02 May 2008   |   by Greg   |   Revolvers

.38 Detective Special

The Colt Detective Special morphed through four (4) variations (or series) in its almost seventy years.
1952 Colt Detective Special in .32 Caliber
  • First Series Detective Specials were manufactured from 1927 to 1946, with square butt grip frames through 1933 and round butt grip frames thereafter.
  • Second Variation Detective Special revolvers were manufactured from 1947 to 1972. Available calibers were .32 New Police, .38 New Police or .38 Special. Two or three inch barrels were available. Second variation grips were made of plastic from 1947 to 1954 and wood grips were used thereafter. Wrap-around wood grips were introduced in 1966.
  • Third Variation Detective Specials were manufactured from 1973 to 1986 in .38 Special only. These third variation models introduced the full shrouded ejector rod.
  • Fourth Variation Colt Detective Special revolvers were manufactured from 1993 to 1995.
Dtective Special

A derivative of the old Colt Police Positive, it was produced to meet the market demand for a gun that was easily concealed. The guns were produced in .32 and .38 caliber. My 1952 gun pictured here is a .32 Colt New Police.

I bought this 1965 .38 gun on an online auction in 2005 for $900. It's condition is pristine, unfired, no cylinder turn mark, came with original walnut grips, box and papers.
Detective Special Historical Value Chart

The gun also came with the extra after-market real mother of pearl grips it's wearing, which did have some influence on my purchase. For purposes of the historic value graph, I put the value of the gun at $800, subtracting $100 for these extra grips. Sold on their own, the grips might bring $150-$300, but technically I might have paid the same price for this gun without them. So I split the difference.

1965 .38 .38

We know the original price of this gun in 1965 to be $110 because the price sticker is still on the original box. I know what I paid for it in 2005 and I have attempted to reflect accurate value points in 1975, 1985 and 1995. I was only five years old when this Detective Special was new and I didn't begin collecting guns until 1980, which brings me to this proposition.

1950 .32 .32

If any reader out there bought a similar gun between 1975 and 1995, please contact me through my Facebook page, link at the bottom of this page. I would like to share your story and adjust my price chart accordingly if need be.

Holsters for Detective Specials... Detective Special Holsters