As a collector, I usually walk by heavily used and abused guns, the ones that have been ridden hard and put away wet. But that isn’t the case all the time. A normal run-of-the-mill guns like a common GLOCK 17 Gen3 would have to be in expectational condition and at a great price to catch my attention. But others catch my attention for a whole host of reasons.
Take these two tried and true classic .38 caliber six-shooters for example . . .
These are my S&W Model 10-5 made in 1971 and my Colt Police Positive Special made in 1958. Both are police surplus guns that have spent some quality time in holsters getting rained or snowed on during a lot of shifts. Though they may seem visually unappealing, they’re mechanically perfect and still great shooters.
I’m usually a stickler for buying guns in perfect or near-perfect condition. But I do have a few “barging bin” six-shooters in the collection like these two.
As a collector, I try and find the best specimen possible. But good prices and stories also seem to call me. Yes, I know…buy the gun, not the story, unless you have documented proof. Even then, I sometimes wonder what some guns would say if they could talk.
The Smith & Wesson Model 10 came to me after some wheeling and dealing over a decade ago. If I recall, I have less than $150 in the gun and it came from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office through Lou’s Police Supply in Hialeah, Florida. When the Sheriff’s Office would surplus guns, Lou’s Police Supply would always win the bid for the lot and then place them in the used gun counter.
The Colt came to me via an estate sale in Maine. A good friend of mine who works in the frozen north was handling the sale of a collection of a former partner of his. The original owner passed away and his widow was sitting on some guns. He wanted to make sure she wasn’t taken advantage of.
I paid $300 for the Colt and waited like a kid as Christmas neared until it showed up here in warm, sunny Florida. The gun had police history up in Maine and is marked “M.C.D. No. 6”.
As I always do, I babied them just as I do my pristine guns. I gave them a good wipe down and cleaning.
The nice thing is, I can also take them out and not worry much about them getting dinged, scratched, or exposing them to the Florida humidity when I use them as carry guns.
If these guns could talk, what stories would they tell?
The Smith & Wesson, being an ex-PBSO gun, probably spent time on duty during a few hurricanes and maybe even the 1980 McDuffie Riots in Miami since PBSO sent deputies to assist. The Colt no doubt endured many frigid winters in Maine, maybe patrolling the sparsely populated Maine north woods. It could have seen some lobster bakes over in Portland and might have gone through a nor’easter or two.
Who knows…so far, they’ve both pleaded the fifth, other than when they let out a loud bark at the range.
Besides spurring my imagination and making me daydream, they also happen to be good guns for training new shooters, too.
The K-Frame Smith and D-Frame Colt, with powder puff .38 Special wadcutter loads, are perfect for introducing new shooters. Low recoil, easy triggers, and a couple of steel plates at 10 yards for instant feedback sure gets folks hooked.
While these guns have seen better years, they’re still very good shooters with crisp, clean bores and good quality triggers. They’re every bit as capable today as they were the day they were produced. I wouldn’t feel under-armed carrying either one with a speed loader and modern JHP ammo.
The .38 Special cartridge is nothing to sneeze at. Hundreds of thousands of cops carried one gun or another chambered in .38 for three-quarters of the 20th century. Heck, some old codgers hung onto them when the 21st century rolled over on their odometers.
Don’t let old beauties like these pass you by. These guns are still viable for home defense, self-protection, or just some fun at the range. Sometimes diamonds like these have lost a little luster, but they’ll still shine bright when you give it a little bit of polish and time.
Luis Valdes is the Florida Director for Gun Owners of America.