Why are people drawn to purchase snubnose revolvers for concealed carry and home defense? Click here and Syd will explain.
The Revolver in the photo is an example of the last carbon-steel version of the Colt Detective Special; its production came to end in 1995. I doubt that Colt will ever restore the D-frame revolver to their product line even though many lettered people feel it to be one of the best handguns ever made for extreme close quarter self-defense. While it is a very good design, my humble opinion is that the Colt holds no grand defensive advantage over the S&W other than the fact that the D-frame revolver holds one more cartridge than the J-frame does. If you forced me to live with only one small frame .38 Special revolver, it would not be from Colt or S&W; I would choose the Ruger SP-101 .357 magnum and feed it a steady diet of +P .38 loads.
Why did Colt quit making double action revolvers? I can find no hard sales numbers to support the contention that the wheel-gunners of the world had moved away from Colts. Some speculate that Colt double action revolvers did not fall from favor; they opine that Colt simply gave up on the wheelgun market due to corporate and production problems. If anyone knows for sure why Colt dropped the line, I would love to hear the real story.
The large rubber grips that came standard on this later version, along with the added forward weight from the barrel ejector-rod-shroud, make it easier for me to shoot than the older versions of the Detective Special. In proficient hands with adequate blammunition and a decent holster, it makes a suitable concealed carry or home defense handgun. The same can be said for the Colt Diamondback, the Colt Agent, and the Colt Cobra. After purchasing this revolver new, I practiced with it very often, mostly using 158-grain lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoint +P loads. Routinely we took it in on vacation as a “car-gun” and for motel room protection. The larger grips fill my hand perfectly but make the gun overall a smidge too big to comfortably conceal in my pants pocket. As soon as Colt stopped making double-action wheelguns, I retired this one to the gun safe. It does see occasional range use but now only with light loads.
Some lightly fired, +P rated, later version Detective Specials are available on the used gun market. While I rarely find them listed at bargain prices, they are usually cheaper than the more collectable early versions. Shopping for an early version Colt D-frame is fraught with peril; many people don’t know what problems to look for. Click here to read how to check out an old revolver.
Click here for a Guns & Ammo article on the Colt Detective Special
Click here for advice on using +P loads in Colt revolvers