Rifleman Q&A: Short Or Long Frame Colt Stocks?

posted on June 10, 2022
Two colt revolver left-side view with grips stocks wood removed signify size difference compatibility.
The long frame Detective Special on the right was made in 1956, while the short frame version on the left was made in 1969. Notice how the protruding wood on the bottom of the short frame grip encloses the gun’s butt. Thus, these stocks will not fit a long frame Detective Special.

Q: What is meant by a Colt Detective Special short frame versus a Colt Detective Special long frame? I’m looking for a pair of original stocks for my Detective Special and keep coming across these terms. How does this affect the stocks?

A: There is a definite difference between “long frame” and “short frame” Colt Detective Special stocks. The Detective Special was made from 1927 until 1995, and during that period, four different changes, or “issues,” as collectors call them, were produced that will dictate the type of stocks used for each gun.

The first issue (1927-1933) featured a long, squared-off butt profile, and the stocks used on these guns will not fit any of the subsequent issues and are not referred to as either long- or short-frame stocks.

In 1933, Colt rounded off the heel and toe of the gun’s steel butt, and guns with this grip profile—which includes second-issue (1947-1965) variations—have become known as long frame Detective Specials.

In 1966 (the beginning of the Third Issue Detective Special), Colt shortened the lower portion of the Detective Special’s frame, allowing it to be used on some of Colt’s other D-frame revolvers, such as the Colt Agent and Cobra. This has now become known as the short frame Detective Special and is easily identified by the fact that the two-piece walnut stocks designed for the short frame cover up the bottom section of the revolver’s grip area. Thus, they will not fit the previous long-frame versions, in which the steel butt is exposed.

Despite the differences between the short and long frames, using the correct factory stocks on each will result in grips of the same overall length.

Short-frame stocks will also fit Fourth Issue Detective Specials (1973–1995) and other late D-frame Colt revolvers. So, it is important that buyers source stocks specifically for either a long frame (1933-1965) or a short frame (1966-1995) Detective Special, depending on which version they have.

—Rick Hacker, Field Editor


Colt Gold Cup National Match pistol 1911 .45 acp remote camera man shooting indoors GIF
Colt Gold Cup National Match pistol 1911 .45 acp remote camera man shooting indoors GIF

Rifleman Review: Colt Gold Cup National Match M1911

Colt is the brand that's traditionally associated with the M1911, and in this Rifleman Review, we look at how they're paying homage to the classic design with the Gold Cup National Match model.

New For 2024: Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy Coyote Brown

Springfield Armory now offers several models of its 1911 DS Prodigy with a coyote-brown finish.

Rifleman Q&A: Savage Navy Revolvers

Q. Recently, at auction, I bought a “Savage Navy Revolver,” something I have wanted for a long time. It’s in good order and is a solid brute of a thing, but apart from the “Savage R.F.A. Co. Middleton, CT” stamp on the barrel...

The Viability Of The Vertical Foregrip

Learn the benefits of the vertical foregrip (VFG) and how this inexpensive upgrade can transform your tactical marksmanship skills.

New For 2024: Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 2.0

Smith & Wesson upgraded its semi-automatic Bodyguard handgun with an all-new 2.0 model in 2024.

Blaser USA And MidwayUSA Foundation Team Up To Give Back

Held at Joshua Creek Ranch in Boerne, Texas, Blaser USA and MidwayUSA Foundation paired recently to host a training event with proceeds benefiting youth shooting sports.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.