Monday, May 11, 2015

Colt Magnum Carry - Add This to the Wish List

Many folks new to handguns consider revolvers "old fashioned" or even not worth looking into.  This may be due to their relativity low ammo capacity and a design that says more Maltese Falcon than The Matrix (like that's a bad thing).  But revolvers were used for serious defensive shooting, chosen above other firearms for a good reason. Back then, the average revolver was more reliable than a standard auto pistol.

Design had changed greatly over the years with respect to autopistols  and their reliability can be as good as the care you give them and the ammo you feed them.  But I can say one thing for a fact.  Even with the best of care, even with the best of ammo, and no "noodle wristing" allowed,  I've had a misfeed in an auto.

So that is something I think of whever I tuck a revolver in my holster for defense carry.  I've never had a misfeed in a cleaned and cared for revolver. Ever. I wish I had a bigger budget to own more, for they fascinate me, from a function standpoint, from a historical standpoint.  So when one of my favorite squirrel buddies offered to let me check his out for an online review there was NO way I was going to turn that down.

The Colt Magnum Carry.  It's a model of the Colt  that was only manufactured for one year, through the year 1999. This wasn't too long after Colt discontinued the last of the old "D" frame revolvers with plans to  build on the series.  The planned replacement for the "D" frame, was to be a series of small frame revolvers to replace the old Detective Special and Diamondback types.  Many of you reading here, I'm sure, are familiar with the Detective Special. Detective Specials were a snub nose revolver manufactured by the Colt Company starting in the late 1920's with a shortened barrel and compact frame, typically used by undercover policemen, which explains the name. The guns have been portrayed in many movies, one of my favorites "Reservoir Dogs" and "The Godfather" and on TV shows like "Dragnet" and "The "A-Team.."

And yes, for the Range Report, I wore too much bling,  assumed a modified Weaver, scowled and said "Pity the Fool" as a water (milk?) jug was slain.

The first in the series was the Colt SF-VI or Colt "Small Frame, Six Shot" (a .38 special revolver).  The name was to prevent confusion with the last of the Colt Detective Specials as they were still in the distribution pipeline.  The Colt SF frame was a stainless steel revolver that was essentially a small Colt King Cobra action with the King Cobra's transfer bar safety/ignition system. It was also essentially the same, dimension wise, as the D frame though.  Once all those were through distribution and to their new homes, Colt changed the name to the Cold DS-II, which many revolver buffs called the Detective Special Two.  That was never it's official name, which was simply DS-II.

Along came the  Colt Magnum Carry. This was the SF-VI/DS-II with a somewhat  thicker top strap and chambered in the .357 magnum. The first batch even carried the roll stamp "2nd Edition" on the barrel next to the words "Magnum Carry". Packaging was in a Colt Custom Shop's Box and Serial numbers start with the prefix SYxxxx. It featured fixed sights with frame notch rear, a serrated hammer, a nicely smooth trigger, fluted cylinder for six rounds and a factory Hogue black textured wraparound three finger groove grip that feels like home when you place that hand around it.

One year, just one year, it was available, to be discontinued in 2000 when Colt dropped most of their double action revolvers and .380 autos.

As the design evolved all of the guns were unique  with some similarities, and some differences.  The SF-VI and DS-II have a Colt contracted copy of the Pachmayr "Compac" grip.  (they look like the Pachmayr but don't have the steel liner inside and were made by Vintage Industries for Colt, not the Hogue grip of the Magnum carry.

None of them were big guns but they weren't the firearm equivalent of a Paris Hilton Purse Chihuahua either.. The standard barrel length for all three models was 2 1/8", but there some 3 inch ones floating around, I've heard.  Do readers know?

Range Report. 

Ammo - .357.  Need I say more?  .357 is rightly known for its power and is used in many other Colt revolvers, like my favorite, the Python and Anaconda models.  Like the other Detective models it holds six cartridges unlike the J frames which I believe typically held 5.

The Colt Magnum Carry instruction manual states that the gun can use regular .38 Special ammunition, as well as .38 Special +P and .38 Special +P+ ammunition, (high-velocity cartridges typically only used by law enforcement.) The Colt Magnum Carry may also fire .357 Magnum cartridges. Both were tried, both are dependable.  This firearm is a double-action revolver, so that when you press the trigger, it both cocks and releases the hammer, so you don't have to manually cock the hammer in order to fire.  Nice!

Finish and Frame:  The original Detective Special models had a dull black carbon finish. the Colt Magnum has a bright stainless steel finish with a black rubber grip and three finger mounts. It carried a frame-mounted rebound firing pin and transfer bar as well.  Frankly, this, to me, is just a beautiful firearm, in looks and function.  

Weight:  It's light, stated as 1.31 lb (0.595 kg). That's lighter than the Lawman which leads me to. .

Trigger - Heavy but pretty smooth.  I'd almost bet this one has had a trigger job.  There aren't a lot of gunsmiths that can do a really bang up job on a revolver trigger but they ARE out there and further down, I have included a link for one of them.

Recoil:  Think the slightly heavier Lawman packs some recoil? With .357 it's batten down your bustle and plant your feet in firmly, this baby is going to let you know it means business.  With .38 though,  it's about comparable to the Lawman though and it IS less than the Smith and Wesson Airweight.

Sight - Whoever designed the front sight was a 22 year old with 20/20 vision.  It's a smooth stainless steel blade with not as much contrast as these eyes needed but it was manageable close in. Author Frank W. James, who lets me blast whitetail on his property in the fall, sent his out for a  Patridge front sight, complete with the McGivern gold bead to the folks at   He was very impressed with about the work they did on that, and his trigger.

Concealed Carry:  The Magnum Carry is easy to conceal, it's not a big gun considering the power. It's sort of a modified "round butt". I was told long ago that rounding increases concealability but to me, it just seems like you'd lose some of the grip dimension you need for solid control of the firearm during rapid fire situations. Still, with just some basic shooting from low ready and defense shots, it was imminently controllable.  It tucked smoothly into the holster as well, his a southpaw one. Yes, there is a reason there are no photos of targets from southpaw holster firing (I'd give my left arm to be ambidextrous)

Sight Picture - One thing with snubbies is that when they feel natural in my hand, they shoot just a tad too high. When you get it where you are getting the shot placement you want, it will initially feel like you are "pointed down".  Just something to be aware of.

Overall, it was a lot of fun. This is not a gun for the meek or the broke, but it's an excellent carry gun if you can find one. They are somewhat scarce and prized by some as a "must add" to a well rounded collection.  I was honored to get the chance to check it out. 

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go adjust my bustle.


  1. That has to be one of the best looking revolvers I've ever seen!

  2. Good review. Now you have me wanting one and from a one year run I expect they're pretty pricey.

    Btw, how is Frank doing? Haven't heard many updates since his stroke.

  3. I'm still hoping to someday add a six-inch barrel, blued, Colt Python to the collection... not as convenient as your gun for concealed carry... but I've just always wanted one...

    Dann in Ohio

  4. In my experience with the Detective Special, the factory wood and Pachmayr 'Compac' grips tend to plunge in my hand when shooting rapidly. When Hogue began to catalog their 'Tamer' model for the Magnum Carry, I immediately ordered one in hopes of it fitting the Detective Special. It did, and the plunging issue went away. In addition, the Hogue offered additional clearance for speedloaders.

  5. I had a roommate whose first handgun was a Colt Python. It was a fine shooter, and it was heavy enough to club someone unconscious "just like on that dern ol' tv show".

    I should have bought it off of him when he offered it and slow-payed the utilities for a couple of months (or 6). *shrug*

  6. Nice heater! You say water-jug, I read skim-milk? ;-) I like Colts, and big ones too - but never been much of a .357 mag fan when I can recover and shoot much faster with a .38spl. - and all day long without pain in my mitts. Shooting .357mag just feels like a day of catching sizzling line-drives bare-handed at 1st base.

  7. Realize the cache of a Python, etc.
    But I have a Security Six in .357 (a gift from my best friend) and the Scherie carry is an SP101 in .357, although she shoots .38 from it.
    Carpal keeps her from racking a Kahr 9 and the steel frame suppresses the recoil while the knurled hammer (concealed hammers are ugly) aids accuracy.
    I liked slipping a .357 in her mix one day at the range.
    She smiled so sweetly.

  8. Never owned a Dick Special. Always wanted one.
    And, of course, a Python.


  9. Why can't I find any serial numbers that start with a p for the colt .22 dimondback?

  10. Noticed that the revolver pictured here has the Pachmayer grips installed. Different texture than the Hogues and with the metal insert as opposed to Hogue's synthetics, it should add a bit more heft to the piece. Too bad that Colt has not reissued to compete with the 5 shot S&W, Ruger, Rossi, Taurus, and Charter. But Kimber of all companies has just released their K6S, on the same platform.

  11. With concealed carry being common today, I don't see why Colt hasn't reintroduced a Magnum Carry again. Same with the DSII. They could remake the old King Cobra with fixed sights and a 3 and 4 inch barrels.


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