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Old 07-12-2017, 02:19 PM
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Default Colt - DS or Police Positive?

I have a snub Colt I inherited from my dad - it was his "off-duty" gun. Looking up the serial number on Proofhouse under Police Positive, I get a year of 1930; looking it up under Detective Special, I get a year of 1928 (even though the title says both models)

Odd thing is the only barrel markings are "38 Special" on the left side. No Colt name anywhere, although the frame has the pony behind the characteristic release latch. The grips appear to be 1950s era aftermarket with an eagle in lieu of the Colt medallion. Since my dad was a cop starting in 1950, I suspect he either bought this used from a retiring cop or, (most likely). from John Jovino in NYC.

Any help, insight, or leads to follow is greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-12-2017, 03:12 PM
robertrwalsh robertrwalsh is offline
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photos would be a great deal of help
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Old 07-12-2017, 03:20 PM
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Sorry in advance if they're too big
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Old 07-12-2017, 04:23 PM
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Ok, I'll give it a whirl. The barrel raises suspicion since it should have some markings on the side of the barrel. Could they be worn smooth? Next, it is not a Police Positive. They had a shorter cylinder window in the frame. This one has the narrow (front to rear) grips, so if it is a Detective Special it is an early one, agreeing with '28 to '30. Those grips look like the proper ones, but I can't see the medallion clearly enough to say what it is. Could that eagle be a well worn rampant colt. Whatever it is, it is very special to have your Dad's duty gun.

Ken
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Old 07-12-2017, 05:07 PM
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I doubt the grips are original, they do not have Colt anywhere - it's the barrel that is throwing me for a loop. Could it have been a remaining barrel from a previous model they used up when the DS first came out? I do not know.
I'd like to get as much info as I can before sending off for the history from Colt so I can give them as much as I can to narrow things down.
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Old 07-12-2017, 05:09 PM
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If the grip medallions portray an eagle, they're Franzite brand reproduction grips.
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Old 07-12-2017, 06:44 PM
robertrwalsh robertrwalsh is offline
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I have a pretty early (1931 I believe) DS. On the cylinder latch side the barrel has .38 Detective Special (.38 is full height, Detective and Special are half height, immediately behind the .38). On the other side in very small print is a two lines Colts Pt. Mfg Hartford Ct. USA top line, Pat Aug 5 1884, July 4 1905, Oct 5 1926 on the second line. Total bbl length about 1.92 inches. Barrel extension beyond ejector knob about .36 inches. Mine has silver COLT medallions in the grips.
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Old 07-12-2017, 07:09 PM
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It could be a Police Positive Special with a cut down barrel.
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Old 07-12-2017, 07:12 PM
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Submit photos and info on the Colt Forum. They'll pin it down.
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Old 07-12-2017, 07:22 PM
JohnRippert JohnRippert is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clang444 View Post
It could be a Police Positive Special with a cut down barrel.
Pretty much what I am thinking as well.
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Old 07-12-2017, 08:16 PM
shawn mccarver shawn mccarver is offline
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Looks to me like a 1920s vintage Colt Detective Special. See photo here for comparison:

https://picturearchive.gunauction.co...8f750d1ae0.jpg
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Old 07-12-2017, 08:35 PM
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You can look up a serial number directly from the Colt website:

Colt Firearm Serial Number Lookup - Year of Manufacture

If the search comes up "Police Positive", this cannot be one, because the .38 Special version was named (you guessed it) the Police Positive Special. No explanation as to the barrel stamp but the shortened barrel/relocated front sight theory (and restamping) is possible.
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Last edited by murphydog; 07-12-2017 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 07-12-2017, 09:48 PM
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Thanks for that link - these are the choices:

Quote:
1950
OFFICERS MODEL SPECIAL
1930
POLICE POSITIVE .38
1930
BANKERS SPECIAL
1928
POLICE POSITIVE SPECIAL & DETECTIVE SPECIAL
1923
1908 HAMMERLESS .25
1920
1903 HAMMERLESS .32
1918
MODEL 1911 MILITARY
1916
SINGLE ACTION ARMY & BISLEY REVOLVERS
1911
ARMY SPECIAL & OFFICERS MODEL
Under the serial number is stamped a "D1" if that is any help
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Old 07-13-2017, 04:13 AM
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Your list is excessive. Most of those Colts are too big.

You clearly have either a Police Positive Special with a cut-down barrel, or a Detective Special, the same gun with a snub barrel.

Given the lack of markings, I think the barrel was cut, probably on a gun that originally had a five-inch barrel. A four-inch would be more likely, but the longer one might be more likely to have the markings lost in the cutting, as they'd be further out on the barrel.

This isn't rocket science. Get Boothroyd's.,The Handgun and Keith's, Sixguns and Haven and Belden's History of the Colt Revolver, 1836-1940, and you'll have most handgun questions answered. L.R. Wilson's, The Colt Heritage also belongs in your library.

The square butt was on Detective Specials from about 1927-1933, when the rounded butt appeared. Generals Eisenhower and Patton both had sq. butt DS guns.

Last edited by Texas Star; 07-13-2017 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 07-13-2017, 08:34 AM
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Obviously, most of those do not apply; it appears to be the one labeled:

1928
POLICE POSITIVE SPECIAL & DETECTIVE SPECIAL
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Old 07-13-2017, 10:06 AM
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From 1927-33 (one reference says 1926-33), the Colt Detective Special was just a Police Positive Special (square butt) with a factory 2" barrel. In 1933, the corners of the butt were rounded off. Yours seems the have the square-cornered butt. As to whether yours is factory original, the best indication would be what is stamped on the barrel. Unfortunately, I do not know what was stamped on the original early first issue DSs. Serven's book shows a clear picture of an early first issue (square butt) DS barrel stamped on the left side as 38 Detective Special (in 2 lines). That is not how yours is stamped, which indicates yours is probably a PPS with a cut barrel. A Colt factory letter would answer the question, but they are somewhat expensive. First issue DSs are very pricey. As are early (pre-WWII) second issues.

Last edited by DWalt; 07-13-2017 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 07-13-2017, 10:47 AM
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Here's a 1928 Det. Spl. I found on the net that looks like yours with the same barrel markings. It looks pretty much like yours in the pic, but with your cylinder partially open, it gives the illusion your barrel is shorter.

VERY EARLY 1928 COLT DETECTIVE SPECIAL MINT CRISP!

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Old 07-13-2017, 10:52 AM
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I think the small "Detective" over the small "Special" stamping cannot be seen well in the above picture, but it is there. Enlarge one of the other pictures of the barrel in the listing which shows it more clearly. The OPs picture does not appear to have "Detective Special" in 2 lines stamped on the barrel, just "38 SPECIAL" of the same size. The Serven book's picture of a first issue DS also clearly shows "Detective Special" in two lines stamped on the barrel, with the taller "38" to the left of them.

It also appears from the OP's picture that the barrel length is a little shorter than that of the real first issue. I have no doubts that at least the OP's barrel in not factory original.

Last edited by DWalt; 07-13-2017 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 07-13-2017, 11:21 AM
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The early PPS barrel marking had the words Police and Positive on top of each other followed by 38 Special in one line, matching the OP's barrel's appearance.

I'm with DWalt. The comparison of the two photos, as posted by dump1567, shows that the DS billed as original 1928 has a different barrel marking.

Therefore the OP's gun has a cut Police Positive Special barrel, which matches everything else about the gun, except the "eagle" on the medallion. I'd like a close-up not washed out by flash, but a silver-colored eagle would indicate a Sile aftermarket grip.

PS: As -db- suggested, Franzite could be a suspect too; that should be obvious, as all Franzite eagle logos I've seen had the word Franzite clearly stamped in the logo next to the bird.

Last edited by Absalom; 07-13-2017 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 07-13-2017, 11:51 AM
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It appears to me to have the narrow grip frame of the PPS, not the wider DS.
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Old 07-13-2017, 12:15 PM
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I thought about that also, but I wasn't sure whether the earliest DSs had the wider grip or not. I have no first issue DS, only later ones, and no PPSs. In any event, it's very probably a PPS with a cut barrel.

I recently ran across a PP snubby in .38 S&W/New Police (basically like a DS in .38 S&W, but with a PP frame and barrel), it looked authentic but I didn't know enough about PPs to take a chance on buying it. BTW, there were also a few DSs made in .38 NP.

Last edited by DWalt; 07-13-2017 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 07-13-2017, 12:28 PM
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DWalt, I think ALL .38 Specials had the wider grip frame. .38 S&Ws and .32s were the first offered and narrower. When they went to .38 Special and 32-20 the frame changed. Including the grip frame. This looks to me like a "mortified" gun.
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Old 07-14-2017, 05:00 PM
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this is an early police positive special with the thin grip. The barrel marking uses the same script and position of the cartridge mark on longer barrels and is shortened as is the ejector rod. The early square butt Colt Det. Special had larger square butts as in Dump1567's pic. All the 2" colt factory DS and PPS production barrels have the model name and factory address.
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Old 07-15-2017, 09:52 PM
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I have a poor picture of my 1920s vintage Police Positive Special. You will see that it has the narrow grip frame. I can post from a regular computer using the forums function, but my iPhone won't copy the BB Code to do it correctly. I'll take a better picture and post soon, though.

Here's a quick look in the meantime.



The snub nosed Colt revolver based on the Police Positive, versus the Police Positive Special was the "Banker's Special", chambered in .38 Colt New Police. It had a shorter frame, and a shorter cylinder opening because of the shorter cartridge (same as .38 S&W). Here is my 1930ish Banker's Special issued to the Boston Police Department. Note the different length of frame as compared to the Police Positive Special above:

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Old 07-15-2017, 09:58 PM
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Quote:
I'd like a close-up not washed out by flash, but a silver-colored eagle would indicate a Sile aftermarket grip.
It took me using my wife's magnifying light to see them better - and you are correct - the name SILE is on the bottom of the medallion - I would have never seen those without your mention

THANKS!
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