April 2014

Old-School 38s — S&W M10 And Colt Police Positive Special

A few generations ago, these revolvers were common and popular sidearms for law-enforcement officials and civilians interested in self defense. But can they still do the job today?

We had the opportunity to review two old-school 38 Special revolvers, a pair that was a staple with the military, law enforcement, and civilians a century ago. The condition of the S&W Model 10 rated about 90%, while the Colt Police Positive Special rated about 80-85%. The price for each was reasonable for a gun we knew we would probably just collect and plink with rather than conceal carry or keep in the night stand. Testers did have a definite preference between the two and would rather lay down their money for one over the other.

Our initial assessment of the revolvers included checking for wear other than the obvious worn bluing from being holstered. We checked for play and any wiggle in the cylinders while in battery by moving them forward and rearward and trying rotating them. We looked at the forcing cone for lead build up, which might indicate the cylinder was out of time. The hand, cylinder stop, ratchet, cylinder latch, and other parts where examined to see if they were worn. The cylinders were rotated to see if the ejector rods wobbled.

Other than the S&Ws cylinder latch being slightly loose, both guns were in good shooting shape, so we took them to the range. Heres how they stacked up.

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