The Police Positive Pocket Pistol
I was handed a First Generation Colt Police Positive. As serial number 1529XX, it came out of the Colt factory late in 1923. All the numbers matched, and it locked up with the famed Colt tightness. It was chambered in .38 S&W. What was interesting was the barrel. It had been cut down to two inches and had the original sight silver soldered back on. As I held the gun, I felt the history flow out of it. I felt more history in this gun than any sock drawer special collector gun I have held. The gun was altered and as such, it had no real collector's value. I'm more interested in the history of concealed carry than the history of firearms manufacture though. The pawnbroker and I dickered a bit and finally agreed on a price.
To me, this gun had value.
Because of the quality of the work, and the use of the original sight, I made the leap of faith that the attenuation of the barrel occurred early in this Colt's life. At one time somebody needed effective concealed protection, or perhaps an officer of the law made detective and transitioned to plain clothes. Either way, the gun needed wasn't available from the factory or in the township, or perhaps money was scarce. The owner of this revolver decided to take matters into his own hands and delivered the gun to a skilled gunsmith. The revolver was delivered back to the owner as an effective carry weapon. I am drawing this conclusion based on the availability of weapons and the economic reality of the time, but I believe the barrel was cut down either before or during the Great Depression. Because of the remaining blue finish, I believe this gun was stored for several decades before it came into my possession. An interesting aside is that it fits perfectly into my J frame pocket holsters.
I was at first confused that on a weapon such as this, the hammer had not been bobbed. I later learned from one of my patients that in the 1920's there were many people who had learned to shoot with the Colt SAA. Cocking a hammer on a draw was commonplace. On this gun, the carrier's thumb would likely have rested on the hammer while the gun was still pocketed, effectively shrouding it on the draw stroke, and cocking the weapon while it was drawn. The unbobbed hammer supported my conclusion of when the barrel was cut down.
I've shot the revolver a few times, but the cost of .38 S&W is rather prohibitive. I'd rather buy .45 ACP. Still, the old cut down Police Positive is one of my favorite beater guns from days gone by, a real concealed carry belly gun that must have an interesting story behind it.