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S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 All 5-Screw & Vintage 4-Screw SWING-OUT Cylinder REVOLVERS, and the 35 Autos and 32 Autos


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Old 07-01-2014, 10:43 AM
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Not a shooter, not a respectable example, but for a 'keeper' where is the line on condition?

Regardless of vintage and scarcity I want a perfect, untouched, unmolested specimen that is in all respects brand new with all the fixin's. Unfortunately, reality and expectations must at some point reconcile. Somewhere in the above reconciliation my wallet is involved.

I've heard:
'Post war has to be perfect, pre war I can live with a few marks'
'Buy for the three C's '


Where is your line, your cutoff?




PS
Please exclude from this discussion guns that are so scarce condition is largely irrelevant.
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:05 AM
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A large number of collectors (half maybe?) not only enjoy looking at fine guns, but using them for what they were made. I have shot almost all my guns (and there are quite a few scarce ones). I personally prefer one that's nice enough to be presentable but with enough existing flaws that I don't feel bad taking it to the range on occasion. If you are buying strictly for investment, then yes, you want as perfect as you can afford. It's nearly impossible to find a 'perfect' example of any gun. They were built to be tools, not collectibles. Just shipping them in a box will cause some finish marks. Test firing them at the factory will leave fouling. Hand-tuning (like they used to do) will cause a slight cylinder turn line.
I guess it's just like collector cars. Do you want to haul it to a show in an enclosed trailer or do you want to drive it and enjoy it. I have a '67 Mustang convertible and I wanna enjoy it.
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by cgt4570 View Post
I personally prefer one that's nice enough to be presentable but with enough existing flaws that I don't feel bad taking it to the range on occasion.
That's what I look for nowadays. When I first started, like many collectors, I sought out the most pristine examples I could find. A few years ago I got bored with that, now I seek out the best condition “shooters” I can find.
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:31 AM
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I had a friend once tell me, you can argue price but not condition. Since I am a shooter more than a collector I draw the line at major blueing loss and/or rust and corrosion. However I do not pass up a pristine one at the right price.
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:32 AM
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I think Chris summed it up nicely.
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:59 AM
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I don't believe that collectibles in general, including guns, have the desired characteristics of good investment vehicles. The fact that they sometimes can be good investments is irrelevant. Therefore, at least to me, I am not hung up on pristine condition examples that I am afraid to shoot. By the same token, I want them to be interesting, a little unusual, and something better than beaters.

If you want investments, there are better ones than guns. I consider my guns more as adult toys.
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Old 07-01-2014, 12:12 PM
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I collect mostly shooters, and I don't shrink away form a 60% finish "blued" gun, but I will look the other way on a 60 % nickle gun. To me there is just something about a lot of nickle loss that I can't handle. A 60% blue gun that shows being well taken care of has character. A 60% nickle gun is ugly.
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Old 07-01-2014, 12:22 PM
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I buy the best condition that I can afford.
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Old 07-01-2014, 12:51 PM
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My cut off point is when they are broken. Besides that everything depends on the price.
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Old 07-01-2014, 01:34 PM
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I carry ,shoot and somewhat collect S&W revolvers. My cut off point is that I have to like to own the gun. I recently got a 625-2 in .45acp with 5 inch barrel. 99% no box. I love shooting it and its a keeper. I Also bought a 1977 model 57 with 4 inch barrel 98% no box , rubber grips. I really like it , shoots great and I will carry it sometimes. I will keep it too. I bought a pair of boxed and unfired , properly stored P&R model 27's ( 3 1/2 and 5 ") both made in the 70's. I will not do anything with them , just put them in the safe and one day will trade them for some revolvers that I can enjoy using.
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Old 07-01-2014, 01:35 PM
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My cut off point is when they are broken. Besides that everything depends on the price.
This about sums it up for me. Broken is a no go, good working condition with little to no finish? A-OK.

Scratched up, nice holster wear, still tons of blue? Perfect.

Basically my goal is to buy guns in about this condition now:



A "shooter" but still dang nice enough to convey just how ridiculously gloriously beautiful these were straight from the factory.

I would own a new in box example of such a gun, but it would go into a shadow box and hang on the wall as art, not really as a gun.

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Originally Posted by George_in_SD View Post
PS
Please exclude from this discussion guns that are so scarce condition is largely irrelevant.
Actually, this is what I am focused on lately. It's part of why I love king guns so much. I don't want to have to really worry about condition, because if I worry about condition then I worry about handling the gun, and if I worry about handling the gun it just sits in my safe like a lump of gold, which is boring and causes me to sell it for something that isnt boring that I can handle.
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Old 07-01-2014, 01:49 PM
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Mmmmmm....King Guns....
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Old 07-01-2014, 01:51 PM
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Ok good post.

Collector wise you want the best orginal condition you can purchase. With box, screwdriver, cleaning rod and mop. The orginal papers and sales sheet is a plus. Any documented stories about the history of the gun helps too.

To a collector you want the creme of the crop.

To a shooter I don't think it matters that much but if it's in very good working condition that's a plus.

I personally am not a serious collector I'm more of an average shooter. I don't want something that appears it was dragged behind a truck. I want the best condition I can find at my time of purchase. I buy once and only once. Well I try too. With the military surplus stuff I ended up with two collections unissued and used. That's not going to happen with s&w.

A few years back I passed on colt and s&w revolvers that had the king upgrades. Stupid me.

I found each time I purchased a military gun a better condition another one came along soon after in a better condition. Sometimes I ended up with more than two guns. I wonder how many of you s&w collectors do this. The military guns were at the time $100/$200 the s&w are much higher now. We buy less for more $$. For a collector your always looking for a nicer condition gun than you already have.

When I got into buying the military surplus guns I thought it was a never ending supply of different guns and models. Then I wanted to collect only different mausers. Then I found out there are well over 1,000 different mausers. That's like saying there are 1,000 different s&w n frames. I purchased the mauser book by Robert Ball and drooled over that. I always thought the surplus ammo was a never ending supply too. First there was no imported surplus ammo and what little we did have was priced through the roof. Then the flood gates opened up and we had plenty of surplus ammo that was dirt cheap. We were in shooters heaven for over a decade.++ Then a dark cloud came over the surplus ammo market the 8mm mauser ammo started running dry. How could this be? Then the 303 Britt ran dry. The rest of the calibers soon followed. There had to be a gazillion rounds of this ammo in a warehouse in Europe somewhere right? Then soon after some of the surplus gun stockpile ran out too.
My point is nothing lasts forever. Enjoy it while we have it.

So collecting or shooting think about what you want. I make a gun list often. So I remember what's on my want list. It's just a hobby.

Last edited by BigBill; 07-01-2014 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 07-01-2014, 02:03 PM
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I guess I'm at the opposite end of the spectrum. I don't hunt and I rarely shoot my guns, and it's not because they're in great condition. All are shooters ranging from about 40% up to 85%.

My interest is in tinkering and studying the changes that have developed over the years. I enjoy studying the various patent applications and how they translate, and were refined, on the production line.

My principal interest is in the evolution of the lock work manifest in the 1902 & 1905 models. After around 1915, the development of the Smith & Wesson revolver went on "auto-pilot" for a few decades, with a few notable exceptions. All in all, my interests in these fine old guns doesn't require them to be in any condition, except "working". I guess that means I'm a student.

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Old 07-01-2014, 02:10 PM
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It's hard to define who is a collector versus a shooter. This is my line, too:

Quote:
My cut off point is when they are broken. Besides that everything depends on the price.
I shoot everything I own or plan to shoot them if I haven't already. Does that mean I am not a collector? I don't know. I have around 25 S&W handguns. Probably 20 revolvers and 5 pistols. Wait.....some are gone now from the pistols....let me think....okay, for sure I have 3 pistols and 19 or 20 revolvers. Let's break it down:

Pistols include one CS-45 that I carry and I shoot plus a 6906 I recently acquired for both of the same purposes. The only new in the box gun of this lot is a 5903 SSV - un-shot, un-carried, never loaded, pristine in the box. Why? I am not sure any more but I think it's somewhat special and, since I didn't shoot it years ago after I bought it, well, now it's a safe queen.

Revolvers are all .357s or .38s, including one J-frame .38 S&W. 7 Model 10s including a .357 Magnum, a couple of 64s, 586, 686, 649, 642, 27 Classic (which I shoot!!), .38-44, 19, 12, and I'm pretty sure there are one or two more I can't think of. It's sort of eclectic but I consider it a collection and think of myself as at least a minor collector.

YMMV.

Sidebar: The only gun in that list that's really far, far from pristine is my 4" nickel Model 10. It was a Wells Fargo gun, carried by an armed guard or maybe more than one, and dumped with about 100 other guns by Wells Fargo about 20 years ago. I recall paying $150 for it back then. If you saw it you'd probably object to buying it for even 300 dollars today. ICK! Messy!

But if you're a bad guy at 20 paces and I need to drop you with one shot.......well, I practice with this gun. I can hit a one inch dot with it at 20 paces. Now how much is it worth?

I'm just the custodian for these masterpieces of machinery. I collected them for me. Someday someone else will collect them. Hopefully my grandsons but, if not, maybe some of y'all.......

***GRJ***
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Old 07-01-2014, 02:50 PM
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I'm not a collector and wouldn't have much use for a gun so perfect I'd be afraid to touch it. I therefore prefer to find high condition specimens with a small flaw or two, often without box, tools, or original stocks.

95% - 97% condition is about right for my tastes and budget. It will look great, function perfectly, and I can shoot and enjoy it without worrying about adding another little flaw. With proper care and storage, they should still be in fine condition when I am through with them.
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Old 07-01-2014, 06:30 PM
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To quote Herman Hesse's Sidartha:

"And behold, with this we are right in the middle of the thicket of opinions,
in the dispute about words."
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Old 07-01-2014, 06:38 PM
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I was rather careful to avoid the dreaded 'investment' word in my original post, as that line of thinking is not akin to my question. Yes, I like most folks seek out the best condition possible. I also respect, though do not normally actively acquire, 'shooter' condition guns. To have a vintage or antique widget that has not been 'consumed' or adulterated has a certain mystique about it. A gun that I 'can't shoot' gives me quite a bit of pleasure, and it doesn't eat any hay.
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George_in_SD View Post
Not a shooter, not a respectable example, but for a 'keeper' where is the line on condition?

Regardless of vintage and scarcity I want a perfect, untouched, unmolested specimen that is in all respects brand new with all the fixin's. Unfortunately, reality and expectations must at some point reconcile. Somewhere in the above reconciliation my wallet is involved.

I've heard:
'Post war has to be perfect, pre war I can live with a few marks'
'Buy for the three C's '


Where is your line, your cutoff?




PS
Please exclude from this discussion guns that are so scarce condition is largely irrelevant.
What was the question?

A perfect condition pre war gun is rare no matter what model, so it falls into the "so scarce" exclusion, don't it?


If you want a "perfect, untouched, unmolested etc..." then there's no question, that's a requirement.

Sort of getting into the " if you have to ask, you can't afford it" department there George!

No offense meant, honest. I'm just trying to answer your question, and I haven't seen an actual answer so far.

Maybe I'm just dense...

(edit: I have a perfect 4" 57 in presentation box which is like new, and 1300 wouldn't (right now) be enough for me to sell it. If that makes any sense at all....)
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Old 07-01-2014, 08:22 PM
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[QUOTE=Arik;137979843]My cut off point is when they are broken. QUOTE]

If I had passed on all broken guns, I would not have some of the nicest guns in my collection. You can find parts for almost all C&R revolvers out there and there are quite a few parts for antiques as well. The biggest thing to know about broken guns is that they have to sell at very low prices, as compared to working examples. I have restored revolvers to perfect working condition with less than $10 in parts, so don't be too quick in passing a nice example just because it does not work . . . at the moment.
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Old 07-01-2014, 08:24 PM
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Not my thing. The whole looking for parts, thrill of the hunt...Neh. it either works or broken
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Old 07-02-2014, 06:59 AM
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I will always buy the best condition example of a gun that I can afford (new in box or "as new in box" mostly). With vintage guns I will except mild "honest wear" but would never buy a gun that was mistreated or abused. Modern guns have to be pristine or I will generally pass on them (unless of course they are extremely rare or difficult to procure). I have always shied away from guns that have been modified or permanently altered in any way other than maybe the grips. With guns, I am usually somewhat patient because I like what I like.

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Old 07-03-2014, 02:26 PM
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I do not consider myself a collector of S&W firearms even though 90% of my hand guns are S&W's. I have accumulated most of the S&W blued revolvers I wish to own at present. Most are pretty generic K or N frames.

I started with K's and I guess you could say I graduated to large bore N's. I really like 4" blued guns, but have acquired a number with 6 - 6 1/2" barrels.

I don't consider them as an investment as I will probably go to my grave owning all I do now. I am rather discerning though, all my S&W's are 95% or better. They are also all shooters. I consider them beautiful machines, which is what they are.

I don't own any family handed down guns from previous generations, but if I did I would probably cherish them no matter their condition.

To sum up my plan, I buy the best condition I can afford and am willing to shoot. It works for me.

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Old 07-03-2014, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
If you want investments, there are better ones than guns. I consider my guns more as adult toys.
Why do so many people assume that all collectors are merely investors? I collect both rare books and rare guns because they are appealing to me as works of art, not because I hope to sell them at a profit someday. The majority of my collectibles are pristine, and as such quite valuable, and I want to keep them that way, but only because that's why they appeal to me. I have plenty of other books to read and plenty of other guns to shoot, so there's no reason to take my signed 1st edition of Faulkner's These Thirteen to read on the airplane, and no need to take my RM to the range. I consider that to be the best of both worlds.
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