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Thread: The Colt SF-VI

  1. #1
    Super Moderator FLRon's Avatar
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    The Colt SF-VI

    Being a Colt aficionado, I find it interesting to learn a bit about these older revolvers that unfortunately are no longer being made. While their values continue to increase, it is fun to keep a watchful eye out when a nice one pops up. Here is a brief history of the Colt SF-VI, otherwise known as the Colt Detective Special Two. My thanks to the Colt guru DFariswheel for the information.

    "Other than the Python, the "D" frame Colt Detective Special and Cobra was the last of the old style action Colt revolvers. Needing a cheaper to make small revolver to stay competitive, Colt designed a new gun, loosely based on the modern transfer-bar action they pioneered with the Trooper Mark III. This new gun was built on a frame Colt named the "SF" or Small Frame and was catchingly named the Colt SF-VI, or Colt Small Frame-Six Shot.

    The reason for the odd name was to prevent confusion with the Detective Special, which was still in the Wholesaler-Dealer pipeline. As soon as the last of the Detective Specials were sold, Colt renamed the gun as the Colt DS-II, or Detective Special Two.

    Colt made small runs of limited production models of the DS-II, including a "Special Lady" polished and "hammerless" model for women, a few 3" barreled DS-II's, and a VERY few 4" barreled versions. Colt soon brought the gun out in .357 Magnum, and called this version, the Colt Magnum Carry. Shortly after introducing the Magnum Carry, Colt made the decision to drop most revolver production, and along with the King Cobra, the "SF" framed guns were discontinued.

    The early SF-VI model had probably the lightest double action trigger ever on a revolver. The pull was so light, some users had problems with the trigger failing to reset.

    The SF guns had a mixed reception. Many people were disappointed, having believed we were finally going to get an old style Detective Special in stainless, not a totally different design.

    There were a number of design features on the SF guns that were specifically to reduce production costs. The end of the barrel was deeply counter sunk, and the outer muzzle was left squared off. The muzzle edges were so sharp, it was possible to actually get cut, and holsters got damaged quickly by the sharp edges.

    On the plus side, the SF guns were VERY sturdy, held a full six shots, and were nearly as accurate as the older "D" framed guns. Trigger action was light and very smooth. Although the short front sight design appears strange to those used to the older shrouded Colt Detective Special, it gave an excellent sight picture.

    As a successor to the "D" frame Colt's the "SF" framed guns may have disappointed older Colt owners, but they were an excellent value for the money and quite popular to those who bought them. Other than some quality control problems with accuracy on a few guns, these were excellent pistols that were prime CCW guns.

    It's a shame Colt had to discontinue the "SF" series, and it looks like it will stay discontinued, as Colt has pretty well said that the "SF" will never be made again.

    Due to the low production numbers, and the limited numbers produced, the "SF" guns are being actively hunted by collectors. The prime collectibles are the limited production versions like the Special Lady, the introduction versions, and the odd barrel length 3" and 4" versions.

    In addition, smart shooters are hunting for these for CCW guns, especially the Magnum Carry.

    As in all Colt's, and especially in limited production models, prices are going UP and FAST. Due to collector and shooter interest, these models are coming on the marker rarely, and quickly disappear into collections or holsters when they do.

    A smart shopper will grab these "SF" guns whenever the price is reasonable, and hold them for the usual skyrocketing of the price Colt's have."

    Colt SF-VI (stainless steel with stock grips)


    I prefer wood grips on my revolvers


    The SF-VI with it's earlier cousins in nickel and royal blue

  2. #2
    Sponsor brownie's Avatar
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    FLRon,

    Very informative Ron.

    I've had two of the Cobras in the past. I'd like to find another worn one to add to the occasionally carried inventory. I've not seen one come into the shop once in three years on trade.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Brownie
    The mind is the limiting factor

    Stay Sharp

    Brownie

  3. #3
    Super Moderator FLRon's Avatar
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    Thanks Brownie. Here is a link to a guy that is on the Colt Forum with a couple of Cobras in stock. The bottom two look nice.

    http://www.pbfirearms.com/colt_cobra.htm
    Last edited by FLRon; 04-27-2009 at 11:11 AM.

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    Sponsor brownie's Avatar
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    Thanks Ron,

    Brownie
    The mind is the limiting factor

    Stay Sharp

    Brownie

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    Hi Ron,
    Thank you for the detailed description of the SF-VI. I bought one new (hammerless, nickel finish, and added a burled wood grip) in 1996. I bought it for home protection and it's been sitting in its box ever since. Now I know so much more about it and am very proud to own it. It's a beautiful gun!
    Would this be the Special Lady you referred to?
    38spec

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    History is fascinating. I have always liked the Colt D-frames. I have both a S&W mod. 36 [Chief's Special] and a Colt Agent. I much prefer the Colt. Not only do I like the extra round, but I have always preferred the the grips on the Colt. As the snubbies were originally purchased as BUGs, I only bought the two [I got the S&W originally and then the Colt from a co-worker who was retiring and selling it cheap]. I still carry the Colt when I'm working in the brush in the yard or taking the trash to the curb. Though I generally prefer S&W in the larger frames, I love the Colt snubbies.

  7. #7
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    Thanks FLRon for informative history and great pics of your Colts. I'm fortunate to have found a S&W Chief's Special in excellent condition. One of these days I need to get a pic of the gun on the site in an appropriate thread.
    Whether the authorities be invaders or merely local tyrants, the effect of such [gun control] laws is to place the individual at the mercy of the state, unable to resist.

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  8. #8
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    Really nice revolvers & I've often wondered why these were no longer produced by Colt

    I've got a Colt Peacekeeper .357 6" that I've owned since the mid-1980's (the poor man's Python as somebody once described it). But way back there in time I had it blued. Oh well.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator FLRon's Avatar
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    Thanks guys! The Detective Specials are some of my favorites.

    Keywe, it is a shame they are no longer being made. Here are two main reasons.

    1. Colt started to focus more on military contracts and deemphasized the civilian market.
    2. Colt got into financial trouble and had to drop the revolvers that had slowed down considerably in sales. This occurred as semi-automatics gained more and more favor with the law enforcement and civilian markets.

    It would be very expensive to resume manufacturing these revolvers again. The master craftsmen that made these great revolvers have since retired. New craftsmen would have to be trained and made suitably skilled and proficient. They would then be competing with less expensive revolvers on the market today, with minimal market demand. It's just not a good combination of factors.

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    FLRon,

    I am new to the forums and, in fact, only arrived here as I was doing a search for info on "colt sf-vi revolver." (Thus the great amount of time between when you started this thread and my posting, today!)

    The history you provide is not only wonderful but, for me, very sobering indeed.

    You see, many, many moons ago I bought 2 sf-vi revolvers (one for me and one for my Dad!) and, thanks to your history, now I know the REAL reason we were having problems with the triggers restting. Fearing something was terribly wrong, and because these guns were purchased for serious defensive contingencies, I sent one back to Colt with a blistering letter. In return, I received a brand new revolver only now, it was marked DS-II. (Thank you also for solving that mystery in my mind for the last couple of decades, too!)

    The correlation between the hsitory you provide and my real life experiences does not stop here, however. You see, the edges on the guns were so incredibly sharp that, after damage to a few not inexpensive holsters and cover garments, I "bobbed" the hammer on both gun. Some may say butchered as I used a dremel cutting wheel followed by a near professional polishing (have actually received compliments on both jobs from full-time gunsmiths) but, bottomline is that the holsters were much more dependable in drawing from under a cover garment, after that.

    Seeing how these guns have appreciated in value now, I feel quite the fool, of course. One is in the nightsand vault by my wife's pillow and the other is in my safe, relegated to non-routine and infrequent carry.

    Neither have been fired very much, just function firing when new and then occasional practice of no more than 2 or 3 cylinders full.

    I am just curious about on remaining thing: roughly how much are these (standard 2" sf-vi and DS-II) guns going for and, how much could I expect to get, considering I bobbed the hammers, outside the factory?

    In closing, thanks again for answering a whole passel of questions and mysteries that have nagged at me every time I have carried or considered these two revolvers in my collection!

Sposors

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