Some of the features we take for granted today were true innovations in their day. Colt’s Police Positive was quite a revolver when introduced, one that gave all others stiff competition because it incorporated a positive internal hammer block that allowed six cartridges to be loaded safely.
The Police Positive was somewhat lighter than either the Smith & Wesson Military and Police or the Colt Army Special, and with its mild-mannered cartridges (.32 Colt New Police and .38 Smith & Wesson), the revolver was easy to shoot. And it shot well indeed, thanks in part, Colt claimed, because the cylinder rotated toward the frame, to the right, enhancing lockup. The Colt revolvers also had among the best sights of the day, with a wide-open notch in the topstrap and half-moon front sight.
The Police Positive Special in .38 Special led to the Detective Special, one of the most popular and iconic handguns of all time. But another Colt Police Positive version is, in my opinion, among the most useful and beautiful of all Colt revolvers, and that honor belongs to the Police Positive Target in .22 Long Rifle (also in various .32s, although I’ve never seen one).
The gun was manufactured from 1905 to 1941. It is a gorgeously proportioned revolver with deep Colt blue and handsomely checkered wood grips.
I think the Colt Police Positive Target is the perfect size .22 for many reasons. For one, it’s larger than the Smith & Wesson Kit Gun, which while trim and neat can be difficult to shoot well due to its small grip and light, whippy barrel. At 28 ounces, the Police Positive Target with its six-inch barrel just seems to set the right balance.
The grip is ideal for most hands—not too small and not too large. It may not be shaped well for recoil control, an issue with the Police Positive Special .38 Special, but it doesn’t matter with the .22.
My revolver left the factory in 1927. The fit and finish are impressive,and what remains of the original blue is very nice, deep and good-looking. The hammer spur features a nicely bordered checkered area for sure cocking. The trigger has no serrations, but the cylinder latch is nicely checkered. The action is smooth, as old Colts tend to be. The single-action trigger breaks at exactly 3.5 pounds. The rear sight is mounted on a flat on the topstrap. There are no small parts to be lost or worn out with this rear sight. It is windage adjustable by loosening a small screw and drifting the sight left or right. There are witness marks on both the sight and the topstrap to aid in alignment. A small jeweler’s screwdriver is needed to turn the adjustment screw.
Elevation adjustment is found in the front sight. There is a post with a sliver of a front sight mounted. The small sight is stabilized in a post toward the muzzle, and a screw is moved at the other end of the post to allow elevation adjustment. The post is about 0.17 inch, the sliver of a sight about 0.04 inch. The rear notch is about 0.10 inch.
While it is designed for target shooting and perhaps small game hunting, the revolver would serve well for double-action firing practice. I have fired the revolver with an eclectic assortment of ammunition. The Colt will handle .22 Short, Long or Long Rifle loads without a problem. I’ve gotten good accuracy from CCI Green Tag and Mini Mag, as well as Fiocchi’s 40-grain high-velocity. Most of my 15-yard groups were around the two-inch mark, but some were better, and this little gun will shoot. It will be the revolver I take hunting this winter when the opportunity presents.
This Colt Police Positive Target is a beautiful piece of history, one I think is often overlooked. It is a revolver to be used and cherished. It’s not inexpensive—GunBroker.com prices are in the $500 to $1,000 range, for the most part—but neither is it overpriced compared to most modern handguns.
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