The Colt Detective Special Revisited


The Colt Detective Special. The Pecheneg PKP. The "Cold War Commie" CZ70.

These are just a sampling of the interesting weapons being discussed in a series called "Weapon Trivia Wednesday" on the website Breach-Bang-Clear. Here's a look at the Dick Special, a gunfighter's gun and so-called for the term they used for detectives in the old school cop vernacular.

WTW: the Colt Detective Dick Special

by Mike Searson
Elliott Ness famously carried one, as did Charles Lindbergh. The Dick Special was carried by police detectives, private detectives and anyone who wanted to discreetly carry a small frame .38 revolver. Colt dropped it from their lineup in 1992, just in time for concealed carry reform to start taking hold in America.

For those unfamiliar with Colt’s frame sizes, the Detective Special was built on the “D” frame. That’s somewhere between a “J” and a “K” frame to the Smith & Wesson lovers. For those who don’t know revolvers at all, Judge Mills Lane of boxing fame summed it up best when he famously said,

“People talk about their friends, Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson, but I have Doctor Colt. You see, Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson only have five shots, and Doctor Colt has six.”

The original Dick Special had an unshrouded ejector rod, common to Colt revolvers of the time, and Colt wouldn’t install one until 1973 with its third series. Opening the revolver is the opposite of a Smith & Wesson. Colt makes you retract the cylinder latch to the rear as opposed to pushing forward.

After emerging from bankruptcy for the seventh or eighth time, the Connecticut arms-maker brought back the Detective Special from 1993 to 1995. Then they ... ceased all production. Embracing soulless stainless steel, they rechristened the Dick as the SF-VI, which of course sold about as well as the Colt 2000. The Detective Special never heard from again.

As far as snub-nosed revolvers go, the Detective Special was the world champion of the .38 Specials, holding six rounds instead of five and having an unbelievably beautiful factory trigger.

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You can follow this link to see most of their Weapon Trivia Wednesday series in a single lineup.

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