ColtDS3

I’ve long admired the Colt Detective Special. Sized between the S&W J & K frames the Police Positive-based snubby seemed an excellent compromise between them for concealed carry. Unfortunately prices on these guns- never cheap- has skyrocketed in recent years with decent guns starting at around $700 and climbing from there. So when I encountered this example with the rare factory-installed hammer shroud in .32 Colt New Police (.32 S&W Long) for much less than that the hideous fake-stag Franzite grips did not even slow me down. Shut up and take my money!  I consulted Linda, and as she had been recently hinting that it might be time to part with some of the guns I was less interested in we did a little horse trading and took this little beauty home.

According to Colt’s online database the gun’s serial number indicates that it was produced in 1949- remarkable, as aside from surprisingly modest holster-wear the original finish is in excellent condition. The double-action trigger pull is phenomenal, light and super-smooth. But how does it shoot?

To find out I loaded some ammo and trundled off to the range. The answer is it shoots fantastic. This target was shot at a one shot/second cadence at seven yards-

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A second group at that range fired as fast as I could was only about twice this size. I’m deliriously happy with this gun. I’ll be on the lookout for a nice set of factory walnut grips and may add a T-grip adapter but other than that this gun will remain unmolested.

Naturally this was not the only gun that went with me today; a pair of home-grown single-shot .22s also went along for testing. Both had received new barrels made from a used stainless 10/22 barrel I picked up last year. In the case of the first gun, the TP22, I wanted a somewhat longer barrel. It shot pretty well, but my eyes are no longer playing well with the bead front sight; I definitely need new glasses this year. Still, this 7-yard target was not completely embarrassing, but I am loathe to adjust the sights until I can figure out if the seven-yard POI is me or the sights.

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The second gun was my .22 Magnum. After finishing it I pretty quickly found myself tired of paying centerfire prices for non-reloadable rimfire ammunition, so I made a new barrel and reamed it for .22 LR. Not bad at all-

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This target shot at seven yards with a 6 o’clock hold has the gun shooting pretty much to point of aim; more shooting will determine if thew drift to the right is me or the gun. Targets shot with each gun at 25 yards yielded well-centered 4-5″ groups so I am pretty sure it’s me. Need to tighten those up…  I’ll work on that; I have plenty of .22 ammo and if practice doesn’t make perfect it certainly makes better.

Both guns functioned well, and empties were pretty easily flicked out with a fingernail. Some day I’ll make a gun with an extractor; maybe the .22 rolling-block carbine that I’m working on…

A note on the Detective Special- it was being sold at such a low price with the understanding that it has a ‘timing issue.’ If you thumb-cock the gun very slowly it will not quite lock until the hammer actually falls. This cannot be reproduced double-action and as for thumb-cocking you pretty much have to make it happen deliberately. Several people have since told me that this is not a defect and that almost all older double-action Colts behave this way. Maybe so, maybe not but either way it concerns me not at all.

Loads used-

The .22s were firing 40-year-old Sears store-brand ammo inherited from my Uncle Jim. It seems to be pretty good stuff actually and has not suffered noticeably after four decades.

The .32 was loaded with a 96gr. LRNFP bullet over 2.7gr of Red Dot. This load has been chronographed at 900-950 fps out of 4″ guns and it is significantly peppier than factory loads (excepting Buffalo Bore,) but recoil was still mild and as you can see accuracy is excellent. Still I would not recommend it for anything but good-quality solid-frame guns. I would not risk it in a top-break.

Not a long session at the range this afternoon, but overall very satisfactory.


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