SOLD FOR: $5825
Model: Detective Special
Serial Number: 466867
Year of Manufacture: Colt’s serial lookup indicates production in 1938 (COLT Serial Number Lookup, the included Colt Archive letter indicates that the revolver shipped February 24, 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, “466867”. The sideplate has a rampant colt logo. The trigger guard is marked “VP” in triangle and with an upside-down “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 some light nicks and scratches 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 condition.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is mostly bright with sharp rifling. There is infrequent minor erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This revolver retains about 90% of its metal finish. The finish is thinning at all edges. There are some scattered minor nicks and scratches. The grip straps show light handling wear and there is scuffing on the butt. There are a few patches of light surface erosion at the top of the frontstrap and on the bottom of the trigger guard. The action shows minor operational wear including a thin turn-line on the cylinder. The screw heads are 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 with a Colt Archive letter confirming that this revolver shipped in its present configuration on February 24, 1944 to the Transportation Officer of Camp Ritchie in Highfield, Maryland for the Military Intelligence Corps Depot as one of 800 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 Camp Ritchie during WWII.
Camp Ritchie was the site of the Military Intelligence Training Center (MITC) which began in 1942 to train approximately 19,600 troops in intelligence operations including some 15,000 who would go on to perform front line tasks related to interrogation, battlefield intelligence, counter-intelligence, and other clandestine work, mostly in the European theater. Referred to as the “Ritchie Boys”, about 14% of these operatives had fled from Germany and Austria due to their Jewish heritage. The primary characteristic sought for these troops was the ability to speak both English and another language such as German, Italian, French or others which would be useful for their intended role. Post-war studies would find that nearly 60% of credible intelligence gathered in Europe came from the Ritchie Boys.
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, during and after which many Camp Ritchie trained operatives entered Europe. For collectors of WWII military and clandestine weapons, this is a wonderful and well documented find. Good luck and happy bidding!