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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 08-01-2020, 04:27 PM
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Default Smith New Model DA

So I have this old relic that the experts may shed some light on for me please.

Believe it to be the new model DA Smith.
Serial number is 4 digit.

No chamber markings as to caliber but thought the early guns were all 44 Russian until much later on in production but this one is clearly in 44-40 having the longer 1 9/16 cylinder plus the 44-40 cartridge drops in all the way.

Have found the matching serial numbers on the butt and under the latch but none on the rear cylinder face; is it possible the cylinder has been replaced or were some cylinders left unmarked?

This pistol is lacking finish but is tight throughout with the very hard trigger pull on DA. Also some pitting in the barrel but has very good Lands so might shoot ok regardless. I'd like to do a total take down, check internals, clean and lube then re-assembly. SA hammer pull is hard at the end so hopefully that is from poor cleaning over 140 yrs or so, at least I hope that is the reason. Barrel is nicely marked with patent dates, tiny but readable!

Smith New Model DA-smith2-jpg

Thanks for any comments.
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Old 08-01-2020, 04:40 PM
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Yes, it's possible the cylinder is a replacement, if you are sure there's no serial number on it. Check the grip frame straps under the grips for evidence of any factory rework stamps. If the factory replaced the cylinder, there will be a date code stamped on the left strap. Any service dep't work done would be indicated by a small parallelogram stamp, or an "S' stamp, depending on the era the work was done. If you can post the full serial number, I may be able to tell you when the gun was made. Ed.

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Old 08-01-2020, 06:02 PM
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Opeoefc- thanks for the lead, no marks under the Stocks, however after cleaning up the cylinder face and using a bright light, I now see the matching numbers of 1490 - full of gunk!

GC
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Old 08-01-2020, 07:25 PM
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gc45, Your .44-40 New Model #3 "Frontier" was made Sept. 29, 1886. Ed.
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Old 08-01-2020, 07:50 PM
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Thanks Ed! I was not aware the New Model DA/SA 44 was a Number 3 revolver, but we live and learn. Somewhere on the Net I read this named revolver was it's own model with no #designation. I just now noticed the receiver has no S&W logo stamped into it, just on the stocks is all.

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Old 08-02-2020, 12:01 AM
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The manufacture logs call the gun a "44 D.A. Longstrap Frontier" as opposed to the logs for the "No. 3 DA Regular" which was in .44 Russian caliber. Different sources have different labels for it. S&W factory catalogs often called the .44 Russian the " Model 3 Navy" ans the 44-40 the Model 3 Frontier . Ed
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Old 08-02-2020, 01:04 AM
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Thanks again Ed, good of you to help out. This revolver just feel into my lap and knowing nothing about them myself, knew someone here would! great website!

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Old 08-02-2020, 02:13 AM
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Nice old S&W!

It'll be a hoot to shoot!

My .44 Russian ones I hold in the old Jelly Bryce way, otherwise the rear of the Trigger Guard barks my Knuckle.


I love the old Big Frame Top-Break "DA"s..!

They are quite a different feel than the later N-Frames, for sure...
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Old 08-02-2020, 11:07 AM
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Yes, the odd shaped trigger guard is right there against my knuckle as well; I find this gun to be quite a "hunk" of steel for sure. Grips are classic old west feeling and very cool! The balance is nice too with the 5 inch barrel and top rib. Be nice if Smith had incorporated a better trigger, makes one wonder if those old west guys hit anything with this design.

GC
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Old 08-02-2020, 01:02 PM
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Default Reloading in the old west

I've collected reloading tools for many moons and have seen first hand the heavy use on many tools from that period. Most of what I've have seen over the years is just basic heavy use, not abuse. With the exception of dings and dents that could have easily happened on the way to many a gun show?

So, I am of the opinion that folks who reloaded for these Old hand cannons would dial them in with various loads until they shot exactly the way the owner wanted them to shoot.

The only constant in modern day shooting is the purchaser of modern ammo. Those few that do actually reload their own seem to focus only on documented "book" loadings and the result is " This gun shoots a foot high"? I would think that the Old West loader experienced the same result but didn't put up with it. What would they have done to correct this condition? Live with it? I don't think so.

How about we try a different powder load or bullet? Like we don't do that today?

I don't like the Winchesters, I prefer the Remington rounds. I don't like the Federals, I prefer Westerns. ETC, ETC.

We don't put up with it now, why would they have put up with it back then? In my opinion, they didn't.

Below are some period photos of authentic rounds that were available during the period of use by manufacturers like;
Remington, earlier UMC, U.S. Cartridge Co., Winchester, Eley, U.S., CBC, etc,etc. Those early catalogs prove the loads were different for each round. Also, bullet weight and design varied!

Don’t even try to convince me that “All” these rounds shot a foot high!


Murph
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Smith New Model DA-08e65f5a-917f-4d17-9d93-4863000a2109-jpg  

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Old 08-02-2020, 05:08 PM
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Murph, I agree with you completely. My grandparents lived in the woods of Northern Idaho and reloaded nearly everything they shot. My grandmother carried a little Brno Mauser in .22 hornet and used a Lee Loader and dipper set to get the right load. My uncle did use military ball ammunition in his '06, I asked him if he had trouble with it not expanding and his reply was "It don't need to expand if you hit them in the head kid".
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Old 08-02-2020, 07:21 PM
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As do I. In my my collection are maybe 30 molds, all for early Winchester rifles that have been hand picked over many years from gun shows out West. Really enjoy casting and making ammo both, mostly for the big bore 1886 rifles and an old Sharps 40 cal business rifle that was given me by my Grandfather. As an avid prairie dog shooter and mostly using varmint rifles, have killed my share of these pesky critters using old Winchesters, even the large calibers. My loads all use light charges of 5744 powder, never black, as the guns are to precious to me not wanting to foul them with black. Not very traditional of me I know, but the guns are my children!

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Old 08-02-2020, 08:26 PM
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Default Reloading for accuracy

I just get irritated when folks decide to except that any gun shoots high or low or left or right. I would never put up with it.

I have shot these large caliber Smith & Wesson D/A’s in 44 Russian, 44WCF, and 38/40, with black powder loads only and they are a lot of fun to shoot and even more fun to dial in. I have “ NEVER” used manufactured loads! I always load my own and change loads and bullets to make any correction needed to accuracy. I suppose those who don’t actually reload will never understand the concept. They are missing out on a great experience and learning curve that never ends.

It never ceases to amaze me how just changing bullet and powder load can move the target results dramatically! The person who never reloads has no concept and starts filing the sights! When the problem can often be as simple as the bullet weight you are using!

The loads You use for a 44 Frontier DA like the OP’s Should NOT shoot high. They should be right on the money at 20 yards!

Murph

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Old 08-03-2020, 07:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gc45 View Post
As do I. In my my collection are maybe 30 molds, all for early Winchester rifles that have been hand picked over many years from gun shows out West. Really enjoy casting and making ammo both, mostly for the big bore 1886 rifles and an old Sharps 40 cal business rifle that was given me by my Grandfather. As an avid prairie dog shooter and mostly using varmint rifles, have killed my share of these pesky critters using old Winchesters, even the large calibers. My loads all use light charges of 5744 powder, never black, as the guns are to precious to me not wanting to foul them with black. Not very traditional of me I know, but the guns are my children!

GC
I have to say that folks with a problem using black powder are truly missing the boat. The fouling is almost entirely in the barrel of a rifle and with proper cleaning your good to go for storage after maybe 30 minutes of pleasurable time spent cleaning firearms, maybe a little stinky. In my .44 D.A. revolver the face of the cylinder and surrounding area get fouled but usually that wipes off easily with solvent soaked rag, the bore is simple to clean. I shoot black powder enough to buy it by the case and usually go through a case in a year, granted not with 3F Swiss for revolvers but 1-1/2 Swiss in my Sharps 45-90 I go through that, I shoot that also in my .45 muzzle loading target rifle. The main thing to remember with black powder is that if you are not going to shoot it again the next day...you need to clean it. Pyrodex is actually more corrosive than holy black, I picked up an Italian copy of the 1858 Remington from a guy that used it to shoot cowboy action, it came with three cylinders, one of the cylinders was so crapped out that I had to drill out the nipples, extract the ruined nipples, chase the threads and install new nipples...they looked like they had been welded in there, he told me he always used Pyrodex and a couple cans came with the revolver...I fertilized the lawn with that ****.
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Old Yesterday, 01:46 PM
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Default Black Powder report

There is nothing like the report of Black Powder in a large caliber pistol on a calm day. Huge plume of white smoke, totally different feel to the recoil and drilling the black circle is always a thrill. Especially to the others around you who have never seen a black powder cartridge pistol go off. "Hey, what is that"? What are you shooting? Especially when you shoot some smoke rings out of your Frontier 44 with full loads and the right bullet.


Murph
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Old Yesterday, 08:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMur View Post
There is nothing like the report of Black Powder in a large caliber pistol on a calm day. Huge plume of white smoke, totally different feel to the recoil and drilling the black circle is always a thrill. Especially to the others around you who have never seen a black powder cartridge pistol go off. "Hey, what is that"? What are you shooting? Especially when you shoot some smoke rings out of your Frontier 44 with full loads and the right bullet.


Murph

Black Powder is just wonderful in .38 Special also...which of course originally was a Black Powder Cartridge.

Far as I have found, ( 3f Swiss, or 3f Olde Eynsford - frget "Goex" it is a Musket or Signal Cannon Powder no matter what granulation...) it gives same or better FPS as standard loading off-the-shelf Smokeless, while having a whole other nicer feel and report and nicer recoil and everything.

It will put a smile on your face..!
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Old Yesterday, 09:44 PM
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Agreed...Goex does have its place and is our mainstay with patched round ball shooting. It also works very well as you mentioned in larger caliber muskets and smoothbore rifles. The fact that Goex is more affordable makes it our bread and butter and probably keeps the business afloat. Goex does have some other powders like Goex Supreme which is difficult to get but does yield more positive results. I am also a fan of Goex Ole Eyensford which burns nearly as clean as Swiss and also produces a more efficient explosion. I run Goex Ole Eyensford 3F in all my cap and ball revolvers, I do use Swiss 3F in revolver cartridges mainly .44 Russian and 44-40 WCF, also .44 Special in a Colt SAA. I like it for it cleaner burn and snappier explosion, it is noticeable I've done the taste test. When it comes to BPCR, I haven't found anything that outperforms Swiss. I use Swiss almost exclusively in 45-70 and Sharps 2.4", I use it in 1-1/2 F granulation for its case filling tendency and even predictable burn, lack of severe fouling.
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