Colt produced the Diamondback revolver in multiple calibers across three decades, but a lot of people hardly remember this classic wheel gun.
In 1966, Colt decided to come up with what was essentially a mid-shelf revolver that was more modern than their staple six-shooter offerings but cost less than their top-of-the-line Python .357 Magnum. Without reinventing the wheel (gun), the company tapped their old-school (at the time) D-frame revolver, the same one introduced originally with the 1900s-era Police Positive, then greatly upgraded the features.
Using the same style of full-lug high-vent ribbed barrel as the Python, the Diamondback was a handsome, modern revolver that set itself apart from legacy pencil barrel offerings that looked like they came from the Roaring 20s– because, in many cases, they did.
The Diamondback was also offered in several variants right off the bat, being chambered in .38 Special, .22S/L/LR, and .22WMR in both 2.5- and 4-inch barrel lengths with a 6-inch model later added. Other standard features included an all-steel frame, adjustable sights, blued finish, and walnut Colt medallion target grips on full-sized models, the latter being another feature borrowed from the Python. This scratched a lot of itches.
When introduced, the Diamondback retailed for a flat and easy $100 across all three caliber options. Compare that to the top-shelf .357 Magnum Python which ran $154. However, the new Diamondback was far from the least expensive Colt wheelgun, as the Offical Police, Police Positive, Trooper, Detective Special, and Cobra all ran between $76 and $92. Can you tell the 1960s were the heydey of Colt wheel guns?
How did the Diamondback go over? Apparently pretty good as Colt kept them in series production through 1991, a 27-year run. Best yet, as collectors have gone hot and heavy on magnum “snake guns” like the Python, Anaconda, and King Cobra, the Diamondback often gets overlooked, making it more of a sleeper. It falls through the cracks to a degree as it doesn’t have the noir appeal of Sam Spade-era guns like the Police Positive and Detective, but doesn’t hit the .357 club like the bigger snakes.
However, as it is increasingly on the radar with the higher-profile serpents getting snapped up, and the prices on a nice Diamondback are rising.