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Old 06-15-2020, 11:03 AM
Pilot27 Pilot27 is offline
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Default S&W n.3

Hello, This is my first post on this forum apart from my greetings in the general section. I come with some questions for the experts on the matter. A friend of mine has what appears to be a number 3 American, 1st model. I attach some photos.

The gun has been refinished, wich usually is not a good thing, but at least the corners are sharp and no big harm has apparently been done to this relic. Well, this is just my opinion so feel free to point out anything on the contrary.

My main doubts are the markings. The gun is almost void of them, except a S/N (1110) and obviously the correct lettering on top of the cannon.

So, fake? Real deal? Frankenstein? Pour some knowledge please!

Thanks a lot
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Old 06-15-2020, 11:47 AM
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Appears legitimate to me. Very nice.
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Old 06-15-2020, 01:20 PM
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Welcome to the Forum. That is one fine looking Model 3, 1st Model revolver!! There were only 8,000 made and lots less exist today in any condition, but few in the condition you are showing. I do not doubt your claim that the gun has been refinished, but would like to ask how you know that?? To me, the lack of usage dings and wear is an indication that the gun was always kept in fine condition. Whether it is refinished or not that is a striking revolver. from probably the first year of production, 1870! The screws look almost un-turned and would like to know the condition of the chambers and bore?
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Old 06-15-2020, 02:23 PM
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Default Grips modern?

Beautiful gun. I have to comment on the grips though. Last photo? They have been heavily restained And revarnished or are replacements or both. Can you please show markings on the gun both barrel and numbers? There are high quality reproduction grips out there now! Close examination suggests the inside flat of the grips have no finish or white. Can we see the grips off the gun??
Also the latch doesnít look right where it meets the frame posts. More photos please of the gun open.
In fact there are high quality reproduction Americans out there also. Need to see markings please.
Can we see the die stamps for the frame serial number?
Thanks

Murph

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Old 06-15-2020, 04:14 PM
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I may be way off here, and pros can let me know, but wouldnít serial number 1110 be one of the first 1,000 made under the US military contract, and have US stamped on the top of the barrel? Mine is 1686 and has the US on it. And I think with that serial number it would have the oil hole? The grips donít look like any Iíve seen on a model 3. Hereís a pic of mine. The serial number would be stamped on the inside of the grips if they go with that gun.
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Old 06-15-2020, 04:30 PM
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The 1000 US revolvers were shipped in the 125 to 2199 serial number range, so about half of those were military and half were commercial. Due to the extreme angle of the butt-frame, I am guessing it is not a US military example. Some have said this "bent butt-frame" was the result of the gun being dropped, but I don't think that there is proof, because they actually show up quite often. Don't have another reason though.

The best way to determine if the gun is commercial or not is to look for a few stamps. The most obvious for the military issued guns should be a "US" stamped on the top of the barrel just ahead of the cylinder. The left stock should have an "OWA" in script. Also a small letter "A" was stamped above the middle of the cylinder on the left side of the frame. Other stamps were also used.
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Old 06-15-2020, 05:40 PM
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Yes, like this.
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Old 06-15-2020, 06:08 PM
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Default american.

It sure looks like a US gun.
I agree that it has been refinished. The heads of frame screws at the sideplate are flat and the latch posts have some kind of color.
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Old 06-15-2020, 06:09 PM
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Thanks for your imput. I assumed the gun has been restored because it hardly has a scratch on it, and with that low S/N and after 150 years it is the most conservative guess I can take. But at least it must have been reblued.

Chambers looked good to me but did not take measurements. Bore was very good with no apparent signs of corrosion.

Grips do look quite awkward, and if you can point the correct direction towards quality replacement I will tell the owner (He aint using neither english nor internet). I did unscrew them looking for markings in the handle but found none. Looked like mapple wood or so. Also no S/N stamped on the wood of the grips. Did not take a photo, sorry. I will try to post more pics now so you can see the latch.

Oil hole is present. No "US" to be seen anywhere. Apart from the S/N and patent scroll no markings. This really puzzles me.

I will try and load the rest of the pics. on a following post.
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Old 06-15-2020, 06:15 PM
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Some more pics.
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Old 06-15-2020, 06:17 PM
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More pics.
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Old 06-15-2020, 06:19 PM
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Last of them!
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Old 06-15-2020, 07:18 PM
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Default Honest Evaluation.

Outstanding photo's. That helps a ton!

I'm just thinking out loud here so take it for what its worth OK?

I agree that it's been refinished but a very nice job. The gun presents itself extremely well.

However, it has seen extensive restoration. The grips as I suspected are not original. They are replacement grips. they look very nice though and they are well done.

Also, ( and this is a problem) the frame number 1110 has most definitely been re-stamped in my experienced opinion. I am not aware of Smith and Wesson using different size dies for serial numbers. The 1's and the 0 are not the same die size. The 1's look like they were recently stamped on the frame. So I don't know what happened there. Which opens a can of worms regarding what the "Restorer is trying to accomplish"?

Also the back of the cylinder has some type of assembly number? that is hard to read. Is that same number under the grips on the grip frame? Also on the barrel? Is there a number on the latch?

It's only my gut here but it looks to me like it was assembled and quality restored using non matching parts. A much closer examination would be required "IN HAND"..

Or you can please provide more close up photo's of numbers found on the frame under the grips and with the cylinder removed a photo of the latch underside and back of the barrel.

It's just been my experience that many years ago there were a lot of parts and parts guns out there. Years later you would find many assembled with non matching parts. Initially they were sold as such. Now unfortunately you find them restored in an attempt to pass them off as all original and all matching. When in fact they might be all original parts but not from the same gun?

It's a different ERA of collecting and I'm always trying to have an open mind when it comes to Market Value. Re-numbered guns sometimes don't bother some collectors depending on the quality of the restoration and if they are presented as "refreshed numbers"? but many collectors will immediately walk away from this type of restoration suspecting basically an assembly from non matching parts. So you have to decide where you stand on this position.

Murph.
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Old 06-15-2020, 07:40 PM
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Mine is all original and verified. It belonged to my GGG grandpa. If there are any markings, or photos you would like me to provide for comparison let me know. I’ll do my best.
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Old 06-15-2020, 07:50 PM
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Here is something else I notice different. There is no screw on the bottom of the grip on mine.
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Old 06-15-2020, 09:22 PM
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Default Later Frame

Just finished some research on the frame screw that SSPierce8 brought up. It looks like it shows up on the frame in the later serial numbers. Which also supports that the frame has been re-numbered. I also can comment further about the stamps if there is interest but I think the restorer was obviously trying to attempt to make an older 1st model frame look like an earlier frame for some reason? Just my opinion but it fits.

Other Americans that I looked at all had assembly numbers often 3 on the back of the cylinder. These numbers should match other numbers found under the grips and I'm really not sure on these but somewhere on the barrel and possibly on the latch? but it should be in multiple locations. Perhaps SSPierce8 can provide what assembly numbers he see's on his excellent early model? It's an excellent comparative since it is very close in serial number range.


Murph

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Old 06-15-2020, 09:28 PM
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It actually says TO on the latch, and the cylinder.
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Old 06-15-2020, 09:40 PM
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How about the frame under the grips?
Also see photo. I noticed a number visible on the back of the barrel? Those numbers need to match others found on the gun or the gun is not all original parts.

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Old 06-16-2020, 08:36 AM
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If youíre asking me, yes, it says TO on the frame under the grips as well. The Smith and Wesson historical society has reviewed all the markings, and confirmed and documented mine as an original survivor, and forwarded to Charles Pate to update his survivor data. I had to take mine to a gunsmith to take the grips off. Theyíd been on since 1870. The gunsmith nearly fainted when he saw it
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Old 06-17-2020, 05:56 PM
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Ok, so far I think we all agree that the gun has been refinished, and also restored to some extent. The job was neatly done. The feel of the gun in hand is amazing, everything works like clockwork and fits snugly.

About the grips all I can tell is they seemed old but surely not original to the gun.

Frame number also seems restamped, so S/N 1110 means who knows what for sure. Maybe it was done during the restoration, maybe earlier if put together from different pieces someone. Could be random or as you say a rather naive attempt to pass it as an early type. Will never be sure, but I think we can bet it is a Frankenstein revolver.

As I first said upon posting the most disturbing fact is the apparent lack of matching markings of the parts of the gun. Part of the problem might be that I didn't know exactly where to look. It will take me maybe months to take another look at the gun and provide new pics, so please be patient.

The gun owned by sspierce8 is at least by my standards the "holly grail" for a collector. The one I have shown you has issues, but all said still is a S&W #3, 1st model in restored but pristine and non original condition. It is a pleasure to hold in the hand and from my point of view feels not like a tool as some of its contemporaries do but like something built for a gentleman.

This of course is just my opinion, as I'm more used to european dueling pistols than american six shooters, but the feel, balance and good handcraft of this S/W reminds me of them. And that is something I never felt with a Colt. Wich are excellent weapons as well. But just a bit more on the tool side than S/W.

Please excuse me if I do offend by this personal appreciation, I do not mean to.

As said I will post more detailed pics but might take long. Thanks for the input!
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Old 06-17-2020, 07:37 PM
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Looking forward to the next installment.

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Old 06-18-2020, 12:35 AM
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Here are a few pics from my American #1030. Assembly number U4.
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Old 06-18-2020, 10:20 AM
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Just FYI, here is what the stamping of the serial number looks like on the backside of the grip.
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Old 06-18-2020, 11:56 AM
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Notice the size of the zeros on #1030 above. I think a re-stamp can be ruled out on the OP's #1110 revolver.
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Old 06-19-2020, 01:03 AM
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I am not knowledgeable about these older S&W's but will offer a thought regarding the newer parts discussion.

S&W has been known to take in an older gun and not only upgrade it with newer parts but also add stamps that were not seen or on the gun when originally manufactured. In their mind they were improving an older model tool, to collectors it is devastating injury to a collectible firearm.

That said, is it possible that this gun went back to the factory and was refinished and parts changed or upgraded to produce what is seen today???
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Old 06-19-2020, 10:06 AM
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If you are not sure where to look, remove the stocks and look over both sides of the butt-frame to find the assembly numbers/letters. There will be another matching on the rear of the cylinder and one on the rear of the top frame where the latch is located. All those should match. About the only other stamping on these old guns is the address stamp on the top rib of the barrel.

I am still on the fence about being 100% certain of a refinish. I tried to find one pit or mark on the gun that indicated re-bluing and cannot find it. I think the members are missing the important fact that the gun has the smoothest metal, near perfect screws, with little wear anywhere, so why would it have been refinished in the first place?? I wonder if it could have been cleaned resulting in a lightened color finish or gone over with a instant blue that changed the coloration somewhat? It remains a strong condition gun and probably in the top end of any that one will find in this model?? Hands on inspection with a qualified expert is the only way to be certain of the answer.

Over the years several Model 3s have shown up with mismatched serial numbered stocks and I wonder if yours left the factory that way? With the US contract guns being made alongside the commercial guns, it would certainly be possible that the switch was intentional. It is said that the factory never wasted anything and if there was a defective revolver frame coming out of the assembly process, it would have been stripped of every good part and those parts would simply go into another gun, including the stocks, so . . . ??? Can you tell if the fit is perfect or not quite up to the standards of S&W? Also, with the extreme curved butt-frame, if they fit well, probably were original.
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Old 06-19-2020, 12:51 PM
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Besides the size of the number 0 in the photo of the revover in question, it appears that the area on the frame butt has been either ground down or perhaps chemically etched to remove the original serial number. I'm not saying it was done maliciously; it may have been illegible and was re-stamped for clarity purposes.
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Old 06-19-2020, 02:53 PM
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Default Quality Restoration

I'm not trying to stand above anyone on this forum. I'm only "SHARING" what I have been lucky enough to experience ok?

I knew a gunsmith who passed away years ago but he was beyond an artist. What he could do with metal work( welding/refinishing/restoration) was beyond amazing. It was "unbelievable" is what it was. You had to see his work.

He was the one I took my "Baltimore Police" Baby Russian to perform a major repair to the frame. Both posts were sheared off where the latch met the frame. Nothing but a hole basically.
When he was finished? YOU COULD NOT TELL! I mean it was Perfect! NO evidence of a weld, NO evidence of a repair. It looked totally original!! I wish I had a before and after photo. Many collectors at that time went to him to repair "YOU NAME IT". He could do it and the results were unquestionably PERFECT!

Then he showed me how he would repair pitted metal and "RE-STAMP" serial numbers from a "RESTORATION" standpoint. It was a 10 step process. I won't get into it but What you see on the OP's gun is a 4 step process. Re-surface, re-stamp, Peen, refinish.

If you follow this process what is left is exactly what you see on the OP's gun.....Around the RE-STAMPED 1's you see a cloudy finish. This is the result of "HAMMERING" the metal after re-stamping to make the die imprint look old. Simple as that.

LOOK at the photo and yellow arrows with an open mind and you can clearly see the discoloration around the numbers.

They have "CLEARLY" been re-stamped and peened. For whatever reason.

If you understood the step by step process of restoration you would recognize this type of result. It's very basic.

If you followed the old gunsmith's 10 step process? Absolutely NO WAY you could tell. The result would be Identical to factory.

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Old 06-19-2020, 05:26 PM
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Thanks for the photo of specimen 1030, and also for the ones of the inside of the grip. The reddish grips on this gun had no markings that I can recall.

About factory re using parts that sounds plausible, but I still think they would stamp matching marks of at least the main parts of the revolver.

The gun does not only look magnificent, it also feels this way. I had it in my hands, fits are damn perfect, when cocking it is smoth and absolutely no sloppiness can be felt. If I have to compare it I would to winding a high quality swiss timepiece. Earlier I made reference to european dueling pistols, since that is what I'm used to, and this revolver feels like a work from Le Page or Gastinne Renette.

About craftmanship I also knew a fine restorer able to perform the unthinkable in terms of quality, including the complete copy of a dueling pistol so a pair could be complete. And I mean from scratch. To repair metal beyond belief, wood, whatever might be needed... I'm not saying this S/W is one not made by S/W in the 1870's, otherwise cost of making such "replica" would be unthinkable.

Thanks also for the tutorial on were to find markings. I wish I knew!

Next time I get the revolver in my hands hopefully we will get more answers.
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Old 06-19-2020, 06:13 PM
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In my unprofessional opinion it looks like an un refinished piece, quite possibly worked on by someone knowledgeable certainly no bubba job. I think its beautiful, I never cared for standard SAA Colt stocks and much prefer shooting Bisley's which have that inward curl to the stock. I have a Bisley in 44-40 and enjoy shooting it very much. I have a Colt SAA in .44 special that is a cavalry model with long barrel and although it does shoot nicely it is nowhere near as comfortable as the Bisley, especially for my larger hand.
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Old 06-19-2020, 07:18 PM
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A quick question for those who own a model 3 first model American:
When holding the pistol outstretched at arms length, it feels like the pistol is front balanced. That is, the business end tends to pitch down with the center of gravity being around the front of the cylinder. Of course I have never held it fully loaded due to lack of .44 American ammo. Does it balance out when loaded?
I also find it almost sized for a rather small hand.
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Old 06-19-2020, 07:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by new2S&W View Post
. . . Does it balance out when loaded?
I also find it almost sized for a rather small hand.
There is nothing small about the Model 3. It has an 8" barrel, 14" overall, ample sized stocks, and about 2.5 pounds, and yes it is front heavy, but it is not an overly heavy gun and can be held on target with one hand. If you want to shoot a truly front heavy gun, try a Colt Walker that weighs around 4.5 pounds! One can barely hold it up at arms length.

I used to shoot my 44 Americans and 44 Russians, but have sold them all. I do have a Franklin Mint reproduction and below are a couple pictures comparing the size of the American with a Colt SAA and a N frame S&W. I also threw in my Uberti Colt Walker for fun.
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S&W n.3-p1010004-jpg   S&W n.3-p1010010-jpg  
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Last edited by glowe; 06-19-2020 at 08:00 PM. Reason: added images
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Old 06-19-2020, 09:12 PM
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I agree with Mur.
I don't think that the OP believes that this gun has original finish, so it does not offend to say so.
I previously posted that 2 of the sideplate screw heads have been filed flat. The finish on the filed screws matches the rest of the gun exactly.

These are pics of an unmolested 1st Model American
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Old 06-19-2020, 10:08 PM
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Wow! iby

Thatís about as good as they get! Gorgeous piece!

Murph
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Old 06-19-2020, 10:50 PM
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My non-expert opinion after 60 years of collecting Smith & Wesson antique revolvers:

This #1110 American has been refinished at some point as evidenced by the flat sideplate screw heads and the overall color and mottled look of the bluing. It probably is an old Cold Blue.

The stocks have been replaced. The originals were dark stained Walnut.

I do not believe the frame has been replaced by a newer frame and re-numbered. The presence of a plugged lanyard ring hole associated with a later frame is not of the type of plugged hole seen from the factory leading me to believe that it is a post factory, gunsmith addition. The plugged hole appears to be countersunk which the factory never supplied. The screw does not appear to be an oval head type used by the factory.

To further my belief that the frame is original stems from the lack of a firing pin bushing in the recoil shield which is a factory feature incorporated into a later frames that had the lanyard ring or the plugged lanyard ring hole.

Since the revolver appears to have been "cleaned up" at least on the sideplate and screws I will venture that the bottom of the frame received the same treatment. Since stamping numbers will slightly raise the metal when struck, I'll guess that the clean-up of the revolver included work on the butt and the discoloration around the serial numbers is the effect of cold blue over new metal next to the original finish.
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Old 06-20-2020, 09:18 AM
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That’s very nice. Is that a US model? It’s in great shape. Mine is all original as well, but the bluing is mostly gone.
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Old 06-20-2020, 12:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sspierce8 View Post
Thatís very nice. Is that a US model? Itís in great shape. Mine is all original as well, but the bluing is mostly gone.
it's not a US.
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