What “generation” is my Colt Detective Special? Depends on who you ask!

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Many people talk about the Colt Detective Special using the term “generation.” I get emails asking which “generation” is best or which should be purchased. I recently got a nasty email from a potential client who asked if I could work on a certain “generation”; when I replied that I wasn’t sure what he meant by ‘third generation’, he decided that I wasn’t qualified to work on his guns because I “obviously don’t know anything about Colts!”

Folks, here’s Fact #1: The Colt factory, the people who made them, do not refer to any of the “D” frame guns by “generation.” If you ask, they’ll tell you that generations are something “the collectors invented” (their exact words!)

Fact #2: there is a lot of controversy, but not a lot of consensus, regarding the various incarnations of the Detective Special and into what “generation” any given one falls.

Some hold that there is a generation change between the square-butt (long) and round-butt (long) in 1933, but not when the “C” frame was changed to the “D” frame in 1947; some that the change from plastic stocks to wood stocks in the mid-50s was a generation, but the reintroduction (after a seven-year absence) in 1993 wasn’t.

Like Colt, I prefer to refer to any given gun by its production date. This information is readily available through the Proofhouse site, and is a sure way to prevent miscommunication!

-=[ Grant ]=-


About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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