For many years Colt was the world’s preeminent manufacturer of handguns. In the early days of the 20th century, until after WWII, Colt was the main supplier of handguns to the US military, federal and local law enforcement agencies, and private citizens around the world. In response to demand for a more concealable handgun, in 1927 Colt introduced the Detective Special, which was an instant success. Weighing just 23 ounces, holding 6 rounds of .38 Special ammo, in a sturdy but compact package, the gun was soon in great demand.
After World War II Colt and Smith & Wesson began experimenting with aluminum frames to reduce the weight of handguns, which up to that time had been of all steel construction. In 1950, Colt produced an aluminum frame version of the Detective Special, dubbing it the Cobra, and a new era for snubbies began.
Although externally identical to the Detective Special, the Cobra dropped the weight from 23 ounces to just 15 ounces. Frankly, worn on a gun belt the difference is hardly noticeable, but in the pocket or on the ankle, the difference is immediately apparent. The first generation Cobra’s made in the early 1950’s had a full length grip frame, which extended all the way to the bottom of the wooden stocks. The front sight was narrow, and the rear sight notch was quite small. The ejector rod was short—too short to forcefully extract empty cases for a fast reload. All of these shortcomings were addressed in the mid-1950’s when the second generation guns appeared. The front sight was made significantly larger, just like the ones on the Official Police service revolver of that day. The ejector rod was lengthened, to improve extraction of fired cases. In 1966, the final improvement was made, when the grip frame was shortened substantially. This allows very compact grips of various designs to be fitted to suit the user’s particular needs.
In 1973 the D-frame line, which included the Colt Detective Special, the Cobra, and the Agent were redesigned to “modernize” them. These last third generation guns have a heavier barrel, with a shrouded ejector rod, and tiny, hard to see low ramped sights. To me, they are far less desirable than the second generation guns, with their high visibility sights. My recommendation of the Colt Cobra as the premiere back-up gun assumes a second generation gun, which are easy to find and reasonably priced. The second generation guns were made from the mid-1950’s to 1973, and several hundred thousand were manufactured, so they are not hard to find.
Why, you ask, would I hunt up these antique revolvers instead of just buying a new one from some other maker? Good question, and I have some good answers. First, the old Colt holds 6 rounds, not 5. In essentially the same size package, more ammo is better. More importantly, the Colt’s have sights I can see. A front sight big enough to pick up quickly is the single greatest aid to high speed accuracy. If you only have 5-6 medium caliber rounds to fire, you’d better be getting hits with every one of them. That’s a lot easier with the Colts. The old-timers often preferred the Colts over S&W’s because on the Colt the cylinder rotates to the right, and the hand pushes the cylinder to the right (into the frame) to lock up just before a cartridge is fired. Theoretically, this gives a tighter, stronger lock-up to the Colt over a Smith & Wesson, which rotates counter-clockwise and is pushed away from the frame at lock-up. I doubt that this is a big deal, but I have noticed that my Colt’s shoot very well for small revolvers. Finally, the 1950’s and 1960’s production guns featured very good fit and finish. The old Colt revolver action required a bit of hand fitting at the factory, which made it more expensive than some of its competitors. They are often much better made than current production guns.
Look up one of these second generation Colts and get acquainted with it. I think you’ll be pleased.
Have you ever been accosted by a clay disc? Has a deer or pheasant ever fired back at you? Can you imagine being robbed from 500 yards away? Marksmen likely would resort to similar fundamentals in each of those different applications, but marksmanship is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to personal protection. Sporting, hunting, and sniping all have distinct appeals and utilities. However, if your goal is practical self-defense, then your training must be grounded in that very unique context. With these distinctions in mind, the Second Amendment Foundation has been hard at work developing a new Training Division, which officially launches nationwide in January of 2015.
SAFTD has assembled some of the most experienced defensive trainers in the country to create a curriculum that is laser-focused on modern personal defense. Their instruction has nothing to do with politics, profits, or popular “tacti-cool” maneuvers and gadgetry. Instead, every course is geared towards a single goal: equipping everyday folks with effective tools to survive the kinds of hostile encounters they can realistically expect to face in today’s world.
Throughout my teenage years, firearms were a mystery to me. So, too, was violence — let alone the thought of having any power to repel it. Self-defense meant simply calling the police. Only through tragedy did I realize that personal safety is very personal indeed. My welfare is no one’s responsibility but my own. And although it was a painful lesson to learn, I am forever grateful that a group of trainers welcomed me and took the time to demystify the concept of deadly force as a last resort.
A few short years later, I became a firearms instructor myself, eager to empower others with the knowledge that my trainers had instilled in me. Many of those trainers are now at the helm of the SAFTD. So when the opportunity arose for me to be a part of that team, I did not hesitate. I applaud the Training Division’s effort to ensure that the Second Amendment continues to enrich and secure all American walks of life.
Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with trapshooting — or any other pastime that encourages discipline, patience, and precision. But when you need a knife, you don’t grab a spoon. And if you hope to be mentally, physically, and technically prepared to fend off a red-blooded rival, plinking at tin cans in the back yard will not suffice. Instead, contact SAFTD. Sign up for a class. Look for opportunities to learn and to teach. Whether you’re a newcomer or a Navy SEAL, we look forward to training with you.
The Second Amendment Foundation is pleased to announce the official launch of the Second Amendment Foundation Training Division (SAFTD), enabling law abiding citizens to protect themselves and their loved ones through solid defensive training.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bellevue, WA – January 7th 2015 –It has long been noted that the firearms training community has lacked a nationwide training program specifically directed at training the new and inexperienced shooter in the defensive use of the most common platforms of firearms – pistol, shotgun and carbine. Over the past year the Second Amendment Foundation Training Division – SAFTD (www.saftd.org) – has embarked on the development of just such a training program.
Beginning in early 2014 experienced trainers from throughout the country were recruited to act as the core of SAFTD and to begin the development of a number of foundational courses. The initial offerings include MOI – Methods of Instruction, Defensive Handgun 1, Defensive Handgun 2, Defensive Shotgun 1, Defensive Shotgun 2, Defensive Carbine 1 and Defensive Carbine 2 in addition to instructor level course work to train a national cadre of firearms instructors to offer SAFTD courses throughout the nation.
All of the courses offered are presented with the defensive use of the individual firearm in mind. While familiar foundational material is presented, additional defensive topics and activities are included such as firearm selection, holsters, use of force, discussions about AOJP – Ability, Opportunity, Jeopardy, Preclusion – Disparity of Force and much more. All Level 1 courses are introductory and foundational. All Level 2 courses take the student’s foundational skill set and builds it into a more comprehensive defensive shooting level.
These courses will be the introductory set rolled out through the Spring and early Summer of 2015. The national introduction of the SAFTD courses will be held at the Shot Show in Las Vegas in late January. Initial instructors will be trained beginning in February. Initial student level coursework will begin mid-March. All coursework will be scheduled via SAFTD’s website with all available courses and regional trainers being listed along with full course descriptions and full bios of all certified SAFTD instructors.
Instructors will need to attend SAFTD’s MOI course – as well as completing periodic Continuing Education, the course they wish to be certified to teach and the instructor version of that course while achieving passing scores of 90% on all written exams. At the end of the instructor course, they will shoot a qualification course requiring a passing score of 90%. Instructors must also have a First Aid certification from a recognized organization as well as having certified instruction in CPR and the use of an AED.
In addition to the core offerings SAFTD will also be offering a Situational Alertness for Everyone (S.A.F.E.) course which is designed to teach the student to develop and adopt the situational awareness mindset while at home, at work, on the road, traveling, on the phone etc; and teaches how to make your home safe and less attractive to would be robbers and home invasion.
Lastly, SAFTD will also be offering a Women’s Program. The SAFTD Women's program was developed by women for women and addresses the specials needs of women, their firearms, security and special concerns with carrying a firearm both on and off-body. Initially our Women's program will consist of Women's Defensive Handgun 1 and 2 but will eventually lead to a full women's program starting in early 2016 including State Chapters and State Leaders for each state.
We are excited about our program. We strongly believe it fills a significant gap in what is being offered to a new defensive firearms student. We look forward to meeting you all at Shot Show and in the weeks, months and years to come.
About SAF Training Division:
The mission of the SAF Training Division (SAFTD) is to fill a long standing void in the national training community, by producing a program that is based on enabling law abiding citizens to protect themselves and their loved ones through solid defensive training! Our primary responsibility is to the student and our primary allegiance is to our instructors! We know that we need to support our instructors and their respective businesses, their livelihoods depend on it! By supporting our instructors and providing them with different revenue streams and a responsive organization, we enable our instructors to give a first class experience to the public!
When you seek training in the use of your firearms – what type of training should you search out? There is a simple answer – it depends on its use. If you are looking to know how to handle a firearm safely, shoot it safely and the basics of marksmanship, there are a number of different courses available that teach just that – and nothing more.
However, if you are looking for coursework that will teach you to defend yourself should that need arise – then you are looking specifically for “Defensive Firearms Training” (D.F.T.).
A solid D.F.T. program will provide you with the fundamentals – information about the specific firearm, its cycle of operation, methods to clear malfunctions, choosing the right ammunition, how to load it, proper grip, sight alignment, sight picture, your shooting stance, proper trigger press and follow through. Past that, there is much more depth needed. People who carry a defensive weapon need training on proper belts, holsters, concealment garments, ideas for off-body carry – all the way to how to properly conduct yourself in a restroom with your defensive weapon.
Those who carry a defensive weapon also need to receive training on how to observe what is going on around them and how to select cover and use concealment. They need some standard methods to deescalate a potentially bad situation. And they need to know how to clearly articulate why the individual they engaged with their defensive weapon had the Ability to hurt them, had the Opportunity to hurt them, why they felt they were in imminent Jeopardy and that they were left with the use of their defensive weapon to the Preclusion of any other option.
Once the decision has been made to use their defensive weapon, they must receive training that gives them the ability to rapidly and accurately use their weapon. The defender “owns every round” – they need to insure they go exactly where they need to do.
These are the characteristics that separate familiarization courses, shooting sports courses, basic introduction courses from true Defensive Firearms Training. Know the differences, seek out the specific type of training you are looking for and, if you carry a defensive weapon, make sure the training is
tailored to that specific need.
The Second Amendment Foundation Training Division is releasing just such a body of coursework covering Defensive Handgun, Defensive Shotgun and Defensive Carbine. Give them a look at http://saftd.org