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  #1  
Old 02-16-2016, 09:19 AM
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Default Colt Detective Special vs S&W Chiefs Special?

I was reading another thread here where the OP was asking about the price on a DS he saw at a LGS. Got me to wondering.
This is just for fun, but if you had the choice between a Chiefs Special (Model 60) and a Detective Special, - both in the same condition and roughly the same age....which would you pick, and why?
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Old 02-16-2016, 09:34 AM
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I ended up with a model 60, it was less than 1/2 the price of the DS I was seeing.I do think the early DS is a gem,but I'm cheap!
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Old 02-16-2016, 09:43 AM
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Both are great, I love the J frame and use one everyday....but for an exposed hammer steel framed snubby .38 and considering the typical use associated, I might lean Colt on those two choices.
They both offer similar weight and size, the Colt offered the sixth round and more often had the better sights.
Issues concerning durability or lock work IMO approach red herring status when discussing snubby revolvers that are unlikely to see more than 500 rounds in their lifetime by the overwhelming majority of shooters....so I'm not overly concerned about timing issues in the Colt. Worst case, I get the hand stretched every few thousand rounds.
Both guns have better accuracy than most can hold, but for me the Colt is the easier to hit well with at more extended distances and they usually seem to be better regulated with their sights.
If the discussion were lightweight pocketable and shrouded/concealed hammer guns, I'm S&W all the way.
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Old 02-16-2016, 09:49 AM
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While the sixth round in the DS is very attractive, it would really depend on the DA trigger pull of each revolver. I have a Trooper MKIII that has an odd DA trigger pull compared to any of my Smiths. I see either a DS or a CS to be readily deployed self defense arms, and I don't want to be surprised by an odd ball trigger pull.
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Old 02-16-2016, 10:01 AM
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Default I'd take the Detective Special

Slightly larger frame, easier to handle. 6 instead of 5 rounds. Out of the box much better leaf-spring action instead of coil spring S&W. I own a number of J frames and D frame Colts.
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Old 02-16-2016, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrrifleman View Post
While the sixth round in the DS is very attractive, it would really depend on the DA trigger pull of each revolver. I have a Trooper MKIII that has an odd DA trigger pull compared to any of my Smiths. I see either a DS or a CS to be readily deployed self defense arms, and I don't want to be surprised by an odd ball trigger pull.
If you're talking about them being priced as you would currently find them, I'd take the CS as a carry gun for the reason mentioned here. I find the DA trigger more to my liking on the Smith. That outweighs the extra round for me. Admittedly, it shouldn't matter at the range it's intended for, though.
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Old 02-16-2016, 10:10 AM
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Well I carried a Model 60 for many years (started in 1973) and it has had a large bunch of rounds put threw it.Many of them were target rounds, but it has eaten some serious "geter done" rounds, including +P

A couple years ago I bought a NO LOCK 642 but have shot it a bit but not carried as a CCW.

I also have a older very nice Dick special I got a couple years ago. It shoots very well and as it fits a few of my J frame holsters I did carry it, that number 6 round is nice.

I just purchased a very nice older factory hammer shrouded Cobra and waiting for the legal BS to be over so I can get it out of the LGS. (NYS) That puppy is lighter than the Dick Special I might give it a try as a carry, both belt holster and pocket.

So op based on what you said, if they both looked good and the prices were decent I might just purchase both of them.

Sorry to give you a third alternate answer.
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Old 02-16-2016, 10:12 AM
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I was in a gunfight as an LEO in '74, armed w/my issued Colt DS and came out on top. Given the choice it would be the Colt based on prior experience.
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Old 02-16-2016, 10:16 AM
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I owned a Model 60-7 that I traded to a fellow Forum member for a CZ-75 in 9mm. Man, do I miss that Model 60! It was a good trade, and I believe both of us felt we got a good deal. I have other J-frames, but that Model 60-7 was excellent. I also have a Colt DS, and I really like it a lot, but in actual practice, I continue to carry a pair of J-frames (a Model 38-0, and a 638-1) as my EDC, rather than the Colt. The Colt is basically a safe queen, but it shoots and carries nicely.

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Old 02-16-2016, 10:25 AM
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I'd take the Chief's Special.

Why?

I already have a DS and have sold all my j-frames.

Mined is marked "L.A.C." for Lockheed Air Corporation==came from the "Skunk Works".
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Old 02-16-2016, 10:53 AM
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I have always had problems shooting J-frames. By the time I get a set of grips that fit my hand well enough to give me proper control, I've lost the advantage of its small size.
My DS was my first legal carry gun. It fits me and I can shoot it well. I much prefer it. These days the DS mostly sits in the safe due to way Colt values have gone nuts.
I do have a Model 36 that I carry from time to time. But more often than not, when I carry a revolver, it'll be a K-frame.
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Old 02-16-2016, 10:55 AM
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I'd go for the Model 60 round butt, fixed sight, 3 inch barrel if I could find it. It would match the Model 36 I have. It just feels so nice in my right pocket. Many days when I'm feeling blue and don't know why, I slip the Model 36 in the pocket and the natural mellowing agents of cold steel settle me down and life is good.
I had a Model 60 square butt with adjustable sights and 3" barrel. That made a surprisingly good target gun to 40 yards (pop cans being the targets) but not so easy in the pocket.
The Smith is more easily repaired in that parts are more available. Within an hour of buying mine I was standing in front of a gunsmith giving me my choice of three hammers to replace the bobbed one that came with it. Try that with the Colt.
The Colt is beautiful, but if I bought one, it would probably never go into a pocket. Still I hope to buy one some day.
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Old 02-16-2016, 11:01 AM
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I too own a number "D" and"J" frames and each has it's merits. Sometimes I carry one of each and sometimes two of one or the other (New York reload) life is good

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Old 02-16-2016, 12:14 PM
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I would Take The Model 60 due to Stainless Steel Construction,If however The Choice was between a Dectetive Special & a Blued Model 36 I would take The Colt.
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Old 02-16-2016, 12:29 PM
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I would go with the Colt. I own three DS Colts and carried one for a long time. They fit my hand better than the J-Frame, feel better to me and hold one more round. Now days, as a serious shooter, getting service on the Colt could be an issue.
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Old 02-16-2016, 01:05 PM
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I alternate regularly between a 1956 Model 37 Airweight round butt and a 1972 Colt Detective Special square butt as my "everytime-I-leave-the house" carry guns. Both wear identical Herretts Shooting Ace checkered walnut grips that allow a full grip while being only very marginally larger than factory grips (I have extra large hands). The guns feel identical except for weight. Both fit the same Kramer, horsehide, right front pocket holster and are extremely comfortable while giving no clues as to my being armed.

I am beginning to believe that an ideal compromise would be a Colt Cobra or Agent equipped with Herretts Shooting Aces.

My S&W Model 60-15 Chief 357 three inch round butt wears vintage stag grips and a Tyler T-Grip that doesn't get much pocket time. It is an excellent small gun when more power is required. It, too, fits the Kramer, but the protruding inch of extra barrel length is occasionally felt against my leg, but is unseen by others.

I cannot figure why Herretts quit making the Shooting Ace grips which I consider the best possible choice for concealed carry for myself. I have nine sets of their grips and believe that Herretts is absolutely the best in the industry for outstanding customer service.
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Old 02-16-2016, 09:27 PM
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I have a late model Colt DS and a Smith & Wesson Model 640. Two of the best concealed carry guns ever made in my opinion. The DS is much easier to shoot and shoot accurately. I really want to like the 640, it has enough weight to dampen recoil, is stainless which is a big plus and has the concealed hammer which makes it great for coat pocket carry. I guess I need to shoot it more to get used to it.
But the Dick Special for me is just a more naturally handling, pointing and shooting snubby.
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Old 02-16-2016, 09:39 PM
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The cylinder and thumb latch work the wrong way on the Colt. Give me the Chief! Sorry.
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Old 02-17-2016, 09:28 AM
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The S&W, because I'm not well fixed enough for collectors. I enjoy shooting and carrying my guns. I'd feel too self-conscious with a DS, afraid I'd break something or worse, lose it. Now, I know there are guys here who carry Colt D frames, but when I think about it's value, it would have to stay in the safe.
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Old 02-17-2016, 11:35 AM
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The Colt no question about it and I own both. Six rounds instead of five, more accurate, better trigger. My everyday carry is a Colt Cobra which at 16 oz. unloaded makes it an even better choice.
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Old 02-17-2016, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loeman View Post
The cylinder and thumb latch work the wrong way on the Colt. Give me the Chief! Sorry.
But the Colt cylinder turns the right way, while the S&W turns the wrong way.
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Old 02-17-2016, 01:07 PM
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The Colt is excellent as far as packaging goes, 6 rounds in a size scarcely larger than a J-frame, though I do think it might be just a shade too big for pants pocket carry. But since I rarely carry that way, it's not an issue for me. I do think that a lightweight like a Cobra or an Agent would be just about perfect as a carry gun. I found a nice Cobra for a decent price because it had holes drilled and tapped for the hammer shroud, but it was missing the shroud. It was otherwise in very fine condition. However, the deal breaker for me is that Crimson Trace does not make a laser grip for the old D-frames, and it's doubtful that they ever will. The worse my eyesight gets, the more I "see" the benefits of laser grips in a self-defense gun.
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Old 02-17-2016, 01:15 PM
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I use and like both but I'm hooked on the D frame.
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Old 02-18-2016, 03:51 PM
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While the DS is a great revolver I just prefer the smaller size of the S&W for concealed carry.
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Old 02-18-2016, 04:31 PM
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Sounds like my great search for a carry gun in the 80s...shortly after getting my CC permit and thinking about using it on a regular basis.................I got a...................

Detective Special ( cus my Dad had a 50s model DS for off duty/then carried it as a Capt.) ...then IIRC.. went to a 2" 36 (smaller)....to a 4" Colt Diamondback (looked way cool and not really that hard to carry)......then a 3" 36..............back to another Dick Sp. (for 6 shots) ........ 2 1/2" 19 (why not;not that much bigger and a .357 carried well in a Sparks SS)........ then a 3" 65 w/ bobbed hammer and shortened "Banana" grips and Sparks Summer Special........

Still have that 65........ but it took a back seat to a 3" 66 with Spegel Boot grips in 1988/89

Last edited by BAM-BAM; 02-18-2016 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 02-18-2016, 04:42 PM
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I love them both. If I could only have one I would keep the DS. Thank goodness I don't have to make that choice. Why? The DS fits my hand better, I am more accurate with it and it carries six rounds. But did I say I love them both?

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Old 02-18-2016, 04:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BAM-BAM View Post
Sounds like my great search for a carry gun in the 80s...shortly after getting my CC permit and thinking about using it on a regular basis.................I got a...................

Detective Special ( cus my Dad had a 50s model DS for off duty/then carried it as a Capt.) ...then IIRC.. went to a 2" 36 (smaller)....to a 4" Colt Diamondback (looked way cool and not really that hard to carry)......then a 3" 36..............back to another Dick Sp. (for 6 shots) ........ 2 1/2" 19 (why not;not that much bigger and a .357 carried well in a Sparks SS)........ then a 3" 65 w/ bobbed hammer and shortened "Banana" grips and Sparks Summer Special........

Still have that 65........ but it took a back seat to a 3" 66 with Spegel Boot grips in 1988/89
How on earth did you ever switch between all of those different "manuals of arms???" Thank goodness you simplified things with a simple TDA auto.
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Old 02-18-2016, 05:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petepeterson View Post
How on earth did you ever switch between all of those different "manuals of arms???" Thank goodness you simplified things with a simple TDA auto.
I was "young and dumb"!........ the biggest issues were;

is it "push me/pull you" on the cylinder release..........and

was the cylinder going "righty tighty or lefty loosey".......

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Old 02-18-2016, 05:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSW View Post
While the DS is a great revolver I just prefer the smaller size of the S&W for concealed carry.
Wow, Picky picky!

Both guns are just about the same size. Many J frame holsters hold the DS with no problem. Have carried both a Model 60 and DS, both 2'' tubes!

Sure the DS weights a bit more because of the 6th round but size to me is a moot point comparing those two guns. I just picked up a Cobra (basically a lighter weight DS) and am seriously thinking about making that a carry gun. Am now carrying a .380 bodyguard,
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Old 02-18-2016, 06:12 PM
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I only have 4 snubbies, a S&W 3"Mod30, a 1962 DS, a1957 Agent, and a S&W M&P 39 Bodyguard. I love the 30 for in the coat/vest pocket or belt carry when out in the woods, or fields. Skimpy sights, but very accurate, great game getter. The Agent is my hands down favorite to carry because of it's short grip and light weight. I shoot it well, it doesn't print, and it feels good with the Tyler adapter.(on the DS also) I was reading a piece about actually using your carry piece and the fact that once you do, it might never come home,,, so the bodyguard gets the most carry. It came equipped with a lazer, DA only, lightweight, and with Hogue recoil tamers on it, easy to shoot, and conceal. Wish the trigger was a little better, but if I need to use it range will be short, and if I can hold them off long enough to get to the truck my 19 is under the seat.
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Old 02-18-2016, 06:37 PM
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It looks like there are several DS fans here. If you ever get the chance, pick up a Colt SF-VI or DSII. They are stainless steel versions of the DS.

My SF-VI has a lighter and smoother trigger than the 2 DSs I have, and there is no stacking typical of Colts.



They didn't make these guns very long, so they aren't all that common. If you really want to go all out, find yourself a Colt Magnum Carry, the .357 Mag version of the DSII. They only made them a couple of years too and prices have gotten ridiculous on them.
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  #32  
Old 02-18-2016, 08:37 PM
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This Detective is certainly no safe queen. It served an LEO for who knows how many years, and now it serves me every time I leave the house.

The alloy D frames don't feel like they handle +P recoil all that well and would be prone to frame stretching. One reason I don't usually carry my Cobra.

I have always like the Chiefs Special, but have not purchased one yet. I try to buy only what I actually have a use for, and currently my need is filled by the DS.

As for repairing Colts, any minor action work is easy to do if you have the aptitude and get the shop manual. It is the major work that requires the special tools and detail that only a few can provide. Nothing big should be an issue if treated right. Parts are harder to find, but I have found all kinds of NOS parts for cheap. They are also making aftermarket parts now for major pieces, so there are options.

I will take a Colt every time. I do enjoy Smiths, but they have to be older ones, preferably P&R.

I have two Smiths. A 17-4 P&R is my 22 revolver, because of its reputation. I also have a rarer 629-2E snubby for when I on the trail. It is also top notch for trail use compared to Colts. And because they never made a snubby Anaconda.


Last edited by iPac; 02-18-2016 at 08:40 PM.
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  #33  
Old 02-18-2016, 08:58 PM
plattincreek plattincreek is offline
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This one is easy for me. I have big hands so the DS gets my vote. My wife has a CS and it is a fine, fine weapon but just sort of gets swallowed up in my hands. I've had a DS since '72 and love it.
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  #34  
Old 02-19-2016, 05:58 PM
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1. I can do most of my own work on smiths. Armorers school 1975 helps.
2 when I ve shot colts seems like I felt a longer than smith hammer drop. May have been in my head but put me off to them.
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  #35  
Old 02-20-2016, 02:22 PM
alwslate alwslate is offline
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I would pick the model 60 without hesitation, the reasons are
numerous and based on facts, not opinions and references to personal
experiences. The 60 is a stronger, more durable gun that is far easier
to maintain and in the unlikely event that anything went wrong with
it I could almost certainly fix it myself. For CC the advantages are
corrosion resistance and smaller size. Colt fans almost always ooh and
ahh about the smooth triggers. This never ceases to amaze me. The
idea that the overall quality and design integrity of any gun can be
judged by how the trigger pull feels to someone doesn't even deserve
comment.
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  #36  
Old 02-20-2016, 10:52 PM
JohnRippert JohnRippert is offline
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The first firearm I pulled a trigger on at the age of 6 was a 3rd Gen Detective Special. If I had one of those and a Model 60 in identical condition I would buy the DS for sentimental reasons.
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  #37  
Old 02-20-2016, 10:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protected One View Post
I was reading another thread here where the OP was asking about the price on a DS he saw at a LGS. Got me to wondering.
This is just for fun, but if you had the choice between a Chiefs Special (Model 60) and a Detective Special, - both in the same condition and roughly the same age....which would you pick, and why?
I am having a hard time making a decision.

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  #38  
Old 02-21-2016, 06:16 PM
tayninh69 tayninh69 is offline
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At the risk of being thrown off here the day I joined........the Colt DS. In fact, I did buy one earlier this week.

If for actual carry I'd go with a Model 60 stainless. A nice Colt DS just cost too much these days for me to use as a carry gun. But that's just me.....
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  #39  
Old 12-03-2017, 10:52 AM
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I love both but would not hesitate to grab the DS first . I carry a lightweight version daily . All I own currently ( DS ) is the old short butt Cobra but I have owned several of the different vintages of steel guns in the past . Would really like to own another long butt before I croak .

Eddie
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  #40  
Old 12-03-2017, 12:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zebadiah View Post
I am beginning to believe that an ideal compromise would be a Colt Cobra or Agent equipped with Herretts Shooting Aces.

I can't decide between DS and J Frame overall, but I agree that a Cobra and Shooting Ace grips is a fine combo. My nickel 1975 Cobra wears a set. I'll drop this photo right here:







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  #41  
Old 12-03-2017, 01:27 PM
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I've had a few of both . . . only ones I kept were S&Ws. The lockwork makes sense to me and I'm not scared of tearing them down.



As to strength, both have offset bolt cuts in the cylinder - they should both be perfectly adequate for a lifetime of +P use (assuming a steel frame). The D-frame has a longer length-of-pull (which is a good thing - they're easier to hit with for men with regular sized hands) and has a barrel that's 2 1/8" long vs. the J-frame's 1 7/8" barrel. The D-frame cylinder is a tiny bit thicker than the J's, but it's really not a big issue, even IWB or in the pocket.






Colt did a remarkable job in packing six rounds into very darned near the same space as the later 5-shot Chiefs. Honestly, firepower is not really the issue for me with these anymore, since any modern micro-nine is going to best both in a smaller package (and that's what I generally wind up carrying).










And then there's my amico cattivo...
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  #42  
Old 12-03-2017, 10:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protected One View Post
I was reading another thread here where the OP was asking about the price on a DS he saw at a LGS. Got me to wondering.
This is just for fun, but if you had the choice between a Chiefs Special (Model 60) and a Detective Special, - both in the same condition and roughly the same age....which would you pick, and why?
I had a very simple solution to the problem you posed.

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  #43  
Old 12-03-2017, 11:33 PM
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While the DS mat well be a great gun I would take the Smith even though I have several J frames and a couple I frames.

WHY?

Its job is a self defense concealed carry gun. If I ever need the gun I am carrying for a life and death situation, I want every advantage. I don't want to think about what kind of trigger pull does this gun have, how does the cylinder release on it work. I want muscle memory and habit to take care of as much as possible. During a moment of extreme stress I don't want to deal with little stuff if it could have been avoided. I don't get people who change their carry gun as often as I change the color of my undies.
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  #44  
Old 12-04-2017, 12:01 AM
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Complicated question. I own many J frames, I have owned two D frames, I traded both for K frames.

There is a premium on C**** at least around here. I have nothing against the D frame, in .38 special you gain a round, I would not dream of mixing S&Ws C**** and R***** as carry guns because of their differences. I just don't PERSONALLY see a reason for the price difference.

But there are plenty of folks who will pay that premium, or trade what I consider to be nicer.

So I would rather have the S&W, but if offered both in the same condition, at the same price I would take the C***. I would shoot it and enjoy owning it, but would entertain offers for trades.
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  #45  
Old 12-04-2017, 12:25 AM
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If the comparison is between the DS and M36 or 60, the Colt wins hands down. The Colt is much easier to shoot well than the Smith.

Neither is any good as a pocket pistol because of the exposed hammers.

The Smiths with concealed or shrouded hammers (M38, 49, 40, 42) are the guns to carry in a pocket. I do not include the contemporary 357 Smith j frames here because they are larger than the older guns I listed as a result of the larger frames.
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  #46  
Old 12-04-2017, 11:06 AM
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My wife has a Det. Special that I bought her in the late 70's. It has a horrible trigger, she has since went to a 9 mm shield because of that.

Have a blessed day,

Leon
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  #47  
Old 12-04-2017, 10:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loeman View Post
The cylinder and thumb latch work the wrong way on the Colt. Give me the Chief! Sorry.
WHY I never carried my Detective Special very much when I was on the job. Loved the 6th round, better sights and perfectly sized, yet shootable grips...But the cylinder rotates the wrong way and the latch is weird.
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  #48  
Old 12-04-2017, 10:50 PM
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I’d take the Colt, every day and twice on Sunday. Virtually identical in size and a sixth round.

GS
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  #49  
Old 12-05-2017, 09:46 PM
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I own both and both are fine Revolvers! I guess it all depends on the method of carry. If all you do is carry OWB then I'd have to give the nod to the Colt DS. It has a 20% fire power advantage, weighs only 2 ounces more but it handles +P's a bit better than the Chief's. It is accurate, well made and reliable.

For pocket carry the Chief's Special is the hands down winner as it is noticeably a better candidate for pockets. Smiths always had a better action (IMHO) and Trigger stacking in DA is not as perceptible.

One of my wishes over the last 40+ years was that S&W would make a Dick Special sized Chief's Special (M60-7) with a 6 round Cylinder and then it would be a no brainer. I do like the lock-work of the Smith's much better as well as the lines of the gun. IMO a K sized 2" snubby (aka M10) is just to large and heavy for a small EDC revolver. There is a huge gap between a 2" M10 and a Colt DS when it comes to weight, bulk and size.

All in all, I'd say either gun is a fine CCW, EDC revolver. Personal preferences will apply and this argument has been popular for 50 years!
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Old 12-05-2017, 10:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chief38 View Post
One of my wishes over the last 40+ years was that S&W would make a Dick Special sized Chief's Special (M60-7) with a 6 round Cylinder and then it would be a no brainer. I do like the lock-work of the Smith's much better as well as the lines of the gun...
Too late, if they did it now it would be copying C****** A***, and S&W doesn't want to be another R**** copying other folks (K*****, A*******, C***) products.
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