Colt’s Manufacturing Company, LLC has been around for over 150 years and has produced revolutionary designs that have been loved and made iconic. Designs such as the model 1911 bought from John Browning are beloved and adopted by militaries as well as copied constantly in modern day. For the sake of today, we will be pulling a unique Colt revolver from my personal collection that does not get as much notoriety as it should, the Colt Police Positive Special chambered in .38 S&W.
The Colt Police Positive Special was produced from late 1907 to 1995. It came as an iteration of the Colt Police Positive. The only design differences are that the Special had a strengthened frame and lengthened cylinder to make space for the more potent .38 Special cartridge. My personal Colt is that of the third issue of Police Positive Specials and is chambered in .38 S&W rather than .38 Special. The third issue was made from 1947 to 1976 and sported a grooved trigger, a new cylinder retention system, and a ramped front sight. According to Colt’s serial number lookup, my Colt was manufactured in 1970.
There are five issues or versions of the Colt Police Positive Special. Each is slightly different than before. The revolvers could be chosen by any police force around the world and add particular things like specific calibers and even lanyard loops. They were loved for their light frames and heavy-hitting ammunition.
- Issue 1, Made 1907-1928: Blued or nickel, hard black rubber grips till 1923, checkered walnut with silver medallions from 1923-28.
- Issue 2, Made 1928-1946: Wood grips were smoothed at first and then changed back to checkered. The top strap was grooved to cut down on glare. The trigger was textured, and the space between the trigger guard and grip frame was widened to make room for fingers.
- Issue 3, Made 1947-1976: Ramped front sight, improved cylinder retention system, grooved trigger. A mixture of grip changes happened during the 50s and 60s in order to achieve a more comfortable grip.
- Issue 4, Made 1977-1978: Featured the new popular shrouded ejector similar to many of Colts snake guns and was offered in blued or nickel. The “Special” was dropped from the name and was only mentioned in terms of the chambering.
- Issue 5 (Mark V), Made 1994-1995: The last of the Police Positive Series. Heavy 4″ barrels and rubber grips.
Colt Police Positive Specials are relatively affordable and common. This aspect is probably why they do not get much notoriety or limelight that they may very well deserve. The blue book values for the third issue that I own are not the kindest. For a gun in decent shape like mine floats around $300-$400. On auction websites, you can find them around that or even a tad bit more. The best condition possible is around $700-$750. All that being said, I think these are great gateway guns to get you collecting old Colts or even revolvers in general. Affordable nostalgia at its best! Let us dive into the specifications of the Police Positive Special as a whole.
As I mentioned above the Third Issue Colt Police Positive Special was manufactured from 1946 to 1976. Something worthy of note is that the Third Issue Colts were almost exclusively chambered in .38 Special, mine is not and I will expand on that a little while down the line.
- Caliber: .32 Colt New Police (38 S&W), .38 Colt New Police, .32-20 Winchester, .38 Special
- Barrel Length: 4″, 5″, 6″
- Cylinder: 6-Shot Capacity
- Sights: Fixed Front Ramp & Rear Frame Groove
- Weight: 1lbs 7oz
- Single Action Trigger Pull: 4.25lbs Consistently
- Lanyard Loop: Only Some
- Swingout Cylinder and Hand Eject
I had mentioned earlier that my Colt is chambered in .38 S&W (Colt New Police). I suspect the reason is that my particular revolver was imported from China and was once a Royal Hong Kong Police revolver and .38 S&W was either preferred or more common than the relatively new .38 Special. The .38 S&W is a slightly wimpy looking cartridge that packs more pep than one would think by just looking at it. I had written a Round Table article about it earlier this week. You may have also noticed that I have mentioned .38 Colt New Police and to expand upon that, it is essentially Colt’s proprietary version of .38 S&W that typically featured flat-nosed bullets. Both are listed on the side of my revolver.
With this revolver having roots in a police force I decided to pick up a silhouette target to do a grouping test. I stood at 15 yards and fired off-hand in a way I had seen in an old 1970’s police training video. Just picture standing essentially sideways so both shoulders are in a line along with the evolver and my non-dominant hand resting on my side. The picture below was my first target and the single hole shot low was my third shot that strayed most likely because of a flinch. I attempted two more targets worth and this one was my best grouping. It should be noted it consistently walked up and to the right from my point of aim.
Although currently older surplus guns or unique guns of long ago are pretty flooded and static in their prices, I think this is an excellent example of an affordable collector piece. Something to get a new up and coming collector started or maybe even add some zest to a Colt aficionado’s pile of Pythons. Colt being the extremely desirable pony to be picked out of any display case, I would suspect even the snobbiest revolver lover would appreciate the neat history and craftsmanship that went into these old gats.
I think this old gat is valid and unique in its own right but would you yourself purchase one? Maybe you already have one or one of each issue? Let us know all of your thoughts in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.