So there I was in one of my favorite gun shops, when something a couple of shelves down in the “used” showcase caught my eye. I did a double take and asked, “Could I see that one, please?”

I could’ve sworn it was a Colt Detective Special with silvery aftermarket finish, and a price tag of just under $200. It turned out I had. Closer inspection explained the price tag.

Some shade-tree ‘smith had made this little snubbie a guinea pig for what was likely a first attempt at a baked-on finish job. The surface was beyond rough. It was flaking off on the cylinder yoke, scratched through elsewhere, and appeared to have been applied unevenly toward the front of the cylinder.

The salesman told me it was a trade-in from a fellow who liked to do his own gunsmithing at home. Gun dealers cringe at that. They’ve seen too many DIY action jobs where the guns don’t reliably go bang anymore. Or safety devices neutered in hope of making the trigger a little lighter. They see them as a liability, and if they take them in trade at all, they buy at a low-ball price and sell accordingly, with the caveat the gun goes out the door “as-is.”