Model: Detective Special 3rd Issue
Serial Number: S08867
Year of Manufacture: 1979 (https://www.colt.com/serial-lookup)
Caliber: .38 Special
Action Type: Single Action/Double Action Revolver with Six Shot Swing Out Cylinder
Markings: The left side of the barrel is marked “DETECTIVE SPEC. / .38 SPECIAL CTG.”. The left sideplate is marked with the “Rampant Colt” logo. The crane flat is marked “S08867” and “P”. The crane is marked “ S08867”. The right side of the barrel is marked “COLT’S PT.F.A. MFG. CO. / HARTFORD, CONN. U.S.A.”. The left front of the trigger guard is marked with a “VP” in a triangle and the rear with “A”. The left side of the grip frame under the grip is marked “7 / 31”.
Barrel Length: The barrel is 2” in nominal length (2 1/8″ measured) with a full length underlug that shrouds the ejector rod.
Sights / Optics: The revolver is mounted with a square groove in the top strap for a rear sight. The front sight is a ramp that is fixed to the barrel. The top surface of the backstrap is serrated to reduce glare.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The revolver has two-piece smooth rubber grips with silver Colt medallions on each panel. The grips exhibit no notable wear or damage with only minor handling marks. There are no rips or tears. The grips are in Excellent condition overall.
Type of Finish: The barrel and frame are blued. The sides of the hammer are “In The White”.
Finish Originality: The finish is original.
Bore Condition: The bore is bright with sharp rifling. There is no erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This revolver retains about 96% of its metal finish. The left side of the frame has a few light marks on the topstrap at the front of the cylinder and light, small scratches behind the thumb-latch. The right side of the frame has a couple of spots of light wear just in front of the cylinder opposite the ejector rod assembly. The cylinder has a spot of wear toward the front between two of the flutes. The cylinder has a faint turn line which is more severe in the cylinder-notch lead-in grooves. The screw heads are sharp and the markings are clear. Overall, this revolver rates in about Excellent condition.
Mechanics: The cylinder lockup on this revolver is SOLID on all six chambers (with trigger depressed), the double action pull is exceptionally smooth and the single action trigger is crisp. The action functions correctly. We did not fire this revolver.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This revolver comes with a faux-wood cardboard box with two-piece styrofoam insert and an assortment of factory paperwork including owner’s manual. The box has an end-label which correctly describes this revolver including serial number. The box has some light wear on the flat surfaces with moderate wear on edges and corners. The styrofoam inserts have some oil staining but are otherwise intact. Overall, the box is in about Fine condition.
Our Assessment: The Colt Detective Special was basically the same revolver as the Police Positive Special, except it was limited to a 2” barrel with a few made in 3”. The Colt Detective Special and its aluminum-framed cousin, the Colt Cobra, were very popular with police detectives because they held 6 cartridges vs. the 5 cartridges of the S&W Model 36. The Detective Special had a long production run, from 1927 to 1995, with four distinct variations over the years. This is a 3rd Issue model that is in about Excellent condition with about 96% of its original blued finish remaining. It shows several tiny marks through the finish on the sides of the frame in front of the cylinder, one spot on the cylinder and behind the thumb-latch. There is surprisingly little wear for a nearly 40-year-old gun. This revolver can be used for home protection and informal target shooting, but it is really great for concealed carry. With is smooth double action trigger, fast double taps should be possible while remaining on target and with this model you get 6 shots instead of only 5 with the small S&W’s. With a revolver, there is no safety to worry about and nothing to jam – just point and shoot – offering superb reliability when your life is on the line. The sharp rifling in the bore and the traditional Colt tight cylinder lockup with the trigger depressed on this revolver should easily provide decades more shooting enjoyment. That said, given this revolver’s high condition and original box, it will likely find it’s way into someone’s revolver or Colt collection. Please see our pictures and good luck!
CA Legal or CA Private Party Transferable: This revolver CANNOT be transferred in California but CAN be sold to a California resident as a private party transaction (PPT) at our shop in Simi Valley. This does not apply to out of state buyers.