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Old 05-04-2017, 03:01 PM
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It took a lot of talking to the previous owner, but I finally bought this second model pistol. Part of the problem was the fact that he outbid me for it a few years ago, and knowing what he had paid made me hesitant to offer a fair price. 6" barrel, matching frame, barrel and latch. I have not had the stocks off, but they are the correct vintage. Very nice bore, which is important to me even though I will probably not shoot it.

Bob

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Old 05-04-2017, 06:44 PM
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You did not mention the serial number? Just curious since some of the early ones used 1st Model frames with the recoil shield removed and some had Model of 1891 barrels as well?
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Old 05-05-2017, 08:56 AM
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Gary,

Serial number 1163, frame not cut for the hand, barrel does have "model of 91" markings.

Bob
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Old 05-05-2017, 09:33 AM
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6" barrels are relatively scarce. Enjoy.
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Old 05-05-2017, 04:31 PM
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One more question? Is the barrel sleeved? Sometimes it is very hard to tell from looking at the muzzle, but reports were that the factory took Model of 1891 leftover barrels in 32 and 38 and sleeved them for 22 LR. Nice gun for being 110 years old.
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Old 05-05-2017, 10:18 PM
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Nobody asked, and some/all of this may have been treated whenever this was discussed previously (if it was).

This is a 1st Model frame (two pins). It will letter as a 2nd Model (by virtue of its serial number). The only reason a 1st Model frame was used is because they had some laying around----no harm, no foul. ANY 6" 2nd is a RARE duck----never mind an odd-ball configuration. If the EXACT SAME gun (EXACT SAME configuration) were numbered outside the 2nd series (typically seen with serials in the 20000's) it would letter as a 1st Model. Some folks are fond of referring to such odd balls as "transitional" models---and that's what they are if "transitional" translates to using up old/leftover parts-----which it doesn't.

Any/all 6 & 8" 2nd Models will carry 1st Model barrels (those marked Model of '91). Some (few) 10" 2nd's will also carry 1st Model barrels (identical except for the markings). And as noted earlier, some of these (now .22 rimfire) barrels started life as centerfire barrels. I've never seen one of these sleeved barrels, and am more than a little curious/impressed with how they may have done that deed. (All the top-break SS .22 barrels are bored on what I'll call a bias--so as to place the rimfire cartridge rim under the centerfire hammer/firing pin. I suspect they bored out the centerfire barrels concentrically---and stuffed a bias bored .22 liner inside----veeeeeeeeeeery carefully.)

Ralph Tremaine

A belated thought: If you're ever inclined to think poorly of the folks for making these top-break SS's "on the cheap" (by using existing centerfire revolver frames/actions) as I have, think again. If you get the chance to compare some minty examples of either centerfire and rimfire SS's, or of the parent centerfire revolvers and their SS offspring, you're going to see they went an extra mile with the rimfires-----and they didn't have to (works fine either way). What you'll see on the centerfire firing pins is a rounded tip. Not so on the rimfires!! Those tips are FLAT-----with SHARP edges-----maybe sharp enough to cut/puncture a centerfire primer.(!!) Wouldn't THAT be a bummer?!! Now you have to start wondering what they did with the firing pins on the combination sets (combining centerfire AND rimfire barrels to be used with the same action/firing pin. I've never had the opportunity to sit and stare at one of those, but I'll guess they did nothing---just left it rounded.

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Old 05-06-2017, 10:18 AM
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In those days, it seems more a process of running changes than new model. In my opinion, the first "transition" was the elimination of the hand and cylinder stop slots. In reviewing my few examples, I see that 8" 2nd model #1355 is also two pin with Model of '91 markings. I can see no indication of sleeving on either one (fairly obvious on my 3rd model Pope).
I finally noticed for the first time that my 1st model (6" nickel #22772, matching # frame, barrel, latch) has the hand and cylinder stop installed. Does this suggest that it was once part of a set? If so, should I letter it on the assumption that a pistol that was once part of a set is worth more than one that wasn't? Or was more likely to have been bought by a person of interest?

Bob

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Old 05-06-2017, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by red9 View Post
In those days, it seems more a process of running changes than new model. In my opinion, the first "transition" was the elimination of the hand and cylinder stop slots. In reviewing my few examples, I see that 8" 2nd model #1355 is also two pin with Model of '91 markings. I can see no indication of sleeving on either one (fairly obvious on my 3rd model Pope).
I finally noticed for the first time that my 1st model (6" nickel #22772, matching # frame, barrel, latch) has the hand and cylinder stop installed. Does this suggest that it was once part of a set? If so, should I letter it on the assumption that a pistol that was once part of a set is worth more than one that wasn't? Or was more likely to have been bought by a person of interest?

Bob
For Bob and Ralph.

Bob, On the topic of Single Shot or Revolver Frame: there was another thread on this forum not too long ago (naturally I cannot find it now) wherein it was stated (REGARDING the 1st model SS and the .38 Single action 3rd) as follows:

IIRC it stated: if the serial number is on the butt it was manufactured as (or intended to be) a revolver (.38 Single Acton 3rd) and if the serial number is on the front grip strap it was manufactured to be (or intended to be) a 1891 1st model single shot. Is this correct and /or factual ? OR, is it Vice-Versa ?

While I surmise this "rule"may not be an "absolute .. carved in stone" rule (like I'd believe S&W would have thrown away or corrected serial number placement on leftover frames ..... right ? ) Is this the correct or "generally accepted" rule of thumb (SN on butt=revolver, SN on front grip strap=single shot) ?

Any tenured collectors of the 1891s and 3rd Model .38 single action, please jump in here to affirm, amend or add to this topic.

Bob ... on the revolver mechanics of the 1st model Single Shots .... all my 1st model SS (3 x .22 cal and 1x .38 S&W 6") all have the revolver mechanical components intact and functioning properly. All have single shot matching serial numbered barrels with a rounded "belly".

2nd model single shots are found with matching number barrels with either the rounded belly barrels or the flat belly barrels (Flat with a linear impression in the lengthwise center area of the flat section).
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:35 AM
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Sal,

I always understood the rule to be s/n on the front strap if shipped with, or normally shipped with, stocks that cover the butt. Of course, as always, the factory didn't follow their rules.
This 1891 revolver at one time had a matching number and engraving singleshot barrel. Unfortunately, the barrel still exists, but not in my possession. The serial number is on the butt.

Bob


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Old 05-07-2017, 12:50 PM
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I've heard tell of SS's with serial on the butt which letter as SS's. I've never seen one. I would never buy one (without such a letter).

Now, Bob's revolver with a (special order) SS barrel included is a whole different ballgame----one I KNOW absolutely nothing about. Here's what I suspect/have deduced (from messing around): The only thing that requires fitting (to a frame) in order to install a barrel (SS or revolver barrel) to a frame is the latch. The expected redundancy requires me to say a barrel itself requires no fitting to a frame, nor is any fitting required to install a latch in a barrel.

To the matter of dedicated 1st Model SS frames (dedicated to become a revolver or a SS-----dedicated by placing the serial number one place or another): I long suspected there was no such thing---and I was wrong---again---I think. I have a copy of one page of the shipping records for frames numbered from 14201 to 14300. Every single one of those 100 frames (not counting one which would letter as "open on the books") appears to have been made into a SS. (I say "appears to have been made into a SS", a dozen or so (all shipped to one distributor) don't say what they are. I reckon the applicable invoice would say.) One of them (mine) has the number on the front strap. I choose to assume ALL of them have the number on the front strap. I choose to assume ALL of them were selected/designated to become SS's. Can I prove any of this is right? No. Can anyone prove any of this is wrong? No.

So----we're pretty much right back where we started---but we feel better----right?!!

Ralph Tremaine

As an aside: Terry Wagner has forgotten more about SS's and the Model of '91 revolvers than the rest of us know. Should he choose to expound on the matter, take what he has to say as gospel.

As another aside: ALL the top-break SS barrels came from the same forging die(s). The only difference in any of them is the treatment of the bottom of the barrel lug (the "rounded belly"/"flat belly" portion which absolutely cracked me up. Not everyone may know "barrel lug", but ANYBODY can pretty much instantly figure out what "rounded belly"/"flat belly" means---even me!!

And as yet another aside, mostly to mess with your minds, the "flat belly" treatment found on a 3rd Model and the vertical grooves found on the sides of the frames of 2nds and 3rds are there for purposes of weight distribution/balance. That's another thing I can't prove to be right, and nobody can prove to be wrong, but I can demonstrate it to your lying eyes---and you too will become a believer----pretty damn quick!! And if you'd like to sit and stare at these things---the grooves in the frames----and the three steps required to make the "flat belly" on a 3rd (when ONE step would suffice---not counting the shortening of the "flat belly")---and ask yourself, "Why did they spend time/money doing these things when they didn't have to do them--------HMMMMMMMMMM??!!"

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Old 05-07-2017, 01:44 PM
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Default serial number placement

I agree with the previous posts about serial numbers on the front strap are single shots, on the butt being revolvers. I also agree that there can be exceptions with the early S&W handguns, following the proven rule, which is never say never. I own two 1st Model of 91 single shot, neither have the needed parts for advancing a cylinder. The following letter shows the combination sets were often shipped with both types of grips, which possibly eliminates the grip as the deciding factor of where the serial number should be. A factory letter would be helpful.
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Old 05-08-2017, 02:47 PM
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"ol777gunnerz" says, "A factory letter would be helpful." I agree. I have a letter on every gun in my collection. The reason is because I don't know what I don't know. It seems likely I'm not alone.

As an aside, I recall a fellow (more than one) saying he only gets letters on "special guns". I also recall being tempted to ask him what a special gun was. I didn't ask because I figured the answer is probably a secret.

Ralph Tremaine
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Old 05-08-2017, 03:27 PM
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Ralph,

You didn't want to pay the few extra bucks when you bought it new.

Look what you could have had for just a few more dollars.
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Old 05-08-2017, 05:38 PM
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Ralph,

You didn't want to pay the few extra bucks when you bought it new.

Look what you could have had for just a few more dollars.
That's okay, I've got one of those combination sets now----sort of. It's not two guns---just one revolver and three SS barrels. Of course the revolver is one number, and the .22 barrel is another number, the .32 yet another number---and the .38 doesn't have a number. And none of the barrel assemblies fit on the revolver. (That's how I came to know latches had to be fit to frames.) Oh, and there's no case. But aside from those minor details, it's fun to look at---if you don't look too close. I've had a couple of chances to get a real one, but common sense kept getting in the way----that, and the Boss Lady saying things like, "HOW MUCH?!!----WHAT, ARE YOU NUTS?!!!!".

Ralph Tremaine
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Old 05-10-2017, 10:12 PM
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1891 SERIAL NUMBER WONDERS
I have lettered 1891's both ways! The serial number on the butt of 10 inch Target Barrel Single Shots (letters as a single shot) but numbered under the target grips on the butt. Also have revolvers, sold as revolvers, numbered on the front strap. After seeing this several times over, I have concluded that S&W may have tried to pick out front strap numbered frames to finish out as single shots, but did not always stick to their rules.

TRANSITIONAL 1ST MODELS
As early as serial number 15,000 on one engraved 1st Model with the grooves. As late as 24,000 with flat sides, no grooves. Earlier than 22,000 with the cylinder hand cut in the frame and no cylinder hand.

TWO PIN FRAME 2ND MODELS
The first model two pin frames but without the recoil shield, shipped as second models as late as serial number 1500. Under serial number 1500 with mostly the "Model of 91" 1891 first model single shot barrels. Then later matching serial numbered one pin frames in the 2800 range, but with the "Model of 91" marked barrel.

COMBO SETS
Combination sets with serial numbers on the butt, target grips and standard grips included.
Now that I brought this up, I need to revise the serial number list of extra (lone barrels) for the single shots or combo sets missing the correct barrel. Tried to match up owners with their missing barrels once a long time back. I have a couple single shot first models that were sold as combo sets...but... the extras got lost along the way.

I will break out my old notes and continue later. I find the Single Shots and 3rd Model .38 SA to be a continuing educational for me!

Terry Wagner

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