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S&W Antiques S&W Lever Action Pistols, Tip-Up Revolvers, Top-Break Revolvers, and ALL Single Shots


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Old 04-04-2016, 01:25 PM
Driftwood Johnson Driftwood Johnson is offline
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Default 32 Caliber Single Shot, First Model?

Howdy

I just acquired a First Model (Model of 1891) 32 Caliber Single Shot. The SCSW states these were chambered for 22LR, 32 S&W, and 38 S&W. The auction catalog also states this one is chambered for 32 S&W.

However I can fully chamber a 32 S&W Long in it. Peering down the bore it appears the chamber is long enough for the 32 S&W Long.

It is really just an academic question, as I will probably not fire it because the lock up is a little bit loose. If I were to fire it I would probably limit it to just a few shots of the shorter 32 S&W round.

Of course there are no caliber markings anywhere on the gun.

So my question is, were these only chambered for the shorter 32 S&W round? If so why is the chamber long enough for a 32 S&W Long? Although the bore is far from pristine, the longer chamber does not appear to be a product of erosion.

When these were used in competition, what round would have been most commonly fired in them?

Really several questions I guess.

Thanks
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:43 AM
red9 red9 is offline
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The rules say that the 1891 pistol was chambered for the Short only. However, the Long was introduced for the 1896 revolver, well before the end of production of the first model. Another case of "never say never?"

Bob
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Old 04-05-2016, 04:09 PM
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Do all serial numbers match? There were a lot of barrels left over from the factory that were sold into the late 1990s before inventory dried up. I bought a 10" Model of '91 in 38 S&W a few years ago and found that a 357 would chamber in it. Actually the chamber was about a 1/2" longer than a .357, but no idea why? Not sure what happened to them, but maybe they were used at the factory as experimental barrels after the production ceased?? I have no idea why anyone outside the factory would bore them out like that??
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Old 04-05-2016, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Driftwood Johnson View Post
Howdy

I just acquired a First Model (Model of 1891) 32 Caliber Single Shot. The SCSW states these were chambered for 22LR, 32 S&W, and 38 S&W. The auction catalog also states this one is chambered for 32 S&W.

However I can fully chamber a 32 S&W Long in it. Peering down the bore it appears the chamber is long enough for the 32 S&W Long.

It is really just an academic question, as I will probably not fire it because the lock up is a little bit loose. If I were to fire it I would probably limit it to just a few shots of the shorter 32 S&W round.

Of course there are no caliber markings anywhere on the gun.

So my question is, were these only chambered for the shorter 32 S&W round? If so why is the chamber long enough for a 32 S&W Long? Although the bore is far from pristine, the longer chamber does not appear to be a product of erosion.

When these were used in competition, what round would have been most commonly fired in them?

Really several questions I guess.

Thanks
Glad you got it. How did the others go?
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Old 04-05-2016, 09:12 PM
Driftwood Johnson Driftwood Johnson is offline
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Howdy Again

Yes, the Serial Numbers match, so I assume the gun left the factory with this barrel and latch.

Hi Don,

I assume you are asking about the other single shots at the auction this weekend? There were three other single shots, but they were sold the first day of the auction, when the higher priced stuff was sold. So I do not know what they went for. I was there for only an hour or so the first day because a friend was interested in a really nice, cased Root Colt, which was the 3rd item in the auction. I was very glad when he won it. But we did stay long enough to see the Revolving Rifle go for $7000, and the Henry rifle go for $30,000.

I was there all day the second day, and picked up a Ladysmith and a Perfected. My first Ladysmith, a 3rd Model. I will post photos soon. The Single Shot was actually an impulse buy. I had checked it out earlier, but did not consider buying it. But when it came up, it was going so cheap that I put my card up on impulse. Not in the most terrific shape, that's why it was sold the second day, but I am not sorry I bought it.

I just hope I don't have to get one of every model now.
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Old 04-06-2016, 04:35 PM
Driftwood Johnson Driftwood Johnson is offline
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A couple of photos.



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Old 04-06-2016, 04:53 PM
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Nothing wrong with that piece, except the chamber. My 38 S&W long chambered barrel does not give very good accuracy. Maybe too much bullet jump to the rifling.

There were not many 32 S&W Single Shots delivered from the factory, maybe 229 and only 160 38 Single Shots. Is your serial number published in Roy's book?
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Old 04-06-2016, 04:57 PM
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OMG! I have never even seen one of those for sale in my lifetime. I've just got to find me one. The little old 32 is my favorite.
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Old 04-06-2016, 05:09 PM
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glowe; Have you made a chamber cast of that .38 ? I'm wondering whether it might be chambered for the .38-44 Target, as used in the New Model No.3 ?

Larry
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Old 04-06-2016, 05:50 PM
Driftwood Johnson Driftwood Johnson is offline
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Quote:
Nothing wrong with that piece, except the chamber. My 38 S&W long chambered barrel does not give very good accuracy. Maybe too much bullet jump to the rifling.

There were not many 32 S&W Single Shots delivered from the factory, maybe 229 and only 160 38 Single Shots. Is your serial number published in Roy's book?
Howdy Again

Yes, I just looked, the SN is in the Neal and Jinks book. Thanks for asking. I guess I did not realize just how rare these are. I guess this was the case of the blind pig finding the acorn. It all balances out, I have paid way too much for a few other Smiths.

I guess maybe the auction house made a boo-boo selling this one the second day. But when I looked at them, the others that sold the first day really were in better shape. There were two Second Model 22s and one Third Model 38.

Now that I have your attention, I have another question. Other than the lockup being a little loose, the gun seems to function fine. My only question, other than the chamber, is the 'half cock' notch on the hammer. I can ease the hammer back slightly and the trigger pops forward keeping the firing pin away from a primer. But there does not seem to be an overhanging lip on the hammer, if I pull the trigger from half cock the hammer falls back down. Most revolvers and rifles I am familiar with will trap the sear in the 'half cock' position. I suspect the over hanging lip, if there was one, is no longer there. Have not taken the side plate off to look.

It does have a rebounding hammer though, and that is cool.
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Old 04-06-2016, 05:56 PM
rct269 rct269 is offline
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Under the heading of: This proves absolutely nothing------but.

I checked my .32 caliber 1st Model SS, and another spare .32 caliber barrel from another gun. Neither one would accept (chamber) a .32 Long.

I choose to interpret these results to mean both barrels were made for the 32 S&W cartridge (short)---and yours has been messed with. It pretty much stands to reason whoever messed with it tried it out afterwards---and it doesn't seem to have blown up.

Accordingly----try it---you'll (probably) like it.

On the other hand---------------------------------??????????

Ralph Tremaine
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Old 04-06-2016, 06:45 PM
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. . . Have you made a chamber cast of that .38 ? I'm wondering whether it might be chambered for the .38-44 Target . . . ?
The chamber measures 1.5" long, which is longer than even 357 brass. I don't know how long the 38-44 brass is?
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Old 04-06-2016, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
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. . . My only question, other than the chamber, is the 'half cock' notch on the hammer. I can ease the hammer back slightly and the trigger pops forward keeping the firing pin away from a primer.
Just checked my 38 SAs and they also drop from the first cock notch with a trigger pull. One is in quite nice condition, so maybe that is the case with all???
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Old 04-06-2016, 07:23 PM
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The chamber measures 1.5" long, which is longer than even 357 brass. I don't know how long the 38-44 brass is?
The 38-44 brass is 1.465" overall length (and the bullet of course is seated entirely within the case). The rim is .045" thick. Chambered in a 38-44 cylinder (the early one) the case mouth is (essentially) flush with the end of the chamber. Essentially flush works out to be lacking .004" of being exactly flush----if I crunched the numbers properly. (Cylinder length: 1.424"----Cartridge length: 1.465" overall minus the rim thickness (.045") ends up with a cartridge case within the chamber of 1.420"------leaving .004" of throat (plus whatever the cylinder to barrel gap might be)----which is to say, not hardly!)

Other Stuff: The case diameter is .385". The inside case diameter is .360"----suggesting the diameter of the bullet is also .360. If memory serves, the diameter of a .38 S&W bullet is .361".

So---------given that someone bored out a 38 S&W chamber to accept the 38-44 cartridge, it seems like it ought to work out pretty damn well----at least as far as bullet and bore diameters go. I have no idea about the suitability of a comparatively lightweight frame/barrel as far as strength goes----also have no idea about the case diameter of the 38 S&W.

And like that------------------

Ralph Tremaine

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Old 04-06-2016, 08:23 PM
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Thanks Ralph. That is the likely reason the barrel was bored out to 1.5". The dimensions you give match the 38 S&W. Barnes states the diameter of the brass is .386". So the 38-44 was made the same as a 38 S&W, except about .75" longer. Now all I have to do is find some brass?? I understand that 357 Maximum brass might work, but is .375" diameter.

It would also make sense that Driftwood's 32 chamber would likely have been done to shoot 32 Long ammo.
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Old 04-07-2016, 08:30 AM
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"I guess maybe the auction house made a boo-boo selling this one the second day. But when I looked at them, the others that sold the first day really were in better shape. There were two Second Model 22s and one Third Model 38. " I'm always glad to see a good guy win one. This is another reason why I won't sell thru an auction house. I bought one of my best and rarest piece's of Smith & Wesson paper at an auction. They had it marked wrong.
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