I can tell Grant Cunningham knows Colt actions, how to work on them, etc but he sure does have a fancy way of saying that the Colt action is obsolete, and that it does not offer any real advantage over say a S&W action. I personally know of 3 Colt DAs that were out of time, a 1969 Python that I owned, a model 357 that I own now (same action as Python) and a Colt OMM from about 1954. I don't believe I was just unlucky, and I don't think it was because the oil and air filters weren't changed in these "Ferraris" either. I've had a few S&W problems as well, but much less frequently and at least one problem was from someone inside the gun. Don't get me wrong, I have a Colt collection and I really like them overall but I get tired of hearing about how great they are from the people who know far less than myself, when in reality, I collect S&W even moreso. I respect Cunningham's opinion when it comes to how a Colt works, or how to repair a Colt, but not for his opinion on Colts compared to other DA revolvers. Denial comes way before acceptance, as per Kubler-Ross.
According to these very generous analogies for Colt, when common sense is applied, these Colt DAs would surely still have a market following, and be very profitable, just like, ironically enough, both Ferrari and Rolls Royce still do. No one says "well I don't want one of them, they cost too much". The problem arises when, for example someone says "wow I'm never buying a Rolls Royce again because I can get the same luxury and quality, or even a little better from Cadillac". And that folks, is what happened to Colt.
I'm not a pistol smith, but as a collector, I have a good bit more than 5 or 10 of each, and I own them from all different eras as well. For my money, regardless of the Cunningham opinion
on why Colt actions have some hiccups, its going to be S&W nearly every time. When he called S&W pedestrian, he lost some credibility with me personally. Funny how the "pedestrian" standards of S&W were not attainable by Colt, causing Colt to cease DA production. Even if he meant pedestrian meaning, more common only, it was a poor choice of words. Any Colt fan should look at S&W with the same respect and admiration, because to say the least, they are still around today. And if they were the Ferrari, and S&W the F150, Colt still failed miserably because at that point, they had zero domestic competition for a true higher end Korth-like American made DA revolver. Many Colt fans have trouble accepting the truth about their Rolls Royce (or Ferrari) of revolvers, or their company as a whole. If I had a $1 for everytime I heard some variant of: "man you don't understand, they stopped making DA revolvers because they cost so much to make, and were so awesome, that no one wanted them and they were not profitable but they were actually the best of all time but no one bought them. Don't you get it!"
Ya I do get it, I get it very well. Too well.
How common is this out-of-time condition? Does it happen from firing cartridges or dry-firing, or both?
Also, the issues, rather imaginary
issues that people have with Colts going out of time are often on medium frame guns, and more specifically I frame or perhaps E. I never read nor heard of any reliability or timing issues with the Colt D frame, for any model. I personally own a Cobra, a Detective Special and a Diamondback. I have few rounds through them for several reasons, but all work great. The D frame has a very different action than a Python, or other medium frame Colt, and therefor should not be placed under the same umbrella as the others. The Colt D frame was used for the Police Positive Special, Detective Special, and Diamondback. The D frame airweight was used on the Cobra, Viper, Agent, Courrier?(IIRC). The odds of wearing out a D frame Colt are not very good, esp considering how uncomfortable most snubs are to shoot. Also consider these are 38 special guns, and you can practice with 38 special but carry 38+P if you really want. Of course you need to make sure that the 38+P is appropriate for your specific Colt before shooting those in it. With standard pressure 38s, assuming the gun has no problems from the factory, the Detective Special should outlast any of us.