.38 Colt New Police

Colt Police Positive

The Colt Police Positive is a small frame double-action revolver featuring a six-round cylinder, chambered for either .32 or .38 caliber cartridges. Designed primarily for sale to federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies, the Police Positive was introduced into the firearms market by the Colt's Manufacturing Company in 1907.

Development and history

The Colt Police Positive was an iterative improvement of Colt’s earlier “New Police” revolver, upgraded with an internal hammer block safety. Colt christen#English this new security device the “Positive Lock”, and its nomenclature ended up being incorporated as a partial namesake for the new revolver. The cylinder of the Police Positive rotated in the clockwise direction, the opposite of firearms maker Smith & Wesson's competing models. Ever a canny competitor in the firearms milieu, Colt missed no opportunity to score a Coup d'état over its arch rival, and began a marketing campaign which accentuated this detail. In its advertising Colt proclaimed that "All Colt cylinders TURN TO THE RIGHT", and suggested that the Colt design forced the cylinder crane up against the frame, resulting in tighter lockup with less play and better chamber to barrel alignment, thus markedly increasing accuracy. The Police Positive was very successful; along with the Colt Official Police it dominated the law enforcement firearms market in the early 1900’s. The Positive was itself incrementally modified in 1908, forming the basis for Colt’s Police Positive Special model.

Features

Produced with fine carbon steel, the Police Positive featured the Hartford, Connecticut gunmaker's characteristic highly polished surfaces, and was available with both its signature Colt Royal bluing and gleaming nickel plated finishes. The First issue of the Police Positive ran from the revolver’s introduction in 1907 until 1927. Sporting Colt’s standard hard rubber grips, it was offered with barrel lengths of 2.5 (available only in .32 caliber), 4, 5, and 6 inches, and was chambered for the .32 Long Colt (which would also fit the .32 Short Colt), .32 Colt New Police, and .38 Colt New Police cartridges. Checkered Walnut grips became standard after 1923. The Second issue began in 1928 and ran until 1947, adding a somewhat heavier frame as well as a serrated#English topstrap to reduce sight glare, while retaining the wooden grips. Both of Colt's “New Police” rounds were actually slight redesigns of existing S&W cartridges, the .32 S&W Long and .38 S&W with the bullet noses flattened, as Colt resisted providing its main competitor with any free advertising. Colt's Positive Lock safety, the innovation responsible for the gun's introduction, functioned by preventing the firing pin from striking the primer of the cartridge unless the trigger was deliberately pulled. Intended to address deficiencies of earlier models such as the Single Action Army, the Positive Lock prevented an accidental discharge even if the hammer was struck or the pistol was dropped, allowing the revolver to be safely carried with all six chambers loaded. The revolver’s sights consisted of a half-moon blade front with a fixed iron open rear sight, which was a simple V-notch shaped groove milled into the revolver’s topstrap.

Variants

Police Positive Target

Weighing 22 ounces and available with a blued finish and black hard rubber grips in .22 Long Rifle, .22 WRF, .32 Long (and Short) Colt, and .32 Colt New Police (.32 S&W Long) chamberings, the First issue of this model featured an adjustable open iron sighted 6 inch barrel and was marketed from 1907 to 1925, with checked Walnut grips replacing the rubber ones after 1923. A Second issue was sold from 1926 to 1941 and differed from the First in that it had a slightly heftier frame which upped the weight to 26 ounces; also Colt’s nickel finish was offered as an option. In today's collectable market, the .32 New Police version appears to be the most sought after and valuable.

References

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