a store, but they are said to be out there.