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Old 05-03-2017, 07:10 PM
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I have an old smith revolver i am trying to sell. I cant tell if it's a first model or a third.
The details:
Top break
nickle
6 inch barrel
pinned on front sight
serial # 3439
44-40 ammo fits into the chambers

Here is a link t gunbroker:

http://www.gunbroker.com/item/639394817


Thanks in advance for any help.
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Old 05-03-2017, 07:39 PM
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Others will know better than I, but I don't think the .44 DA Frontier (.44-40) had any models. There weren't that many of them made.
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Old 05-03-2017, 07:48 PM
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44-40 Cal makes it 44 Frontier DA. Low SN. probly puts it in the early 1880s. In no way related to a Schofield or a New Model No.3 which were both Single Action Revolvers.

If the Gun is in good working cond. and the Bore is not shot out of it; somebody got a pretty good deal going by the sale price.
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Old 05-03-2017, 09:25 PM
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Thanks for all the comments so far


The sale did not go through. I am not sure what model it is, I have been told conflicting reports that it is a Russian opened up to 44-40 or a later model and if I can't prove it's pre-1899 I can't ship without an FFL so the buyer didn't want it if he had to go through an FFL. That's why I am here. trying to figure out what it really is. Although I will probably only ship to an FFL anyway, It's already in my books and as such has to come out of my books somehow?

Last edited by suntiet; 05-03-2017 at 09:27 PM.
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Old 05-04-2017, 09:26 AM
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All of the DAs like this one are considered pre-1899, including the Frontier. No doubt about that.

S&W DA First Model revolver, all are pre-1899
S&W DA "Frontier" revolvers, all are pre-1899
S&W DA "Favorite" revolvers, all are pre-1899

All of the *frames* for the large frame top-break S&W's were made prior to 1899, and hence all New Model #3's, .44 DA 1st Models, DA Frontiers, and related models are considered "antique" by the ATF, even though they may have been cataloged and even assembled well into the early 20th century.

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Old 05-04-2017, 09:56 AM
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Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass! S&W did not have model numbers when that gun was made. They used names to ID the model. That gun is, as has been stated, and was sold as the New Model Number 3 Frontier and all were chambered in .44-40 AKA the .44 Winchester Cartridge. It is an antique and can be mailed or shipped by common carrier directly to a buyer. If you mail it, you will have to register your FFL with the post office and probably put a copy of your FFL in the shipment. They have some new form you place on file. This is a Post Office requirement, not ATF since they consider it an antique.
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Old 05-04-2017, 06:53 PM
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Curious why the deal did not go through? That price is a great buy unless it has been bored out for some reason? My guess is that it is a 44-40 Frontier, since it does have the long cylinder and low serial number. Also, why do you need an FFL? California or New York?
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Old 05-05-2017, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glowe View Post
Curious why the deal did not go through? That price is a great buy unless it has been bored out for some reason? My guess is that it is a 44-40 Frontier, since it does have the long cylinder and low serial number. Also, why do you need an FFL? California or New York?
True dat,and probably other locales as well.As a New Yorker,all cartridge firing guns must go through an FFL,and be listed on my PL. In fact,if I owned a percussion or flintlock handgun,and wanted to fire it,it would have to go on the license as well.
I'd be wary of anyone wanting any type of gun with a condition being a direct sale only .If a gun is worth x amount,it's worth x amount plus the transfer fee.
As a NYer,I can't transfer any gun,including rifles,in a FTF transaction.All must go through a FFL,and I don't have a problem with that.At least,I know that the buyer can legally own them.

Last edited by Camster; 05-05-2017 at 06:28 PM.
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Old 05-18-2017, 11:43 PM
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Well boys and girls, since I am new to the antique market and have recently purchased a few model ones, (already own a model 2 army), I decided to continue the collection and have purchased this model 3.

As others have stated, it appears to be a 6" .44 Double Action Frontier. The stocks are homemade wood replacements so wondering what should go on this gun. I read that they can be either walnut or black hard rubber with S&W monograms. Serial number is 5439.

Questions and issues:

Will any model 3 stocks fit this revolver?

In the closed position holding the barrel and the grip in each hand, I can rock the gun ever so slightly forward and back. In other words there appears to be a little play in the frame and the catch. Is this normal or something that should be corrected?

With the gun closed, the cylinder spins freely. If the hammer is cocked, it will lock into place and not move. It locks up on all 6 chambers when thumbing the hammer back but there is a little play in the cylinder once in this locked position.

Since I am a newbie to the model 3, I know absolutely nothing about these guns other than the fact that I felt that I should own one.

Any thoughts or furthering of my education will be greatly appreciated.

PS: I just also noticed that there is a little forward and back movement of the cylinder with the gun closed.
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Last edited by JSR III; 05-18-2017 at 11:46 PM. Reason: added PS
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Old 05-19-2017, 12:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Wiregrassguy View Post
Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass! S&W did not have model numbers when that gun was made. They used names to ID the model. That gun is, as has been stated, and was sold as the New Model Number 3 Frontier and all were chambered in .44-40 AKA the .44 Winchester Cartridge. It is an antique and can be mailed or shipped by common carrier directly to a buyer. If you mail it, you will have to register your FFL with the post office and probably put a copy of your FFL in the shipment. They have some new form you place on file. This is a Post Office requirement, not ATF since they consider it an antique.
it's just a personal pet peeve of mine but I just get bugged when I see or hear of a 1st model 44 DA being referred to as a New Model 3 / Number 3 etc.

This one is a 1st Model 44 Double Action Frontier. Yes, some call it a "New Model 3 Double Action" (you have to add that D/A) and while there's nothing I can to do change that (although when I hear it I cringe with the hairs on the back of my neck standing up and one eye starts twitching )

... PLEASE .... do not call it a "New Model 3 Frontier". Don't let anyone get the mistaken impression that the 1st Model .44 Double Action door stop is related to the "New Model No. 3" which was ( and still is to most hard core S/A guys) the premier large frame single action ever made, bar none .. unless you happen to be at a Colt Collectors meeting.

It's just that the New Model 3s are all single actions and just as sweet as can be while the 1st model .44 D/As are clunkers compared to the sweet action of the NM3s.

So, this one would be a 44 Double Action 1st models or New Model 3 Navy (Double Action) with the "Frontier" monicre which designates only that it was factory chambered in Winchester .44-40.
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Old 05-19-2017, 01:05 AM
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Originally Posted by JSR III View Post
Well boys and girls, since I am new to the antique market and have recently purchased a few model ones, (already own a model 2 army), I decided to continue the collection and have purchased this model 3.

As others have stated, it appears to be a 6" .44 Double Action Frontier. The stocks are homemade wood replacements so wondering what should go on this gun. I read that they can be either walnut or black hard rubber with S&W monograms. Serial number is 5439.

Questions and issues:

Will any model 3 stocks fit this revolver?

In the closed position holding the barrel and the grip in each hand, I can rock the gun ever so slightly forward and back. In other words there appears to be a little play in the frame and the catch. Is this normal or something that should be corrected?

With the gun closed, the cylinder spins freely. If the hammer is cocked, it will lock into place and not move. It locks up on all 6 chambers when thumbing the hammer back but there is a little play in the cylinder once in this locked position.

Since I am a newbie to the model 3, I know absolutely nothing about these guns other than the fact that I felt that I should own one.

Any thoughts or furthering of my education will be greatly appreciated.

PS: I just also noticed that there is a little forward and back movement of the cylinder with the gun closed.
Jim, You've found one in just about average condition.

The key wear point on all top breaks are the latch and vertical post wearing, 2nd only to the pivot pin / pin hole bore. It is usually the vertical posts that wear before the latch does.

If it's just a tad loose in there a good smith can give it a little helpful bend or build up some solder either on the vertical posts or on the latch then contouring it to shape.

The cylinder is not supposed to rotate with the hammer down all the way. It is supposed to rotate when on the first safety click. Another repair that perhaps a spring or cylinder stop mechanism or most times that and the double set of stops on the cylinder start rounding off.

This model, as most top breaks are very sensitive in in regard to the hammer stops (at hammer / sear engagement points ) had to be sharpened, it could be done ... ONCE ....by a good gunsmith using fine, blade shaped India stones by hand. Once someone takes a file to it, it's all over but the crying.

Make sure the gun is empty (I know you know this but ... ) Pull the hammer all the way back to the single action firing stop. Put both your thumbs behind the trigger spur and push forward.

If the hammer "pushes off" or won't stay back on the full back notch, most likely the hammer will not be able to be fixed. Then you've got yourself a double action only version

Those hammers are near impossible to find. For some reason, that model above all others, had what I surmise were "soft" hammers. The full back lock stop on those .44 DA 1st are the most common to wear, fatigue or fail when compared to all other top breaks.

If you get it to a good smith to make sure it's safe to fire you'll have lots of fun with it. Keep the loads light, e.g. Gallery load specs.
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Old 05-19-2017, 09:19 AM
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I have to say Sal, that there are a few restorative welding companies out there who perform repairs on antique revolver parts, including hammers. I have a hammer for a 44-40 DA Frontier that lost its firing pin. I am about to contact one company with great reviews that specializes in gun parts restoration. RESTORATIVE WELDING
Museum quality TIG welding of antique firearms and edged weapons ... since 1964
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Old 05-19-2017, 10:19 AM
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WOW, Gary all I can say is WOW. I followed the link and viewed some of their work. Absolutely outstanding. Do you have any idea on pricing?

This would appear to be very skilled hand labor and as we all know, that usually equates to $$$$$$$$.

Getting back to my revolver. Are all model 3 stocks the same? I think that I would prefer wood (being a carpenter) over the hard rubber.

Sal, I see two openings at the bottom of the cylinder window. With the gun broken open and when pulling the trigger, I see what appears to be a cylinder stop rising from the rear opening. At the same time it appears that I can see some part of the trigger falling away as the bottom of the trigger moves rearward. Common sense tells me that since there is an opening into the cylinder window, that something should protrude from that opening before the trigger is pulled. Perhaps if I am correct, that protruding piece would hold the cylinder in place and prevent the free spinning rotation that I am seeing now. Is that why the cylinder has what appears to be two stop notches, one rectangular and the front one more football shaped????

If I am correct, then it appears that my trigger is either missing something or there is gunk preventing some action.
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Old 05-19-2017, 11:54 AM
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James, as you are aware, there are two cylinder stops on your double action. There is one that is coil spring activated and is mounted in the trigger. Often this stop is gunked up with congealed oil. To un-stick; remove the trigger and soak with penetrating oil. It may be necessary to apply heat from a hair drier. The stop and spring are in a blind hole so it is a bugger to free up. Good luck.
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Old 05-19-2017, 12:02 PM
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James - I have not yet called them, but will report back if I decide to send my hammer off for repair.

As for the stocks of the Model 3, there are two basic styles out there. The early Model 3 Americans had square butt wood, but a shape change was made for the Schofield revolver. The round butt versions had a few different styles, but were all the same frame size. The Russian guns had smooth walnut stocks, while the New Model 3 SA revolvers had both checkered wood and hard rubber stocks. Lastly, the 44 DAs had predominately hard rubber stocks, but later production guns show up with walnut service stocks and some post-1910 guns have gold medallion walnut stocks. All round butt wood and rubber stocks had the sharp front corner.
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Old 05-19-2017, 12:33 PM
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Gary, thanks for the info. I did follow up via email and have received a response from the owner, Peter Nagel. The photos on the web site are for illustration only and Peter informed me that he only does the welding. All shaping, filing, heat treating or bluing etc. is done either by a gunsmith or the customer.

He only wants the affected part and not the entire gun so disassembly is on you. He would also then need to know how much material needs to be added and where.

He went on to say that his gunsmith retired and that finding good craftsmen to work on these items is getting harder and harder.

FWIW.
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Old 05-19-2017, 02:09 PM
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Well, I have the gun apart and I believe that there is a piece broken off on the front of the trigger that would normally protrude through the frame and prevent cylinder rotation when the gun is closed. The rear hole has a spring loaded cylinder stop that operates from the trigger.

Does anyone have a spare trigger or a photo of what the complete trigger should look like. I may need to send this one off for welding as described above but need to know what it is supposed to look like.

Thanks
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Old 05-19-2017, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by JSR III View Post
WOW, Gary all I can say is WOW. I followed the link and viewed some of their work. Absolutely outstanding. Do you have any idea on pricing?

This would appear to be very skilled hand labor and as we all know, that usually equates to $$$$$$$$.

Getting back to my revolver. Are all model 3 stocks the same? I think that I would prefer wood (being a carpenter) over the hard rubber.

Sal, I see two openings at the bottom of the cylinder window. With the gun broken open and when pulling the trigger, I see what appears to be a cylinder stop rising from the rear opening. At the same time it appears that I can see some part of the trigger falling away as the bottom of the trigger moves rearward. Common sense tells me that since there is an opening into the cylinder window, that something should protrude from that opening before the trigger is pulled. Perhaps if I am correct, that protruding piece would hold the cylinder in place and prevent the free spinning rotation that I am seeing now. Is that why the cylinder has what appears to be two stop notches, one rectangular and the front one more football shaped????

If I am correct, then it appears that my trigger is either missing something or there is gunk preventing some action.
IIRC the forward most "football shape" cylinder stop employs only a spring tension, rounded off stop. I don't think the trigger pull does anything to the front football shaped springy second stop, however, the rear most stop is the one that pops up and down. I believe it always has spring tension on it and is rounded off like that to slip easily out and back in.

Also IIRC there is a main or secondary machined component held in by 2 pins that also holds in the spring and / or lever for the cylinder stop.

All too often the rear stop cuts in the cylinder get rounded off and the stop arm itself either wears and / or the spring tension is bad.

I know, for a fact, ANY deviation of the hammer stops, cuts, sear (not really a sear but you know what I mean) sharp edges ... once worn and an improper attempt to recut it with a file messes up he entire timing and synchronization of other functions.

Combine an improperly resharpened or worn hammer with worn vertical posts or a loose barrel latch and it only compounds the problem.

That flaw in all the top breaks of those vertical posts wearing is the single most common problem in these guns that had been well used over the years.

The latch being hardened is harder than the steel of the vertical posts. No matter how smooth it latches (my pristine NM3 Targets, the latch snaps closed like a Tiffany jewelry clasp) there is still friction. Add to that the dirt from the old black powder rounds it has grit being placed into the friction areas wearing more rapidly.

I once toyed with a design for a practical "fix" of the vertical posts after seeing some worn guns that had been "fixed" a best possible, like "peening" the friction surface, or attempts to bend the vertical posts back just a tad. If we were in the desert being chased by Rommel with no other firearms but these, and I'd be tempted to "fix" it the same way.

The idea I had was to machine off the rounded back of the vertical posts. Route a vertical groove for a dovetail fit in the posts from the rear and then press in correctly machined rounded section / component that would be especially and newly made by a machinist. Measuring to make sure the trim and the insert, when complete, that the barrel is level. The slightest pitch (up or down) would give you an awful time sighting it in as the further away the target is the more radical the inaccuracy.

It was shortly after that idea about 20 years ago that I gave up on trying to fix a top break revolvers that were worn past a certain point especially if worn at the top posts. BUT THEN, the Cowboy shooting was coming into vogue and sold some of the more worn Model 3s and ALL the .44 DA first models.

When I examine those I know best, the New Model Number 3 single actions, if it has the slightest click back and forth, I won't purchase it.

I can determine, at a glance with the hammer down, by the position of the trigger in the trigger guard whether the hammer has been cut or resharpened without even handling it.
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Old 05-19-2017, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by glowe View Post
I have to say Sal, that there are a few restorative welding companies out there who perform repairs on antique revolver parts, including hammers. I have a hammer for a 44-40 DA Frontier that lost its firing pin. I am about to contact one company with great reviews that specializes in gun parts restoration. RESTORATIVE WELDING
Museum quality TIG welding of antique firearms and edged weapons ... since 1964
Amazing ! Thanks for that lead to Restorative Gun Welding. When Charles Duffy passed away I just did not look for anyone else. As it was for past 20 years Charles Duffy was retired he only worked on members / friends guns and only then if you really, really need him to do the work that few others could do. Charles Duffy's standard refinish was equivalent to someone else's restorative finish.
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Old 05-19-2017, 03:55 PM
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I am relatively certain the stocks from a New Model 3 Single action and the .44 DA 1st New Model 3 Navy / Double actions will not interchange. I gave up the .44 DA 1st models near 20 years ago. Try here for an aftermarket set: S & W New Model #3 .44 D.A. Frontier Break Top Revolver - Vintage Gun Grips - Reproduction Pistol Grips, Buttplates and Grip Caps.

For the trigger try Numrich / Gun Parts company. Ask for Michael Duffy Firearm Parts & Accessories | Military Surplus | Numrich Gun Parts
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Old 05-19-2017, 08:47 PM
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"I am relatively certain the stocks from a New Model 3 Single action and the .44 DA 1st New Model 3 Navy / Double actions will not interchange." True statement. They are slightly different frames even though S&W referred to them as #3 Frames.
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