View Full Version : Colt vs. S&W DA revolvers

April 12, 2009, 22:37
why is it that Colt DA revolvers from the early part of the 1900's are so much less desireable than similar S&W revolvers. I'm particularly referring to the Police Positive Special, they seem to sell for a lot less than similar Smiths - are they weaker? crappier? don't shoot as good?

April 12, 2009, 23:09
Colt revolver lockwork is much more complicated and delicate than S&W lockwork, on the older guns. Which is one of thee reasons Colt got out of the revolver business. The older actions were labor intensive and required much hand fitting. Which is why they went to a different type of action on the later MK III Trooper and susequent models, like King Cobra and Anaconda, among others.

In doing so, the newer actions were sturdier, required less fitting and stayed in tune longer. All at the expense of the smooth double action of the predecessors.

I own S&W and Colt revolvers both. With examples of both brands over 50 years old, that I would not trade one for two of their modern equivalents. Either brand.

If it got down to the nut cutting and I could keep only two revolvers, they would be a pre-war Colt Officer's Model 22 and a first year production Colt"357" Model. Close behind would be a 1957 Colt Official Police in 22lr, a 1948 S&W K22 and a 1954 S&W Pre 24 44 special.

I'd hate to give up any of them, but the Colts would win out, if only two.

Retired Bum
April 13, 2009, 11:35
In August 2000 I went to a local gunshow and purchased a 1935 made factory nickel Colt Police Positive Special chambered for the .38 Special cartridge. This piece would rate at least 95 percent condition. Today that revolver would fetch close to twice what I paid for it almost nine years ago. Older prewar Colt DA's in good to better condition are becoming desireable items and the prices being asked and paid reflect this.

I will agree with xcpd69 on the lockwork. Prewar S&W's have superior trigger pulls and tend to be sturdier than the Colts. I remember when the Mark III's came out. I handled several of them and everyone had a heavy and gritty trigger compared to the older V spring models. They may be stronger and less prone to breakage, but I don't want any in my collection or shooting battery. I'll hang on to my Pythons and Diamondbacks and prewar models.

And so it goes.

The Retired One

April 13, 2009, 12:04
I've been looking for a revolver lately, mainly S&W model 10's (I would really love to have a 5 incher, with nickel would be even better), but I see a few Police Positive Specials that catch my eye. If a PPS is in good shape, would they be pretty reliable with .38 special target loads? I still want to get a Smith or 2, but I sometimes have the urge to get another Police Positive Special if I see one cheap enough. I never got to shoot my last one, someone bought it from me before I had a chance.

April 13, 2009, 22:03
A Police Positive Special would give you the equivalent of a Dick Special with the longer barrel. They make a great kit gun for carrying in the bush,very light and all of mine (with the exception of one PP Special in 32-20 with VERY large throats) are nicely accurate. The only things I don't like about the Colt revolvers (either O.P. sized or P.P. sized) is that the grip front strap curves up much higher than the Smith behind the trigger guard, kind of letting the gun hang in mid air instead of on my second knuckle as I prefer. Guess that's why they make grip adapters, huh?
While the Colt lockwork IS much more complicated than the Smith, and it does take one with real knowledge to tune one, I can't say that it is less durable than a Smith. I've pounded Colt's and Smith's for years and have yet to shoot a Colt out of time, though I managed to do that to a Ruger.
As others, I've got a love for the pre-war Official Police and Police Positives, and the early years of the 357. Have a first year in 4" and two other 4's and a 6 from the first 3 years and (one of the neatest of all) a 4" Trooper in .22LR in box with test target and all goodies. Yes it really shoots too!
The Police Positives are underpriced in the Colt world today, get what makes you feel good in them and appreciate them. I bought most of my good stuff 15-20 years ago when you seldom payed more than $175 for any of them, or the 357's for that matter. Also keep you eyes open for Agents, Cobra's, etc. as many times they can be had at a good price since they now don't have the aura of the J frames. Just last year I picked up a much carried and seldom fired Agent first model with factory hammer shroud for $200 in about 88% overall. Really shoots too! About as light as my 442 Smith, but with that something extra, eh?

April 14, 2009, 20:03
I remember my first police job. I was issued a 6" Colt Trooper with magnum ammo. I fired it once and bought a Smith, Model 28, 4" Still have the Smith. I don't like Colt wheelguns. As many knowledgeable members here have already stated, the lockwork is too complex. Besides, the cylinder latch works backward and the cylinder revolves the wrong way:). That said, my brother in law has an old Python with a trigger job. A thing of beauty I still find the Smiths easier to fire.

fire for effect
April 15, 2009, 06:28
Colt wheel guns just do not feel as good in my hand as does a Smith. The lock work in a colt is much more complicated, using both leaves of a leaf spring to work the action.

In addition to this I have heard that some gun ranges will not allow colt wheel guns to be shot on their ranges, specificly Pythons, because they tend to blow up.

I just know that a Smith feels better in my hand, and I can tune up a Smith action much easier than I can a colt.
I hate to even pull the sideplate off of a colt.

April 22, 2009, 21:21
does all this info apply to the Colt and S&W editions of the M1917?

April 23, 2009, 06:51
I have both a Colt and a S&W 1917 (and other Colts and Smiths) and have to say the S&W has a fine action yet, the Colt only so so. Never heard of Colts blowing up, have to think that is urban legend crap. Colt made fine pistols and still does but S&W just has the best action for a revolver.

None of my Colt revolvers feels anywhere near as smooth as the S&Ws which just seem to get better with age. Any good smith can make a Colt the equal of the S&W but why pay more for something that is free with the S&W. One last thought, S&W guns of late do not have the fineness of the earlier guns. Fit and finish are just not as good and the actions need much more breaking in. Hand work has been eliminated due to costs and the revolvers are simply not as good as they once were. On the other hand, Colt is out of the DA revolver business.

And lastly, the Model 10 is my favorite S&W.

April 23, 2009, 20:43
My Smiths have much better triggers than the Colts that I have had over the years. The Colts triggers had some amount of stacking. Not as bad as my Rugers though.