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Old October 31, 2010, 09:49 PM   #1
blackdog_507
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Just inherited a Colt Detective Special, pre-war?

My grandpa just passed down his Colt detective special. I believe it may be a first variation pre-war gun. It says on the barrel: "Colt SPT F.A MFG CO HARTFORD CT USA" Then below that it says: PAT'D AUG 5, 1884, JULY 4 1905, OCT 5 1926." Also, it has an engraving on it (my grandpa obviously bought it used) That says "presented January 23rd 1939" So, I'm guessing this means it was new in late '38 or '39. It has aftermarket pearl grips on it, which I believe to be real pearl. Its got some rust and pitting, blueing wear, and one of the pearl grip panels is cracked. This is no museum piece, but it does seem to function fine. Action is smooth as glass. Actually quite a bit smoother and lighter than some of my more contemporary pieces. It also came with a rubber/leather holter that is marked colt. It's a strange carry type holster specifically made for a 2" gun. I think the holster is later than then gun. I'm a big S&W fan, and I actually have a small start on what will hopefully become a nice collection of S&W 357 mags, so I know NOTHING about Colt's, especially older ones. I'm wondering if I can get a ROUGH idea on value on this thing, and an indication on whether or not I should take this thing out and shoot it, or just lock it away and drool over it from time to time. Any thoughts, information, advice, and opinions are appreciated.
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Old October 31, 2010, 09:50 PM   #2
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Sounds interesting - love the history.

Pictures when you are able.
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Old November 1, 2010, 08:15 AM   #3
Locoweed
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Serial number??
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Old November 1, 2010, 09:51 AM   #4
madmag
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I will give a broad response.

Yours is a 1st gen. det. special. They are great pistols. I own a 2nd. gen det. special and like it as much or more than my Smith's.

As far as value. It's not going to make you rich. There there were so many made that they will never command huge prices, but if in good shape you can get $500 plus. If it was me I would shoot it...if it passes safety checks. In fact, it is a good choice for CCW carry.
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Old November 1, 2010, 07:34 PM   #5
Dfariswheel
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Colt sold for a short time a rubber/soft plastic holster.
This was a unique "bikini" thumb break holster that was very minimal.
These would only fit the older exposed ejector rod, skinny barrel models. These have some value, although they still turn up on auctions from time to time.
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Old November 1, 2010, 08:10 PM   #6
blackdog_507
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@ DfarisWheel

Quote:
Colt sold for a short time a rubber/soft plastic holster.
This was a unique "bikini" thumb break holster that was very minimal.
These would only fit the older exposed ejector rod, skinny barrel models. These have some value, although they still turn up on auctions from time to time.
This is the holster I have, you've described it perfectly, it is a rubber holster on closer inspection, very minimal with a thumb break. Obviously fits the exposed ejector rod of the 1st gen detective.

Sorry folks, I'm having trouble getting the pics to post........
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Old November 1, 2010, 09:02 PM   #7
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This link may be helpful in determining the exact year of manufacture.

http://proofhouse.com/
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Old November 1, 2010, 09:20 PM   #8
Slamfire
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This is an early 416,XXX serial number. Early 30's manufacture. This is PIPP No 35J, a pistol issued to the Palisades Parkway Police Detectives.


This is an 876XXX serial number. Differences in sight blade shape and thickness, ejector length, frame size between trigger guard and grip. You cannot see but the trigger has "knurling" on the older revolver.

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Old November 1, 2010, 09:49 PM   #9
blackdog_507
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Great pictures

Mine has a 449XXX serial # and has the checkered/knurled trigger, and the same shape sight blade as your 416XXX. As I said, this gun has an engraving on it, says "presented to (John Doe), January 23, 1939, so I'm guessing it was probably new somewhere near there.
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Old November 2, 2010, 09:39 AM   #10
Locoweed
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Serial # 449XXX was made in 1936 according to Proofhouse.Com.
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Old November 2, 2010, 11:06 AM   #11
tdrizzle
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If you do use it as a carry gun, be mindful of the full length firing pin and maybe leave an empty chamber under the hammer. There's no block, like in modern revolvers, if it's dropped. I've got an Agent a little younger than that and like it a lot.
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Old November 2, 2010, 03:37 PM   #12
madmag
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Quote:
If you do use it as a carry gun, be mindful of the full length firing pin and maybe leave an empty chamber under the hammer. There's no block, like in modern revolvers, if it's dropped. I've got an Agent a little younger than that and like it a lot.
Not correct. The Det. Special has the same hammer block and re-bound system as the Police Positive. It is safe with 6 loaded.

The Police Positive (positive safety) came out circa 1908.
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Old November 2, 2010, 10:13 PM   #13
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I'll have a look at mine, and won't be shorting myself by one round much longer, then
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Old November 2, 2010, 10:40 PM   #14
madmag
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I'll have a look at mine, and won't be shorting myself by one round much longer, then
You should be Ok unless someone has just removed the parts, but I doubt that.

First (un-loaded of course). When you let the hammer down (slowly) from full cock and let your finger off the trigger, the firing pin should not protrude thought the frame. This is the way you de-cock your pistol.

Then look with a flashlight inside past the hammer when in full cock and doing this same process. With your finger off the trigger after initial release you should actually see the hammer block move into position.

Then actually let the hammer go down with your finger staying on the trigger. First the firing pin will protrude, but when you let off the trigger it should return (rebound) into the housing.

You can also remove the side plate and see the block. Not a hard job, but I guess if you don't feel comfortable then have a gun smith check.

Just my personal procedure. You can also find descriptions on the net on how to do the same checks.

Last edited by madmag; November 3, 2010 at 08:43 AM.
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Old December 3, 2010, 10:06 PM   #15
mrwilmoth
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you have to love pre war detective specials! they are my favorite revolver, I own one made in 1930, I love it! The square butt models are the most sought after and once you own one, you will want two or three more!
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Old December 4, 2010, 11:07 AM   #16
pythagorean
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Thanks for those photos slamfire.

There is something incredibly alluring about the D frame Colt.....
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Old December 4, 2010, 01:40 PM   #17
BigAl1958
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Off the Subject a bit

Hey, sounds like some Colt fans out there. My question is I have an early 60s Colt Trooper but where do I look to find the serial #, I have looked it up and down but have not located it. Do I need to remove the grips?
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Old December 4, 2010, 01:50 PM   #18
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Serial number-Colt

Open the cylinder, it will be both on the cylinder crane and the inside frame area.
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Old December 4, 2010, 03:08 PM   #19
BigAl1958
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Thanks smkummer, not sure how I missed it but I never will again, lol.
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Old December 4, 2010, 03:23 PM   #20
pythagorean
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Compare slamfire's Detective Specials with this 1966 Colt Cobra:



Astonishing resemblance!
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