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ronl
June 9, 2010, 10:41 PM
Just picked up a very solid Colt Police Positive Special in 38 S&W for my mother. Serial # 722xxx. Can anyone tell me what year it was made? On the strap is RHKP, which I believe is Royal Hong Kong police. The old girl still has a sweet trigger.

Scorch
June 10, 2010, 01:57 AM
Produced in 1958. RHKP does indeed indicate Royal Hong Kong Police.

DG45
June 10, 2010, 10:45 AM
Colt "Police Positive Special" revolvers shoot 38 Special ammo.

Colt "Police Positive" revolvers shoot 38 S&W ammo.

RJay
June 10, 2010, 11:27 AM
That's odd, I was under the impression that all of the Hong Kong Sidearms were S&W Model 10s.

Jim Watson
June 10, 2010, 02:50 PM
Colt "Police Positive Special" revolvers shoot 38 Special ammo.

Ectually, old chap, they did make Police Positive Specials in .38 Colt New Police/.38 Police Positive/.38 S&W. There was still a small market for the round after the shorter Police Positive frame was discontinued so they just chambered the Special length cylinder for it. There are some Police Positive Specials in .32 S&WL (.32 NP), too.

James K
June 10, 2010, 06:53 PM
Well, old chaps, partially. The first two issues of the PPS were chamberd for .38 Special, .38 Colt New Police/.38 S&W, .32-20, and .32 Colt NP/.32 S&W Long. The third and fourth issues were made in .38 Special only, say the books. But that gun was made in 1958, long after the books say .38 Colt NP was no longer chambered in any Colt revolver.

The books don't take into account the simple fact that Colt would make revolvers in .296 1/4 Upside Down Hassenpfeffer if a customer ordered enough of them. The standard issue police cartridge for most of the Empire at that time was still the .380 Revolver, aka the .38 S&W. The RHKP wanted guns chambered for that cartridge and, to no one's surprise, that is what they got.

Jim

ronl
June 10, 2010, 07:56 PM
Thanks, guys for the info. The gun is indeed marked .38 Colt N.P. - .38 S&W CTG. Cleaned the old girl up and she looks very good despite her age. Barrel rifling looks very good also. Get to go out and teach my mom how to shoot and maintain it now. That should prove interesting. She's 72 and I don't think she's ever fired a pistol before.

DG45
June 11, 2010, 01:40 AM
Thanks for the correction. Didn't mean to pass bad information along. But I was really under the apparently mistaken impression that Colt Police Positive Specials were always made in 38 Special cal. But I guess it makes sense that if Colt got a big enough contract they'd do whatever the customer wanted.

I still can't imagine why anybody would want a Police Positive Special in 38 S&W though, instead of a 38 Special. The 38 Special is a more effective round than the 38 S&W round is, and the 38 Special is one of the most inheirently accurate revolver rounds going. They also have low to moderate recoil and blast. 38 Special ammo is plentiful and relatively inexpensive. These revolvers with 38 Special ammo are easy to learn to shoot, and most people can quickly learn to handle one, and most people can achieve good accuracy with a 38 Special revolver after a little practice. All in all, the 38 Special is a very versatile round and was considered THE ideal police round for many years. Why no love for the 38 Special in Hong Kong.

Whoever made the decision to get Colt Police Positive Specials, but not get them in the caliber that made them "Special" makes no sense whatsoever to me. It had had to beone of those decisions made at "echelons above reason".

James K
June 11, 2010, 04:39 PM
It might make sense if you already have a few million rounds of .380 (.38 S&W) ammunition lying around, as in British military surplus. In that case, going to a different cartridge would be very reasonable, no matter what supposed advantages the different round might have.

Jim

OldMarksman
June 12, 2010, 08:16 AM
Whoever made the decision to get Colt Police Positive Specials, but not get them in the caliber that made them "Special" makes no sense whatsoever to me. It had had to beone of those decisions made at "echelons above reason".

It might make sense if you already have a few million rounds of .380 (.38 S&W) ammunition lying around, as in British military surplus. In that case, going to a different cartridge would be very reasonable, no matter what supposed advantages the different round might have.

Wouldn't it seem likely that revolvers purchased for the police force of a British Dependent Territory would be chambered for a standard British cartridge?

I would imagine that the HKP may have also used, at various times, Enfield and Smith and Wesson revolvers that fired the .38-200 cartridge.

I've read that Ruger produced the Speed Six in .38-200 for India.

James K
June 12, 2010, 10:16 PM
Ever see an S&W Model 642 chambered for the 5.6 Velodog? Well, order 50,000 of them, cash on the barrelhead, and you will.

Jim

SIGSHR
June 13, 2010, 06:36 PM
IIRC S&W made a large number of their Military & Police revolvers for the UK at one point. .38 S&W-or .380/200 if you prefer-pretty much as the "Police"
caliber in those parts of the British Empire that either were subject to direct rule or not given Dominion status until very late-India, e.g. Also the 38 S&W in the hands of a well trained individual is nothing to sneer at.

BillCA
June 13, 2010, 06:56 PM
There are a few advantages for the .38 S&W cartridge in a small revolver like the Colt D-frame PPS. It'll have low recoil, decent enough accuracy and it can be handloaded for more effectiveness.

Winchester still produces a 146gr LRN .38 S&W cartridge so factory ammo is available. For a 72 year old woman, it's not a bad choice. Suffice it to say that she must be told that more than one shot may be necessary.
http://i241.photobucket.com/albums/ff111/BillCA/Hobby/misc/38SWv38Special.jpg
.38 S&W vs. .38 S&W Special

We used to "upload" the .38 S&W with swaged 148gr LHBWC loaded with 3.0 grains of Red-Dot to make 800 fps (6"). It was reasonably accurate too.

James K
June 13, 2010, 10:45 PM
For a lot of years, .38 S&W was considered the "high power" police load; the standard was the .32 S&W Long (or the Colt equivalent). Even after .38 Special was well established, a lot of cops carried the Regulation Police in .38 S&W and many more plain clothes police carried the little S&W Terrier.

IMHO, the older cartridge will do very well for personal defense; especially if the lower recoil allows better shot placement. It is certainly no less effective than the much-touted .380 ACP and a good revolver will be a lot more accurate (and reliable) than some of the .380's on the market.

Bill, I would agree that "more than one shot may be necessary" even if the gun were in .500 S&W. Fortunately, I have no personal experience in shooting people, but I have seen enough reports to know that "one shot stops" and "one shot, one kill" are more gunzine buzz words than reality when talking handgun calibers.

Jim

BillCA
June 14, 2010, 07:36 PM
Jim - I agree. The reminder that more than one shot may be necessary - especially with the .38 S&W and similar low-pressure rounds - is simply a way of dispelling the Hollywood notions most non-shooters might have. Especially a senior citizen who's never fired a gun before and has had decades of "Television experience".

Plenty of hold-up men died as a result of the .38 S&W during the 1880's through the 1930's. I rather like the cartridge. It can be loaded with a 148gr LSWC up to about 790fps within pressure specs while still maintaining good accuracy. This emulates the older, 158gr @ 760 fps -- which is about the same as most .38 Special RNL loadings today. But the .38 S&W revolvers are a tad more compact and "handy" too.

James K
June 14, 2010, 07:50 PM
In a good solid revolver (like the S&W M&P or that Colt PPS), the .38 S&W can be loaded as hot as the standard .38 Special or into the .38 Special +P range. Even the standard factory load is nothing to stand in front of and, as you say, a lot of folks found that out the hard way.

I wish people would quit downrating cartridges. Some of the newbies think that a .25 ACP or a .32 S&W is harmless or will bounce off a well-starched T shirt. There have even been some fools who allowed themselves to be shot by other fools because "I thought those old guns wouldn't hurt anybody." The ones who lived to say things like that were the lucky ones.

Jim

BlueTrain
June 15, 2010, 01:24 PM
I have seen a Ruger revolver in .38 S&W, new in box, only I don't remember which model, probably the Speed Six. I seem to recall it sat on the shelf at the store for a long time and for all I know, it may be there now. So even they made them.

Although S&W made a lot of their M&P revolver in that caliber, I never understood why the army listed it in that caliber, which the manual referred to as ".38 Regular," among other designations inclucing .38/200 and .38 S&W. Only the 5" barrel model was listed, I believe, and I even think I've seen photos of army troops around 1970 or a little earlier, judging from the uniforms, practicing with that particular revolver. I am referring to an army manual of small arms published around 1955 which lists and illustrates all the army's small arms at the time.

Under the for-what-it's-worth heading, the standard army and air force loading for the .38 Special for a long time was a 130-grain FMJ load, which was unlikely to have been any better than a hardware store old stock box of .38 S&W.

BillCA
June 15, 2010, 08:33 PM
Blue Train,

The .38 S&W or .38/200 cartridge was the British service cartridge during WW-II. Under Roosevelt's lend-lease program, tens of thousands of S&W (and some Colt) revolvers were shipped to the U.K. for military service. Many of these were stamped "U.S. Property" on the left topstrap. In post-war years, then M&P revolvers (actually called the K-200) were returned to the USA through various means and sold as surplus. Probably half were coverted to .38 Special. S&W continued to carry & catalog the .38 S&W in the M&P revolver (later to become the Model 11) until the 1960s. Their .38 Regulation Police was an I-frame 5-shot and later a J-frame, just before it was discontinued in the 60's.

From WW-II on, the standard revolver cartridge for the U.S. military was the .38 Special. It would not surprise me to have found a few .38 S&W chambered revolvers in various armories though. Being an Air Force brat, I grew up around a couple of airbases and only saw .38 Specials in use between the mid 1950's and 1980's.

Magnumitis
I agree with Jim on the way a lot of people sneer at certain cartridges. The .32 S&W and .32 S&W Long are pretty anemic by today's standards. Yet, the NYPD used them in the early 20th Century under Teddy Roosevelt's charge as police commissioner. Not that they were always effective, but more often than not, they did work. The .38 S&W at close range will certainly kill you with a well placed shot. So will a .32 S&W or .32 Long. A school chum of mine worked on the Alaskan pipeline in the 70's - lots of rough men there. A fight erupted over a poker game one night and one man slashed at another with a hunting knife. The other pulled a gun - an old RCMP Colt in .455 - and fired one shot. Didn't kill the man, but he no longer felt like making a nusiance of himself either.

I'll admit that I haven't much use for the .32 ACP or .25 Auto, but they still have their place in a fight at "bad breath" distances.

James K
June 15, 2010, 09:55 PM
Never say impossible, but the .38 S&W cartridge was never in U.S. service, and no S&W's made for the U.S. were chambered for that cartrige. It has been a while since I have seen that manual, but I don't recall any mention of .38 S&W, only of .38 Special.

Did someone, somewhere, in DoD have some .38 S&W caliber guns? Wouldn't be too surprised but they would have had to buy the ammo on their own.

I agree that that 130 grain FMJ ball was pretty worthless. But of course it had to be issued to conform to the Hague convention.

Jim

BlueTrain
June 16, 2010, 09:16 AM
Oh, it was in the US Army manual, all right, and there were S&W revolvers made in that caliber. I had one. It was a 5" barrel version with a plain wooden grip. The barrel was indeed marked with ".38 S&W Ctg." designation. The revolver was literally covered with stamps, both British and Austrian, so it had been around. There were no importer markings.

Although that particular revolver was really listed in the manual, which I promise to dig out and reference, it doesn't follow that any were actually used on active service overseas, presumably there were some somewhere. However, there was only the one in that caliber while at the same time there were about six or eight other revolver models also listed, I think all in .38 special caliber. I suspect there were still .45 ACP revolvers there, too, but I don't remember right now. There weren't any in .455 though.

There were a lot of war surplus revolvers sold in the 1950s and judging from advertisments in old gun magazines, a lot of them were modified, presumably to make them more marketable. It looked like a lot had barrels shortened to two inches (they lack the forward latch under the barrel but have a full length ejector rod), nickel plated and have new grips of stag (real or plastic, can't tell). I think there have been threads about such variations here before.

There were even some Ruger revolvers used by the military before they were done with revolvers.

BlueTrain
June 16, 2010, 06:08 PM
My reference here on the notes above is TM9-2200, Small Arms Materiel and Associated Equipment, dated October 1956, also published as TO 11W3-1-5 as a US Air Force Technical Order.

There is only the one revolver model in .38 S&W listed, as I suspected. But like I say, that doesn't mean it was ever actually used in US service. There are several other revolver models listed, all S&W and Colt models and all in .38 Special. Interestingly, the new M13 (the military model number) lightweight revolver, which I didn't know both Colt and S&W produced, has performance figures for 130 grain ball ammo. All the others list 158 grain bullets. Equally curious, they list tracer ammo, too, which I didn't know existed.

Other interesting items in the manual are survival rifles, something not mentioned very often around here. There were no .45 revolvers and no 1928 Thompsons.

But returning to the original question, the 1962 Gun Digest, my only original reference for that time frame, lists the Colt Police Positive Special, the Detective Special and the Cobra as all available in .32 New Police, .38 New Police and .38 Special. But that doesn't mean you could necessarily find one in any caliber you wanted just anywhere, same as some of the small frame S&W revolvers. But they all turn up now and then, invariably in excellent condition with the box. How about a Colt in .256 Magnum? Seen one of them lately?

BillCA
June 17, 2010, 03:24 AM
Oh, it was in the US Army manual, all right, and there were S&W revolvers made in that caliber. I had one. It was a 5" barrel version with a plain wooden grip. The barrel was indeed marked with ".38 S&W Ctg." designation. The revolver was literally covered with stamps, both British and Austrian, so it had been around. There were no importer markings.
My family still has one. It was a K-200, a S&W M&P revolver chambered for the .38 S&W cartridge with a 5-inch barrel and pre-magna smooth walnut grips. It's called a Victory Model revolver. These have serial numbers beginning with a "V" (or rare: "SV") and were built between 1942 and 1945. Our family Victory model has both the US Property marking and British crown proof marks. It was converted in post-war years to .38 Special and Dad bought it mail order in 1948 for the princely sum of $27.50 plus shipping.

There were a lot of war surplus revolvers sold in the 1950s and judging from advertisments in old gun magazines, a lot of them were modified, presumably to make them more marketable. It looked like a lot had barrels shortened to two inches (they lack the forward latch under the barrel but have a full length ejector rod), nickel plated and have new grips of stag (real or plastic, can't tell). I think there have been threads about such variations here before.
Most of those S&W snubbies missing the front locking lug on the barrel are either unsafe or close to unsafe to be fired. Especially if the gun gets out of time, it can force the cylinder open when firing. Adding a locking ball-detent system in the yoke can alleviate this problem.

But returning to the original question, the 1962 Gun Digest, my only original reference for that time frame, lists the Colt Police Positive Special, the Detective Special and the Cobra as all available in .32 New Police, .38 New Police and .38 Special.
.32 New Police = .32 S&W Long
.38 New Police = .32 S&W

Never heard of the .256 Colt Magnum. Did you mean the .256 Winchester Magnum? (The .256 WinMag was a .357 case necked down to .257.)

Looking at the ballistics, the 130gr FMJ .38 Special rounds are ballistically not even as powerful as the .38 S&W. Most ballistics show the 130gr FMJ poking along around 800 fps (189 ft-lbs). Several sources show the .38 S&W with a 158gr bullet at 767 fps for 206 ft-lbs. Modern .38 S&W loads are very mild to allow for older, well-used/aged break-top designs. Winchester's .38 S&W is a 145gr RNL at 685 fps (151 ft-lbs). Hand load that same bullet to 800 fps and it will duplicate the original performance of the .38 S&W.

BlueTrain
June 17, 2010, 05:51 AM
I was referring to the Colt Three-Fifty-Seven revolver chambered for the .256 Magnum. As you know, Colt wouldn't dream of using another maker's name with any of their chamberings, although they would make guns in such calibers just the same. The cover illustration of the 1962 Gun Digest was an S&W revolver in the new .22 centerfire with chamber liners so it could use .22 rimfire cartridges also. Don't remember the model number but I've actually seen one. Don't think I've ever seen anything in .256 magnum but I'm sure eventually someone will rediscover it and start calling it new.

The first revolver I ever owned was a Webley in .38/200. Sturdy thing, incredibly practical break-top action, not particularly accurate.

Mike Irwin
June 17, 2010, 08:31 AM
The US not only had the .380-200 in inventory, it kept it and the ammo in inventory up through at least the Vietnam War.

Issuance is another matter entirely.

Supposedly during WW II OSS officers and operatives were the prime users of .380-200 chambered Smiths.

Mike Irwin
June 17, 2010, 08:34 AM
He didn't say a .256 Colt Magnum...

He said a Colt IN .256 Magnum.

I've never heard of Colt chambering any revolvers in .256 Magnum. It would have had the same problems as the .22 Jet, and probably a lot worse because of the sharper neck.

BlueTrain
June 17, 2010, 11:01 AM
Well, I've heard of it, just never seen one and I'll bet not many others have either. You might call it a non-starter or something. In a way, it was a development of a trend in hot small bore cartridges for revolvers that seemed to have a limited degree of popularity in the 1940s and 1950s, most of which might be called wildcats. The .22 Kay-chuck was another. I don't think there's anything like that in revolvers today. These days extra big-bores get more interest but come to think of it, there are a couple around at the moment. How different are they?

Another thing that seems to have come and gone is the practice of putting long relief telescopes on revolvers, something those hot little revolvers might have benefited from. I gather there must have been a relative abundance of war surplus German telescopes that were mounted in the original scout-rifle format.

The Colt PPS is a charming little revolver and I once owned one. It shows up a lot in old movies, no doubt why I wanted one. They are a nice size, too, and I've seen several excellent examples. For shooting, however, they seem extra stiff, because of the hand that gives it that rigid lock-up, if you can describe it that way.

Mike Irwin
June 17, 2010, 12:38 PM
The closest thing to the Harvey Kay Chuk out today are the Taurus revolvers chambered in .22 Hornet. IIRC the Kay Chuk used the .22 Hornet case as its origin.

The Kay Chuk had a fairly straight body and sharp shoulder, but it kept pressures pretty low compared to the Jet or the .256 Win Mag.

BlueTrain
June 17, 2010, 01:19 PM
I think it is worth mentioning that the Police Positive Special was made relatively recently, as was the Official Police, although the barrel was changed to a sort of underlug style and I think different grips were used. They had nothing of the look of their predecessors even if the mechanism was the same. I suppose my comment is another example of someone not wanting Colt to make anything new, but for a while there we were all anxious to see what the latest thing from S&W was going to be, even though they, too, were just the same inside, more or less, until the internal lock came along.

ronl
June 23, 2010, 05:27 PM
I took my Mom out to shoot the little thing and it is absolutely sweet. I put three shots in less than 1" at 15 yds and I can't shoot pistols very well at all because my eyesight is not very good. Well, for $200 I think it was definitely worth it. Even my Mom, who has NEVER shot a gun before, did well with it. Absolutely no recoil at all. Perfect match for my Mom. Now if I could just find a .38 Special cylinder for it.

Johnny Guest
June 24, 2010, 11:53 AM
Now if I could just find a .38 Special cylinder for it. ronl, are you aware that the .38 S&W cartridge uses a bullet slightly larger (.361") than the .357" .38 Special bullet?

Many handloaders load the .38 S&W with Spl bullets, with varying degrees of success. With a tight .38 S&W bore, and the use of soft Spl bullets, a good degree of accuracy may be possible. The smaller bullet "slugs out," or obturates to fill the larger bore. On the other hand, using hard bullets at low pressures does not allow the bullet base to expand and fill the bore very well. If one is satisfied with a self-defense arrangement of marginal accuracy, with say, a four inch group at 20 FEET (not yards,) then that might be okay.

I haven't priced Colt revolver cylinders in the past 20 years, but I doubt you could buy one in .38SPL and have it installed for under $150. Colt cylinders are NOT "drop-in" parts; they must be fitted by a knowledgeable 'smith. This doesn't even factor in the time, effort, and telephone charges necessary to locate such a cylinder available for purchase.

ronl, it's your revolver, your money, and your Mom, and I wouldn't essay to tell you what to do. I simply submit that it'd be more economical to sell or trade off that neat little revolver and obtain one originally built in .38 SPL. ALSO, take this into account: You've commented on how soft-shooting it is, and how easy your Mom handles it. That will change greatly with more powerful .38 SPL ammo, especially if you jump right up to +P loads. Might the elderly lady be better off with a less powerful revolver that she can shoot pretty well?

Oh, and one final consideration: It might be reasonable to expect that a Police Positive Special, in a non-standard caliber, with foreign proof marks, could have some significant collector interest. I believe that occasional practice firing with factory ammo or gentle handloads, with prompt and careful cleaning would not harm this little revolver. And a 72-year-old woman would be unlikely to subject it to a lot of wear and tear.

I think it likely that you'll get this piece back some time in the next couple of decades, and it could only have risen in value during that time. UNLESS, that is, unless you've modified it so as to destroy any collector value.

Again, your choice. Good luck to you.
Johnny

James K
June 25, 2010, 01:35 PM
It might be considered that if the woman has fired the .38 S&W and can hit with it, going to the .38 Special could actually be counterproductive, especially if "hot" loads are to be used. Nothing will ruin a beginner's gun skill faster than a lot of noise and blast.

(One odd thing: Everyone claims that .38 S&W is weak and useless, but no one seems to want to test that by being shot with one.)

Jim

SIGSHR
June 25, 2010, 06:03 PM
Only real drawback to the 38 S&W is that at present it is a very out fashion round, hence the only factory ammunition available is the 146 grain RNL, unless you find sone old UK ammo with the 173 grain FMJ. On the Revolver Forum one board member described his tests of the 38 S&W, checking penetration, etc. Yes, no one wants to stand in front of one and as Elmer Kieth might say, not his first choice but sure beats your fists.