Police 32 Collectible Revolver
If you see a police 32 on the market, be careful. It could be chambered for either the.32 S&W Long or the rarer.32 Colt New Police/Regulation Police Model (Colt didn’t roll mark their revolvers with Smith & Wesson names to avoid any confusion).
The Police Positive was available in barrel lengths from 2.5” to 6”, with fixed sights and checkered hard rubber grips. There was also a Police Positive Special version that had a slightly longer cylinder to accommodate the.32-20 Winchester and.38 Special cartridges.
The.32 S&W Long
Some people have regarded the.32 S&W Long as an archaic artifact best left to the dust of history. They point out that, when factory loaded with black powder, it only generates about 680 fps from an 85 grain round nosed bullet, making it a marginal self-defense cartridge. They are also quick to point out that smokeless powder, stronger steels and the Magnum Age have made such pip-squeak ballistics yesterday’s news.
The.32 S&W Long is a straight wall, rimmed handgun cartridge developed in 1896 for Smith and Wesson’s first model hand ejector revolver. It was quickly accepted into law enforcement circles and the name subsequently became known as the.32 Colt New Police. The cartridge is still used for pistol based bullseye competitions. However, those that try to use it in a handgun chambered for shorter rounds may experience firing malfunctions, jamming and issues with ejecting the spent cartridge. This may result in a potentially dangerous situation.
The.32 Colt New Police
The.32 Colt New Police was a small-frame double-action revolver chambered for the.32 Colt cartridge introduced in 1896. The cartridge used a Heel-Base bullet (similar to a rimfire round, but with a step or heel for the case to grab onto) that was a good self-defense and law enforcement cartridge.
Colt produced the revolver in several variants with barrel lengths from 2.5″ to 6″, polished blue or nickel finish, and wood or hard rubber grips. The revolver was designed to have a snubnosed revolver profile.
This particular New Police has a 4″ barrel and is roll marked on the back strap “NEW YORK POLICE”. It also has a factory engraved serial number of 463 dating it to 1896, first year production. The front site is a standard early rounded type and the rear of the hammer has fire blue. Today this New Police would command a considerable premium in the collectors’ market. It is also a very nice shooting revolver.
The.32 Colt Positive
The Police Positive isn’t a particularly collectible revolver in its own right. However, it gave rise to a number of the more-collectible double-action Colts from the second half of the 20th century.
Basically, the Police Positive was an improved version of the earlier New Pocket revolver, whose biggest upgrade was a more-foolproof internal hammer block safety that earned it its name. It was available in various barrel lengths from 2.5″ up to 6″, blued or nickel finished with wood or hard rubber grips.
The Target version of the Police Positive introduced in 1905 added adjustable sights to the frame, while retaining the square butt and rounded cylinder release latch of its predecessor. The Police Positive Special of 1911 added an elongated cylinder that allowed it to chamber the.32-20 Winchester and.38 Colt New Police cartridges (along with the aforementioned.32 S&W Long and.32 Colt Short Colt).
The Banker’s Special, a snubbie version of the Police Positive with a 2-inch barrel, is also highly collectible. Stainless-steel Detective Specials based on the original Police Positive, meanwhile, were made from 1995 to about 2000.
The.32 Colt Target
A very rare double action revolver chambered for the.32 Police Positive/Colt New Police cartridge. This 1914 Colt Officers Model Target is finished in Colt’s factory charcoal blue, known as the High Polish Blue. It has a 6″ HEAVY barrel and adjustable sights. It has a flat top strap, unlike non-target models which have a serrated and grooved top strap.
This is a very clean revolver with 99%+ factory original blue with light handling marks and freckles. The cylinder has a bright rifling and the bore is smooth and strong. It has a nice wood grip with the Colt medallion and is marked COLT OFFICERS MODEL over TARGET over *HEAVY BARREL*.
Although there was a time when the.32 Long was a police cartridge, today it is looked upon more as a pleasurable plinking cartridge. Even so, it can still deliver gilt-edged accuracy with most loads. It is also a great self-defense cartridge. A peace officer in my neck of the woods shot and wounded a stick-up man with a.32 Auto at close range.