SOLD FOR: $6525
Model: Detective Special
Serial Number: 476344
Year of Manufacture: Colt’s serial lookup indicates production in 1941 (COLT Serial Number Lookup, the included Colt Archive letter indicates that the revolver shipped February 4, 1944.
Caliber: .38 Special
Action Type: 6-Shot DA/SA Double Action Revolver with Swing Out Cylinder
Markings: The left side of the barrel is marked “38” and “DETECTIVE / SPECIAL”. The crane flat and crane arm are marked with serial number, “476344”. The sideplate has a rampant colt logo. The trigger guard is marked “VP” in triangle and “A” on the left. The right of the barrel is marked “COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. CO. HARTFORD. CT. U.S.A. / PAT’D AUG. 5. 1884. JULY 4. 1905. OCT. 5. 1926.”.
Barrel Length: 2”
Sights/Optics: The front sight is a rounded blade integral to a rectangular base fixed to the barrel. The rear sight is a square-notch integral to the top strap. There are serrations along the edges of the groove along the length of the top strap for glare reduction.
Stock Configuration and Condition: The grips are two-piece checkered walnut with silver colored Colt medallions at their tops. The grips have a few light nicks and scuffs with some wear in the checkering at the edges. The checkering is generally well defined. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grips are in Very Good-Fine condition.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: Most remaining finish is Original. Worn areas of the grip straps and cylinder have been touched-up with cold blue.
Bore Condition: The bore is bright with sharp rifling. There is no erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This revolver retains about 87% of its metal finish. The grip straps and the outside of the cylinder show wear which has been touched-up with cold blue. The finish is thinning at all edges. There are some scattered minor nicks, scuffs and scratches. The action shows light operational wear. There are infrequent spots of minor surface oxidation. The screw heads range from sharp to lightly tool marked with strong slots. The markings are clear. Overall, this revolver is in Very Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The cylinder locks up with no play on each chamber when the trigger is depressed. The double action trigger is smooth, the single action is crisp. We did not fire this revolver. As with all previously owned firearms, thorough and consistent cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork, and Accessories: This revolver comes in a two-piece cardboard craft box with hand-written label and a Colt Archive letter confirming that this revolver shipped in its present configuration on February 4, 1944 to the Chief of the Counter Intelligence Corps in Bengies, Maryland as one of 500 guns of the same type in the shipment.
Our Assessment: The Detective Special had been very popular with law enforcement and civilians who carry a concealed revolver as it allowed for a six-shot revolver in the same frame size as other revolvers which only offered a five-round capacity. This example is a little more interesting, having been shipped to the Counter Intelligence Corps during WWII.
The CIC was responsible for a number of duties. Domestically, they provided security for the Manhattan Project, investigated sabotage, subversion and disloyalty allegations, and performed background checks on military personnel who were to be given access to classified information. In Europe and the Pacific, CIC personnel were responsible for interrogating POWs, collecting information on enemy units and movement, countering stay-behind networks as the Allied forces advanced, even serving as interim government figures in cities and towns until a permanent local government could be established.
It’s not clear whether this example stayed stateside or went overseas, but it was delivered just a few months before the D-Day invasion, which would have needed quite a few CIC agents involved. This revolver also comes from the collection of author Kevin Williams, best known for his exceptional work on the topic of General Officers Pistols & Clandestine Organization Pistols of WWII, a nice bonus for collectors of these types of handguns. Good luck and happy bidding!