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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 01-13-2020, 04:12 PM
andyinlz andyinlz is offline
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Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way?  
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Default Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way?

I recently saw an interesting First Series Model 91 with a .22 single shot 10" barrel.

My question--is there a method (short of a letter) to determine whether this left the factory as a .22 single shot, a combo, etc.?

The SN on the front grip strap matches the SN on the barrel latch, the back of the extractor, etc.

Target rear sight with matching SN.

"Model of 91" on the barrel stamp with the usual patent dates.

Grip frame sides were not visible to check on any factory rework stamps.

Thanks for any insights you may have.
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Old 01-13-2020, 07:43 PM
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"The SN on the front grip strap..", '..a combo..'. The serial number on the front grip strap indicates that it was originally a single shot. To see if it was part of a combo set I'll refer you to Neal & Jinks for the listing of the serial numbers of the combo sets.
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Old 01-13-2020, 08:05 PM
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Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way?  
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This is a high SN...223xx...so I do not expect it to be a combo set.

Did all barrels in a combo set receive identical SNs?
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Old 01-13-2020, 09:29 PM
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All ORIGINAL barrels fitted to a common frame would carry the number of the frame. I will speculate a barrel/latch assembly fitted to a frame after the original shipment might be numbered to the frame---seems unnecessary unless some (batch) finishing/refinishing was involved, but I'm not prepared to say what they did/didn't do as a matter of course.

The serial listing in N&J stops far short of 223XX----somewhere in the upper teens---which is to say a letter is the only game in town.

Ralph Tremaine
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Old 01-14-2020, 05:32 AM
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Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way?  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andyinlz View Post
I recently saw an interesting First Series Model 91 with a .22 single shot 10" barrel.

My question--is there a method (short of a letter) to determine whether this left the factory as a .22 single shot, a combo, etc.?

The SN on the front grip strap matches the SN on the barrel latch, the back of the extractor, etc.

Target rear sight with matching SN.

"Model of 91" on the barrel stamp with the usual patent dates.

Grip frame sides were not visible to check on any factory rework stamps.

Thanks for any insights you may have.
If all the numbers match, the condition / price are within reason and acceptable to you ... go for it.

Would be great if you could post a few photos.

The method to assure the barrel is correctly numbered is to view the barrel numbers that are located in the very rear recessed area, visible with the gun upside down, barrel open and latch pushed up as far as you can.

You may need a Q-tip to clean out the recess areas but are usually there to be read with little difficulty.

Being it is numbered late in the 1st model series, pictures would be nice.

Is the flash plate (like on the revolver) there and complete without being altered or is it shaved or revised in some manner ?

Are the single action mechanics for the revolver, there and intact ? You would be able to see the cylinder stop pop up and down when hammer is pulled back with barrel open. And, the "hand" that would advance the cylinder, should be intact and functional regardless that it is in the single shot configuration.

Last item, is the bottom of the barrel contoured to meet the contour in the frame where the cylinder stop button is located.

The 1st model barrels were used on the 2nd model too, I suppose until they were all used up. S&W never threw away any parts or components that could be made use of.

The 2nd model barrel, at the very bottom, would be flat with a straight recessed depression from front to rear stopping / starting about 1/4" from very front and very rear of barrel.

If you've got matching serial numbers, all the way around, you can basically feel comfortable that it left the factory that way.

Or as Ralph offered, may have gone back for another barrel or barrel change to the factory ... in those situation the mechanic / machinist / builder / repairman would almost ALWAYS stamp the newly (then set) barrel with the correct serial number.

In early years the reworked star in the serial number or date on the grip frame were not always implemented.

Maybe Ralph will jump back in but the oldest S&W rework / repair date stamp I have on any of my factory repaired or refurbished guns is about 1912. Even if done after the "TEENS" doesn't guarantee if got the rework stamp.

From all you've posted .... if the SN on the barrel matches, the parts should be all original providing they meet those other requirements I posted.

If you are not going to purchase this gun yourself, perhaps you can refer the seller to either me or other interested member. I have about a dozen 1891 1st models, most in upper conditions, one in the high 90% condition with a 6", .38 S&W barrel with serial number of this .38 Cal listed and confirmed in Neil and Jinks.

Best Regards, Sal Raimondi ( MODEL3SW )
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Old 01-14-2020, 05:35 AM
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Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way?  
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Originally Posted by andyinlz View Post
This is a high SN...223xx...so I do not expect it to be a combo set.

Did all barrels in a combo set receive identical SNs?
There are very few factory combo sets remaining. I think only several hundred were made ( Ralph, correct me here if I'm mistaken).

A factory muti-barrel single shot combo set would have all the barrels serial numbered IDENTICALLY !

Best Regards, Sal Raimondi, Sr.
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:28 PM
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Wink FLASH PLATE?!!!!!

Pretty much everything Sal told you is either correct or indisputable opinion------------all except for that gobbledygook description of the bottom of a 2nd Model barrel. He meant to say 3rd Model barrel, but we cut him some slack on stuff like that because he's old---and easily confused sometimes.

Another one of those times is when he spoke of "the flash plate (like on a revolver)". The "flash plate" is also known as a recoil shield----or at least that's what I've heard tell.

Ralph Tremaine

Oh, and combination sets-----Sal said to correct him if he was mistaken (when he said there were several hundred). Much as it pains me to say I don't know how many there were, it's only because of THE BOOK. THE BOOK says there are 92 combination sets (63 based on .22's)----of course the same book says there were 862 1st Model .22 single shots--and the highest known serial number is 18XXX something; and I DO know for a fact there were a bunch more 1st Model 22's---and their serial numbers extend at least into the 23XXX something area. I also know #14272 which shows as a .22 is a .32, but that's not THE BOOK'S fault, but some nice little old lady's who put it into the wrong box.

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Old 01-14-2020, 12:50 PM
andyinlz andyinlz is offline
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Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way?  
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The frame has all the bits and bobs that are correct for a First Series.
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:52 PM
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Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way?  
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And, given the answers above (much appreciated), it sounds like a letter is the only way to determine if it shipped with one or more barrels.

Stay tuned.
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Old 01-14-2020, 01:03 PM
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Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way?  
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Finally, the gun is--at best--a shooter.
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Old 01-14-2020, 02:49 PM
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It's not that you need a reason, but what is it that causes you to think/hope your pistol may have been shipped with more than one barrel?

I harbored the same hope at one time. I'd just had the good fortune to stumble upon an 8" .32----and I'd paid the going price for such a prize. The number was 14272. N&J said 14272 was a .22, and I knew just as sure as God made little green apples the letter was going to say the same (and sure enough!!), so my only hope for avoiding owning yet another orphan was that 14272 was a .22 shipped with an 8" .32 barrel. No such luck!!

Ralph Tremaine
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Old 01-14-2020, 02:52 PM
andyinlz andyinlz is offline
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Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way?  
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Maybe more dread than hope....if it was from a set, the urge to find the other barrel(s) would set in.

And not be healthy.
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by rct269 View Post
Pretty much everything Sal told you is either correct or indisputable opinion------------all except for that gobbledygook description of the bottom of a 2nd Model barrel. He meant to say 3rd Model barrel, but we cut him some slack on stuff like that because he's old---and easily confused sometimes.

Another one of those times is when he spoke of "the flash plate (like on a revolver)". The "flash plate" is also known as a recoil shield----or at least that's what I've heard tell.

Ralph Tremaine

Oh, and combination sets-----Sal said to correct him if he was mistaken (when he said there were several hundred). Much as it pains me to say I don't know how many there were, it's only because of THE BOOK. THE BOOK says there are 92 combination sets (63 based on .22's)----of course the same book says there were 862 1st Model .22 single shots--and the highest known serial number is 18XXX something; and I DO know for a fact there were a bunch more 1st Model 22's---and their serial numbers extend at least into the 23XXX something area. I also know #14272 which shows as a .22 is a .32, but that's not THE BOOK'S fault, but some nice little old lady's who put it into the wrong box.
Not wishing to upset the apple cart, BUT...

THE BOOK list a couple of my 1891's as Combo Sets but the letter does not prove this fact. The numbers do!

THE BOOK also states my factory engraved .22 was sold as a .32

The .38 Single Shot I have in the 23xxx number DOES letter as being sold as a single shot BUT the serial number is on the butt.

Just so we don't get to upset with THE BOOK, the last paragraph in the single shot section does state they are not complete factory records.

All in all, as time goes on, we do see other information come to light in all things!
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Old 01-14-2020, 07:05 PM
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I am wondering if all combo sets had serial numbers on the barrel. I have a model of 91 "Frankengun" that has a barrel with no serial numbers. The frame is, I believe, a S&W .38 Double Action 4th Model that has had the double action mechanism removed. I figured this was assembled using the barrel from a combo set, but now I am not so sure.
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Old 01-14-2020, 08:24 PM
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I am wondering if all combo sets had serial numbers on the barrel. I have a model of 91 "Frankengun" that has a barrel with no serial numbers. The frame is, I believe, a S&W .38 Double Action 4th Model that has had the double action mechanism removed. I figured this was assembled using the barrel from a combo set, but now I am not so sure.
My two cents worth: The barrel came from the Parts Department.

But let's say it did come from a combo set. In the beginning, the combo has had all its component parts fitted---barrels/latches to frame; and next it's off to be finished (polished/blued (or nickeled)) along with the frames/barrels/latches from how many ever other pistols in the batch--------and then it's off to final assembly. How do those final assembly folks know what combo case it goes into?

Ralph Tremaine

OR------------there's another alternative---never mind I'm a day late and a dollar short thinking of it. The barrel IS numbered, but you don't know where it is--and if that's the case, you're in good company. There are big bunches of folks who don't know where the barrel number is on a top-break----and it's well hidden!! It's on the flat surface facing the rear---inside the recess where the latch lives---typically on the right hand side (or it'll start on the right, and finish on the left). Open the gun---all the way---hold it by the barrel with your left hand, and hold the latch up/open with your thumb, and peer into that recess----in good light. If there's some crud covering the number, just wipe it off with a Q-Tip---and don't tell anybody about that part of it.

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Old 01-15-2020, 10:45 AM
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there are several of us 1891 collectors that follow just the barrels we see offered for sale without the frames.

Several years back a member / gunsmith purchased many (if not all) leftover 1891 barrels from the parts department at S&W when they were re-vamping or moving (not sure which). At least a few hundred barrels for sure.

Almost all the barrels were already numbered. Some were not numbered.

In the off chance we find an exact numbered barrel to a 1891 we already own or even and un-numbered barrel, if created an opportunity to make a "put together" combo set. There are very few documented "combo" sets. The combo sets could be in different varieties, too. Barrel lengths and calibers.

It would be nice to find an identically numbered barrel but a dream just the same. The likelihood of finding a matched barrel is minuscule but .... it could happen !
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Old 01-15-2020, 12:42 PM
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Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way? Model of 91--.22 Caliber--Born That Way?  
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Default Left Over Barrels

While I understand the necessity of numbering a barrel to permit the fitting/finishing/reassembling, etc. of the barrel (and its component parts) to a frame, logic tells me that a "bare" barrel that was sold off by the factory will never be numbered.

Logic also states that the number of a complete barrel (and its component parts) that was sold off by the factory will never match a frame that departed the factory long-ago--unless someone forgot to put the finished barrel into a box that was supposed to be a combo, or somehow a barrel returned to the factory and was retained in stock.

So, if this logic is true, why would any of these sold off barrels ever match a frame that was numbered around 100 years ago and has been out in the wild ever since?

This possibility may, however, simply be beyond my limited knowledge of how the Mothership worked back in the day.
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Old 01-15-2020, 03:38 PM
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What if ?????

A 6, 8, or 10 inch barrel was numbered and on the .22 pistol ready to go!!
An order comes in for a .38 cal. 6 inch Single Shot.
There are none completed and ready to ship in 6 inch.
The 6 inch .38 barrel was installed where the .22 barrel was removed.
Being a single order, this was completed with an un-numbered 6 inch .38 barrel and the .22 barrel ends up as a numbered extra.
The pistol gets logged out as a .38 S&W caliber 6 inch.
Later the .22 L.R. barrel shows up with the serial number of a Single Shot that left the factory as a .38 S&W cal.
The latch may or may not have been moved to the 6 inch .38...

WHAT IF ???????
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:06 PM
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Interesting.....since none of us were there, we will never know for certain...

If this occured, I'd imagine that the incidence was low...and also that a letter would not show it as a combo.

So, if the original barrel was reunited with the original frame, it would be a Frankengun, wouldn't it (since it never left the factory that way)?

If so, wouldn't most collectors consider that a step backward instead of forward?

Or, at best, an oddity?

Somehow, I suspect Ralph will be heard from!

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