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Old 05-11-2012, 07:22 PM
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Default Smith & Wesson's best years?

I am just starting to collect Smith & Wesson revolvers. I particularly like the vintage models from the 50s and early 60s. I am trying to get an idea of what you guys would consider the time frame that Smith & Wesson had the highest quality. I would also like your opinions on the best models as far as quality and craftsmanship of 2 inch and 4 inch revolvers (any caliber). Any opinions and/or help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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Old 05-11-2012, 08:10 PM
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DrFlintlock, I bet you'll be getting lots of opinions soon, and I'd like to know also what people think were the "best" years. My particular favorites are K frames from the 50's but the real jewels seem to be the Registered Magnums, guns with the single line "Made in U.S.A" and really anything that comes from the time when hand fitting was done.

Good luck and good hunting. If you don't already have a copy of the "Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson, 3rd edition" I suggest you get one asap.
T
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:19 PM
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You will get lots of different opinions on this. Some of the difference will depend on what we mean when we say "quality." My belief is that in any year of its history S&W has turned out individual revolvers that were as good as, or no worse than, the best revolvers they turned out in any other year. But there would appear to be years in which assembly or finish errors were more frequently encountered than in other years. In this case you have to ask yourself how bad the base error rate is that you are comparing to. If the base rate is next to nothing, by the rules of math 10 times next to nothing is till next to nothing!

That said, I like the guns of the 1920s and 1930s. Some of S&W's best designed and best manufactured models were produced in the Great Depression. I also have a soft spot for postwar revolvers from the late 1940s and 1950s.

Any .22 or .32 Hand Ejector with a four-inch barrel and any .38 with a two-inch barrel would get my attention fast. This generalization covers several different models on two different frame sizes.
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:26 PM
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My newest Smith is a 586 no dash from 1983. My oldest is a 1905 4th. change from June of 1919. I am certainly no expert, but the quality of all of my Smiths, regardless of age, is nothing to sneeze at! Bob
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:35 PM
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+1 to tcc. I personally like the I-frames best because their relatively tiny elegance of construction really appeals to me, but of course the true I-frames went away at the beginning of your proposed time frame. I liked their relative affordability until some of us (myself included) started raving about them on this forum and started a mini-rush on them.

The K-frames of the '50s are a safe bet, especially the higher grade versions... Folks have loved and collected these for years but there are still some "safe queens" out there at affordable prices.

IMHO, the N-frames are now in two categories, investment or shooter, with few in between. The "basic" models such as the 28 and the 57 & 58 which used to draw very little collector interest... but just look at them now! There are still some bargains out there, and of course they are some good investments, but I have personally avoided the rarified heights of N-frame collecting.

The foregoing is my personal opinion and probably worth exactly what you paid for it, but you did ask!

Froggie
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:38 PM
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I'm glad you have found your way to this forum and will be collecting these fine firearms.

BUT, I think your question, while valid, is like trying to swallow a delmonico steak whole. You are trying to take in more than you will be able to handle and more than most are willing to type in one sitting. The answer is a mile long and is almost purely subjective.

You may have more success and find it easier to be more specific.

For example, for my first revolver I bought a lnib 15-3 because it appealed to me, was within what I considered an entry level investment, and was common enough that I had a greater margin for error.

I then came here and asked questions about my gun and got lots of info about how great it is, the best loads, the year it was made, and several posts about other versions of the model 15 which included photos and remarks about other models.

I then started reading about the other guns people posted in my thread. Then I bought a 642 which got me asking about the look of stainless. That led me to a 686 and then a couple 586's. While talking here about how much I liked my full lug revolvers, someone posted in my thread with a photo of a 625. That got me into N frames and....

See where I'm going? With S&W you really can't make a bad choice but if you go straight for the pot of gold, you'll miss the rainbow on the way.

To play it safe, I would stay in the 70s, 80's and 90's to start. If you want what is generally considered to be quality that all collectors will acknowledge, look for unmodified guns with forged hammer and trigger. Boxes are nice but just go for a nice shooter. Trust me, you will soon be known as "the gun guy" around your pals because of hours you'll spend doing research about this and that.

There are some pieces in the 60s and earlier era that are to die for but I would not start there. It's a good place for a beginner to be taken for a ride if they meet the wrong seller.

However you approach this, you are a step ahead by coming here first. You have tapped into the deepest well of information on any subject, anywhere.

In summation, take your time and take sips, not gulps. My advice would be to start with a pretty, rugged, economical, useful gun. A four inch model 10 (M&P) from the 70s can be found for short money in great gondition. You will learn alot from it and can shoot it till it turns red without losing a dime.

Best wishes and good luck.
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:55 PM
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Definitely buy the SCSW and some of the other classic S & W books, like Smith & Wesson 1857-1945 and History of Smith & Wesson. As DCWilson mentioned above, there are no really bad eras for S & W, but you may find (another?) area of collecting that interests you. Then, whether you are collecting, investing or both, find the nicest examples in your area of interest. The quality issue should take care of itself from there.
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Old 05-12-2012, 12:14 AM
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Thanks very much for the info guys. I didn't know if there were any years to avoid such as when Patrick Sweeny states in his book 1911 The first 100 years, that Colt's quality suffered through the 80s. I will definitely get some reading material and educate myself. I appreciate the replies and the forum.
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Old 05-12-2012, 12:41 AM
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S&W hasn't made anything since about 1955-56 that
has the quality of guns made from the 1880s to then, and that includes today's Performance center guns, although some of them are pretty close. Ed.
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Old 05-12-2012, 01:12 AM
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I'm no expert either, and my collection is still just a handful, but in my experience, the quality & styling of S&W in general is much higher than most brands. For me, getting a good handle on the revolver checklist to know what to look for in a used gun was a big help... to recognize a good, bad, or just plain worn out gun, regardless of time period.

I think the 50s and 60s era you mention is a great "bang for the buck" period. Quality pieces for shooting or collecting.

There's a great bunch of knowledgable folks on the forum with wonderful collections and some amazing photography. As you look at the collections, and study the different models in the reference catalog, you'll quickly realize which models or styles attract you the most.

Josh P
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Old 05-12-2012, 01:16 AM
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As previously stated, everyone has an opinion. Personally I think prewar guns have high quality and a certain mystique, and I don't own any as of yet. The just-post-war guns are definitely fine firearms, and the quality IMHO stayed fairly consistent at least through the early 60's. I own a few from that period, and I don't think their trigger pulls have been matched. Smooth as butter! Probably the biggest bargains (if you can call any Smith these days a bargain!) are Jframes from this period. Truth be told you can't go wrong collecting anything pre-lock and pre-mim. Nothing much wrong with the newer guns there is just no interest in collecting them at this point. I'd recommend finding a caliber, model, or frame size you like and start hunting!
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Old 05-12-2012, 07:46 AM
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I like the craftmanship of the 1930's.The finish and fit on a service model was as good as there high end models.Here is a 38/44 heavy duty. Click image for larger version

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Old 05-12-2012, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by opoefc View Post
S&W hasn't made anything since about 1955-56 that
has the quality of guns made from the 1880s to then, and that includes today's Performance center guns, although some of them are pretty close. Ed.
Ed;

Does this coincide with the end of soft fitting, other production changes, or both? Just curious.
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Old 05-12-2012, 09:14 AM
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The "Golden Era" from about 1900 to 1941 was the pinnacle of United States firearms manufacture for all brands. Many of the designs still in production were introduced during that time, and the quality was amazing. That said, guns from the 1950s are nearly as good, and are far more plentiful in the desirable models, plus you have some special models that were introduced in the 1950s, such as the .44 Magnum. In brand "C," some of the rarest of models were made during the 1950s.
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Old 05-12-2012, 09:35 AM
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Another vote for the 1950s being the pinnacle of Smith & Wesson.

Shoot for that matter History may well judge the 1950s as the pinnacle of the United States of America.
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Old 05-12-2012, 09:48 AM
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S&W moved into their NEW factory on Roosevelt Ave. in late 1949 and began producing great firearms. I believe the pinnacle of S&W quality for fit and finish dates from late 1949 to about 1960.

Bill
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:14 AM
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DrFlintlock: Thanks for asking this question. There are a great many folks on this forum who's opinions I have come to respect highly and many of them have given their opinions above. I've enjoyed reading their answers.

For me, the answer would have to be the 1930s thru the 1950s.
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:37 AM
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FWIW, I wasn't a collector/accumulator until I found this community. I had a 640-1 for CC, a 29-6 Classic 6.5" for blastin', and a shooter grade pre-27 6.5" that was given to me when a dealer friend passed on ten years ago. After studying the SCSW, in 2008 I decided that prewar and transition period (1946-1949) N frames were my primary interest, the .44HE in particular. Why? Because they're big, classic revolvers and in some cases rare. Some of my S&W's are collectible with boxes and letters while others are worn and dinged but quite functional and enjoyable shooters.

Pre 1950
38/44 Outdoorsman prewar
38/44 HD prewar, transition
44HE 2nd Model
44HE 3rd Model prewar, transition

Along the way I broadened the scope to include pre models and certain models/features that just appeal to me. Apparently I really like tapered barrels and the Centennial:

Post 1950
Pre- 20 38/44 HD
Pre- 21 1950 Model 44 Military
Pre- 27 .357 Magnum 3.5" and 6.5"
Pre- 28 "Highway Patrolman 4"
24-3 "1950 .44 Target Reintroduction"
28-2 "Highway Patrolman" 4"
29-2 .44 Magnum Nickel 4"
29-5 .44 Magnum Blue 4"
29-6 "29 Classic" Blue 6.5"
624 "Model of 1985 .44 Target Stainless" 4"
629-2 "Mountain Revolver"
629-4 "Mountain Gun"
640-1 "Centennial" .357
642-1 "Centennial" .38

Admittedly there's not a lot of collecting discipline here but I do make an effort to look for N-frames 1935-1949 first, then pre-models, then interesting N-frames in top condition. I don't know which, if any, of the post-1960 production N frames are or will be deemed collectible, with the exception of rare "dash" engineering changes, reintroductions, and perhaps limited runs for Lew Horton, et. al. But it appears that at this moment the Model 27 and Model 28 are hot, pre-MIM is desirable. And, one should have a nickel 29-2 4" in a wooden display case, just 'cuz.

Attached pics are a few that have come my way.
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Old 05-12-2012, 01:14 PM
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While the most recent S&W I own, is a 1991, I do own at least one from every decade (except the 30's) between 1860 and 1990. My personal feeling is the early post war up through the early 60's are some of the best. However, having said that I had an opportunity this past week to handle and fire a Performance Center 44 Mag that really impressed me. It was the N Frame with heavy barrel with a hollow under-lug holding interchangeable barrel weights. You could include up to 5 weights or any combination with nylon spacers. This can alter the balance of the gun how you want it. We were shooting Black Hills 300 Gr. JHP's and the recoil was so mild I could shoot it one handed comfortably. Yes, it had the lock, but it also had an frame mounted ball detente as additional lock up. If I could convince myself I had any use for this I wouldn't hesitate to buy one.
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Old 05-12-2012, 01:58 PM
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In my view S&W made their finest revolvers up until 1961. . between 1930 and 1956 are my favorites, 5 screw models. The pre-war and very early post war revolvers, long action, are the smoothest. . Pull the hammer back or pull the trigger in D/A, push the release and swing out the cylinder; the long action is superb.

During the 1940's and 1950's, S&W built some of their finest revolvers. . The pre-model 5 screws represent a high point in American gun making when quality machining and fine finishing was expected and delivered. .

Rod
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Old 05-12-2012, 02:09 PM
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Is there a reason that many of you are leaving out the pinned 1970s revolvers? I have several from the late 60s to mid 70s, and they seem to be pretty comparable to my 50s & early 60s models. My 10-7 from 1979 is one of my favorite Smiths.

Just wondering if something in particular went downhill during that period.

Josh P
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Old 05-12-2012, 04:02 PM
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Josh...speaking for the 44 Magnum, the polish applied before finishing in bright blue or nickel was "best" from 1956 through early 1957, but was still exceptional through 1960. Revolvers made in the early 70s are fine examples, but the degree of polish applied to them is noticeably less.

Bill
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Old 05-12-2012, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitar1580 View Post
Is there a reason that many of you are leaving out the pinned 1970s revolvers? I have several from the late 60s to mid 70s, and they seem to be pretty comparable to my 50s & early 60s models. My 10-7 from 1979 is one of my favorite Smiths.

Just wondering if something in particular went downhill during that period.

Josh P
Josh: I also have S&W revolvers from the 60's and 70's. . You're correct, they are pretty and they are of good quality. . never included these because the OP asked which were "Smith & Wesson's best years". . .

Rod
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Old 05-12-2012, 09:28 PM
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Thanks guys. Makes sense.

Josh
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Gila Bender View Post
FWIW, I wasn't a collector/accumulator until I found this community. I had a 640-1 for CC, a 29-6 Classic 6.5" for blastin', and a shooter grade pre-27 6.5" that was given to me when a dealer friend passed on ten years ago. After studying the SCSW, in 2008 I decided that prewar and transition period (1946-1949) N frames were my primary interest, the .44HE in particular. Why? Because they're big, classic revolvers and in some cases rare. Some of my S&W's are collectible with boxes and letters while others are worn and dinged but quite functional and enjoyable shooters.

Pre 1950
38/44 Outdoorsman prewar
38/44 HD prewar, transition
44HE 2nd Model
44HE 3rd Model prewar, transition

Along the way I broadened the scope to include pre models and certain models/features that just appeal to me. Apparently I really like tapered barrels and the Centennial:

Post 1950
Pre- 20 38/44 HD
Pre- 21 1950 Model 44 Military
Pre- 27 .357 Magnum 3.5" and 6.5"
Pre- 28 "Highway Patrolman 4"
24-3 "1950 .44 Target Reintroduction"
28-2 "Highway Patrolman" 4"
29-2 .44 Magnum Nickel 4"
29-5 .44 Magnum Blue 4"
29-6 "29 Classic" Blue 6.5"
624 "Model of 1985 .44 Target Stainless" 4"
629-2 "Mountain Revolver"
629-4 "Mountain Gun"
640-1 "Centennial" .357
642-1 "Centennial" .38

Admittedly there's not a lot of collecting discipline here but I do make an effort to look for N-frames 1935-1949 first, then pre-models, then interesting N-frames in top condition. I don't know which, if any, of the post-1960 production N frames are or will be deemed collectible, with the exception of rare "dash" engineering changes, reintroductions, and perhaps limited runs for Lew Horton, et. al. But it appears that at this moment the Model 27 and Model 28 are hot, pre-MIM is desirable. And, one should have a nickel 29-2 4" in a wooden display case, just 'cuz.

Attached pics are a few that have come my way.
Question about the Second picture.Is that a 44 3rd model or a hd?Did it ship with the humpback hammer?Mike
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitar1580 View Post
Is there a reason that many of you are leaving out the pinned 1970s revolvers? I have several from the late 60s to mid 70s, and they seem to be pretty comparable to my 50s & early 60s models. My 10-7 from 1979 is one of my favorite Smiths.

Just wondering if something in particular went downhill during that period.

Josh P
I'm with you Josh. Everyone here seems to be cutting off their "best year" eras at 1960 or 1961. So is my 1962 model 19-2 just chopped liver?

I have no real oldies to compare to so I will continue living with my P&R revolvers from the 60s and 70s in ignorant bliss.
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrFlintlock View Post
Thanks very much for the info guys. I didn't know if there were any years to avoid such as when Patrick Sweeny states in his book 1911 The first 100 years, that Colt's quality suffered through the 80s. I will definitely get some reading material and educate myself. I appreciate the replies and the forum.
As much as I like the few pre-War Smiths I have my favorites are The Model of 1950 (short action) before they introduced model numbers.

The years I avoid are the Bangor/Punta era. Those are when the dash 2 guns were being built. Yes there are some nice guns from that period but I had several friends in the gun business in the 1970s and early 1980s and they told many tales of poor quality control...like a M29-2 with a 41 Mag cylinder fitted. My department bought M66s in 1978 and some of them were an embarrassment to the gun making industry. Yea, Smith replaced them but how did a gun with the barrel so out of alignment the ejector wouldn't engage the front lock get shipped to a law enforcement agency?

Dave
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Old 05-12-2012, 11:20 PM
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not lately-that's for sure.
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Old 05-13-2012, 12:17 AM
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DrFlintlock ,
I started with a Mod 19 2 inch snubby that was my first SW, and I was very happy with it, then got my first mod 10.... after that my mod 15, all of them just a high class S&W workmanship.

Now I have a thing for the older Heavy Duty and the Outdoorsman, going back to 1938 and 46 and all I can say is that they are amazing guns, I will not part from them.

Smith and Wesson means to me Heritage and Craftsman-shift.
Cheers!!!!
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Old 05-13-2012, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowhog View Post
Question about the Second picture.Is that a 44 3rd model or a hd?Did it ship with the humpback hammer?Mike
Lowhog,
The second pic is a .44HE 3rd Model with 5" barrel, humpback hammer, and matching magnas. It letters as .38/44 HD shipped to a police officer in Bozeman, Montana on Aug 20 1940. The letter states that the original invoice could not be found to confirm that it was changed to a .44HE before shipment or that it shipped with the HB hammer. The SWHF doesn't have any additional information either.
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Old 05-13-2012, 09:30 PM
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There are many attributes or assigns which have to do with various orders or dimensions of 'Quality'.

All in all, my own opinion, would be that the pinnacle or plateau of S&W's integrated and harmonious height quality wise, was from their first Break-Open Large Frames in the early 1870s, up to about WWI or so.

From there, quality remained very high if very slighly less high in some ways than before...quality of Metalurgy is thought to have improved a little, so, some give and take...but, from say, WWI to the advent of WWII, 'quality' was still very high, just not globally quite as high as the 1870s - WWI time period.

After WWII, quality was high, but not as high as the sort of chapter before...and, it enjoyed it's plateau till the early 1960s, then went down a few nothches, and or was somewhere between okay-enough and not so good...and, has not come back up enough to speak of, since.

Yes, one can find early Model 10s or other which were fitted and assembled well and finished well in their way and so on, and, if you put them next to a Model 1899 K Frame, the difference in overall quality, becomes glaring or even painful.

True excellence, and, 'good enough' can both function well mechanically, be reliable, and satisfy... but one immediately elevated the regard of the informed onlooker, and, the other is accepted or is respected in a somewhat different way.


High, even unsurpassed Excellence, would characterise their offerings from the early 1870s through WWI.

Excellent, from WWI through WWII.

Pretty much excellent to at least very good, from WWII to the early '60s.

Merely "Good-enough" ( or sometimes not even merely good enough ) would characterise S&W's offerings since the early 1960s.

When they cared about excellence first, the money and reputation followed.

Once they cared about money first, mediocrity or worse, hyperbole and gimmicks and self referential advertising schtick followed.

Same with endless else of our culture and it's artifact exemplars.
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Old 05-14-2012, 01:43 PM
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Yes, I see that most of you share the same sentiment as me that the 1950s and before were the high water mark for American manufacturers from everything from firearms to musical equipment (i.e. fender). If I were the CEO of Winchester it would embarrass me every time I heard "pre '64 model 70". The reason that I collect guns is partly because I like shooting them and I want the highest quality piece of equipment available. We collect guns from these periods (and pay premiums for them) not only for the collectability but also for the quality. Their quality is probably why they are collectable in the first place IMHO. The following attachment are two Smiths in my collection that show what I am looking for in collecting.
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  #33  
Old 05-14-2012, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave T View Post
As much as I like the few pre-War Smiths I have my favorites are The Model of 1950 (short action) before they introduced model numbers.

The years I avoid are the Bangor/Punta era. Those are when the dash 2 guns were being built. Yes there are some nice guns from that period but I had several friends in the gun business in the 1970s and early 1980s and they told many tales of poor quality control...like a M29-2 with a 41 Mag cylinder fitted. My department bought M66s in 1978 and some of them were an embarrassment to the gun making industry. Yea, Smith replaced them but how did a gun with the barrel so out of alignment the ejector wouldn't engage the front lock get shipped to a law enforcement agency?

Dave

Luckily time has done what QC did not at Bangor-Punta. Most of the "Ugly Ducklings" of those years have either been remedied via factory repair or lost in the morass of time.

If you were to come across a 70's-81'ish P&R Smith today (as opposed to the actual 70's) it has a pretty good chance of being a great revolver instead of a Bangor "Lemon".

That being said; my "Golden Age" is anything Pre-Lock. I know there are some better and some worse years in-between over a century of production; but anything without the lock is fair game for me .
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Old 05-14-2012, 05:30 PM
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The only generality I would make is that pretty much coincidental with the introduction of the lock in the ugly hole and MIM parts, S&W elegance tanked big time. Because MIM parts were pretty close, fit-wise, these parts were just assembled into guns with no regard for fitting. It was an economy move that worked after a fashion, but pride in manufacture was no more. The craftsmen of old were replaced by CNC machinery. Some really sloppy stuff started to come out, even through the custom shop, where they had some craftsmen who should know better.

For me, the "Golden Age" of S&W craftsmanship was in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. The 80s products were mostly OK, but starting in the 90s - well forget about it. The modern Smith guns are generally functional, but just can't compare esthetically, and there is no careful fitting of parts. The old-time blue that you could swim in is no more, and nickel plating is not done on the scale or with the care that it once was.

The modern "classic" series sought to revive the look and feel of the older guns, but has for the most part failed miserably; the first thing I look at is that awful ugly hole above the cylinder release. It's like looking at an otherwise beautiful woman who has a big mole on her nose - the whole aura is spoiled irretrievably. I did get a classic Model 40-1, but ONLY because they omitted the lock. Classic ain't classic if you mess up the design with that damnable lock.

Look for something in excellent or better condition from the '20s through the '80s, and you won't go far wrong. I predict values on these guns will continue to escalate as more and more people begin to realize that unless something is turned around, the era of S&W elegance is no more.

John
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  #35  
Old 05-14-2012, 06:14 PM
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My favorite years were 1965, 1997, 2000 and 2006/7
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  #36  
Old 05-15-2012, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowhog View Post
I like the craftmanship of the 1930's.
I am going to put my hat in this ring.

I'm blessed to have a mint M&P from around 1930. The blue was all done in one shot and it all matches perfectly.

We also have several from the 50's and 60's that are as mint as the M&P. One little difference. These pieces were done in batches. Get it in bright day light and each of the major components has just a bit different shade of blue. The blue on the M&P on the other hand is all the same, front to back, top to bottom.

As far as the stock fitting is concerned, there is simply no comparison. The M&P fit, finish and match is miles ahead.

The 1930's production was built in age of craftsmanship !!!

Look at a mint 80 year old example and you'll see what I mean. The quality is simply stunning.

That's my vote
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Old 05-16-2012, 07:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elroy View Post
I am going to put my hat in this ring.

I'm blessed to have a mint M&P from around 1930. The blue was all done in one shot and it all matches perfectly.

We also have several from the 50's and 60's that are as mint as the M&P. One little difference. These pieces were done in batches. Get it in bright day light and each of the major components has just a bit different shade of blue. The blue on the M&P on the other hand is all the same, front to back, top to bottom.

As far as the stock fitting is concerned, there is simply no comparison. The M&P fit, finish and match is miles ahead.

The 1930's production was built in age of craftsmanship !!!

Look at a mint 80 year old example and you'll see what I mean. The quality is simply stunning.

That's my vote
I agree. The 1930's are hard to beat for fit and finish.



I must say, however, that the late 1940's and early to mid-1950's guns are really good. When properly cleaned and oiled their actions are almost as smooth. The Magna grip, followed by the target grips give better advantage to the shooter. They arguably are more "shootable" than the pre-WW2 guns (not to include pre-WW2 Magnas, which are divine).

So it boils down to a question of your criteria in making the judgment. Aesthetics, fit and finish, and shootability come together in different proportions for different collectors/shooters.
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  #38  
Old 05-16-2012, 09:01 AM
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Hello
I see you got many different opinions of what was the best years of guns S&W Made. We all have our own area of collecting and mine changed a few years ago. I used to collect Model stamped revolver's... That was until I added a 1936 K-22 Outdoorsman and my 1935 Registered Magnum. Once I had these two gun's in my collection and had the time to look them over and shoot them, I was sold on S&W's made in the 1930's time span. To me, the Bluing was a Mile deep on these 1930's guns as well as the Fit & Finish. These gun's were made in the Original Plant in a Time span when Hurry was Not an option as they employed Old World Craftsman that had Pride in their work and it sure showed. These gun's were hand fitted from start to finish unlike later one's with retro fit parts these all were of their own Character.. I feel this time span of the 1930's was the Height of S&W quality and worker's Pride...








The 1936 K-22 Outdoorsman Revolver













The S&W Registered Magnum shown with Walter Roper Custom shooting stock's









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  #39  
Old 05-16-2012, 10:15 AM
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Admitted, I'm way more of a shooter/accumulator than a collector, but I agree with most of what has been said here ref. aesthetics, quality of bluing, smoothness of action, etc.....However, I'll be darned if I can make my good-bored pre-WWII S&W .44s and .45s group as well as some of my more-or-less recently manufactured S&W big bores. A 24-3, 624, and a 625-8 and 629-6 Mtn. Gun, both with the infamous hole, spring immediately to mind. Neither new nor old S&W .45 (ACP or LC) will consistently shoot tighter off-hand groups than my 1940-made Colt New Service, chambered in .45 Colt.

Truthfully, I like the aesthetics of the old grips and refuse to replace'em on my relics. Sometimes, I can feel the gun move in my hand a tad about the time the shot breaks, so I guess they don't fit me as well as some of the add-on grips on my more recent guns, and that may explain it.

I'm no fan of the hole, but, "Purty is as purty does?"
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Old 05-16-2012, 05:04 PM
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Ownership of the company passed from the Wesson family control in 1964. I think that was the start of the decline of quality at S&W. The Bangor-Punta and the Saf-T-Hammer eras being among the worst. The ONLY saving grace during the B-P era was that S&W still had a number of people working that remembered how to build a gun, and there were still some good examples from that time, but things started to decline.

In MY mind the real down turn occurred during the time period they eliminated the pinned barrels and the recessed chambers on the magnums. The even deeper downturn occurred around the time of the IL. This is not to say that those specific items were in my mind the reason, but just an identifiable way to pinpoint the time frame.

Smith did (and still does) make fine guns. But the just ain't like they used to be.
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Old 05-18-2012, 11:38 PM
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HammerDown,
That 1936 K-22 Outdoorsman Revolver is a work of poetry. What is the ballpark range in price that I would need to be willing to spend to acquire such a work of art? And how hard is it to find one in that condition?
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Old 05-19-2012, 07:05 PM
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First, I didn't see any mention of tip-ups, but considering they are 150 years old and so many are still in shooting condition they scream quality. I would love to be able to predict how the twentieth century guns will compare when they are 150 years old, but the craftsmanship and durability of the old S&W tip-ups makes them a true candidate for S&Ws best years.

Now you asked a tough question about acquiring a high quality K22, but the simple answer is that you can have one by tomorrow if you have enough money to throw at it. These guns still come up for auction from time to time. I think they made almost 20,000 of this model, but I suspect that a large percentage of the high quality guns are stashed away in collectors gun safes. There are almost always some on gunbroker and the major gun auction sites often have high quality K22a for sale. I would, however, think there are very few K22s in the condition of Hammerdown's apparently unfired beauties.
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Old 05-19-2012, 08:16 PM
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I think H. Callahan nailed it: the start of the Bangor Punta era.

My first S&W was a BP-era Model 19 (1976), and I hated that thing. Nearly turned me off of DA revolvers completely.
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Old 05-20-2012, 04:53 PM
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What are the years of Bangor Punta? Thank You!

I recently purchased a 1985 M 581 that I am really impressed with. Does this model fall into the BP era? Thanks Macinaw
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Old 05-24-2012, 11:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrFlintlock View Post
HammerDown,
That 1936 K-22 Outdoorsman Revolver is a work of poetry. What is the ballpark range in price that I would need to be willing to spend to acquire such a work of art? And how hard is it to find one in that condition?

Hello Dr Flintlock

The K-22 Outdoorsman that is shown came to me at one of our local gun show's. The vendor said that his home was hit by the wicked storm Katrina. He went on to say that it tore his roof off so he had to replace his shingles and this forced the sale of his Personal K-22 Outdoorsman that I have shown above. I paid him his full asking price of $650.00 for it and back then they were bringing an average of $1300.00. I know it was the deal of a life time it is one that I will never sell or Trade off... Hammerdown
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