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Old 08-15-2017, 01:57 PM
Millertimeisnow Millertimeisnow is offline
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Default Top-break identification help

I have this Smith and Wesson top-break from my grandpa. He didnt know the caliber. All he knew was that his father found it as a boy. Could anyone help me figure out what it is? The serial on the cylinder matches the serial on the handle and it is 30295.
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Old 08-15-2017, 02:01 PM
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Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass! That appears to be a .44 Double Action, 1st Model chambered for .44 Russian. They made 54668 of them from 1881-1913. Perhaps someone who tracks these models can give an approximate shipping date. All the frames for these guns were made before 1899. So, the gun is an antique per BATF.
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Last edited by Wiregrassguy; 08-15-2017 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 08-15-2017, 03:14 PM
Millertimeisnow Millertimeisnow is offline
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Awesome. Thank you. Where would one find ammo for it. It is neat to know a little history behind it.

Last edited by Millertimeisnow; 08-15-2017 at 03:16 PM. Reason: Autocorrect put in wrong wprd
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Old 08-16-2017, 09:28 AM
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Welcome. Black Hills Cowboy Action in 44 Russian would be fine to use if your revolver has a tight lock-up and indexed correctly. Other makers also provide this caliber. Just do a quick Internet search and you will find many sites that carry this caliber, Ammotogo.com and Midway USA should have some.
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Old 08-17-2017, 08:20 PM
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Welcome to the forum.

Well now I'm confused. I thought that I had learned the other day that the Frontier model was the one that had a round shaped hole at the top of the trigger just under the frame and that OTHER model 3's had a hole that was more egg or football shaped.

The photo above definitely has the round hole but you guys are saying it is .44 Russian and not 44-40???????
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Old 08-18-2017, 12:04 AM
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James, think "large frame Double Action" not .44 Russian or .44-40 (Frontier) or .38 Winchester (.38-40). The large frame (#3 frame) Double Actions shared that style trigger. The #3 frame is slightly different between the Single Action and the Double Action and they have different shaped triggers not specific to caliber but to frame. Also, the large frame (#3) trigger is not a scaled-up .32 or .38 Double Action trigger. More confusing; helpful?
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Old 08-18-2017, 01:04 AM
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So if I understand correctly, regardless of caliber/model, all of the large frame model 3's share the trigger with the round hole. The only real way to tell the Russian from the Frontier is by cylinder length? 1 7/16 vs 1 9/16?????

The other tid bit recently read is that the 44's are 6 shot and the 38's and 32's are 5 shots and can be easily determined by the exposed cylinder flutes?? If you can see 3 then it's a 6 shot and if not a 5???

That one also confuses me (something that is easily done lately) because one would think that the larger caliber, 44, bore size would make it harder to get 6 holes in a cylinder whereas the smaller caliber, 38, would seem easier to get 6????
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Old 08-18-2017, 08:54 AM
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James, the visual method of seeing a shorter or longer cylinder on the 44 DAs is an inexact science. Depending on the way they gun is canted can change the perspective you need to figure out what caliber you are seeing. The flutes on the 44 Frontier are longer, plus the cylinder of the 44 Frontier is almost perfectly square, diameter vs length. The big problem is that the visual space between the top strap and the lower frame is 1 1/2", so some of the cylinder cannot be seen in a photo when the action is closed.

I have made more than one mistake identifying the Russian vs Frontier models by using this method, so sometimes it is best to ask the owner to measure the cylinder.

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Originally Posted by JSR III View Post
The other tid bit recently read is that the 44's are 6 shot and the 38's and 32's are 5 shots and can be easily determined by the exposed cylinder flutes?? If you can see 3 then it's a 6 shot and if not a 5???
That is true, but the biggest difference for me between the 44 and the smaller frames top-breaks is the shape of the trigger. As for the frame size, the 44 DA cylinder is 1 5/8" in diameter, while the 38 top-break is 1 1/4", while the 32 is only 1 1/8" diameter.
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Old 08-18-2017, 09:21 AM
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Quote:
So if I understand correctly, regardless of caliber/model, all of the large frame model 3's share the trigger with the round hole. The only real way to tell the Russian from the Frontier is by cylinder length? 1 7/16 vs 1 9/16?????
The following statement is found in the SCSW, 4th Edition, following the section on the New Model #3 Frontier. I assume (risky) it also applies to the cylinders of the Double Actions since it says "All guns."

ID Key: All guns: In differentiating .44-40 from .44 Russian, look in the chambers of the cylinder. .44 Russian chambers will have a distinct line circling the chamber where the cartridge mouth rests. .44-40 cartridges are slightly bottlenecked and will either have no distinct circles in the chamber or two milder subtler steps to accommodate the bottleneck. (You can feel the ridge in a .44 Russian chamber with a pencil or probe, whereas a .44-40 chamber will feel smooth.)


(Page 121).

If you look in the cylinder chambers in the above picture, you can clearly see a shoulder for the .44 Russian cartridge.
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Old 08-18-2017, 11:58 AM
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"So if I understand correctly, regardless of caliber/model, all of the large frame model 3's share the trigger with the round hole." True.. IF.. it is a Double Action.

"The only real way to tell the Russian from the Frontier is by cylinder length? 1 7/16 vs 1 9/16?????". Not necessarily. A 1 7/16" cylinder will be a .44 Russian. A 1 9/16" MAY be. See Guy's post above.
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Old 08-18-2017, 12:38 PM
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Here is another somewhat confusing tidbit dealing with cylinder lengths for the 44 DA. A little history to put this helpful hint in perspective. The 44 Frontier DA was made from 1886 to 1913, in serial numbers from 1 - 15,340. The 44 Frontier SA started a year earlier, so the earliest long cylinder 44 Russian possible would have most likely been around 1886 or 1887.

The earliest serial number for the 44 Russian DA, found in the SWCA database, that shipped in 1886 is 14,229. If we assume that there were no long cylinder 44 Russians until at least 15,000 serial number, there could basically be no overlap of serial numbers for the two calibers. Bottom line is that there should be no 44 Russian DA with a serial number in the same range as the Frontier DA, so any 44 DA above 15,340 is a Russian no matter what the cylinder length.
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Old 09-12-2017, 04:59 PM
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Well, whatever the details, this is a very cool revolver and the photo's depict one in at least Antique Fine condition. Just a heads up on that side plate screw and stud damage. Don't attempt to shot it without replacing that hammer stud. That plate keeps things mechanically lined up. With the stud broken like that the hammer will work its way out of mechanical alignment and cause serious problems. Also, black powder only!.... You know John Wesley Hardin had one of these on him at the Acme Saloon when he was killed in 1895 with a Colt Single Action Army 45 carried by Constable Selman. Things might have come out different if it was a face to face confrontation.
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