SOLD FOR: $8525
Model: Detective Special
Serial Number: 478366
Year of Manufacture: 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, “478366”. The sideplate has a rampant colt logo. The trigger guard is marked “VP” in triangle and “4” 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.”. There is a small punch-mark on the left of the frame above the latch (later military delivered DS revolvers had this punch-mark in lieu of an Ordnance flaming bomb).
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 scattered minor nicks and scuffs. The checkering is well defined. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grips are in Fine-plus condition.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is bright with sharp rifling. There is no erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This revolver retains about 93% of its metal finish. The finish is thinning at some edges, most notable at the muzzle. The right of the frame, outside of the cylinder, and the side faces of the hammer have some spots of minor surface oxidation. The most notable defect is a patch of erosion in the middle of the backstrap, with some finish loss around it from scrubbing. The action shows faint operational wear. The screw heads are sharp. The markings are clear. Overall, this revolver is in about Fine 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 (modern) two-piece cardboard craft box with hand-written label and a Colt Archive letter confirming that this revolver shipped in its present configuration on July 28, 1944 to the Office of Strategic Services at the Fowler Building, Rosslyn VA as one of 150 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 Office of Strategic Services in July of 1944. Building on previous organizations and efforts, the OSS was officially established in June, 1942 to collect and analyze intelligence and conduct special operations which fell outside the roles of existing agencies.
Headed by “Wild Bill” Donovan, the OSS conducted operations from China and Burma in the Far East to the Balkans in the West. Intelligence was collected in neutral nations such as Spain, Switzerland and Sweden. Their agents conducted sabotage missions and organized anti- resistance groups behind enemy lines. They also contributed to preparations for the Operation Torch landings in North Africa as well as Italian landings at Salerno and Anzio. After the war ended, the OSS would be dissolved, its successors being the Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Central Intelligence Agency.
This revolver 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, enhancing this revolver’s already historically important connection to the OSS during World War 2. It will make a great addition to even advanced collections. Please see our photos and good luck!