American Rifleman - October 2009 - (Page 124)

TECHNICAL I HAVE THIS OLD GUN … GUN: COLT DETECTIVE SPECIAL CALIBER: .38 SPL. CONDITION: 99 PERCENT (NRA EXCELLENT) MANUFACTURED: OCTOBER 19, 1956 VALUE: $1,000 (INCLUDING PREMIUM FOR FACTORY LETTER AND VERIFIED POLICE MARKINGS) W Colt Detective Special hen my wife brought home a DVD of the old TV series, “Hart to Hart,” I looked at the slipcase photo and the rst thing I noticed—after Stefanie Powers—was the Colt Detective Special Robert Wagner was holding. Even with its 1970s’ “third generation” shrouded ejector rod, this was still the quintessential “Dick’s Special” that evokes the atmosphere of lm noir, with toughtalking mugs who didn’t know where their next check was coming from but who could crank off six shots in a shadowy alley. It was the gat Edward G. Robinson used as Johnny Rocco in “Key Largo” (1948) and the rod Humphrey Bogart packed as Philip Marlowe in “The Big Sleep” (1946). More recently, it appeared in Johnny Depp’s “Public Enemies” (2009), a saga about the Roaring ’20s and Depression-era gangsters. Fittingly, the Detective Special emerged in 1927, essentially a Colt Police Positive Special with a 2" barCTOBER rel and chambered in .38 Spl. The little 21-oz. pocket pistol usually featured a blued nish. A nickel nish is less commonly encountered. There was also a rare, 3"-barreled version brie y offered after World War II, and in 1952, an even rarer bull-barrel “Heavy Duty” edition produced for the U.S. Border Patrol. For catalogued guns, there are four variations. The rst had a square butt, which acquired a more pleasing, rounded pro le in 1933. The second change, which spanned the years 1947 to 1972, added calibers .38 Colt New Police, .38 S&W, .32 Colt and .32 S&W, and saw the checkered walnut stocks replaced with plastic stocks. Many people were thankful when walnut stocks returned in 1954. The most dramatic changes occurred from 1973 to 1986, with wraparound stocks, an elongated front sight ramp that extended the length of the barrel, and a shrouded ejector rod, a la Wagner’s gun. After a six-year production hiatus, a brief fourth variation saw the Detective Special in stainless steel, plus an alloy frame, and as a double-action-only with a bobbed hammer. This last gasp ran from 1993 until 1995. The 99 percent Detective Special shown here was made in 1956 and shipped to the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, with “MPDC” roll-stamped on the butt, all con rmed by factory letter. According to a previous owner, this gun was issued to a detective assigned to protect then-Senator John F. Kennedy. Without documentation, however, this is only speculation and thus has no bearing on the gun’s worth. Its pristine condition would indicate it was rarely carried and may have been a “desk gun.” The Blue Book value is $800, with a bonus for the factory letter and veri ed police markings, bringing its value to $1,000. —RICK HACKER Photos by author 124 O 2009 WWW.AMERICANRIFLEMAN.ORG http://WWW.AMERICANRIFLEMAN.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - October 2009

American Rifleman - October 2009
From The Editor
Armed Citizen
Standing Guard
President’s Column
Welcome To NRACountry
Readers Write
News, Notes and Ephemera
Questions & Answers
Loading Bench
The Mayor vs. The People
Ruger’s SR-556: Ready To Run, Right Out Of The Box
The Colt U.S. M4 Carbine
The Truth About Gun Shows
Lincoln’s Rifles: “They Might Have Stayed To See The Shooting”
What Is A Purpose-Built Shotgun?
The ABCs Of Handgun Marksmanship
Making The Right Turn
Dope Bag: Data & Comment
Political Report
Trigger The Vote
NRA-ILA Report
Regional Report/Member Info & Benefits
Programs & Services
I Have This Old Gun

American Rifleman - October 2009