Colt Detective Special | Cops & Robber’s Best Friend

The Colt Detective Special is a revolver that was a constant companion to cops as well as robbers for over 60 years. This episode of TFBTV Patrick takes a look at his 1951 production Dick Special that is chambered in .38 Special. With a one round advantage over the Smith & Wesson Chief’s Special, the Colt revolver was a staple for concealed carriers and cops from its introduction in 1927 well into the 1980’s. Hope you enjoy the video of this classic Colt revolver.

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Transcript ….
[coming soon]



Patrick R

Patrick is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and TFBTV Host. He likes guns and has liked shooting guns for as long as he can remember. You can follow Patrick on Instagram @tfbpatrick, Facebook, or contact him by email at TFBpatrick@gmail.com.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • somethingclever

    Needs more Alex C.

    • hikerguy

      Yep. Miss that guy. He and Patrick together were a team hard to beat. Still glad we have Patrick and James around.

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      Not going to happen. He left TFB and TFBTV and will not be returning.

      • jng1226

        “will not be returning” – why so definitive? Was there a falling out?

        • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

          No, he has just moved on to other things. Alex parted company under good terms, there is no drama about the situation at all.

      • somethingclever

        Yeah, it was more of a wishful thinking thing. You guys were good together. Glad you’re still around, though. Thanks for the videos.

      • Bill

        The forensic linguist in me says ouch.

        • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

          There are no hard feelings, it does get tiresome answering the same question again and again.

  • LGonDISQUS

    Having a Third Series 3″ blued version is one of my dream guns.

    Good to know that Colt still supports all versions of these guns if you ever find one that is beat to $#!t and back.

  • TVOrZ6dw

    Cool piece of history, still able to do it’s intened duty today.

  • Lew Siffer

    When I was young, we qualified with this — fired one handed, single action, and dump the empties into the coffee can on the ground before reloading with loose rounds from your pocket.

    • iksnilol

      What distance?

      • Dougscamo

        When I carried a S&W Model 49 (aka Bodyguard which was a shrouded hammer version Chief Special that Patrick referred to) we qualified from 7 yards to 25 yards….but in the early 80’s we were being taught to dump the empties on the ground….still carried loose rounds in the pockets though….

        • M

          Funny you bring that up. I was reading some book, I forget which, that was describing combat stress and conditioning. Apparently police officers during practice used to pocket their brass instead of dumping them to keep their range tidy. When officers were involved in shootouts, they were found to have brass in their pockets even though they did not recall doing so, and it was unnecessary to do so

          • anonymous

            “I was reading some book, I forget which, that was describing combat
            stress and conditioning. Apparently police officers during practice used
            to pocket their brass instead of dumping them to keep their range tidy.”

            I thought it was some Mas Ayoob articles in one of those gun magazines I used to voraciously read in the late 1980s to early 1990s. In the version I remember, the officer was killed because he was looking for the coffee can where he had been trained to dump his empty shells.

          • Bill

            The Newhall Massacre.

          • Dougscamo

            Jeff Cooper….

          • Bill

            Currently, we spank trainees who pocket magazines during emergency reloads. If the mag is empty, it belongs on the ground.

          • Grey Beard

            I have hit a trainee in the chest with a black board eraser once for falling asleep in class, but spanking them seemed a little out of bounds. Well played sir. Well played indeed.

          • Bill

            Sleepers get front row seats in front of the podium, wherein lies a conveniently located water gun or squirt bottle. It really sucks if their mandatory notebook gets caught in the line of fire.

            We really can’t put them on administrative leave during training, it screws with the attendance hours.

          • Grey Beard

            Having to walk around all day with the remnants of a white rectangle planted square in between the pockets lent this one to never repeat that mistake again. All things considered I still think that was one of my best shots ever. Thanks for reminding me of the time I almost had a 150 lb mountain lion about have me for a late night snack. The 686 in the holster was nice but the MP5 was like a security blanket. Good times my friend, good times.

          • Mel_Anosis

            Forty five years ago one of my professors nailed me sleeping in the back row with a blackboard eraser. I laughed it off and left the chalk on my clothes….it was a badge of honor and made me a celebrity among my peers for the day.
            My wife, an academician, said today if she did that she’d be brought up on charges and probably fired if not prosecuted.
            The country truly is headed in the wrong direction

          • Zebra Dun

            Dang I recall the NBC course, fall asleep in class get to demonstrate the training Atropin auto injector. The HORROR!

          • Grey Beard

            Given the fragile state of some of those that I have to supervise I am reasonably certain were I to teach this lesson in chalk today they would be calling the State Police on me and insisting on an assault charge. Back in those days we recognized that most lessons were paid in the currency of blood so a little chalk was not a big deal.

          • Zebra Dun

            There are more females this time around 8^D!

          • Zebra Dun

            They had to pick it up, then or later.

        • iksnilol

          OH NO, YOU AS WELL!? THE OLD FOLKS GOT YOU TOO!?

          Hot dang, this is like a zombie apocalypse… just slightly more geriatric.

          But in all seriousness, the small snubbie at 25 yards? I assume y’all had a big target.

          • Don Ward

            You act like hitting a target at 25 yards with a snubbie is impossible.

          • iksnilol

            No, it’s just difficult, and I don’t know what size targets y’all use.

          • Bill

            Monster huge B27s

          • iksnilol

            Ah, that sounds actually doable.

            I just shoot at a smaller type of target so I thought about those and hitting them with snubbies at 25 meters.

          • Marc

            Meter? What’s that you say? Ahh, maybe someday the US will get with it.

          • Zebra Dun

            Metrics is so clean, unlike fractions and other crap.

          • Zebra Dun

            I have an M-640 that I have at times knocked over a standard size steel goat silhouette 2′ long by 6″ high at 25 yards, It ain’t easy but it can be done. I doubt in actual goat hunting I could do as well.

          • Dougscamo

            Actually at the time….it was a supposedly a silhouette of John Dillinger….
            Very easy to hit….with a 4″ barrel, scoring 100% was no bit deal….

          • Old Vet

            When I qualified we started at a 50 yd. line. It was 50, 25, 15, and 7 yd. stages. On a few occasions at the 7 yd. stage I would put all 6 in the face of the Dillinger target and then wait for the range officer to chew me out for not shooting center mass….haha I never qualified with less than 95 out of possible 100 pt. scores over the years. Long time ago though.

          • Dougscamo

            I used to blow out the center….then throw some “maggie’s drawers” into the target of my buddy beside me… 🙂
            As far as shooting John in the head….hey…it counted the same as center mass!

          • Zebra Dun

            6’1″ and 18″ wide?

          • iksnilol

            My targets are much smaller than that.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/578866d24f9a8ae59e0bc45f9d80f6f3d4a3b3636ba7981748af0d9c852dec50.jpg

            As you can see, the 10 ring is only 5 cm wide (2 inches). the 6 ring (aka, the widest black ring) is a bit less than 10 inches wide. This is done at 25 or 50 meters (thus the name “presision target”) one handed.

      • Zebra Dun

        Per SOP probably 50 yards LOL.

  • Gregory

    Unlike the Colt, the Smith & Wesson does not go out of time when a lot of rounds are fired through it. I’ll take a Smith & Wesson, thank you. For all of those naysayers about Colt going out of time, I owned one and it went out of time, it was spitting lead out of the sides.

    • Zebra Dun

      I have an old and excellent Colt Lawman MK III .357 magnum 2 inch barrel It has been to the shop once already to get back in tune, my Smiths? never.
      After the tune up the old Colt just cranks them out BUT, ya never know.
      I love the S&W revolvers, have two have owned some others.

  • Comrade Misfit

    Other than it’s not an airweight, the Detective Special is a great CCW gun to this very day.

    • Bill

      For light weight you’d get the Cobra or Agent.

  • hikerguy

    When I was a kid in the 60s they had a show about true cases of the FBI. I remember the times when they pulled those subbies out to apprehend someone I thought they were cool. My dad said that you would be lucky to hit the barn much less the broadside of one with that thing. I now know what he meant, but I have seen some really amazing things done with them.

    • Curious_G

      Sounds like your dad is a bad shot.

    • Curious_G

      Maybe you and your dad need more range time with a snub. It is not a target gun but the “broad side of a barn” commentary is needlessly melodramatic. Within 20 feet (outside of the zone you would likely engage someone) they are more than serviceable.

      • Dougscamo

        Qualified in mid to high 90’s (PPC course) consistently with snub out to 25 yards….check Bob Munden on shooting a snubbie WAY out there….

        • iksnilol

          Also didn’t Jerry Miculek shoot one upside down at hella distance?

          • Dougscamo

            YUP….

          • Paul White

            Yeah but saying Jerry can make a shot is like saying Halfthor Bjornsson could make a lift: Sure he may be able to but us mortals?

      • hikerguy

        I have owned Smith and Colt snubs. I know what their strengths and limitations are. They are what they are. That being said, you can go to youtube and see some gentlemen do some really accurate things with them. Some are amazing. That was what I was referring to at the end of comment.
        As far as my father’s perspective, well……he was Southern. Southern humor often plays into speech, and his comment was one of hyperbole, an over exaggeration to emphasize a point, not one of melodrama. He did not shoot handguns well at all, so he stuck to his shotguns (and sometimes rifles) by which he was an amazing shooter. I wish you could have met him, he was quite a character. You would have enjoyed being around him.

  • scaatylobo

    At least Jerry M. knows how to count to six and does not try to get 7 shots from a 6 shooter.
    I own a mint condition Colt snubby and its is VERY accurate and I would not hesitate to bet my butt on it any day.
    I carry it as a BUG,and that is high respect in my opinion.
    YES, there are many S&W’s in my carry box too,but the timing and lock up and ACCURACY [ did I mention accuracy ] are a great bet.
    AND if you fix that thumb grip ,you might shoot a wheel gun better !!!.
    But you get kudos for that Tacoma behind you.

    • Spencerhut

      Jerry shoots Smiths, as do all serious revolver shooters.

      • Curious_G

        As opposed to what – 30 year old guns? I am not sure what qualifies one as a “serious revolver shooter”, but in terms of competitive shooting you won’t have many factory sponsorships and none would be colt.

        • ostiariusalpha

          You’d be wrong on all counts there.

      • MeaCulpa

        I’d imagine some serious revolver shooters opting for Korth and a great deal going for manhurin (the go to revolver in Europe)

        • Spencerhut

          Never seen a single competitor with either one. Seeing anything but a Smith out in competition is a rarity. I know one guy that shoots a Ruger, one.

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      Eh, I’ll stick to semi autos.

    • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

      And Im sure you have never tried to pull the trigger with the slide locked back…

      It happens to the best of us.

  • Spencerhut

    After working on guns and shooting them for years I can say with confidence that Colts are tinker toys next to Smiths. I’d take a 5-shot Smith over a 6-shot any day and twice on Sunday.

    • iksnilol

      And I’d take a 10 shot CZ over either.

      • Zebra Dun

        Well heck yes if given LOL

  • Bill

    Lets not forget the Police Positive Special, the 4 inch version which was kind of a lightweight Model 10.

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      I have a nice 1937 model in the safe that I am going to do a video on soon.

  • MurphysLaw

    I’m so thankfull we dont have to rely on revolvers anymore……

    • Don Ward

      I’m so thank I don’t have to rely on semiautomatics.

    • Bill

      Spend time training with one. Both systems have their positives and negatives.

      I was an early adopter of the autoloader in the early 1980s, but it wouldn’t bother me a bit to go back to carrying a revolver. I still do frequently as a BUG, off-duty and field gun in areas with hazardous animals, such as mountain lions, or angry pigs.

    • Bill

      I had to make a quick run to the hardware store and grabbed a 642 and a spare speed strip. Shoved the gun in my pocket, which is something I wont do with a striker fired auto sans holster, and can’t do with a 1911 or P229.

    • Zebra Dun

      I’m thankful I have both!

  • Jeff Smith

    I have a Police Positive Special .38 special and it’s one of my favorites. I hope Colt really gets back into revolvers and not just the snake guns.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a598576785613fd36bd22fef5908b492a8a71b90ed46b42410ac1ea477b0ec9d.jpg

    • ostiariusalpha

      The Detective Special is just a snubbie version of the Police Positive, and the new stainless steel Cobra revolver is more of a successor to the DS (the older Cobra models were aluminum framed DS). Now, I’ve heard one of the spokesmen at Shot Show mention that the Cobra would be the name of an entire line of revolvers, including different barrel lengths. I do not want to get your hopes up, you can’t exactly cash the metaphorical check of a salesperson’s spiel, but there’s at least hope for longer barreled, small frame .38 Specials getting out there.

      • Jeff Smith

        One can hope!

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      I have a nice 1937 production model that I am doing a video on soon. It looks damned near new.

  • Edeco

    It’s Zeke’s gun in The Faculty. Adorable movie; whiney, cuddly, ballsy. Like Cabin In The Woods, but more audio/visual, much weaker though still good literary/theatre value.

  • Brick

    Patrick,

    Great vid as usual!

    But I couldn’t help notice how off the subtitles were:

    “Catch Car” with TP TV

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ec606dca5cc53f0ac9203a592a25ce275dd16c8d167008978d8396ceb8ab204b.png

    “One’s girlfriend the tightest”
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fb411a9474dd8cf54014c4ba50f4bff410394385e4fe427fb119b80d2e2ee30f.png

    LOL

    • iksnilol

      Oh, you don’t know?

      Automatic subtitles on youtube are in general hilarious. Seriously, do yourself a favor and turn on the captions on any “Instructor Zero” video.

      • Brick

        Well there goes my productivity for the day!

      • Zebra Dun

        Heck, until I turn off auto anything my youtube videos stutter and stop.

  • J

    Colt revolvers are always a treat. One change not mentioned in the video was the front sight. The older generations has ones which reflected light less. That aids their shootability.

  • john huscio

    It’s too bad there’s no high quality 6 shot 38 snubbie on the market today……waiting on the cobra, but no idea what the production quality will be like

  • Colonel K

    I disposed of all my pocket Pony revolvers almost two decades ago in favor of the S&W Centennial. I do miss them, but even the last version of the Colt would not handle +P ammo, and without a ready source for parts and repair, they were becoming collectible firearms instead of carry guns. The new Colt Cobra may change my mind, though I would prefer a blued model to SS.