Colt's D Frame

posted on June 2, 2009

In the days when revolvers ruled the roost and only a few automatic pistol models were made in America, the major makers were Smith & Wesson and Colt. The competition between the two was quite vigorous. This period was the early and middle parts of the 20th Century and the major products included small, medium and large revolvers. Both companies made big guns - the Colt New service and the S&W .44 Hand Ejector series - but the major competition came from the medium frame guns. These were the Colt Official Police and S&W Military & Police models.

However, there were also some little guns, built on Colt's D frame and S&W's I frame. Eventually, I frames were phased out to make way for the new and improved J frame. Colt used the small D frame very successfully for years. Models included the Police Positive and Police Positive Special. The latter gun was simply a lengthened version of the former, made slightly longer to take .38 Spl.

Then, before World War II, Colt introduced the first 2-inch snubby on the Police Positive Special frame and named it the Detective Special. When aluminum alloys became available, Colt made the first lightweight wheelgun and called it the Cobra. Over the years, Colt used the D frame for lots of guns - Police Positive Specials, Dick Specials, Cobras, Agents, Couriers, Vipers and even an adjustable sight version called the Diamondback.

I have recently come into the possession of a short butt, lightweight D frame called the Agent and I have had it on my desk for several weeks. That's enough to set off the rememberin' cycle. But I can't help but chuckle over Colt ads of days gone by - the ones that accurately noted that the Colts were six-shooters, while the competition offered only a five-gun.



The Winchester Model 94: History & Disassembly

Compact, reliable and powerful, Winchester's Model 1894 lever-actions may not have the popularity it once had with Western settlers, prospectors, law enforcement officers, hunters and ranchers, but its legacy remains today and is a fan favorite in Winchester's current product line.

NRA Gun of the Week: Fabarm USA Autumn

On this week’s “Gun of the Week” video preview, American Rifleman examines a first from Fabarm, a side-by-side break-action shotgun called the Autumn.

The Armed Citizen® Sept. 17, 2021

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

EOTech Launches Anti-Counterfeit Measures

EOTech has launched a campaign targeting those who create and sell illegal copies of its military sighting systems.

The .405 Winchester: History and Performance

Now largely a forgotten footnote in cartridge development, the .405 Winchester was once the most powerful rimmed cartridge capable of use in a lever-action rifle and was a favorite of Theodore Roosevelt.

Colt Mustang .380 ACP: The Pocket-Size 1911

Based off the classic 1911 design, the small Colt Mustang chambered in .380 ACP is easily concealable and shares the same classic look in its tiny frame.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.