Colt Detective Special “.38 snub” revolver

This item is HIRE ONLY for use by a recognised Film, TV, Commercials or Theatre production company.




The Colt Detective Special revolver has a 6 shot swing-out cylinder, is chambered for .38 Special and has an exposed hammer.

The Colt Detective Special is a carbon steel framed double-action short-barreled revolver and is an example of a class of firearms known as ‘snub nosed’.

As the name ‘Detective Special’ suggests, this model revolver was used as a concealed weapon by plainclothes police detectives.

Introduced in 1927, the Detective Special was one of the first short-barreled revolvers produced with a modern swing-out frame. It was designed from the outset to be chambered for higher-powered cartridges such as the .38 Special, considered to be a powerful caliber for a concealable pocket revolver of that time.

The Detective Special went through several issues between 1927 until 1986 when, facing stagnant sales numbers as well as rising production and labor costs, Colt discontinued production of the Detective Special.

After reorganization, the company restarted production in 1993. The post-1992 Detective Special featured ‘composite’ wrap-around grips with a gold medallion. Only a two-inch barrel was offered, in blue or hard chrome finish.

The new production run continued only until 1995, when Colt introduced its stainless-steel SF-VI as a replacement for the Detective Special.

Helpful Info

Regarding dates and period correctness, this item is appropriate for US law enforcement and police or plain clothes detective use from the 1950s up to 1995.

Foxtrot example shown here is a Colt Detective Special revolver. It is chambered for .38 Special, is fitted with factory chequered grips and is in a commercial blued finish.

Film Set Notes

Added bonus with revolvers is the option of blanks loaded with black powder that gives a slower burn than smokeless loads, resulting in a bright muzzle flash, accompanied by an amount of smoke, a dramatic effect.

A revolver also has some of the most distinctive loading sounds when cylinder is snapped closed or the hammer cocked. Worth the trouble of getting some good close miked wild tracks of these sounds – it is good ‘punctuation’ in a drama soundscape.