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Old 03-17-2017, 10:42 PM
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Default Help Identifying Model 3 Target

Hello:
I am an auctioneer. We are working on cataloging some items for an auction I do not see every day. We have an item we believe is pretty decent and want to make sure we represent it correctly.

We currently are saying, "Smith & Wesson New Model Number 3 Target 32-44 top-break 6-shot single action revolver with 6.5" barrel, non-rebounding hammer and original black plastic grips." The representative of the estate said it is 32-44 but we do not see the caliber marked. It appears to be 32 caliber. The serial # is 27976. It is nickel plated and in about as good of condition I have ever seen on an old nickel revolver.

I would appreciate knowing what I should add to the description. I may be posting some more questions as he has several nice older S&W's.

Thank you all in advance for your help!
David
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Old 03-17-2017, 11:37 PM
shouldazagged shouldazagged is offline
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The picture of the barrel rib stamping is hard for me to see (bad eyes); but is anyone else wondering if it's re-plated?

I hope I'm mistaken, and the hammer and trigger appear as they should to my untrained (and bad) eye. Heaven knows I'm no expert in these matters.
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Old 03-17-2017, 11:42 PM
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Originally Posted by shouldazagged View Post
The picture of the barrel rib stamping is hard for me to see (bad eyes); but is anyone else wondering if it's re-plated?

I hope I'm mistaken, and the hammer and trigger appear as they should to my untrained (and bad) eye. Heaven knows I'm no expert in these matters.
I'm no expert either, but that image had me wondering the same thing.
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Old 03-18-2017, 12:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RMEB View Post
Hello:
I am an auctioneer. We are working on cataloging some items for an auction I do not see every day. We have an item we believe is pretty decent and want to make sure we represent it correctly.

We currently are saying, "Smith & Wesson New Model Number 3 Target 32-44 top-break 6-shot single action revolver with 6.5" barrel, non-rebounding hammer and original black plastic grips." The representative of the estate said it is 32-44 but we do not see the caliber marked. It appears to be 32 caliber. The serial # is 27976. It is nickel plated and in about as good of condition I have ever seen on an old nickel revolver.

I would appreciate knowing what I should add to the description. I may be posting some more questions as he has several nice older S&W's.

Thank you all in advance for your help!
David
I think the stamping is hard to read because of the angle. If it'd original, it has to be one of the nicest ones out there.
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Old 03-18-2017, 02:02 AM
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Looks good to me----simply label it as "This Is Serious Business----bring money!!"

That said, it should be noted it IS NOT a NM #3 Target (whose serial numbers end in the low-mid 4000's), but a NM #3 with target sights-----and in a not unheard of, but quite unusual caliber. If the cylinders are bored straight through----320 Rifle; if a shoulder, either 32 S&W or 32-44 S&W--depending on where the shoulder is (before or after about midpoint I reckon).

Regardless, it is without a doubt----NOT TOO SHABBY!!

Ralph Tremaine

AND---if time permits, you MUST have it lettered!! And if time does not permit, get it lettered---and hold it over for a later auction. Once you have a letter, you will know exactly what it is, when it was shipped, to whom, and where. On the other hand, you may not know beans from apple butter. That's happened to me twice-----one time the gun lettered incorrectly---the last time it lettered incompletely (a gun similar to yours in a VERY unusual caliber---only the factory records don't show what the caliber was). I reckon the fellow who bored the holes knew what bits to use---and nobody else needed to know (besides me---and I got to the party late).

As an aside, if there, and the shoulder in the chamber is approximately .918" from the rear of the cylinder, it's a 32-44 S&W----these measurements from factory ammo of the period. I reckon a 32 S&W shoulder will be closer to the rear face----but don't have one to measure (and didn't take the time to look it up----and kind'a doubted they'd show rim thickness even if I did look it up).

I looked it up (the 32 S&W). It's a bunch shorter----and they did show the rim thickness (.045" as I recall----32-44 is .057", in the unlikely event anybody cares).

And the "black plastic" grips are more properly referred to as "hard rubber"---to pick a nit.

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Old 03-18-2017, 07:42 AM
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Default "Reissue" in patent date.

I think that stamping means it was made for foreign sale. Seems like I just read that in SCSW. In that shape, as has been said, this is serious business...

That is simply stunning!
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Old 03-18-2017, 08:03 AM
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According to the SCSW, 4th Edition, NM #3's with serial numbers from 27942 through 28017 were all chambered in .32-44 and .38-44 calibres. Since this gun's SN falls in this range, I think it is probable it is chambered for .32-44. I second Ralph's recommendation that an historian's letter be obtained for this rather rare and exquisitely preserved example of S&W's handiwork in order to preserve a premium value.
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Old 03-18-2017, 10:36 AM
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My only caution is it looks "Too Nice". This is always a flag for a finely re-done gun. It needs to be inspected by a knowledgeable collector to verify the authenticity of it, and I third getting a letter to properly identify it's originality.
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Old 03-18-2017, 01:06 PM
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"Too nice"? Yep, no doubt about it---it's too nice. I know these things because I bought one once that was too nice---a k a the school of hard knocks. After several months of sitting and staring, and finally getting an inspection/evaluation from Dave Chicoine (who knows how to make them too nice) and Roy Jinks (who knows one when he sees one), it was too nice----sure enough. That story ends with me being sadder but wiser---but no harm done in the pocketbook.

Speaking of pocketbooks, I'll bet this one is for real-----$1,000. Any takers?

Just so there's no misunderstanding, my knee-jerk reaction to this one was WOW(!!!!)---followed immediately by "Watch out!!" That's because of that time I said WOW (!!!!)---and didn't "Watch out!!" enough---until later on. There's no argument we can't be sure based on photographs---and some of us (like me) can't be sure standing on our hind legs with the gun in our in our grubby little paws. That said, the wager offer stands. (I can't help it---I'm a "The glass is half full" kind of guy.)

Sit and stare. See the flat flats and the round rounds. Don't see anything that sets off alarm bells and waving red flags. The glass is half full.

Ralph Tremaine

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Old 03-18-2017, 01:18 PM
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Default Thank you all!

Thank you all for your input. I will look at this closer today. The gentleman had 7 nice nickel plated S&W of different style we will be selling. I do not want to post them all here and be seen as spamming this forum. Is there an S&W expert in this group in Colorado or Wyoming? Several do not have caliber marked and I would like to verify what we were told.

Thanks!
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Old 03-18-2017, 01:32 PM
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I'm with Ralph on this one. I can't see anything that makes me thinks it's not the real deal. Letter is needed, for sure, but everything else I see is 100% 32-44 Target in 99% condition! I may be a bidder at this auction, as where will you find a better example? ! Ed.
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Old 03-18-2017, 08:42 PM
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I don't see anything in the pictures or in the description that would turn me off, but I have one in just as nice condition, and it has definitely made a trip back to the factory. I bought it from a local dealer who was disposing of a collection some years ago, and he said that it had been redone, and priced it accordingly. I was not a member of this board then, so didn't know as much as I do now. I finally got a chance to show it to Roy Jinks and ask his opinion on whether it was original or not. After removing the stocks, and viewig the left side of the grip frame with a magnifying glass, he pronounced it a factory rework from June. 1956. Had I lettered it with the same type pictures shown in this thread I would not have known that it was a rework, because the rework info is not on the shipping documents that are used for letters, only the original configuration and shipping destination is included. My point is, that more information and an in-hand inspection by a really knowledgeable expert is needed for the description and pricing of this piece.
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Old 03-18-2017, 08:52 PM
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Default NM3

If it is really that pristine, you should be able to see a line of patent dates on the lower edge of the left hand rubber stock.
The pics are not defined enough for me to see it.
I think it original
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Old 03-18-2017, 10:34 PM
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Tom makes a good point-----a factory refinished item is often/almost always indistinguishable from factory new (not counting service marks and date stamps).

Bottom Line: You have to be there, gun in hand, grips off---and eyes on!

Ralph Tremaine
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Old 03-18-2017, 11:23 PM
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I once had a discussion with Roy about refinishes on S&Ws. We agreed that the rule of thumb that a quality refinish done by an expert, but not factory, usually reduces the value by about 1/2 the value of the gun as original. However, Roy felt that the quality of the refinishes done in the factory in the days gone buy when the old time polishers were still on the pay roll, did not reduce the gun's collector value all that much. He felt the reduction in value for a factory refinished gun vs. an original gun was only about 20%. This gun may be one of those, and not detectable from near new condition in a photo. The poster needs to tell us what is stamped on the frame under the left grip. Ed.

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Old 03-19-2017, 10:20 PM
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Thank you all for your help. I have taken some more photos to address points some of you made. In looking at it closer, it may have never been fired. I appreciate your help on this.
I also included a photo of all of his S&W's.
Thanks!
David
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Old 03-19-2017, 10:22 PM
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More pics.
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Old 03-19-2017, 10:43 PM
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Well, I don't see nary no writin' at all on that there grip frame---you reckon they scrubbed it off----or never put it on? Like I said in the beginning--------NOT TOO SHABBY!!

As for the rest of them---a somewhat eclectic group, but each to their own. Diversity makes the world go 'round------or something like that.

Ralph Tremaine

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Old 03-19-2017, 11:13 PM
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I don't know much about the NM#3s, but 35 yrs as a machinist/toolmaker taught me a thing or two about the results of various metalworking techniques. From the excellent pix in posts 17 & 18, I don't see much evidence of a refinish. This one darn well might be 100% legit.
And another question; my 11th Ed. COTW lists .32 S&W Long, .32 Colt New Police and .32-44 Target all together. I've known for years that the S&WL and CNP were interchangeable, but I read this listing to say that the .32-44 is the same as well. Then again, they also list the .38-44 Target as being the same as .38-44 High Velocity, which we know it is not. Anybody know anything further?

Larry

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Old 03-20-2017, 05:44 AM
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This one looks good to me as well. As others have said, almost "too good", but I think it is all original.

After the dust clears, what do y'all think this one might bring at auction, including commission?
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Old 03-23-2017, 04:15 PM
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Thank you all for your help.
David
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Old 03-24-2017, 10:36 PM
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The .32-44 is not the same as the ..32 S&W Long. The case is about the same length, but is larger in diameter, so won't enter a .32 Long chamber, The .38-44 target round has a much longer case than the ..38 Special, and is also a good bit larger in diameter.
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Old 04-03-2017, 04:34 AM
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After the dust cleared, if 18.5% buyer's premium, this one went for $3,100 + $573.50, or $3,673.50. If paid by cash, it would cost $3,565, with a 15% premium. Plus shipping to an FFL.
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Old 04-28-2017, 02:59 PM
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Default Factory Letter for this New Model No 3

Please refer to the attached.
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Old 04-30-2017, 12:18 AM
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Any ideas as to what the significance of this being part of a "special group" of NM No 3 revolvers chambered in the 27,900 to 28,000 range chambered in .32-44 or .38-44 might be other than being a block of 100 not chambered in .44 Russian? Incidentally, the 4th Edition of SCSW, p 117, states this range was from 27942 to 28017, thereby being 75 units.
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Old 04-30-2017, 12:27 PM
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I believe you've hit the nail on the head with the above comment in light of the .32-44 and .38-44's having their own serial number ranges.
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Old 04-30-2017, 03:36 PM
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Please refer to the attached.
Thank you for posting the letter - I have another of that shipment! Mine is also very high condition and appears to be unfired (at least, extremely low round count!). Mine came out of Charles Duffy's collection - serial no 27999.
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Old 04-30-2017, 03:50 PM
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Thank you for posting the letter - I have another of that shipment! Mine is also very high condition and appears to be unfired (at least, extremely low round count!). Mine came out of Charles Duffy's collection - serial no 27999.
Can you post your letter as well? And photographs?
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Old 04-30-2017, 07:56 PM
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My letter states that the 75 serial numbers were open on the books. Apparently, Roy has found more information since then. Mine is a twin of the one discussed here, also in .32-44. It's 98%+ with very tiny handling marks.
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Old 05-01-2017, 11:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeetr57 View Post
I don't see anything in the pictures or in the description that would turn me off, but I have one in just as nice condition, and it has definitely made a trip back to the factory. I bought it from a local dealer who was disposing of a collection some years ago, and he said that it had been redone, and priced it accordingly. I was not a member of this board then, so didn't know as much as I do now. I finally got a chance to show it to Roy Jinks and ask his opinion on whether it was original or not. After removing the stocks, and viewig the left side of the grip frame with a magnifying glass, he pronounced it a factory rework from June. 1956. Had I lettered it with the same type pictures shown in this thread I would not have known that it was a rework, because the rework info is not on the shipping documents that are used for letters, only the original configuration and shipping destination is included. My point is, that more information and an in-hand inspection by a really knowledgeable expert is needed for the description and pricing of this piece.

Tom, I'm with you 100%. The Model 3s ... and to me the New Model 3 Target Models ... are so hard to find in the upper conditions that when one comes along, it must be examined "in hand" by someone whe REALLY knows their stuff on these.

The difference in value between a "nice" New Model 3 and one in the upper percentages of condition, is a considerable amount of money.

I am all too willing to plop down the purchase price on a high condition 95& to 99% original condition NM3 but when you get to those last few percentage points to 99% you can virtually throw the "book" away as it no longer applies. If you get to a museum piece, it will cost a bundle.

To support another statement ... yes, a "letter" indicates how it left the factory, NOT what it is right now. The Model 3s started in 1870 and frames were all finished in production by 1898, while the New Model 3s remained in the catalog for a few more years, they were strictly by special order after that.

I have several that letter in the early 1900s which seems that around 1904 even the special orders were being discontinued in favor of the New Century (Triple-lock). I've heard tell that some were shipped to 1912 but not many after 1904 it seems.

So, these Model 3s have been floating around "somewhere" for approximately the past 120 years (plus or minus) from the day it left the factory NEW in the configuration stated in the letter and you just don't know where it's been for sure. The only way to determine value would be a hands on inspection at high magnification, which often require partial disassembly and precise measurements.
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Old 05-01-2017, 11:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmaher94087 View Post
I believe you've hit the nail on the head with the above comment in light of the .32-44 and .38-44's having their own serial number ranges.
Mike, other than the known Target Serial number range for the .32-44 and .38-44 there were a number manufactured after 1898, many found around 1900-1904 that are serial numbered in the standard New Model 3 Serialization range.

You can find any caliber, barrel length, finish, configuration in the guns shipped in the 1900s as they were all "special orders".

I'm not sure that this definitively equates to the .32-44 and .38-44 being made in their own serial number range when after 1898. Perhaps some sporadic runs of a bunch at a time, here and there, but could have been as few as one, individual revolver, I believe.

The "push" was on for the New Century, Triple Lock, to be the newest rage in large frame as both service and target revolvers but after 20 years of the New Model 3 Target being proven at all major official competitive events, it was a hard change to make.

And, if I'm correct, I haven't heard of many smaller caliber Triple-Lock Target models. I've had only one .44 Triple Lock target in .44 Special and it was a sweetheart, too, but noting can take the place of a New Model 3 Target, in my humble opinion.
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Old 05-01-2017, 11:46 AM
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The .32-44 is not the same as the ..32 S&W Long. The case is about the same length, but is larger in diameter, so won't enter a .32 Long chamber, The .38-44 target round has a much longer case than the ..38 Special, and is also a good bit larger in diameter.
The .32-44 was a true .32 caliber at .323", whereas the .32 long is .311-.312". The .32-44 cases are impossible to find but Ralph had advised me the .32 Winchester could be trimmed to make the .32-44 Gallery cases but I have never tried it.

I trifled with .32 Ideal cases to cut them the length of the chamfer in the cylinder (as an experiment) resize to be sure, and load as if a shorter .32-44 gallery case. My concept was to bring the bullet would no have to hop the distance when shorter cases are used. .320 RR cartridges trimmed to length work too but try to find .320 RR brass.

I read somewhere that the .38 Special cases or trimmed .357 cases, were suitable substitution for the .38-44 cases when loading Gallery rounds. Now I have to go research that again.
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Old 05-01-2017, 01:19 PM
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Tom, I'm with you 100%. The Model 3s ... and to me the New Model 3 Target Models ... are so hard to find in the upper conditions that when one comes along, it must be examined "in hand" by someone whe REALLY knows their stuff on these.

The difference in value between a "nice" New Model 3 and one in the upper percentages of condition, is a considerable amount of money.

I am all too willing to plop down the purchase price on a high condition 95& to 99% original condition NM3 but when you get to those last few percentage points to 99% you can virtually throw the "book" away as it no longer applies. If you get to a museum piece, it will cost a bundle.

To support another statement ... yes, a "letter" indicates how it left the factory, NOT what it is right now. The Model 3s started in 1870 and frames were all finished in production by 1898, while the New Model 3s remained in the catalog for a few more years, they were strictly by special order after that.

I have several that letter in the early 1900s which seems that around 1904 even the special orders were being discontinued in favor of the New Century (Triple-lock). I've heard tell that some were shipped to 1912 but not many after 1904 it seems.

So, these Model 3s have been floating around "somewhere" for approximately the past 120 years (plus or minus) from the day it left the factory NEW in the configuration stated in the letter and you just don't know where it's been for sure. The only way to determine value would be a hands on inspection at high magnification, which often require partial disassembly and precise measurements.
I, too, am MUCH more comfortable with stuff in the 95 to 97% range and feel a bit out of my element when something approaches 100%. I would love to have you look at it, Sal, as I know you are really knowledgeable when it comes to these, but being in Eastern Pennsylvania makes the distance problematic. If anyone else who is reasonably nearby and wants to have a look, feel free to PM me. It resides in a safe deposit box, so I can get to it easily but not necessarily immediately. From what I can tell, this one looks 100% right...
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Old 05-01-2017, 02:11 PM
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Any ideas as to what the significance of this being part of a "special group" of NM No 3 revolvers chambered in the 27,900 to 28,000 range chambered in .32-44 or .38-44 might be other than being a block of 100 not chambered in .44 Russian? Incidentally, the 4th Edition of SCSW, p 117, states this range was from 27942 to 28017, thereby being 75 units.
SCSW and the internet are the two best things to happen for us collectors in the past 30 years. SCSW, I hope, will always be a "work in progress" getting more extensive with each publication.

Any NM3 after approximately 1900 was a special order, numbered in the standard New Model 3 Serial Number range. Cataloged for a few years after 1898, I presume, they sold off those in stock first before they started with the special orders.

SCSW was the first printed reference book where you could find the most comprehensive data on S&W between one set of covers. It consolidated the best and most pertinent data from all prior publications, then, added newly researched and discovered data. AND ... it has been a work in progress since.

Kudos to the authors for the continual work and updated versions. And kudos to all the contributors that make it the success that it is. SCSW is a (and I hope will always be) a perpetual work in progress that we all contribute to make better and more accurate.

When the first issue came out the internet was in the infancy stages. The wider the internet reaches the greater our research and discovery abilities.

Years back you needed to own several S&W specialized books, most written with data available in the 1940s and 1950s. Then Jinks & Neal in the 1960s with History of S&W by Roy in the late 1970s.

SCSW consolidated all the former known and accepted data with the newest discovered (and my I add VERIFIED) data available to time of printing. I contribute to the Blue Book of Gun Values in addition to SCSW and I have to say, when I read some of the entries in the BBGV I think ... who the heck printed this without verifying the data, whereas SCSW is data that is thoroughly researched and supplied from reliable sources, many (or most) of them SWCA members.

Pre-Internet days you had to either travel to the big shows and / or subscribe to several more reputable trade papers, Flaydermans, and collector magazines to keep up and / or find classified ads ... only printed descriptions of those special S&Ws (well, all collectible guns) for sale.

Jim Supica used to print his Old Town Station / Armchair Gunshow periodical, then the major antique arms dealers .. about a dozen or so (some still around). That was the entire gun collecting world back then.

At Tulsa in 2000, I found a sawed barrel U.S. American that I was not about to buy but I called Charlie Pate from the show to give him the serial number, which he did not have on his list. His words then were "that makes 53 accounted for". Now, I believe, there are a few hundred accounted for. Accounted for meaning that they exist. It has nothing to do with the condition ... just that the Serial number was verified as "found".

We've come a LONG way in a few short decades.
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